When we left off, my attempts to gain some territory were frustrated by threat generated from retaking the territory I already had. Man. Kinging is hard guys.
On the plus side, I get to hold a triumph!
I’ve also got authority to grant titles now, which combined with the ability to revoke them are the most important rights to take from the council. Their idea of who needs to have titles is usually at odds with mine.
While I wait for threat to tick down, it’s time for some more scheming. After the war with Serbia I have two Serbian princesses in my dungeons. A little gold convinces them to join my side, and they have tasty claims I might be able to exploit.
Conveniently, I have a couple of unmarried younger sons! I betroth them to the princesses, in the hopes that they or their offspring will come in handy some day.
My chancellor has managed to forge a claim saying that the Romans do, in fact, own Rome. So that’s good. But my threat is still pretty high, and the claim will only last as long as Emperor Michael does.
So if I start the war, I end up fighting the entire Christian world. But the Pope only controls one or two counties — once his territory is fully occupied, the war is over. I decide to go for it on the premise that I can blitz him before the rest of the Christian world gets its shit together.
The Pope hires some mercenaries to help out, of course, but things pretty much go as planned anyway and I’m able to give them a good beatdown.
Bingo! No other Christian armies even got close.
Rome for the Romans!
That’s three of the Pentarchy under my thumb. (Constantinople, Antioch, and Rome.) The remaining ones are Jerusalem and Alexandria. It’s time to start thinking seriously about mending the Great Schism, which would basically make Orthodoxy triumphant over Catholicism and remove much of the threat of a crusade against me.
Lombardy is Italy now, I guess? It’s all gonna be Rome anyway!
Michael is getting on in years, which is kind of a shame because he’s come together nicely. He’s a falconer, a hunter, humble, greedy, just, gregarious, diligent, and lustful, with above-average administrative skill and eight children. Not a bad career!
Well, maybe I spoke too soon about just.
I was a little worried they’d head straight for me after I took Rome, but apparently not. Awesome, guys, good luck!
One of those princesses decides she likes me better than the little kid she’s betrothed to.
Well. Women have needs, you know?
I try for five years of peace, on the off-chance that Michael lives that long.
However, my clever chancellor manages to forge a claim on Alexandria! Hmmmmm.
While my threat is still high, the big empire that dominates the Muslim world isn’t part of the defensive pact against me. So really it’s only two smallish nations I’d be going to war with. Worth it!
My stupid cowardly council thinks this is a bad idea, so I fire and bribe people until they go along with it.
Egypt is weak and fighting on several other fronts, so the war turns out to be pretty easy. I told you, guys.
That’s four of the Pentarchy in my hands, now. But Michael is 66, and our threat is too high to go for Jerusalem yet. Plus Michael is unlikely to have enough time to gather the 2,000 piety needed to mend the Schism. So we wait, for now.
I pass my twilight years gambling on chariot racing …
…assassinating interfering adventurers …
… and arranging promising matches for my daughters!
Finally, Michael’s best friend Maximos dies. Since I’m basically waiting for him to kick the bucket at this point, I decide to help him along. Who wants to live in a world without Maximos?!
Though some of his schemes were thwarted, Michael has a pretty awesome career, adding all of Italy to the empire and capturing two more of the Pentarchy. Getting closer to my goals!
Anthimos, I choose you!
Anthimos is 38, with decent diplomacy and so-so stewardship. He’s my first emperor Born in the Purple, having spent his whole life in imperial splendor. He’s humble, charitable, deceitful, and depressed.
This guy is diligent and trusting, which is probably why he’s willing to come to my court and ends up married to my daughter.
New quack! Heretical sorcerer sounds great.
At first I thought this was going to be the nun-who-is-Death thing, but it turns out some monks just need money. Happy to oblige!
The piety will come in handy, too. It’s time to get serious about this Great Schism thing. In addition to Jerusalem, I need 90% moral authority and 2,000 piety. The moral authority won’t be hard — I’ll get +10% for Jerusalem itself — but the piety is going to be a stretch. Anthimos only has about 500, and my options for getting more are limited.
