things that make a monarch powerful and successful besides war?
There’s more to leading than just winning wars.
Throughout history, many empires were forged with blood by powerful warriors, who pushed their countries’ borders by slaughtering everyone in their paths. However, many of them never lasted very long in the grand scheme of things, because there’s more to running a country than simply having good military power.
This post isn’t about how to write a good ruler character, this post is about the qualities of being a good ruler. Making someone a perfect, immaculate ruler doesn’t necessarily make them a well-written character (and just because a character is a good ruler doesn’t have to mean they’re a good person) so you have to take into consideration basic concepts of character building, which you can find on my FAQ.
Now, I can’t possibly outline every single aspect of a good ruler within a single Tumblr post, so take this list as a kind of bare-bones guideline meant to boost your inspiration and give you a bit of direction.
If you want your character’s subjects to respect them, then they must be a respectable person.
If your character goes around spending thousands on lavish treasures and banquets while their country starves, then they’re probably not gonna have the best Yelp rating from their subjects.
A good ruler is respectful, honest, and treats not only the nobles of under their rule with respect, but also the commoners. They spend tax money on infrastructure, food, and charity. They follow proper etiquette and set an example for those who look up to them. And they spend their time working–hearing petitioners, filing paperwork, holding diplomatic meetings, signing trade agreements, strategizing battles, etc.–rather than making merry.
Benevolent rulers in fiction are often the embodiment of honor and goodwill…which is why they die so frequently within the story–to serve as a symbol of the “death of good” that the villain has brought to the land.
One of the main jobs of a ruler is to pass sentences (or in most cases, have their courts pass sentences on their behalf). If your character acts on a “guilty until proven innocent” basis and executes fifty people a week, they’re probably only a ruler because everyone is afraid of them…not because they’re actually a “good ruler.”
They should be open to acts of mercy without teetering into “pushover” territory, and never allow wrongdoing to go unpunished.
This way, with their strong moral compass established, their subjects can all concur that anyone who gets executed under your character’s rule must’ve deserved it due to your character’s just nature.
Despite boing born into a lifestyle where you’re practically revered as godlike, a good ruler doesn’t think they are the end-all-be-all of everything. They often seek counsel from both their advisors and their subjects, and take criticism in stride rather than executing anyone who may dare to defy them.
In fact, a good ruler always knows when to ask for help, especially when it involves something that they have no prior experience with. If you want your young character to be a good ruler, then they most definitely must have a strong group of advisors such as noblemen, spiritual guides, generals, bankers, and other such people at their back to help them manage their kingdom.
Though this may sound a bit harsh, part of the reason why anyone is ever a ruler (or in a position of power) at all is because the subjects are a little bit afraid of them. If your character has all of these other attributes, people will serve them willingly and this fear shouldn’t necessarily be required, but think about it; why do we follow the law? Why do we allow our country to be run by people, some of whom we may respect but most whom we find intolerable?
A good ruler knows when to make an example out of people. No matter how amazing this ruler is, there will be people discontent under their power. There will be assassination attempts, coups, and rebellions. Allowing these things to slide without punishment will open up the doors for the ruler to be deemed “weak” and lose respect, so in these situations you should allow your ruler character to bring down the gavel…and some public executions may be in order.
Ned Stark, Game of Thrones
Ned Stark is the paragon of an even-tempered, moral leader within the Game of Thrones series and novels, and is revered by many characters within the story due to his stoic, honorable nature. One of the primary examples of his righteousness is his motto: “Whoever passes the sentence must swing the sword. If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.”
Aslan, The Chronicles of Narnia
Although you may poke fun at the fact that Aslan is a lion, there is no doubt that he is one of the wisest and bravest rulers in literature. He is fierce and dangerous, but unquestionably good, and all of his subjects have steady faith in his abilities. He is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his people, even if it is just for a single one.
Aragorn, Lord of the Rings
Despite being reluctant to take up the throne, Aragorn overcomes his hesitancy and assumes his role as rightful king so he can lead an army of the undead into battle against Sauron. Aragon is a man of the people, and possesses unwavering bravery and nobility, which is no doubt why he is so respected by the fellowship and by his people.
