Roman Empire walkthrough

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Roman Empire walkthrough
Map
Roman Empire borders.png
Dynasty
Isauros/Makedon/Komnenos
Nation
Byzantine Empire
Start Date
Jan 1, 769 / Jan 1, 867 / Apr 1, 1081

Restoring Pax Romana in all its glory and uniting the whole Christian world while mending the Great Schism is a daunting task to be sure. Therefore, this general guide on how to build and manage empires, with some specific tactical and strategic advice relating to the specifics of playing as Basileus of the Byzantine Empire, is here to assist you in becoming the next Augustus.

Prærequísíta (Prerequisites)[edit]

The decision to 'Restore the Roman Empire' requires, in addition to the territory goals discussed below, the following:

  • Possession of the Legacy of Rome DLC
  • The current ruler to be at least age 16, not be imprisoned, and not have the 'incapable' trait.
  • The current ruler to be the top-liege (emperor) of at least the Byzantine Empire.
  • The current ruler to be a Christian. NOTE: Orthodoxy is not required! You could forgo mending the Great Schism (or mend it and then switch) and restore the Roman Empire as a Catholic, or any other Christian denomination.

General Notes[edit]

Like other walkthroughs and guides on the Crusader Kings II Wiki, this is merely a guideline on how to complete your goal - it is not the only way to go about such a task. Want to try to form the empire in 1337? Go right ahead. Want to try to form the empire without hiring a retinue? Nothing is stopping you. The only necessary reminder? Be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day, after all, and some luck is required for any and all runs. Just keep at it, and you will perhaps find yourself Basileus of Rome someday - that is if that count in some bygone province with 30 Intrigue who's been eying your crown doesn't murder you first.

This walkthrough was written with regard to obtaining several achievements (specifically, Pentarch, Legacy of Rome and S.P.Q.R.). Achievements require Ironman mode, and also require abstaining from using the ruler designer. However, you do not need to be in Ironman mode to restore Imperium Romanorum; if this is the case, the 1066 start could be easiest, since the Empire's borders are as enlarged as they're going to get in the official timeline, and with the ruler designer you could create a much better Emperor than Konstantinos X Doukas.

Initium (The Beginning)[edit]

Any Byzantine Emperor might consider his dynasty predestined for the long and tedious journey to reunite Christianity and to reestablish the greatest empire of the ancient world - however, historically, nearly every Byzantine dynasty failed (the most famous and only one who nearly succeeded was Justinian I's). This guide attempts to show - in the simulation of Crusader Kings II - how three prominent dynasties could have done better. For an additional challenge, one could also work his dynasty through the ranks, starting with, for example, a duke belonging to the de jure Kingdom of Sicily; but this guide is not focused on how to usurp an empire, but rather how to build a bigger one. The main goal is to start big and keep getting bigger and meaner, with a strong powerbase at all times.

Depending on the DLCs owned, there are different possible starting points:

  • The most obvious choice is the Charlemagne bookmark, 769. Here the Byzantine Empire still has large holdings on the Italian peninsula and in Georgia, and you also have the most time of all possible starting dates to conquer the former Roman Empire provinces. Jihads can't start before 900, so with a 769 start, there is enough time (barely) to take the duchies of Jerusalem and Tunis without triggering an jihad almost immediately. The Arabian Empire (under the Abbasid dynasty) is still unified, however, which might or might not make things more difficult. In Anatolia and Armenia, there exist the independent Muslim realms of the Addauid Emirate and the Uqaylid Sultanate (Kingdom of Armenia).
    • The Byzantine Emperor, Basileus Konstantinos V of the house Isauros, has a passable martial skill (>15), and is otherwise an average ruler. He is, however, an adherent of iconoclasm, an orthodox heresy. Since the Byzantine Empire is the only realm with Orthodox provinces, you have a shot at making Iconoclasm more popular than Orthodox, making it the parent religion (Orthodox becomes a heresy of Iconoclasm). This would make gaining the Pentarch achievement, which requires your ruler to be orthodox, more difficult. Because Konstantinos V also has the zealous trait, you can't simply use the decision to Renounce Iconoclasm. You need to lose the zealous trait first. The Scholarship focus provides an easy way: building an observatory and studying the stars makes you cynical.
  • At the Old Gods bookmark, 867, the Abbasid dynasty has lost control about the larger part of the Arabian Empire, so instead of facing a large Muslim Empire, the Byzantine Empire under Basileus Makedon faces a weakened Arabian Empire and several Muslim sultanates (kingdoms). This makes conquering them easier, but they still will frequently join each other in Holy Wars. In eastern Anatolia, northern Syria and Georgia there exist several independent emirates, as well as an independent Orthodox kingdom of Georgia and a Miaphysite duchy of Armenia. If the Byzantine Empire takes Jerusalem or Tunis, Jihads are going to start immideately after the year 900. Also, the Byzantine Empire has lost several holdings on the Italian peninsula and in Georgia, and only gained the duchy of Diocleta on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
  • The Stamford Bridge bookmark, 1066, is not taken into consideration in this walkthrough. The Byzantine Empire has retaken most of Armenia and even the duchy of Antioch, but lost all its holdings on the Italian peninsula. To the east, the Byzantine Empire borders the powerful Seljuk Sultanate, which has just started an invasion of Armenia! This war might be winnable, but what makes this starting date quite difficult is the fact that the Byzantine Emperor, Konstantinos X Doukas, is utterly inept (no skill >10). His heir isn't any better, so that a long and tedious succession crisis is almost inevitable. A written strategy on how to stabilize the Empire and to get a capable ruler is not yet available.
  • A better bet to restore the Roman Empire might be The Alexiad bookmark, 1081. Basileus Alexios I Komnenos is a young and fairly capable and well-liked leader, which opens up a lot of possibilities for early expansion during his lifetime.
  • The Third Crusade bookmark, 1187, and later bookmarks aren't taken into consideration here. From c. 1180 on, the Byzantine Empire is reduced to holdings in Greece and northern Anatolia, making it a challenge to even restore it to the glory it still had in 867. Restoring the Roman Empire from such a feeble basis on would be beyond the abilities of the writers of this guide, though theoretically, it could be possible.

