All hail Sibylla, Empress of Rome!
Unfortunately, she’s not great, with pretty terrible stats. She’s already infirm, though, so at 53 I don’t expect her to last that long. Fortunately her son survived to adulthood, incidentally making all of Methodios’ abduction and Satanic sacrifice a bit pointless.
People are not terribly fond of Sibylla, either, mostly as carryover from the terrible opinion her father had accumulated by the end of his reign for openly worshiping Satan.
This definitely sounds like someone I want as my doctor and not locked in a padded cell a long way away. Ew.
Sibylla’s husband dies almost immediately, and I replace him with this guy, an ambitious genius paranoid lunatic with one hand and amazing stats.
With that done, Sibylla brings the still-ongoing rebellion to a speedy conclusion. The timing on this actually works out nicely, as she gets the “crushed a revolt” modifier, plus the bonus for confiscating and redistributing rebel titles.
I make my son Exarch of Jerusalem and put him on the council, which gives me a sympathetic vote to help pass more powers for the crown.
Said son is pretty good stats-wise but is craven, possessed, and lunatic, which doesn’t bode particularly well for the dynasty.
Let’s definitely get involved in his screaming fights with his wife, that’s sure to end well.
Not a bad empire, but we’ve got a ways to go. My goal is the reclaim the borders of the old imperium, which presents three major obstacles. In the north-east, France is big enough to be at least a little problematic. More difficult are the two big Muslim empires, Hispania in the west and the Muradids in the east. The old borders include all of the former and a big chunk of the latter, so there’s quite a lot of work to do.
To continue expanding into Gaul, we need to attract people with claims on big chunks of land to my court. This guy is promising — apparently his liege humiliated him, so he’s open to joining my team and has a claim on Aquitaine.
I make him Exarch of Bulgaria, and marry him to a young wife to breed some children to inherit those claims, since he has cancer and may not last.
Sibylla the Gouty. I’ve had better nicknames.
Unfortunately, my expansion plans have to be put on hold, as the Sunni Caliphate comes calling.
Various Christian leaders help out by sending their thoughts and prayers, and sometimes the occasional soldier.
The opposing armies gather around Antioch and Constantinople.
As usual, good use of fleets is critical for getting me superiority in the big battle.
Unfortunately, Sibylla is losing her grip on reality.
Her pus-licking, scab-eating holy woman doctor manages to revive her briefly with a swarm of bees.
The war is going well, but big Muslim armies continue to stomp around the Holy Land.
Sadly, even bees can only do so much. Sibylla didn’t have much of a chance at being Empress, since she was already sick on taking the throne. At least I’m now another generation removed from Methodios’ horrors.
Ioseph, I choose you!
For some reason this causes the jihad to come to an end? This is actually sort of annoying because I was winning and hoping for a big indemnity.
Meanwhile, I’ve inherited Ioseph’s own holy war, which is going quite badly.
Ioseph hasn’t improved much in five years. His stats are good, at least, and he’s got a son already.
For the moment, anyway.
Speaking of physicians, I need a new one. A forest dwarf sounds like a better bet than scab/bee woman.
Because he’s crazy, Ioseph gets to name his dog Lucifer.
Buuuut he draws the line at actually worshiping Satan. I’ve heard stories about granddad.
Another revolt breaks out, as usual. This one isn’t much of a big deal, though.
Not sure why this turns up now since I’ve held Cyrenaica for a while. These provinces (there are fourteen of them, though two are not technically provinces) are my ultimate goal. Controlling them all means restoring the ancient borders of the empire and claiming victory. There’s a ways to go, though.
Aha! It showed up now because one of my vassals grabbed some bits of the southern Mediterranean coast. That’s looking tidier, anyway.
There’s actually a large Russian kingdom forming in the north, but they’re still tribal so they’re weak.
Around this time, these start turning up in my mailbox. I believe Raymond de la Tour du Pin is the husband of one of my aunts, but everyone in the empire hates him, because I get invitation after invitation to have him killed. Raymond, what did you do?
What the … what?
This boils down to a tiny little duchy declaring war on me. Since my threat is still high enough I can’t launch any conquests, it’s a welcome distraction beating the stuffing out of them.
Seriously Raymond, they wouldn’t be this mad for no reason.
Ioseph is following in granddad’s footsteps again…
Guys, look how old he is. Just wait a few years.
My threat crosses the crucial threshold, which in this case is 75%. Above that, I have to fight everyone; below that, Christians won’t join wars against non-Christians, so I only have to fight the Muslim world. That, I can handle, so I launch another holy war against the Muradids.
I’m also working on killing the king of Aquitaine, so that I can install my own claimant.
My wacky schemes worked for once! Unfortunately, the effect was for Aquitaine to fragment into little pieces, which is not what I wanted. I’ll get back to them later.
Look, if you all can’t manage to kill him without me, you can’t be very good murderers.
Victory! Another chunk of Egypt returns to Roman rule.
My threat is still too high to deal with the Aquitaine situation, but a revolt almost immediately breaks out against the Muradids, so I take advantage of that. Revolt leaders don’t join coalitions, so they’re easy targets.
That dwarf is all right!
A second Muradid revolt gives me the chance to grab even more land, although doing this kicks my threat back up to 100%, again.
When the Despot of Sicily dies childless, I have an excellent opportunity to finally take advantage of my Aquitanian claimant. I make him the new king of Sicily, and then move to press his claim.
Burgundy is the biggest remaining chunk of Aquitaine, so I go for that. Once again I’ll be fighting literally everyone.
It goes considerably better than you might expect. This war makes me realize I basically don’t have to worry about threat anymore — while everyone forms up against me every time, most of them aren’t really in a position to help. What happens is various armies lay siege to castles at the edge of my empire, while I assemble my forces by ship and blitz the target, assaulting their castles and smashing anyone who gets in my way. It’s expensive in manpower but much faster than laying siege, and I have manpower to burn. Typically, the target surrenders before their “allies” in the rest of the coalition can intervene.
This is … a dangerous realization, because it means the only things standing between me and constant war are truces and actually having claims on territory. And as Roman Emperor I have a lot of claims.
My vassals have been doing solid work, too. Gaul is really coming together.
Still working on stripping the council of having any say whatsoever over policy.
Fortunately, I can always count on loyal Glitterhoof’s vote.
Sadly, she dies not long after, having gone mad from syphilis. G…glitterhoof, what were you getting up to?
At 34, Ioseph is now “the Wise” in spite of still being possessed and insane. He’s managed to have a string of children, including at least one boy born in the purple, who is now heir.
Waaaait a minute, I’ve already seen this episode!
Sure enough, the Black Death is back, though we must have develop some immunity because it mostly stays in western Gaul. Inspired by this, though, I start building a hospital in Rome to help protect the emperor, which eventually becomes the largest in the world.
The emperor does get sick, but it’s just food poisoning, and Dr. Dwarf is on the case.
Unfortunately he follows this up immediately with consumption.
This time, my little friend is less helpful.
Ioseph doesn’t let illness interfere with his … um, rabid dog beating.
Butt stuff: not always the answer, especially to lung disease.
But! I have a new Despot of Africa, who happens to have a claim on the Kingdom of France! I wonder how that happened…
War with France (and everyone else) quickly ensues.
Third time’s the charm, I guess, eh Demetrios?
France quickly falls before the might of the legions.
Definitely looking a bit more empire-y.
Orthodoxy is spreading nicely, too, with the few Catholic holdouts mostly concentrated in England. Don’t worry, their time will come …
Current Year: 1035 AD.
Current Status: Insane but it’s not all that bad, really.