T’Challa, Black Panther
T’Challa often questioned himself and his decisions as ruler of Wakanda, but there is no doubt that he is a level-headed and well-spoken ruler who tries to do the best for his people. He was able to overcome the vengeful nature that consumed him after the death of his father, and went on to help not only his country, but others around the world.
When Oscar Wilde wrote: “Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic”. And then Kait Rokowski said:“Nothing ever ends poetically. It ends and we turn it into poetry. All that blood was never once beautiful. It was just red.”. But also Donna Tartt wrote: “Death is the mother of beauty.” and “Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.”.
𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐑 𝐖𝐀𝐑𝐒 : 𝐑𝐈𝐒𝐄 𝐎𝐅 𝐒𝐊𝐘𝐖𝐀𝐋𝐊𝐄𝐑 𝐒𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐄𝐒.
with the last star wars : the rise of skywalker having come out , i figured i’d make a meme out of it. i can’t promise these are spoiler free , but luckily , it won’t spoil that much. feel free to change pronouns if needed.
❛ ___ trained you well. ❜
❛ i killed ___. i’ll kill you. ❜
❛ i have been every voice you have ever heard inside your head. ❜
❛ the dark side of the force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural. ❜
❛ what could you give me ? ❜
❛ i’m starting to think it’s impossible to hear the voices of the jedi who came before. ❜
❛ nothing is impossible. ❜
❛ i got distracted. ❜
❛ i’m just not feeling myself. ❜
❛ i know it looks like i’m making excuses. ❜
❛ don’t tell me what things look like. tell me what they are. ❜
❛ i think i’m just tired , that’s all. ❜
❛ never underestimate a droid. ❜
❛ really could have used your help out there. ❜
❛ what did you do to the droid ? ❜
❛ tell me what happened ? ❜
❛ he’s been planning his revenge. ❜
❛ if we want to stop him / her , we must find him / her. ❜
❛ i don’t want to go without your blessing , but i will. ❜
❛ i need to go alone. ❜
❛ it’s too dangerous. ❜
❛ in the event that i do not return , i want you to know that you have been a real friend ___. ❜
❛ i sense unease about my appearance , ___. ❜
❛ i offered you my hand once. you wanted to take it. why didn’t you ? ❜
❛ you could have killed me. why didn’t you ? ❜
❛ you can’t hide. not from me. ❜
❛ i see through the cracks in your mask. ❜
❛ you’re haunted. ❜
❛ you can’t stop seeing what you did to your father / mother. ❜
❛ such pain in you , such anger. ❜
❛ i don’t want to have to kill you. ❜
❛ i'm going to find you & i’m going to turn you to the dark by offering you my hand again. ❜
❛ how did you find us ? ❜
❛ i got a bad feeling about this. ❜
❛ you should give it to her / him yourself. ❜
❛ do you have to say it like that ? ❜
❛ do me a personal favor. be optimistic. ❜
❛ you’re not going to believe how well this is going to turn out. ❜
❛ it’s going to be great. ❜
❛ you didn’t say my name , but i’m alright. ❜
❛ i’ll tell you when you tell me about all that shifty stuff you do. ❜
❛ you would have done the same. ❜
❛ i lost control. ❜
❛ it wasn’t your fault. ❜
❛ i mean we can do this all night. ❜
❛ oh , there must be some other way ! ❜
❛ if this mission fails , it was all for nothing. ❜
❛ wherever you are , you are hard to find. ❜
❛ you’re hard to get rid of. ❜
❛ i pushed you in the desert because i needed to see you. ❜
❛ i needed you to see who you are. ❜
❛ you’re lying. ❜
❛ you remember more than you say. ❜
❛ i know what happened to them. ❜
❛ you know what you need to do. ❜
❛ people keep telling me they know me. i’m afraid no one does. ❜
❛ perhaps you have betrayed me. ❜
❛ i know where she / he is going. ❜
❛ make sure & kill him / her. ❜
❛ don’t be afraid of who you are. ❜
❛ give it to me. ❜
❛ i did want to take your hand. ❜
❛ i miss you , ___. ❜
❛ you’re just a memory. ❜
❛ i know what i have to do , but i don’t know if i have the strength to do it. ❜
❛ it was fear that kept me here. ❜
❛ what are you most afraid of ? ❜
❛ i never wanted you dead. ❜
❛ with your hatred you will take my life & you will ascend. ❜
❛ let your death be the final word in the story of rebellion. ❜
Battle of Hogwarts The Musical
Harry : I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me
Hogwarts Fighters : He’s just a poor boy from a poor family. Spare him his life from this monstrosity
Harry : Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
Death Eaters : No, we will not let you go
Hogwarts Fighters : Let him go!