The art of ruling an Empire[edit]

Managing a huge empire with a large number of faraway vassals is difficult, as ancient rulers discovered. The key to success is for the ruler to be universally well-liked and respected. Opinions of vassals matter, and if they start to dislike him for whatever reasons, treasonous thoughts of independence are likely to cross their minds. Thus, effective management of vassals both direct and indirect is crucial to allow uninterrupted expansion instead of constant resolution of internal conflicts. The vassals' opinion depends to a large part on the personal qualities of the ruler. High diplomacy and prestige help a lot, as are favorable ruler qualities such as "Just" and "Brave". This aspect of the opinion towards the ruler is hardest to control, but can serve as a pointer to what kinds of educators are preferred for infants groomed for empire office (see below under family matters). Even for rulers with mediocre traits and attributes there exist strategies to control vassals, though.

Imperial administration[edit]

With the Charlemagne expansion, the art of ruling an Empire in Crusader Kings II has changed substantially. Whereas previously the idea was to have as many small vassals as possible, only creating duchies to avoid having to deal with discontent counts directly, there now is a vassal limit which forces the ruler of any empire to hand out titles to vassal dukes; any large Empire (as the Roman Empire you wish to recreate) won't be possible to without having vassal kings. Of course, a vassal king is quite powerful, which could make keeping yourself emperor difficult.

To compensate for this, the Charlemagne expansion added the option to hand out viceroyalties. These work like the usual duke and king titles, with several useful exceptions, most importantly, that they revert back to you (or your heir) upon the death of the character you have granted such a title to. A high enough legalism technology allows an Emperor to call for a vote on the respective reforms. There is also the option to adopt an imperial administration with majesty technology level 5 and absolute Crown authority. This increased your vassal limit by a whopping +25 and allows easier revocation of minor viceroyalties and retraction of vassals.

The huge advantage of the Byzantine Empire is, that these imperial reforms are already passed. Since the following is written with respect to the Byzantine Empire it doesn't discuss the problem of establishing an imperial administration, but aside from that, it is also useful as general advice when growing an empire.

Per Unitatem Vis (Strength Through Unity)[edit]

With 90 direct vassals and counting, it's inevitable some of them won't like their liege much, particularly after succession. At a 769 start, this is not an issue, since Basileus Konstantinos V of the house Isauros has already ruled for 28 years. This is probably your best chance to get the law for elective monarchy passed (see below under family matters). In general, slightly discontent vassals can be bribed ('send gift') or awarded honorary titles to improve their opinion of you; this is often sufficient to weaken dangerous factions that threaten you, but of course this requires some financial reserves. This can also work for vassals of a different Christian denomination (your Catholic vassals if you're Orthodox, e.g.); unless they are Zealous , they often will accept a request to convert to the One True Faith after a generous monetary contribution (and an honorary title, if necessary).

With vassals of a heretic or infidel religion, this might not work, and you often have better option anyway. If you have at least medium crown authority, you can revoke their titles without angering your other vassals. This is preferable, since you then can divide their counties among your unlanded family members, thus expanding the power base of your dynasty. You might want to move your retinue and the Varangian guard next to your vassal's capital county, if they (might) refuse the revocation and rebel.

The opinion hit from vassals of a foreign culture can be swallowed to some extent; This might be acceptable, especially if they rule over a province of the same (foreign) culture, because it removes the increased revolt risk. However, for the culture of the province to change to Greek, it needs to be ruled by a Greek count.

Problems can also be caused by vassals that are particularly ambitious . If they desire something that you own, they get at least a -25 opinion modifier towards you; unlike with envious vassals (-15 opinion modifier), this can't be compensated with bribes, unless the general opinion your vassals have of you is already very good.

This is where the imperial administration of the Byzantine empire really shines and gives the Emperor a decisive advantage over problematic vassals. It enables stripping a viceroyal duke (called 'Strategos' in the Byzantine Empire) of his title (called 'theme' in the Byzantine Empire) without incurring the displeasure of other vassals, which is a convenient way to control independence-seeking rulers. As long as a discontent vassal has only control of a single theme, stripping it and granting it to a shabby unambitious single-county ruler in the same de jure territory makes him the new Strategos problem. The new viceroyal dukes will have great respect for his liege since he has climbed up the hierarchy, and is less likely to rebel against him in some years to come. The ex-Strategos will like the basileus even less, but since he is not his direct vassals any more, there's no immediate reason for concern. Revoked and re-granted titles always become direct vassals of the basileus, so it's a good idea to transfer them to their de jure liege to avoid an opinion hit with them. If you also need to strip a vassal of a count title (probably because he has already accumulated several of them) your best option is to send you Magistos to fabricate a claim. You can only revoke a county if the respective count is your direct vassal, so it might be better to fabricate the claim first.

However, if a duke with an inheritable title (called 'doux' in Greek) is causing you problems, then you can't simply revoke his title, unless you can afford to take the -20 opinion penalty with your other vassals for 5 years. This is one of the reasons why you don't want to have any doux (feudal duke), if possible, within your realm, and rather want every one of you duke-rank vassals to be a strategos. The other reason is, that a feudal duke (or king) gets a negative opinion modifier towards you for every viceroyality that you hand out. Since you are going to do that quite often, this modifier can accumulate up to -40 or more.

Attention: A vassal who owns all the counties within a de jure duchy will create the duchy himself and proclaim himself doux! So one of the first things you want to do at the 769 start is to create the Duchy of Mallorca and hand it out to the count of Mallorca and Menorca as viceroyalty.

