Cleopatra inherited the kingdom of Egypt on her father’s death, was removed from power but seduced Julius Caesar and linked herself with Rome. Caesar, hopelessly in love, returned Cleopatra her throne, expanding his empire along with hers. This was 48 BC, and one of the earliest recorded—or at least most famous—instances of empire-building through judicious marriage.
The practice is uniquely extant in India’s business families, where it works pretty much like mergers and acquisitions. Two business families meet and negotiate, the son acquires a wife or vice versa, and overnight, the combined business holding is bigger than the sum of its parts. For some, it’s a diversification, for others consolidation. Like the recent wedding of the son of a steel tycoon with the daughter of one of the owners of M3M India, the real estate group based in Gurgaon. A steel manufacturer’s family and a construction business baron made for a wedding made in business heaven, even if the celebrations were held in Turkey.