Are there historical examples of a noble or other representative of a nation-state exchanging his own child or other children from his nation-state with those of an enemy, in order to solidify a friendship or peace treaty between those nations?

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    So... exchanging hostages? That was quite a common practice. – Semaphore Feb 5 '15 at 18:19
  • Would daughters married off to solidify relations count? – CGCampbell Feb 6 '15 at 15:28
  • I am most interested in children who were taken in as wards, not hostages or married into a family. – Desiree Feb 6 '15 at 16:53
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    @Desiree Actually, the lines between those things were often quite blurred. For instance, Tokugawa Ieyasu was sent to the Imagawa Clan as a token of allegiance (hostage), where he was fostered by Imagawa Yoshimoto (ward) after whom he was named Motonobu, and upon majority was married to Yoshimoto's newphew's daughter. – Semaphore Feb 6 '15 at 17:18

The Romans would accept and raise the highborn of allied tribes, hoping to Romanize their future leaders and cement their political and military relationships. Maroboduus was a ward of Augustus. Later, as king of the Marcomanni, he organized a confederation of tribes to defend against Rome.

This was also the case with the Germanic Cherusci tribe, which was for some time considered an ally of Rome. The Cheruscan chieftain Arminius was raised in Rome, though it seems difficult to tell from the record exactly what his status was (hostage? ward?). In any case, Arminius was introduced to Roman culture and military practices. He received citizenship and command of auxiliary forces that fought for Rome. He seemed Romanized enough that he was trusted by the general Publius Quinctilius Varus on an expedition into Germania. This was a mistake, albeit a very quotable mistake.

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  • This might be very helpful. Can you point me to a source for this example? – Desiree Feb 6 '15 at 16:59
  • @Desiree: Tacitus is the best-known primary source, I believe. Adrian Murdoch's "Rome's Greatest Defeat" discusses theories about Arminius' childhood. He was definitely a Germanic elite who served in the Roman Army before betraying Rome. His exact status as a child in Rome can't be proven, but ward or hostage are popular theories that are consistent with practices at the time. (Maroboduus is a better documented case, but Arminius is of greater general interest.) As Semaphore hints in his comment, a ward in good times is a hostage in bad times, so the distinction is blurry. – two sheds Feb 6 '15 at 20:15

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