With an extraordinary powerful vassal (4+ counties or an inheritable kingdom title) diplomatic actions and title revocation often won't be enough; you then have to resort to intrigue or be prepared to incur a moderate general opinion penalty for tyranny. You likely won't face this problem until you have reconquered Italy, though.

Semper Fortis (Always Strong)[edit]

A strong power base is key to maintain control of the vast empire, so always keep at the demesne limit (land is easy to conquer and give away). You can also consider building up a large personal retinue right away. Even strong and particularly ambitious/envious/zealous/infidel vassals will think twice before declaring independence when their liege packs a 15K elite retinue force together with a few thousand personal levies. Recruitment should start as soon as possible and should never cease. However, replenishing the retinues is a significant financial investment, so it might be better to invest the money initially in upgrades to the demesne of Constantinople to increase the size of the levy. If at any point the basileus' standing armies diminish drastically in size, rebellions and independence declarations are sure to follow. Independence factions often act on their freedom urges at around 35%-40% strength, so if the faction is dangerously close to that number, bloody confrontations with powerful nations should be avoided at all costs.

Ad Aedificandam Pacem Romanam (Building Pax Romana)[edit]

A prudent ruler would do well to improve their demesne early. Constantinople and Thessaloniki start with a healthy income, and construction projects should be initiated without delay, focusing on income, military and defensive structures, in this order. Most attacks will happen far away from home if everything is going smoothly, and defensive structures are entirely optional. Gold is easy to come by in a large empire, and there are many venues to spend the hard-earned gold for important upgrades, titles or claims. Hired muscle and the fearsome Varangian Guard are also a helpful source of emergency troops if the enemy ever comes close to Constantinople.

Gain the hegemony of Mediterranean and Black sea[edit]

It is very good idea to make some (4 or 5)merchant republic.They will give you lots of gold.Recommended duchy is Armeniacon,Adrianopolis,Krete, Mallorca etc.(Sure,venice and Amalfi)You should make first merchant republic near Constantinopolis,to make them build trade post there.

Ad Increbrescendum (Growing Strong)[edit]

Although you are ruling an Empire, initially even a single mistake could cause you to lose a war, from which your Empire won't recover fast enough to survive the next war. There is only one solution to this: Wage more wars! You need to expand fast and incorporate more territory into your empire, to gain more levies that can be raised from your vassals and increase your taxes, that are going to be used to finance your retinue. Of course, you need to chose carefully who to attack: Attacking enemies with more than a few counties at a time and drawn-out conflicts are to be avoided. The empire will wage wars almost constantly, either initiated by the basileus or by his numerous allies abroad. The key to success is two-fold: mobility (with the help of the Imperial fleets) and timing (for which retinues are critical).

The general modus operandi is to look out for small independent or rebellious rulers in interesting duchies, bring almost all retinues and the Varangian Guard at their doorstep, declare war and invade. With sufficient number of soldiers, almost any holding can be assaulted with minimum losses, meaning that single-county realms can be conquered in a matter of minutes. Assault should be attempted only if the empire force outnumbers the enemy at least 9 or 10 to 1, otherwise it will suffer devastating losses with probable long-term effects. (One thing that I found is that if you have about 5000 in retinue Catapracts and the Varangian guard will have you lose about 100-300 troops per assaulted holding, and mending the schism also gives you access to the orthodox holy order which is also effective at assaulting holdings. Anonymous Player) It doesn't matter if the casus belli is a religious war, de jure claim or a claim on behalf of a vassal—as long as the blow is delivered quickly and decisively, the conflict can be forced into resolution before the poor count's liege or powerful friends react.

Additionally it is recommended to form the Varangian Guard ASAP in the 867 start - they are certainly worth the 300 gold.

Levies[edit]

Raising vassal levies is an ambiguous issue. On the one hand, you get a negative opinion modifier from your vassals, which continually increases as long as they are raised, and only fades away slowly. Especially when your realms isn't that stable, this will lead to dangerous factions forming. On the other hand, when your retinue and personal levies get decimated fighting border wars, you get weaker militarily in relation to your vassals, which also increases the risk of a faction ultimatum. Not waging expansionist wars isn't an option, so you will preferably start wars that you can win easily using your retinue and personal levies. Should you miscalculate, don't hesitate too long with raising your vassal levies.

Levies are well used to support local conflicts, for example quashing rebellions, giving just a bit of extra push to an ongoing invasion or opening a new theater of war for a small and quick to resolve conflict. A healthy reserve of levies are useful in a case of emergency, particularly to quash independence attempts. Ferrying out levies from abroad is usually difficult, time-consuming, and largely unnecessary to win a war, however it may be key to winning a Jihad.

As far as defense goes—nobody would dare declaring war to the 800-pound, purple-born gorilla in the room. Religious wars for Syria and Jerusalem are likely, but if the empire mustered enough strength to capture these hotly contested lands, surely it is capable of holding them too, preferably with some help from well-disposed Christian allies.

Fleets[edit]

Fleets do not count as levies for the purpose of declaring war, so they can be raised all the time. However, this would still sour the basileus' relationships with their owners, and his own personal fleet won't have the size necessary to lug around tens of thousands cataphracts, horse archers and various support troops at once. More importantly, personal fleet need to be paid, and that's an expense hard to justify when there are retinues to be recruited and vassals to be bribed. Keeping personal fleets raised will, except for empires with a very strong economy, result in a budget deficit. Therefore, it is wise to raise fleets locally as needed and disband them as soon as the army storms the beachhead.

Fleets can also be used tactically to avoid confrontations with an overwhelming enemy force. This is a possible tactic to conquer the duchies of Jerusalem, Alexandria and Tunis. To conquer them from the sea, load your retinues and the Varangian guard and/or mercenaries on ships, move them to the respective duchies coast, and declare war then. While your and your vassals levies are being assembled (either to be shipped, or to attack via land) storm the enemies holdings, but keep enough ships near the coast, so that you can retreat if the enemy approaches with a superior army.