Voldemort : Never let you go!
Harry : Never let me go, no no no no no no no!
Harry : Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for meeeee
Voldemort : Avada Kedavra!
Harry : Expelliarmus!
*voldy is dead*
Harry : So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?
Harry : Oh, baby, can’t do this to me, baby
Death Eaters : Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here
that part about voldemort talking about the lestranges, barty crouch jr and snape in the graveyard always stuck with me:
“and here we have six missing death eaters… three dead in my service. one, too cowardly to return… he will pay. one, who I believe has left me forever… he will be killed, of course… and one, who remains my most faithful servant, and who has already reentered my service.”
the one he marked for death was clearly snape, and when dumbledore asks snape if he was prepared to do what he must, snape is described to be paler than usual but then immediately leaves. it then describes dumbledore staring at the door after he left for a while before addressing harry. im certain dumbledore was realising that there was probably a huge chance that he might never see him again.
*In the graveyard*
Voldemort: Finally, I’m going kill you, Potter
Harry: Can I say something before you do that?
Harry: Mr Malfoy, can you tell Draco that I love him and that he was dashing in the Yule Ball? I want him to know that before I die. He’s so pretty and *continues talking about Draco*
Voldemort: Merlin! And I thought your son was annoying, Lucius!
Uhhhh I have zero explanation for this piece other than I’ve been working on a fic where school Severus “accidentally finds” Tom Riddle’s diary during his fourth year. Will I actually successfully write said fic? That remains to be seen.
Btw in this, Tom, while able to share information with Voldemort and having a vague understanding of what has happened in the life of his future self is a separate consciousness. Long story short Voldemort really probably shouldn’t have left a rebellious teenage version of his soul. The entirety of this fic could be summed up with “when you’re so self oriented you’re willing to betray anyone including yourself.” *insert spiderman pointing meme here.*
“Voldemort had entered the room. His features were not those Harry had seen emerge from the great stone cauldron almost two years before; they were not as snake-like, the eyes were not yet scarlet, the face yet not manlike, and yet he was no longer handsome Tom Riddle. It was as though his features has been burned and blurred, they were waxy and oddly distorted, and the whites of his eyes now had a permanently bloody look, though the pupils were not yet the slits that Harry knew they would become.”
— Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Evolution of Tom Riddle Jr. [GIF]
A comparison between Voldemort/Tom Riddle and the Three Brothers for @marvolord
“The foundation of ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’ is the idea that death is something that can be evaded. The three men do cheat Death, but only in a temporary way, as they are pursued through their lives, with Death hoping to claim what he was due.
Their situation mirrors Voldemort, who spent his lifetime hoping to achieve immortality and reap the benefits. Ultimately, as with the three brothers, death caught up with Voldemort and his quest to become notorious and powerful through gaining mastery over it was over.”
When he had returned, he had been displeased that Bella had been absent, that she had been imprisoned within the walls of Azkaban prison. She was his lieutenant, his loyal and faithful follower who would have followed him till the ends of the earth. She would be rewarded in time for her service. She had made one of the greatest sacrifices that could ever be made by one of his followers. He had to wonder what the intervening years would have been like if she had been free and searching for him. She would have found him and she would have brought him back to his body, brought him into the world anew much sooner and the blight that was Harry Potter would have been dead before he reached his 8th birthday. Instead, he had languished for years in a most disgusting state, surviving as mere spirit by inhabiting the bodies of small animals, lower life forms.
