When we last left Northumbria, things were relatively peaceful, with at least one of my Viking opponents in Suðreyjar being swallowed up by the Gaelic kingdom of Alba. And Jarl Halfdan, in the south, seems to be making nice.
BUT! There is something rotten in the state of Northumbria!
Somehow I feel like I’ve seen this one before.
With Suðreyjar gone, the next thing for me to do is pick off the remaining counties of Strathclyde before someone else does. Summon the clergy!
Bishop Brice fulfills his primary ecclesiastical function of falsifying documents.
Wait, it’s my wife who is planning to kill Macbeth? What a twist!
Also, Mom is still serving as spymaster after all these years. She’s so good at it!
I get to work taking over Strathclyde, which isn’t too hard. My marshal Æthelsige is killed, though, which means I’m in need of some new knights. I recruit a promising lad named Rory Scoine who will have an illustrious career.
The war progresses nicely, and my wife is pregnant again! Still no sons, so this is a good step.
Or possibly not. Poor Muirgel never even got to murder Macbeth like she always wanted.
Still. The kingdom needs a male heir, so I recruit a new wife who is frankly amazing. Hopefully my children will inherit her intelligence.
But speaking of children, we now come to my oldest nemesis in Crusader Kings — god-damned gavelkind. Now called “confederate partition”, this is the default inheritance scheme of the early medieval era, where property is split up among all eligible heirs.
Note that of my two top-level domains, Muriel is heir to Northumbria while Isabel is heir to Lothian. That means when Hlothere dies, the kingdom will break in two.
Unfortunately (but accurately) you can’t change this succession method until much later on. (Early in CK2’s history, you could ahistorically switch to seniority or primogeniture fairly quickly, but the new tech system in CK3 doesn’t allow it.) So there’s a few possibilities for mitigating the problem. You can try to have only one valid heir — a son takes precedence over all daughters, so if I have a son now he’ll get everything. Ultimately, though, that’s very hard to control, so my goal is to eventually have only one top-level title — either by destroying all but one of my duchies, or creating a kingdom-level title. That way, while your personal demense will be split up (which is a pain) at least all the new king’s siblings will be his vassals.
Anyway, Agnes gets started on the problem by getting pregnant almost immediately.
There’s happenings in the south, though! Jarl Halfdan, my secret admirer, has finally died. His first son died in my dungeons, and now his second son has also died.
As a result, Jórvik has split off Lancaster, which makes them look less threatening.
And with an eight-year-old as the new Jarl, I might actually have half a chance against them.
Agnes comes through with a son!
Possibly too soon to celebrate though.
I take the plunge and declare war on Jórvik for my claim on the county of Northumberland, which my father lost to them back in the beginning. I need to hire some mercenaries to fight them, but fortunately Pope One-Eye comes through with the cash.
Meanwhile, I forge a claim on the last remnants of Strathclyde. I will conquer Aeron and secure their overpriced office chairs!
This guy comes to me to narc on my spymaster who is also my Mom. Dude, just stop.
As I keep fighting a drawn-out war against the Vikings, the king of Alba also dies. His son is an adult, but is looking temptingly weak compared to his father. Hmm.
Finally I manage to get Jórvik into a decisive battle. Go Provost Thomas!
Noooooo Provost Thomas!
Finally. Even as kids these Vikings are no pushovers. But I have regained my ancestral homeland and namesake!
Uh. I’m pretty sure we don’t believe in that.
Ah. The problem is that Northumberland has gone pagan. I send Bishop Brice down there to sort them out.
I’m ready to press my totally real claim to Aeron, but unfortunately they’re in the middle of being conquered by Vikings. Dangit.
While I’m waiting, I recruit some new knights. This guy is great, except he’s a pagan.
Fortunately, he’s willing to work on that! And he’s soon joined by …
CONAN! The Well-Statted. With 20 prowess and the Strong trait, this is a guy I need on-side.
First I make him a knight …
Then I marry him matrilineally to my daughter. (Since he’s my knight, he doesn’t get to say no.) If I don’t end up with any living sons, then Muriel will be my heir, so she needs a good husband.
By now Aeron has fallen to the Vikings, but they’re not strong enough to beat me, either. I declare war on the new Earl.
In his first battle Conan manages to kill two or three guys and wound the enemy ruler.
Unfortunately the Jarldom of Essex gets involved in the war, and I have to march across the country to meet their army at the beaches. Thanks a lot, Jarl Dan.
And poor sickly Ælla dies. Things are getting stressful here.
At 30, Hlothere isn’t much of a fighter, but his stewardship is spectacular. Combined with his wife’s abilities, I’ve got plenty of gold and I can hold a ton of land in my personal demense, which helps a lot. Still just the two daughters, unfortunately.
Make that three daughters. Since I’m going to have to marry them matrilineally to be safe, my dynasty will get a lot bigger.
I finally win the war for Aeron, which we apparently call Ayrshire. This puts me at eight counties, one above my demense limit, the amount of land I can personally hold. That means I need to start creating vassals to hold land on my behalf.
I know who my first draft pick is. CONAN!
I actually get a little overexcited and give him two counties instead of one. Oops.
This isn’t just my love of his prowess, though. In the event that Hlothere dies without a son, Conan will be my husband, so his lands will be useful.
But Northumbria is actually looking pretty coherent!
Hlothere is getting increasingly stressed though.
To add insult to injury, Gryth’s son is already plotting against me!
So, let’s see what we can do here. First we hold a feast to reduce Hlothere’s stress level!
Then we try to seduce Drifa, hoping to have an illegitimate son to reduce my stress level.
Mother fluffer. Not now, Irish, I’m trying to cut down on stress!
No wine! This is serious.
My options are to pay for the extra wine myself, or take a collection and make a profit. I do the latter since I need the money to hire mercenaries to fend off the angry Irishmen.
The war is a mess, but at least Drifa likes me!
As is so often the case when the numbers are close, we end up in mutual sieges. But I manage to win mine first and capture the Ulsterian heir!
This isn’t quite enough to get me all the way to victory, but the indemnity is probably less than fighting out the war would cost, so I accept a white peace.
Always pick Beowulf. Chicks dig Beowulf.
Mom is … up to something? She’s the spymaster, she’s kind of up to something by definition. I think I won’t pry.
Aww, she was literally planning a surprise party for me!
“Surprise, my king! Oh and also, someone is plotting to kill the Bishop.”
Oooooh. My chancellor has managed to get me out of my peace treaty with Jórvik! Their Jarl is still a kid, and I have mercenaries with a year or two left on their contracts. It may finally be time to end this.
First things first, though. We have important business to attend to. *saxophone music*
Goddamn it, guys, you are ruining the mood.
As usual, the way to stop these Viking invasions is to be there when they first stagger off their boats. That’s what you get for being buzzkills.
Okay. With that dealt with, it’s go time. I launch a holy war against Jórvik for the duchy that makes up most of their territory. They’re still pretty weak, so it’s mostly a matter of burning down some castles.
Once again, “I never thought it would come to this” in the sense of “this was precisely my objective.”
Did you say “son”? Yes, I’ll take credit for that! Sorry Agnes.
Jarl YA-Love-Interest surrenders at last.
Finally. Jórvik is reduced to a few rump states, its power broken forever. With Suðreyjar swallowed up by Alba, both my original antagonists are down for the count. Southern England is divided into tons of petty kingdoms that look ripe for conquest, and Hlothere has a bastard son to legitimize if he needs one. So far, so good! Time to clean up those borders…
Year: 908 AD