Initial Expansion[edit]

Initially, the Byzantine Empire will attempt to conquer those counties, that are part of its de jure territory, realms that are too weak to defend themselves effectively, and take out realms that might pose a threat in the intermediate future.

  • Asia Minor (Kingdom of Greece, Anatolia, Armenia): This region probably has the highest priority, since it is required as base for further expansion towards Syria and Jerusalem; also: holding it helps keeping Constantinople safe from becoming a direct war goal. Since this region is part of the de jure Byzantine Empire, single counties can be attacked using the 'de jure claim' casus belli. In case your target only holds on county of the respective duchy, this is always preferable to a holy war. The result is the same, since you can simply strip infidel vassals of their titles (as long as you have at least medium crown authority in the Byzantine Empire), but, unlike a Holy war, other Muslim rulers are far less likely to join your target in defence. If you are attacking a target that holds several or all counties of a duchy, you are generally better off declaring a holy war for that duchy, although this is riskier. Holy wars against the small independent rulers in Asia Minor should be possible without greater precautions, if you can get them over quickly. To minimize the risks, wait until the neighbouring Muslim nations are busy with other wars.
    • At the 769 and 867 start, the population in this region, though under Muslim rule, is still of Byzantine culture (Greek or Armenian) and orthodox, so there is a high chance that the Muslim rulers will be faced with a religious or a liberation revolt. This provides an additional opportunity for expansion. In the small Muslim states in Asia Minor, these revolts actually have a good chance of success, especially if you use the opportune moment to declare war yourself and destroy the enemy army, taking care not to clash with the rebel armies. Once an orthodox or an Armenian/Greek revolt is successful, the ruler of the newly formed state will likely accept an offer to become your vassal. This is another reason why you should attempt to renounce Iconoclasm at the 769 start. Regardless of whether the iconoclast faith has triumphed or is still a heresy, you'd get the heretic negative opinion modifier towards the leader of a successful orthodox revolt, thus preventing you from vassalizing him.
    • At the 1081 start, the Sultanate or Rum posses a difficult challenge. The only feasible option appears to be waiting for it to separate and rebel, and quickly conquer as many counties as possible. The Sultan of Rum might offer to become a vassal of the basileus, and if that happens, no efforts should be spared to convert him to Orthodox religion. This significantly eases absorbing the sultanate into the empire. Generally, it is a good idea to wait with Holy wars against a Muslim ruler until he is at war with one or several of his Muslim neighbours, or these are busy with other wars.
  • Balkans (Kingdoms of Croatia, Bulgaria and Serbia): The Duchy of Croatia is required to restore the Roman Empire, but more importantly, this region provides good opportunities to get stronger. Since it is also a de jure part of the Byzantine Empire, what has been said above about de jure wars and holy wars applies here, too. A good choice for the first war at the 769 start would be a de jure war over the county of Ohrid against the High Chief of Rashka. Keep in mind that the Slavic religion (but not the Tengri) has increased attrition, so until you are able to research military organization level 4, either send your vassal levies or try to get the war over quickly.
    • The Pagan realms are weaker than the Muslim realms in the South, but Holy wars against them should still not be undertaken lightheartedly. In case of larger realms, patience often pays off, since with low crown authority, pagan kingdoms are often shaken by rebellions, providing the Byzantine Empire with a good opportunity for attack. The Magyars/Hungary are more of a threat in 867, as they get large amounts of event troops by forming the Kingdom of Hungary
  • Crimea and Caucasus (Taurica, Alania, Georgia,): These are mostly optional, but provide a venue early on to expand and grow bigger to participate in larger conflicts. The parts of the kingdom of Georgia that you don't own are under Muslim rule, similar to Asia Minor. Taurica and Alania are under pagan rule, comparable to the Balkans. Also, all the holdings in Taurica and Alania are tribal (even at a 1081 start), which makes them less useful until they are upgraded to castles.

Expansion in Italy[edit]

Depending on the starting year, conquering Italy (or, to be more exact, the Apennines Peninsula, which is larger then the kingdom of Italy) might be of moderate difficulty or quite a challenge.

  • Venice: The Duchy of Venice is required to restore the Roman Empire, and it is a special case. With a later start, Venice will expand quickly in the Adriatic sea by taking over cities in the coastal counties, which makes it recommendable to take out the serene republic early. You have a de jure claim. Be careful, though: The wealthy serene doge of Venice summons mercenaries at will.
  • Kingdom of Italy: You need the duchies of Latium, Genoa, and Ferrara to restore the Roman Empire. The simplest way to conquer Italy is inviting a noble with a strong claim to it to your court, ask him to convert to orthodox, and after he has accepted, grant him a landed title: then press his claim.
    • The parts of the Kingdom of Italy that are needed to restore the Roman Empire can of course also be conquered separately, but this would take far longer. At at 1081 start, this might by the only option though, since the title of the kingdom of Italy does not exist. Its territory is part of the Holy Roman Empire, and since this is stronger than the Byzantine Empire (at least intially), the best option would be to attack a duchy when it is part of a revolt against the Holy Roman Emperor.
    • The Duchy of Latium, which is under the control of the pope, can pose a very hard challenge. With a de jure claim, it is easy, if the Byzantine Emperor, or his vassal, controls the kingdom of Italy. Otherwise, the Byzantine magistos will have to be sent to fabricate a claim on Rome and other counties in Latium, which can take a long time. The Holy Father does not take kindly to being declared war to, and promptly hires an army of more than 10000 soldiers to fight off the conquest. It is not recommended to attempt invasion with retinues less than 15000, with additional support from levies in surrounding counties. This task becomes substantially easier after mending the great schism, because (1) the papacy will always remain catholic, meaning you can snatch all of the holdings with a single holy war and (2) the pope will receive a lot less money from bishops, reducing the number of mercenaries he can recruit. Alternatively, you can convert to Catholicism and push an antipope's claim. Pick a pope who despises the Holy Roman Emperor and you might even be able to invade the HRE. Note that controlling Rome after mending the Schism will cause Crusades to be unlocked, though not necessarily against you.
  • Whereas at the 769 start, the parts of Kingdom of Sicily that you don't own are under the rule of the Italian king (and thus will be yours if you successfully manage to make a vassal of yours king of Italy), at the 867 start, there are several independent dukes on the southern tip of the Apennines Peninsula, as well as two Muslim Emirates. Since the Kingdom of Sicily is a de jure part of the Byzantine Empire, a casus belli against the dukes isn't a problem; better conquer them soon, before some else beats you to it. The Emirates can be attacked in holy wars; as usual with a holy war, try to win it quickly. The longer a holy war lasts, the higher the likelihood of half the Muslim world coming to the defence of your target.

