Here we go again!
In our last issue, Gebereal the Wise had just crowned himself Emperor of Israel by creating a bunch of titles for prestige. Unfortunately, this creates some problems -- all those extra titles cause my vassals to hate me for hogging them all. So the first step is to redistribute them, creating some subordinate kings to manage groups of vassals and generally cleaning things up.
Egypt is the biggest of the new kingdoms, and I make sure to keep it in the dynasty. There's also Nubia, which at this point is just basically Makuria, so I give it to the duke to keep him happy. Then I work on the duchies, destroying some of them (you can destroy a title, but it makes everyone under it mad) and distributing others.
Much better. Now not everyone hate me.
My next immediate goals are to a) seize the remaining Jewish holy sites, and b) take over the rest of the Arabian peninsula. The next holy site, Damascus, is in Sulamid territory, and I have a truce with them. But the Caliph is currently in prison for some reason, so it seems like a good chance to grab some territory there. Let the holy war begin!
While that's in progress, my new high priest decides the most pressing concern for a great holy war is ... Pomerania. I guess? I'll see what I can do after my war is over.
Armies are marching all over Israel as my vassals deal with their own rebellions or get rid of vassals they don't like. Not my problem, though.
This dog, man. There's no "send him to a farm upstate" button?
The Great Holy War for Pomerania isn't going anywhere. Love the mask on Przybyslaw the Unchaste, though!
The entire castle breathes a sigh of relief.
I've got the war against the Caliph won, but sadly the Jews have not conquered, or even gotten particularly near, Pomerania.
That was quick. I guess someone didn't care for an order of weird murderers.
As usual, winning wars generates threat, and that causes people to ally against you. However, I think we've hit a tipping point -- there aren't enough Sunni rulers left to stop me, even allied. If your threat goes really high different religious groups will work together, so we still have to avoid that -- the Shia Caliphate and the Byzantines are both bad news.
The Emperor has an extremely mature relationship with his grandchildren.
The old Sulamid sultan has been replaced by an eight-year-old, so the truce is off. I launch a holy war for Damascus, opposed by the usual crowd.
During the previous war, I captured one of the sultan's sons. He's now grown up in my captivity, so I look into whether he can be convinced to convert. At first he's reluctant.
A small bag of gold, however, is apparently enough to overcome his theological reservations. Welcome to the faith, Burhanaddin! I marry him matrilineally to one of my nieces, in hopes his claim may someday be useful.
As expected, the combined armies of the remaining Sunni states aren't enough to stop me. It's been a rough couple of centuries for them.
The moral authority of the Jewish faith grows as I now control four out of five holy sites!
Unfortunately the last one is waaaay over in what is now Byzantine territory, to the right of the Jarwanids. That may take a while. The Byzantines have really been making headway!
Even though my vassals are still busy fighting one another, very few of them are plotting against me. Emperor Gebereal is beloved by all!
I can squeeze in one more holy war before passing 50% threat and triggering everyone in the world to work together to stop me. I launch it against Banu Tanim, and just for fun hire the Zealots to help me. Religious orders are happy to help in holy wars, though if you're the attacker they demand to be paid.
I, uh, was not aware we had any particular beef with Oromo. But I guess it would be a good time to strike, hypothetically.
There seems to be some rule that my rulers die in the middle of wars. (Perhaps because I'm at war almost all the time.) In any event, long live Emperor Kelile!
Hmm. Emperor Kelile kind of sucks. He's a grandson of Gebereal, the son of my dead eldest son. His stewardship is terrible, and he has no direct heirs. Not ideal.
As usual, while the war goes on, the vassals start plotting against the new ruler.
Emperor Kelile is not enjoying his new job. Shortly thereafter, he falls down some stairs and dies.
Well. We didn't like him much anyway. Long live Emperor Geteye!
Emperor Geteye, back when he was a duke, had actually launched his own holy war for Tripoli. Now I've inherited both. Two for the price of one, not bad!
She only lost an eye? Well, sign me up.
The first holy war ends in success!
The second quickly follows. I now share a border with the Byzantines.
Unfortunately, I am now threatening enough that everyone will band together to fight me, so we're going to have to be peaceful for a while until that wears off.
In the meantime, we have a familiar succession problem to attend to. While Emperor Geteye has a son, he has only one, and his eldest daughter Negasi has unwisely married non-matrilineally to someone not of my dynasty. That means if the son dies and the daughter inherits, her children will be non-dynastic heirs, and I'm screwed. Obviously I'll try to have some more sons, but I also immediately work on killing her husband. Unfortunately, once again, he's quite popular.
Although Negasi herself is willing to help kill him, for a consideration. Rough times in that marriage.
Stepping back for a moment, we can see that Israel is now one of the larger empires. The Byzantines have expanded considerably in both directions, and France has finished taking over Spain and started on the North African coast, along with Italy. Ireland is almost united, too!
I've got my Legalism up high enough that I can use Kingdom Viceroyalties. This is a neat trick -- you can bestow a kingdom on a useful vassal, but his heirs don't inherit it, it reverts to you on his death. That means you get to pick the next guy too. It helps with vassal loyalty.
Emperor Geteye's wife dies of depression, possibly because she can see the future and knows what happens next. That's okay, though, she was chosen for some reason other than high stewardship, which is just foolishness.
Well, crap. Didn't they learn anything the first time?
Pope War II: Pope Harder.