I haven’t managed to forge a claim to Jerusalem, so that means it’s time for Holy War. The huge Muradid Caliphate is busy with a civil war, so I’m optimistic that I’ll only have to face the Taids, who are small.
As I launch the war, I acquire a son! Better and better.
There’s currently a plague in Jerusalem, so the land won’t support many troops. This mostly works to my advantage, making it hard to the enemy to organize.
Soon I’m laying siege to everything in sight. As I hoped, the Muslims are distracted with various internal wars.
Like many of my wars, it was surprisingly straightforward!
The last of the Pentarchy is under my command. Whether I’ll be able to hang on to them is another matter, of course.
Moral authority has gone up, too. So the only remaining obstacle is piety, but that’s a pretty high bar. I get a bit of a boost from the holy war itself, and more from bestowing the newly captured churches on worthy vassals, so I’m now close to 1,000.
Although this … could be a serious problem.
But on to gaining piety! The problem is, not being Catholic, my options are fairly limited. There aren’t any Orthodox holy orders to donate to yet, and there’s no Pope to buy indulgences from, so I don’t have a great way of turning cash into holiness.
Instead, I work on my churches. Normally I don’t pay much attention to my church holdings, since the castles provide most of the troops, but you can upgrade them and they contribute piety every month. I also start building some new churches, which will both contribute piety and give me a lump sum when I grant them to vassals.
If I could declare holy war, I could seize more churches and grant those, but my threat is over 50% so I’d have to fight the whole world. Sigh.
I’m trying to be pious here! I’m not hiring a witch as my doctor!
Instead I appoint Bishop Narses, who is learned as hell and shockingly handsome to boot. He’s the George Clooney of the ancient world.
I shift my own focus to theology, in the hopes of getting more piety-granting events.
Because of his high learning Bishop Narses is shockingly effective at finding heretics. Burn the Catholics!
Burn the witches!
You know what? Just keep burning people until I tell you to stop.
Does friendship increase piety? No? Then what good is it?
Of course, I love … whatever the hell that is. Is it food? I bet it’s food.
Yes! Ponder away!
Crap. Anthimos is getting old before his time. Must be all the praying.
When I said to keep burning people, I didn’t mean me, dammit!
I’m up to 1400 piety, but Anthimos is going senile at the age of 47.
Sadly, all my pious strivings are for naught, and poor Anthimos dies tragically early. Not much of a career, but at least he got Jerusalem. And the churches I built will continue providing piety to his successor, who unfortunately starts back at zero.
Methodios, I choose you!
Methodios is seven. He was born in the purple, and is attractive and conscientious. That’s promising, at least.
Unfortunately, we’re in for nine years of regency, and the vassals are plotting against me.
Can’t start being pious too early!
Methodios knows you just have to stand up to bullies.
Though he can be a little twitchy.
Orthodoxy is working its way into Italy. I’ve sent the oh-so-pious Narses over to Jerusalem, because if it becomes Orthodox I get my own religious order, which would help a lot.
Consumption: also working its way into Italy.
Inevitably, my vassals rise up demanding more power. Bring it on, fools!
Italy is in revolt, which means if I win, I’ll be able to switch them from a hereditary kingdom to an appointed viceroyal exarchate.
The big battle happens outside Constantinople, and I give the rebels a good kicking.
Victory! I take the Italian crown from Erelieva, who hates me anyway —
— and bestow it as a viceroyalty on the appropriately grateful Symeon.
Methodios is fourteen, and has picked up diligent and stressed. Turning out nicely!
And he manages to get through two more years without anything horrible happening. He picks up ambitious, which is great, and his stewardship education worked out well. His martial could be better, but all in all not bad.
At sixteen, his piety is 332. He should be able to make 2,000 before dying if I really try, right?
Current Year: 958 AD.
Current Status: Hopefully Not Foreshadowing.