Later Expansion goals[edit]

  • Near East (Kingdoms of Syria and Jerusalem): The duchies of Antioch and Jerusalem are your main goals here. Both are required to mend the great schism, and are needed to restore the Roman Empire. Antioch should be, after a successful reconquest of Anatolia, right at the Byzantine Empires borders, and can be conquered with one or two holy wars. Depending on the start date, the duchy of Antioch might partly be under the rule of the Abbasids or Seljuks; this will probably the first instance where you inevitable have to attack them. Jerusalem is even more of a challenge, since it doesn't border the Byzantine Empire directly, and is part of a Muslim empire at all three start dates. These wars are winnable, of course, even if the Muslim army outnumbers the Byzantine one.
    • These duchies are outside the de jure territory of the Byzantine Empire, so a holy war is the only feasible option. The Byzantine Magistos can also try to fabricate claims, but likely, there are other more important tasks for him.
    • If you are lucky, the Abbasids or Seljuks could be facing a decade-long period of weakness due to a decadence revolt or a rebellion. If neither side is clearly superior, such a revolt can actually continue that long. In this case, the Byzantine Emperor can conquer another duchy in Syria and Jerusalem, as soon as the truce from the previous war runs out.
  • North Africa (Kingdoms of Africa and Egypt): Duchy of Tunis is the main conquest interest here, and can be conquered with a holy war.

Taking these duchies is usually difficult, due to some powerful players in the region (Fatimids and Seljuks, respectively).

In time, opportunities, namely a catholic crusade, may present themselves to conquer counties in the de jure domain of Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the rare, but possible, rebellions in North Africa to claim Tunis without drawing neighboring Muslim rulers into the conflict.

Also of note is that creating the Kingdom of Jerusalem yields vast amounts of prestige and piety (5000 and 2000, correspondingly), and can boost significantly the score of a young ruler trying to make a name for himself.

Integrating conquered territory[edit]

After most wars, you will find yourself with quite a few holdings to give out to new vassals. The winner in a holy war takes all holdings of a foreign religion in the territory, and generally, after a de jure war, and later an imperial reconquest, vassals of an infidel or heretic religion can be stripped of their titles right away. If you currently aren't at your demesne limit, you might want to keep some castles or counties for yourself (until you gain better holdings), but everything else needs to be handed out to vassals. For cities, bishoprics and baronies, the 'create new vassal' button will suffice, unless

  • (for cities): You want to create a vassal merchant republic. In this case, you might want give the city holding to an unlanded member of your dynasty, preferably one with high stewardship. After you have granted him the respective count and duke titles, he will become the head of a patrician family in the newly created merchant republic.
  • (for bishoprics): You need to removes someone from your line of succession, since you don't have the feudal elective law. Just grant him the bishopric.
  • Castles can be used to increase the numbers of capable commanders for your army. If you grant the barony titles last(after the respective kingdom title), the barons will be your direct vassals. Granting them to characters with high martial abilities or desired leadership traits makes these characters available as commanders.

Granting counties can require some effort to find appropriate characters. The ideal character would be of your dynasty, of course unlanded, but also neither heir to another title, nor second or third in line to inherit a title. Furthermore, he would already have children, who can inherit his titles, but until then don't own any titles themselves. This is all necessary to keep the Empires vassals from accumulating titles through inheritance. If the province is of a foreign culture, the new count should have a stewardship skill of 15+, to maximize the chance the the province adapts the Greek culture. Since every count should rule over only one province (!), you will need to find appropriate characters quite often.

To look for appropriate characters, go to the 'find character' interface, set culture to 'my culture', religion to 'my religion', ruler to 'no', click on 'search realm' and sort by stewardship. To display only members of your dynasty, enter your dynasty's name in the top box. Most of the time, the imperial dynasty won't have enough unlanded members with high stewardship, that aren't already heir to a county title, so that some counties will have to be granted to other landless characters, preferably ones from a small dynasty. In the exceptional case that there aren't enough high stewardship characters in your whole realm, you can create new characters with good stewardship by using the 'invite noble to court' decision in the intrigue tab. Whereas characters that are heir to a title can easily be recognized, a character who is second or third in line to inherit a title is far more difficult to figure out. This is a point where one can comprise, if one doesn't want to spend the time required to check the potential counts family relations.

