Benign conquest?

Examples of the opposite are numerous throughout history: a technologically or militarily superior tribe or culture conquers a weaker one and proceeds to kill (or possibly enslave) the men and steal the women along with anything of value. They may or may not seek to control the territory. This is pretty much the standard pattern for such encounters.

What exceptions can be found? Where did a stronger group encounter a weaker one and act in a benign way, inherently respecting the culture, traditions and territorial rights of the weaker?

The Romans provide what could perhaps be considered minor examples of this - they apparently tended to avoid fully suppressing a conquered people, and made it possible for these to enjoy benefits of Roman civilization and even to become citizens.

What other examples come to mind?

When we use words like “stronger” and “weaker” to describe, it won’t turn out well.

I suspect the only answers you are going to find are propaganda. Eg China claims to have taken over Tibet to free the peasants there from the “tyranny” of rule by Buddhist Lama’s. They also claim to give Tibet a lot of autonomy and respect the local culture. Most of the west disagrees with that assessment.

The US annexation of the Phillippines and then giving them their independence might possibly be seen as benign. I don’t know enough the history of the US rule of the Phillippines to judge.

The Roman Empire and the British Empire are almost certainly the only ones that even come close to that.

And OP, the Romans provide a whale of a lot more than “minor” examples. I would recommend that you read Empires of Trust by Thomas F. Madden – it’s an eye-opening book.

The U.S. occupation of Japan was extremely benign. Granted, a large aspect of that had to do with our own postwar self-interest, but given the hard feelings engendered on both sides during the war, what with sneak attacks and atrocities and atomic bombings, both sides did a commendable job of moving forward.

First, they won the territory on the bargaining table from Spain. Second, they had to put down the revolutionaries who, at the time of Dewey’s victory at Manila Bay, was basically putting the icing on the Spanish colonials. The American estimates of Filipino deaths coming from the war with Aguinaldo’s republic was between 100,000 and 200,000. Filipino historians are more liberal and place it at a cool 1 million. They say it was the first genocide in the 20th century.

The Philippine-American War had some of the worst atrocities committed by American troops before Vietnam. To cite one infamous example, General Jacob Smith called fighting Filipinos worse than fighting Indians and adapted the same tactics used in fighting the “savages” in the American West. During the Samar campaign, in retaliation for an attack on American troops, he ordered the killing of every male over the age of ten and that the island be reduced to a “howling wilderness”. The latter earned him the sobriquet “Howling Jake” Smith.

Right so in that case I don’t think we can call any example as benign. I’d dispute that either the British or the Roman empire could be described this way. Just read about Julius Caesar cutting off the hand of every male warrior in Gaul, theres plenty of similar atrocities in how Rome won its empire. The British fought a long running series of wars to conquer India and then ruthlessly put down “mutinies”.

The Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula (and I suspect, of much if not most of the path there) didn’t so much involve scrubbing the floor with the previous big dudes as just moving in. The Goths weren’t particularly numerous, their nobility spent a lot of time playing “the King is dead, God save the King”, and a lot of the country wasn’t what you’d call “tightly controlled” except by local authorities which couldn’t have fielded an army if they wanted to.

Those irreductibles up in the mountains and especially their descendants turned out to be a bigger pain in the ass than the invaders expected, but that’s the next 800 years…

Not sure, the Norsemen settlement in northern France (Normandy)?
Roman legionnaires settlement in Romania.
Crew of the Bounty in Pitcairn island.
The Shire Reckoning.

“Conquest” rather gives the game away.

You might point to various arrangements in the history of the British Empire, where establishment of trading relationships led to a closer “advisory” relationship with local rulers that eventually morphed into de facto domination, at least to the extent of, say, suppressing local piracy or freezing out rival powers’ access to trade. But it would be rare to find any without some history of local resistance.

What about Hawaii?

Hawaii was not intended to be benign, when Dole overthrew the monarchy by force, but it turned out to be somewhat more benign, when the USA reluctantly decided to dig Dole out of a hole. Nevertheless, the USA never seemed interested in restoring home rule.

During the occupation, the USA built roads, dams , and drilled wells for potable water. Haiti experienced its only period of stability in its history. We also set up teachers colleges and a medical school. Of course, after that came “Papa” Doc Duvalier, and his kleptocracy.

What’s the point of conquering someplace if you aren’t getting something out of it? States act in self-interest. They aren’t going to spend money and political capital on a military adventure without an expected return. At the very least, by definition, conquest limits someone’s autonomy.

Maybe at some point in history some small area was easily conquered incidentally en route to some other goal, but even then there is likely ton have been some negative impact.

There are many examples of people who established systems of tribute or the weaker party capitulated and was treated well. There is kind of a vocabulary problem because the word “conquest,” by nature, implies a destructive and/or selfish act.

Basically every modern state will try to publish a narrative that justifies their invasion as an act of charity to right some perceived wrong. And every such invasion will have mixed outcomes. I doubt there is even a single example in all of history in which everyone was purely malicious or purely benevolent.

The British occupation of India has been cited above. They were undeniably selfish and ruthlessly exploited the local population, who were reduced to a level of borderline slavery. On the other hand, the British also raised the collective education level of India as a whole. One direct result of the British occupation is that English became widespread in India, which has given the Indian people a huge advantage in the global marketplace. British administrators also introduced modern police methods and were extremely successful in stamping out bandit gangs that were running amok.

No mention of Alexander? I thought he just wanted some tax money. He didn’t institute new draconian laws or religions. He let everything go on as before.

That could be propaganda and it’s certainly simplified, but that’s how I understood Alexander the Great’s short reign.

Normans in England ? They didn’t even enforce their version of French on the people , indeed there were people left to speak Old English when the plague killed off many French speakers, and the Normans forgot about French, and forgot about being Norman…

How about the conquest of England by Scotland, under King James?

Maybe the invasion of Iceland during WWII?

Anschluss - the invasion and incorporation of Austria into Nazi Germany in March 1938.