So, no sooner have I raised my armies and vassals for the war against the invading Christians then this shows up in my inbox. Host wars come about when somebody who has a claim on your title -- in this case my cousin Merille -- has raised a mercenary army in a foreign court and launched them to take your land. They're pretty dangerous, since the size of the army is proportionate to the size of your domain. In this case I'm facing 24,000 troops all of a sudden. I add the Zealots to my shopping list.
Aaaand that's the Byzantine Emperor piling on. This is getting serious. I quickly hire all available mercenaries in addition to my own forces.
My advance force, composed of my retinues plus vassal troops from Jerusalem, manages to defeat the Papal army's initial thrust. But Christian troops keep pouring into the Holy Land, and there's no sign of the Byzantines yet.
Meanwhile, Merille's armies have not so much invaded as materialized out of the desert sands. I move against them first with the rest of my forces, since host armies are fragile -- two or three victories will knock him out of the war.
As I launch my assault, I get the news that I have a second son! This eases succession worries, since both boys would have to die before any children of Negasi's inherit. Not calling off the assassins yet, though.
I manage a couple of wins against Merille before he scuttles out of range. I don't have time to hunt him down right now, so I make a white peace, even though that means he lives to fight another day. Things are getting busy up in Jerusalem.
A lot of Christians have showed up, and at least one large Byzantine army has joined the fray. Fortunately, some of my vassals you were busy fighting one another have been caught up in the war, helping to bleed the enemy.
My combined armies arrive, doing an elaborate dance to avoid fighting separately but also not run out of food in any given province. We start pushing the Christians back and retaking the castles they seized.
After several battles against the Byzantine's, the crusaders finally commit to an all-out battle, and I concentrate all my troops to get the advantage in numbers. Victory here finally tips the balance in the war, and I start hunting the rest of them down.
After I retake all the castles of Tripoli, Emperor Daniel the Fat agrees to a white peace.
A bit later, Pope Caelestinus the Holy (not the long-bearded fellow who started the war) finally throws in the towel. Victory! Or at least peace, which is like victory since I was the one being attacked here.
All this defense of the realm has left very few people conspiring against me, too, and my threat is slowly ticking downward.
Before I can plan my next conquest, though, cousin Merille comes back for another try.
This time, though, I'm not preoccupied fighting the entire Christian world, and I'm able to hunt his armies down and wallop them. Cousin Merille spends the rest of his miserable life in my dungeon.
In spite of everything I've done, everyone suspects I'm a coward! You can't please some people.
You remember our buddy Burhanaddin, who converted to Judaism for a little gold. He has a claim on the Sulamid Sultanate, so I set him up as a Viceroy King and launch a war to press his claim. (Giving him a title first is important -- if he's not already my vassal, he'll just become independent if we win the claim war.) I knew he'd come in handy!
On the succession front, the good news is that Negasi's husband is dead, though my incompetent assassins can't take any credit. I quickly remarry her to someone safe, but the bad news is that she had three children, who are non-dynasty members in the line of succession and therefore threats. I get started on trying to get them killed.
Then, things start to go wrong.
February 1115. That's a long way from here, though, right? *nervous laugh*
My war against the Sulamids comes to an abrupt halt as Burhanaddin dies, negating his claim. I can try again with his son, but first a gang of my vassals decides this would be a great time to fight yet another civil war for increased council power.
To arms! Hmm. That's actually kind of a lot of vassal armies.
I rack up some victories against the rebels, but bad news continues to trickle in from the north-east.
Yeah, yeah that looks pretty bad.
As the plague approaches, Emperor Geteye bravely decides to seal himself up in his palace with the court and try to ride it out.
"Don't worry, guys," he shouts through the gate. "It's just a precaution!"
"How's the war coming along? We beat those rebels yet?"
In point of fact, while I have an advantage in the war, it's getting hard to fight at all. The supply limit for each province is adjusted based on season and other factors, and with the plague raging it's rapidly adjusting to zero, so both sides armies are starving. I eventually offer the rebels a white peace just because my army can't move anywhere. (Also by that point most of them are dead.)
Inside the castle, food begins to run low.
Definitely starting to get a bit peckish.
I mean, I don't know if it's time yet to resort to cannibalism. But ... eh, why not?! OM NOM NOM.
Man, good thing we still have plenty of traitor!
I'm not sure how we keep getting news, but it's all bad.
Somehow I don't think more knightly orders are what we need at this point.
Because I am now a storybook villain, I'm apparently hiring a witch to kill my inconvenient grandson with poisoned candy. Sadly, this attempt fails, presumably thwarted by seven dwarves.
Yeah, about that ... everything ...
August 1119. Maybe a light at the end of the tunnel, as the plague's original path is slowly dying out.
Europe is still pretty screwed but Israel is looking a little better.
I caught someone else attempting to steal food! Only somewhat later did I notice that it was Negasi's eldest son, who I was trying to kill anyway. OM NOM NOM.
Just as the plague is dying down, camp fever breaks out. How is there anyone left to spread camp fever?
Ironically, having survived the Black Death, Emperor Geteye begins to succumb to old age.
After eight years in seclusion, I finally open the palace gates again. How's it going, everybody?
"Being a cannibal" is apparently an opinion penalty on the same order as "being lazy" or "having a bum knee". But other cannibals like you!
Anyway, I now have three sons, and Negasi has only one left. (Yum.) Things look good for the succession. Time to get back to conquest, if there's anybody left in the army!
Current Year: 1123 AD. Current Status: Still hungry.