After the counties are sorted out, you then need to choose an new strategos (viceroyal duke) for the duchy. Preferable is a count who likes you a lot, which would make a member of your dynasty who has the content trait an ideal candidate. For this reason, it would be useful, if at least one count in the duchy is of the imperial dynasty. The same also applies to conquered kingdoms; there are four ways to gain a kingdom title; revoking it from one of the Empire's vassals (or, very rarely, gaining it through inheritance), usurping it after conquering the last county the previous title holder owned in the de jure kingdom, creating it when it doesn't exist and the Empire controls enough of the de jure territory, or conquering it in a Crusade. Crusades are only available to catholic or fraticelli Emperors. In case a revoked, inherit or usurped kingdom has a lower crown authority than desired, it might be useful to destroy the kingdom title. A viceroyal kingdom is called 'Exarchate' in the Byzantine or Roman Empire, a viceroyal king 'Exarch'. Depending on the size of the kingdom, Exarchs can be extremely powerful (An Exarch of Greece can raise 12k+ levies, e.g.), so finding a a suitable candidate is an important task. Preferably he is of the Empire's ruling dynasty, holds a theme within the de jure kingdom (but doesn't own any holdings outside of it) and has traits that make him like the Emperor a lot. The content would be best, but other virtuous traits are also good, if the Emperor doesn't have the opposite. For an inheritable title looking at the traits of a candidate would often be a wasted effort, since the respective heirs likely have different traits anyway, but for viceroyal titles, this makes some sense. Of course, depending on the focus the ai selects for a non-player character, a single characters trait often change, too. Also, Exarchs don't really need good skills, with the exception of a high martial skill, in which case they can lead armies. An Exarch should only have a very high intrigue skill if he is sure to stay loyal.

Family Matters and Succession[edit]

Depending on the start date, the players character will either have a martial or a stewardship education trait. This is good initially, as a high martial skill results in more levies (and makes the character a better commander) while a high stewardships skill results in a higher income. But as the Empire gets larger, these factors become less important, whereas diplomacy becomes more important in dealing with the Empires vassals.

Some time before the conquest of Italy, it would therefore be recommendable to select a Grey Eminence as guardian for the imperial heir. When choosing a guardian for a (potential) heir to the imperial throne, a high primary skill (in this case diplomacy) and useful traits are important, but even more essential are good values in all attributes. The attributes of the ward depend on the attributes of the guardian, and an emperor needs to be good in all areas, with the exception of learning. (Learning is mainly important for rulers of realms that need to advance fast technologically, and the Byzantine Empire doesn't have this problem.) Improving your attributes later on is almost impossible (if they are equal or higher than 8), but with the selection of the appropriate focus, traits can be improves once your heir becomes the new ruler. For other family members , who are not likely to ever be considered as a potential heir to the imperial throne, a high martial or high stewardship education is more useful, and only the primary attribute is important.

If the Emperor himself already has the desired education trait and in other respects good attributes, then usually he is selected himself as the guardian for the heir to the imperial throne. This allows some control over the traits the heir acquires during childhood.

Diplomatic Marriages[edit]

Noble foreign princes and princesses are suitable matches for the relatives of the basileus of the Byzantine Empire, and the prestige hit can be ignored in most circumstances. Marrying male family members to landed females sends them away to the court of their beloved, which prevents landing them later (although they can still be heir to the empire). Such marriages should be preferably avoided, unless the young groom is to be disposed of, or is intended to start a new branch of the dynasty abroad. One trick to keep them in court is to land them after in the period after a marriage proposal is sent and receiving an answer—this will keep them firmly under vassalage and will bring the fair maiden from abroad instead, with the only caveat that if the proposal is denied, the kinsman can no longer be married to a person of the liege's choice outside his court.

Giving too many titles to a single person is to be avoided. First-born sons usually inherit most of the titles of their fathers and shouldn't be given additional holdings. Unimportant counties are best handed to second or third sons without proper heritage, or the husband of a matrilineally married female relative. Sinful relatives with congenial defects and no redeeming qualities are ideal for a church career, as granting them a bishopric holding conveniently removes them from the line of succession and grants a small Piety bonus. If no suitable candidates are available, some of the capable, married with children courtiers of the emperor's culture might be worth ennobling.

There's typically no need to look for spouses with claims, as there are more than enough casus belli close to home as it is—lower-born elite bachelors and bachelorettes are commonly better, with good, complementary traits to the basileus' and his heirs'. High Stewardship is always appreciated, it bumps up the demesne limit of the husband by 1 for every 8 points in the skill.

Another reason to keep most female relatives in the family is to avoid being drawn in conflicts at inopportune times. Spouses can be picked from far-away places, preferably Scandinavia and Britannia, while avoiding claimants of powerful nations. Newly-weds following other religions can be converted to Orthodox as soon as they end up in the court usually after a small monetary wedding gift or an honorary title.

Marriages for Congenital traits[edit]

A comprehensive imperial marriage policy and breeding program are nice to have, but by no means essential to the success of these glorious endeavors. It's probably a good idea to keep as many of the dynasty members in-house—that shabby cousin-on-the-fathers-side-twice-removed is the perfect candidate for the poor, God-forsaken County of Nowhere on the fringes of the map. The Komnenos dynasty starts with only 11 living members, but as most of them are the basileus' siblings and currently unmarried, there's great potential to expand the dynasty significantly under the course of the next few generations. Giving away lands to relatives increases the prestige of the dynasty and ensures a steady supply of new soon-to-be-landed nobles.

Succession laws[edit]

Making the most suitable progeny the heir to the imperial throne can be a lot easier in an Empire with elective monarchy succession.

The Byzantine Empire starts with Primogeniture as a succession law. It's going to be very difficult to change this at any point in the game, as it will require having no vassals with negative opinion of their beloved Basileus and a long reign, so a succession law change needs to happen either when the first ruler of the empire is on his dying bed, or not at all. Elective monarchy is probably the only good alternative, but that is risky if the current ruler and his heir are not very popular. The vassals control significantly more land, and consequently elector titles, than their liege does and can pick a powerful Duke among themselves. If elective monarchy is passed as a succession law, newly conquered lands and titles should be given predominantly to relatives from the same dynasty, with outsiders firmly in the back seats.

