The question is based on this line from the book "Cataclysm 90BC" by Matyszak. He says ,

" this book is a study of some very odd events, of nations so desperate to give up their independence they fought a war against a state that refused to take it; of the Roman Republic losing that war, itself a rarity, then winning by giving their enemies exactly what they wanted. So the only instance in history of the opposite of a war of independence, was also one of the few cases where surrender brought victory to the losing side."

I have discussed this with friends and we were unable to come up with any other example. So was the Social War the only instance of a subject nation fighting to be fully integrated into the existing political system (without the goal of destroying said political system,) a sort of "reverse" war of independence to paraphrase the author?

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    That (the book) is kind of an odd way to phrase the situation as the Italians, while "technically" independent, were in reality imperial subjects of Rome - case in point, the belligerents were called rebels. – Semaphore Oct 26 '20 at 14:38
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    Perhaps "a subject nation fighting to be fully integrated" would capture the essence of it? – Semaphore Oct 26 '20 at 14:53
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    @Semaphore - I am having a hard time getting the verbiage correct on this question, and the title is just not long enough to put in your caveats. If you have a better edit feel free to make it and I will approve, I am sort of stumbling on the correct words to use here. And thank you for your input on this question. – ed.hank Oct 26 '20 at 15:07
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    @MarkC.Wallace - I do think that sounds better. Its hard to say Was the Social War the only war where a semi-independent group went to war with a state to which it belonged solely to gain enfranchisement but without wanting to destroy the entire system? in 150 characters or less. I also sort of like the second part of the authors quote, was the social war the only war where they losing side got exactly what they went to war for may be my next question. – ed.hank Oct 26 '20 at 20:19
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    @ed.hank If you do, make sure to distinguish intentional victory and accidental victory. Some losers of WW2 became the unintentional victors, which for the question should be ruled out. – Mark Johnson Oct 28 '20 at 13:52

Many of the Germanic tribes fought the Roman Empire to integrate in the Empire as foederati or settle inside Roman territory.

A notable example would be the Gothic War (376 -382). After being displaced by the Huns and seeking protection, the Goths revolted in the process of land allocation when running out of supplies (being forced to sell their children into slavery) and fearing dispersion. After the Roman defeat of Adrianople, which led to the death of Emperor Valens, an eventual peace allowed the Goths to formally settle and incorporate into the Empire without dispersing their population.

Further germanic migrations consistently sought out lands and titles for themselves, but often operated (sometimes only nominally) within the framework of the Empire. For instance, Odoacer, after deposing the last Emperor in the west in 476 gained the title of patrician and the legal right to rule Italy by the remaining eastern Emperor Zeno. His peoples settled in Italy and ruled nominally under the imperial overlordship of Zeno (with Zeno eventually sponsoring his rival and successor Theodoric the Great).

  • I think this may be an answer. The Thervings were a "client" of the Roman's, having been allowed to settle imperial lands. It appears the Goth's main requests were to be allowed into Roman territory and officially settled together, Fritigern, one of their leaders, before the battle even sent these requests to Valens, though there is debate whether they were genuine or not. So I do think this meets all my qualifications. I will leave it open for a bit though to encourage other possible answers. And thank you for your answer! – ed.hank Oct 28 '20 at 17:58

During the Ming dynasty, there were at least two major armed conflicts between China and its northern neighbours (Oirats and Mongols) because the Ming dynasty wanted to restrict the frequency and size of tribute missions, or refused to allow tribute missions at all. I am referrjng to the Tumu crisis of 1449 and Altan Khan's attack towards Beijing in 1550.

From the point of view of the Mongols, paying tribute to China was politically more or less meaningless and the tribute itself was merely of symbolic, not monetary, value. Paying tribute was more a method to go on an all-inclusive vacation in China, with all expenses being covered by the Chonese side and also getting nice presents in return.

So this fits your question only in name, or only from the point of view of the Ming dynasty.

  • The Tumu Crisis and the Siege of Beijing were part of the same conflict, an Oirat invasion of China under Esen. Note that paying tribute doesn't normally imply integration, and in the Chinese case especially it is more like a glorified trade mission. – Semaphore Oct 28 '20 at 12:01
  • @Semaphore: Altan Khan's siege (this may not be the correct word, "raid" might be better?) of Beijing was more than 100 years after the Tumu crisis. This can be called the same conflict only if you assume Ming-Mongol relations were one large, centuries-spanning conflict. I agree with the rest of your comment. – Jan Oct 28 '20 at 15:17
  • My apologies, I misread your date - Altan Khan was indeed raiding and did not put Beijing under siege, so I thought you meant someone else.. But yeah, that particular attack was to force China to open trade relations, rather like European great powers did with gunboats much later. I'm not sure it fits the integrate into empire criteria. – Semaphore Oct 28 '20 at 16:16
  • Were the Oirats and Mongols part of the Ming Empire at that time? Did the Oirats and Mongols invade because they wanted enfranchisement or better treatment? I read about the Tumu crisis but I was unable to discern what precipitated the crisis and any political changes as of result. – ed.hank Oct 28 '20 at 17:30
  • @ed.hank: For the Ming, receiving tribute meant that the tribute-senders were acknowledging the Ming emperor as their overlord. But this was largely fiction, in particular re. Mongols and Oirats. They are the very reason the Great Wall as ee see it today was built. The tribute-givers usually had much more opportunistic motives, such as trade or simply a kind of vacation package. – Jan Oct 28 '20 at 17:58

The German Revolution of 1848-1849 can be viewed as a war between the liberal nationalists and the established states where the liberal nationalists ultimately offered all of the German Confederation to Prussia. It wasn't so much that they were thrilled with Prussia as that it was the only way of achieving their ends, but it's also not like the Italians of the 90s BC were all that thrilled with the Romans, either--it was a way of achieving their ends.

Of course, the end was very different--Friedrich Wilhelm IV refused "the crown from the gutter"--which was easy to do since by this time (April 1849) the individual German states had the upper hand against the revolution--and the German Confederation limped forward for another couple of decades until (the then deceased) Friedrich Wilhelm's younger brother Wilhelm I became German Emperor on what he described as "the saddest day of my life"...saddest because it meant the death of Prussia as a fully sovereign state.

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    I need to learn more about this period of time, but this seems like a valid example to me. – ed.hank Oct 29 '20 at 14:07

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