He had wanted to liberate her and his remaining followers as a point of urgency but there was a time and a place for such action and it had to be planned perfectly. He did not want his presence to be revealed to the world at large, not yet and liberating prisoners from Azkaban too early would cause more problems. It had always been at the forefront of his mind though. She was a great weapon, influential within his movement and he had to see her again, to see if she was still loyal and true, if she was still his Bella.
The liberation had been planned and implemented successfully, the Dementors had naturally fallen in line with the world that he had promised them. It was to be expected for they were dark creatures and they had been slowly starving over the years, tied as they were to Azkaban. He would allow them reign to wander their world, he would unleash them upon the muggle world and that had excited them, bringing them a step closer towards a frenzy of feeding. He had not personally appeared at Azkaban, choosing instead to send Avery and McNair. He would have sent Malfoy but he was too prominent a figure in wizarding society to be seen and his focus was on accessing the department of mysteries to bring him the prophecy. It was not yet His time to be seen and so He had remained at Malfoy Manor, the current base of operations so as to speak.
Once his faithful had been liberated, they were placed in another section of the Manor, furthest away from prying eyes and, far enough away from Him. He had watched from the window of the Library as Bella had arrived with her fellow shuffling death eaters. She was looking around, looking for Him and there was a moment when she looked up at the window and their gazes locked, that familiar spark of connection between them and her body seemed to positively vibrate as she recognised him. He turned on his heel and returned to perusing the volumes in the extensive Malfoy collection, some of the texts gifts that had been given by him over the years as a reward for faithful service. The conflicting perceptions of the outsiders concerning his movement was one that brought distaste to the mouth. His followers joined voluntarily, they were not forced or coerced and they were rewarded for their service. They were not twisted and evil bound and bent to his will, they were pure and they were committed to his vision. They were independent and they were not villains, they were far more complex than that. They were not nameless and faceless followers without personality although he did insist on masks when they were out on assignment in order to protect their identity. There were certain members of his inner circle who did not wear masks and they were allowed to do so under certain circumstances and Bella herself was one of them. He liked to see the fire in her eyes and the animation in her face, a mask would spoil that.
He had decreed that his faithful would each receive their own rooms and that they would be left to readjust to their new life, readjust to being out of Azkaban. He intended to leave them for days, weeks, until they were required but he could not resist the temptation to see Bella. She was summoned, Narcissa bringing her sister to his door, leading her into the room and then silently backing out and closing the door behind her. His beautiful, vivacious Bella.
“My Lord.” The words were a whispered devotion passing from her lips and he could feel her excitement, the curls in her hair bouncing as she resisted the urge to run to him. Instead she dropped to the floor, looking up at him as though he were a god in human form, her eyes alive with that fire he had hoped Azkaban would not have torn from her. Although her features were more sunken and waxy than the last time he had seen her, her natural beauty still prevailed and he closed the distance between them, reaching out for her, spidery fingers brushing her cheek with all the tenderness of a lover.
“Bella, my Bella, have you missed me all these years?” His voice was soft and she shivered as though the words were a silken caress against her skin. Her mind was open as it always had been to him and he gently touched it, conscious of how fragile and delicate it was after the years of her incarceration.
“My Lord, please.” She whispered, almost begging him and he smiled at her, that thin lipped smile that would strike fear in the hearts of others but in his Bella inspired only devotion; complete and utter devotion. He was still her everything, he could see that and it brought him a thrill of pleasure.
“Hush now, hush.” He practically crooned, bending at the knees so he was at eye level, his other hand rising to touch her other cheek, fingers moving to cup her face, his eyes searching her own, that connection between them as strong as ever. It was as though no time had passed at all. “All will be well and the world shall once again tremble at our feet.” He leaned forward then, pressing his lips against her forehead and she sighed, leaning in to him.