With Primogeniture as a succession law, it's vital to keep heirs to the throne safe. They should be landed as soon as a wife is chosen for them (never before!), shouldn't ever be allowed to leave the court for the love of a landed female abroad, and should always be educated by capable people from the Basileus' own culture to avoid the significant opinion hit as a foreigner. A nice, juicy duchy or even a small kingdom (Serbia, Croatia or Bulgaria come to mind) with some titles below should allow them to increase their prestige a bit before it's their turn to rule. Giving them too many titles should be avoided—they might try to kill their liege to take his place before their time or demand additional titles and act rashly if their wish is not granted. Nothing worse than dying by the hand of your heir, with the terrible deed known to all your kinsmen.

All children born while Basileus is in power gain the Born in the purple trait, which grants them a succession right stronger than that of earlier-born siblings. This trait affords additional prestige, but can also ruin a carefully groomed and properly landed first-born who doesn't have it. A Honorary title of Despot counts as "Born in purple" for the holder, making it possible for an earlier-born child of Basileus to be considered heir.

Religio Mundi (World Religion)[edit]

Spreading the Orthodox faith among the empire's subjects is key to keeping them content and under firm control. Installing Orthodox rulers in newly conquered lands is a great way to convert quickly the population even without intervention from the Court Chaplain.

After mending the Great Schism, almost all rulers convert to Orthodox faith, which makes your task significantly easier. Heretic rulers can be quickly brought into the fold by declaring a Holy War for their lands.

Metae Propositae (Proposed Goals)[edit]

The religious goals are a subset of the conquest goals, and will probably be resolved first. Mending the schism also turns Catholicism into a Christian heresy, which provides a convenient casus belli for a Holy War against the heretics.

Metae Religiosae (Religious Goals)[edit]

Mending the Great Schism

To mend the schism, the seats of the Orthodox Patriarchies prior to the schism must be fully controlled:

  • Rome
  • Antioch
  • Alexandria
  • Jerusalem
  • And, of course, Constantinople

Additional requirements:

  • At least 90% moral authority of the Orthodox church
  • 2000 piety.

Participating and winning religious wars is a great way to increase both. Another way to achieve this is to create the title of Kingdom of Jerusalem, which grants a bonus of 2000 piety at the expense of only 200 to create the title. Conquering each of the counties is worth 100 Piety and a grateful letter from the Ecumenical Patriarch, although sadly not in an increased opinion towards the royal persona.

Mending the Great Schism grants the following benefits:

  • Most Catholic rulers become Orthodox.
  • Catholicism (and its heresies) are now heresies of Orthodox Christianity, and can be attacked in holy wars.
  • The ruler receives the nickname "the Saint" in the annals of the Roman Empire.

Warning! Christians will permanently lose ability to call crusades, even if Catholics or Fraticelli become "parent" religion.

Metae Victoriae (Conquest Goals)[edit]

Restoring the Roman Empire

To restore the Roman Empire, full control of the following domains is required:

  • In Greece:
    • Duchy of Thrace. Difficulty: Trivial. You already have control of the duchy. Assuming something catastrophic doesn't happen, you should have control for the whole campaign.
    • Duchy of Athens. Difficulty: Trivial. Ditto.
  • In Croatia:
    • Duchy of Croatia. Difficulty: Easy. The small-ish kingdom is not very difficult to conquer, given the keen interest of the King of Hungary in gaining a naval border on the Adriatic sea. Serbia should be conquered first as a gateway to a firmer hold on the Adriatic, and Croatian counties can be chipped away as circumstances permit. If Hungary nabs Croatia, though, be prepared for a bitter struggle. The Magyars/Hungary are more of a threat in 867, as they get large amounts of event troops by forming the Kingdom of Hungary,
  • In Venice:
    • Duchy of Venice. Difficulty: Hard-ish. The wealthy serene doges of Venice summon mercenaries at will and expand quickly in the Adriatic sea by taking over cities in the coastal counties. Recommended to take out first, as each additional city to conquer requires waiting out 10 years for the truce to expire, and you have a de jure claim anyway. Furthermore, controlling Venice will help fund future wars, as Venezia makes a rich demesne province (once you revoke the castle of Pallestrina) or location for establishing a new vassal republic.
  • In Italy:
    • Duchy of Genoa. Difficulty: Hard. Same reasoning as the duchy of Venice, however, you don't have de jure claims (unless you manage to form the Kingdom of Italy within 100 years of the game start).
    • Duchy of Ferrara. Difficulty: Very Hard. Firmly under the control of the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferrara can present a challenge and is best left for last, when Byzantine Empire can command armies several times over those of the kaiser. A valuable opportunity may present itself if the duke of Tuscany rebels against his liege. Capturing Ferrara is much easier in 867, unless the Kingdom of Italy inherits/is inherited by any of the other Karling kingdoms.
    • Duchy of Latium. Difficulty: Very Hard. Fabricating a claim on Rome and other counties in Latium can take a long time. The Holy Father does not take kindly to being declared war to, and promptly hires an army of more than 10000 soldiers to fight off the conquest. It is not recommended to attempt invasion with retinues less than 15000, with additional support from levies in surrounding counties. This task becomes substantially easier after mending the great schism (to mend it you have to control Rome), because (1) the papacy will always remain catholic, meaning you can snatch all of the holdings with a single holy war and (2) the pope will receive a lot less money from bishops, reducing the number of mercenaries he can recruit. Alternatively, you can convert to Catholicism and push an antipope's claim. Pick a pope who despises the Holy Roman Emperor and you might even be able to invade the HRE.
  • In Sicily:
    • Duchy of Capua. Difficulty: Easy. This should not present a challenge, as there are enough de jure claims to go around. Attack as often as possible.
    • Duchy of Apulia. Difficulty: Easy. Ditto. However, it often falls into the hands of the King of Italy at the 867 start.
    • Duchy of Sicily. Difficulty: Moderate. Early on while still under control of Muslim leaders, even a de jure invasion can bring on other Muslim rulers into the conflict. Tread carefully and grab independent counties when possible. De jure claims are always available for these lands as they fall under the de jure domain of the Byzantine Empire, so they should be considered low priority. The Most Serene Republic of Pisa and its numerous mercenary forces is keen on expanding to the island, and waging war with them should be avoided until you have accomplished the rest of your conquest agenda.
  • In Africa:
    • Duchy of Tunis. Difficulty: Moderate. A Holy War for Tunis is a good casus belli, as all six counties can be conquered in one fell swoop. An opportune moment would be an attack from the Most Serene Republic of Pisa or Genoa, as both tend to expand in North Africa. Be warned, though, that claiming Tunis will allow Jihad to be called by the Moors, if they haven't already, and you may find yourself Jihaded. Therefore, it is not recommended taking Tunis until you have enough manpower to survive such an assault.
  • In Egypt:
    • Duchy of Alexandria. Difficulty: Very Hard. Declaring a holy war is the only viable option here. The duchy contains five counties, so fabricating claims for three of them, usurping a duchy and then pressing de jure claims would take at least 50 years total, and five wars against the Fatimids. Rebellion of the duchy against their liege is not very likely, so an opportunity should not be wasted. The Fatimids command impressive number of soldiers, and large armies suffer severe attrition in the desert regions. The best tactics is to occupy the whole duchy as quickly as possible and wait out for the enemy to attack or regroup in the neighboring territories. The conflict can be resolved automatically after the region is occupied for a long time.
  • In Syria:
    • Duchy of Antioch. Difficulty: Hard. Virtually impossible while still under the control of the Seljuk Sultanate. Eventually, rebellions will start and some of the duchies in the region might declare independence. The duchy falls outside the de jure borders of the Byzantine Empire, so either claims need to be worked out, or a religious war declared at an opportune moment. Declaring a holy war will almost always attract the Seljuks, unless they fight against the ruler of Antioch themselves. In 867, the Duchy is split between minor Islamic powers, so it is easier to Claim.
  • In Jerusalem:
    • Duchy of Jerusalem. Difficulty: Very Hard This duchy can present a major challenge because it is usually controlled by a major Islamic power. Furthermore, capturing Jerusalem allows Caliphs to call Jihads (after the year 900), and they may target a kingdom you control.

The Pope will usually call a Catholic Crusade for Jerusalem soon as he can (usually, soon after 1090). If you are Catholic, join and become the largest contributor. Otherwise, help out the crusaders by declaring another war on the defender, and then look for a way to snatch the duchy from the victors. You can either fabricate personal claims on the counties (you can even start doing this before the crusade), or wait a generation and invite claimants on the kingdom or duchy.

Minor holdings[edit]

Every single holding in each county must be under the firm control of the Byzantine Empire. Minor holdings might not be under the control of their de jure count:

  • Cities that have been conquered by merchant republics using the City conquest CB.
  • Castles (and Muslim mosques) that have merged due to inheritance.
  • Castles that were built by holy orders.
  • Minor holdings that were occupied by someone else, who was also at war with your target when you conquered the county (with certain CBs such as Holy War).

You may be able to offer vassalization to these stragglers if you have the same religion. Even holy orders can be vassalized. Holy orders and merchant republics also sometimes have claimants.

Otherwise, you can conquer them using the count's De jure claim on minor holdings CB. The count will be grateful (+100 pressed my claim).

Effects of restoring the Roman Empire[edit]

  • The ruler who restores the Roman Empire will receive the nickname "the Glorious".
  • Roman emperors are automatically given the Augustus trait, which grants +10 vassal opinion and +0.5 monthly prestige. This can stack with the +5 opinion modifier from being Born in the purple , and the +10 opinion modifier from rapidly accumulating 2000 prestige.
  • Any duchy considered rightfully part of the Roman Empire can be attacked using the "Imperial Reconquest" CB.
    • Muslims cannot be attacked using this CB; you'll have to risk holy war.
  • The de jure capital moves from Constantinople to Rome
    • Lose access to a decision to seize Constantinople
    • Gain access to a decision to make Rome capital (make Tivoli castle the capital of Rome province; seize it; and make it the realm capital)

Epicinium (Aftermath)[edit]

If all goes well, all required holdings to achieve the goals can be conquered in the span of 150–200 years. If you can make conquests that were as miraculous as those of Augustus, you will receive standing ovation from the crowds in Rome and Constantinople as the ruler of the one true Roman Empire and the undisputed home for a united Christian faith. After this, there is still the S.P.Q.R achievement to obtain: Can you recreate the borders of the empire old or conquer India for Augustus? Perhaps even destroy the pagans or convert the Arabs to the One True Faith? This list of duchies required for the S.P.Q.R achievement can be found in roman_events.txt in the event folder.

  • If you completely conquer certain regions as Roman or Byzantine Empire, you get a triggered event that gives you 100 Prestige. In two cases the event requires the conquest of a single duchy (Duchy of Cyrenaica; control of the Duchy of Crete is also required, but the Byzantine Empire begins with Crete. The duchy of Corsica and Sardinia is the only Roman Province in the game that consists of only one de jure duchy.), but most often several duchies are required. There are also events for regions that the ancient Roman Empire never conquered successfully. Details can be found in roman_events.txt. If you don't get this event, check if there is any barony, city or temple/bishopric/mosque holding in the kingdom, that is not your vassal.
  • The same goes if you control all the duchies required to get the event about the restoration of the Roman Borders, but the event somehow doesn't happen. You need to check manually for independent baronies within your realm.
  • Important Notice: If you decide to destroy the Roman Empire title for whatever reason (changing succession laws, anger. etc.) you will be unable to recreate the Byzantine Empire and therefore also unable to recreate the Roman Empire at a later date. You will also lose the "Augustus" trait.