The drawing room had remained the same, all the details a faithful recreation of the reality of the room. The chair was positioned in the exact centre of the room where it belonged and He observed her, his red eyes sizing her up as though she were prey. In a way, she was exactly that to him. He had such high hopes for her but she had disappointed him, developing a streak of trechery that had been beyond acceptable. She would have to be dispatched but, in the meantime, he had a use for her. If he killed her outright, there was a chance that Draco would have revolted, Narcissa too and the Malfoy’s were important to his well oiled machine. They provided credibility to his movement and their open support was enough to sway some of the other Pureblood’s from passive acceptance to active participation.
“You know what brought you to this place don’t you Cassiopeia?” He took a deliberate step towards her, toying with his wand, twirling it slowly between his fingers as he considered her. The bonds were iron shackles, enchanted not only to increase the level of constriction when the chained person moved but also to burn against the skin, leaving marks that would not fade for quite some time. She knew better by now not to move for there were burn marks marring beautiful creamy skin.
“No one can defy Lord Voldemort but you did more than defy didn’t you?” There was a bite at the end of his question and he swiped his wand through the air, a slashing motion, and a lash struck across Cassie’s cheek, blood beginning to drip from the wound, a result of a particularly vicious slicing hex. He paused for a moment before darting forward, hand grabbing hold of her chin, nails digging into the skin as he forced her to look at him.
“I offered you an opportunity that others would have killed for and you, you betrayed my trust and confidence. Disloyalty is worse than opposition girl.” With his other hand he reached for her warm, turning it in the shackle and he pressed the tip of his wand against the dark mark that adorned her skin. It was through this mark that he would channel his power to cause the maximum amount of damage. It was not just a mark of the faithful, it was a means of control of the entire bodily system and, in this case, it was the blood he had target.
“Calor Sanguinis.” He hissed, a spell in his arsenal that was greatly feared, the pain beyond that of the cruciatus curse. By contrast the cruciatus was a mercy. She began to writhe in the chair and he watched her, a cruel smile on his lips as he relished in the pain that he was bringing her. He increased the pressure of his wand, the power of the spell that was heating her blood within her veins. It was inescapable and, as she moved, trying desperately to somehow escape the torment, the chains tightened around her, glowing and burning against the exterior of her skin. He could smell her burning flesh and he knew that she would be able to smell it too.
He removed his wand from her arm and the spell ended. He removed the silencing charm he had placed over her and knelt down in front of her, balancing on the balls of his feet, absolutely still as he waited for her to catch her breath, to try and recollect herself. As he waited, he slowly tapped a finger against her knee, knowing that she would be repulsed at the contact. She had been so easy to understand, her Occlumentic skills merely a flimsy veil between him and her most private thoughts.
“You are going to die Cassiopeia but only through my mercy which, at present, am unwilling to give.” He looked directly into her eyes, hissing Legilimens as he entered her mind, tearing through her memories as painfully as he could, nails raking against the delicate inner fabric of the mind, leaving scores of blood dripping from the inner walls. Her memories were of little interest to him. He was not here to learn information, he was here to cause pain. As he tore through her mind, his had glided up her leg fingers crawling like spiders in a mockery of a lovers caress as he focused on her memories of those precious, hidden moments of exploration beneath the drapes of her four poster bed.
“Nagini, come.” He hissed in parseltongue, not breaking eye contact as Nagini slithered across the floor, having been previously lurking in the shadows of the room, waiting for the call of her Master. “I trust only you to watch this child, strike as you must but do not kill her yet.” Nagini brushed against his side as she wrapped around the girl’s ankles.
He broke the connection and rose to his feet, turning on his heel and leaving a greater distance between them. “Scream as much as you like Miss Malfoy you will not be heard nor will you be found. Draco believes that I am training you privately, as do your mother and father. How fortuitous for me.” He looked to Nagini and to the inside of her thigh.
It was at this moment that she always awoke, a scream in her throat just as she felt the sharp bite of Nagini against the tender skin.