[CK2] How I became the (terrible) King of Italy

My little kingdom of Italy!

First off, I apologize for the lack of more interesting screenshots in this post. Just like the start of this playthrough the decision of writing this was pretty much a spur of the moment thing. In other words this was born more of an “Hey, why not write about it?” than anything else.

To be completely honest (and as you may already expect from the title) I am a terrible player of Crusader Kings 2. I barely know enough to get through with dinasty in the west european/feudal countries. In fact, I usually just tried to start playing in Ireland, also nicknamed “Tutorial Island” by the players due to how easy it is to start there. :p It is just that was the only place I usually got anything done to my satisfaction as my attempts to play in other locations or other cultures (like the vikings, muslim or republics) didn’t work out so well. So, Ireland was a safe, known place. And I thought if I mastered it enough, if I was start there and expand from it to conquer to other places I might have a chance later on with different scenarios.

Well, that never really happened. But in one of those whims of what to play, I decided to play Crusaders Kings 2 and this time try something different. Instead of starting off as one of the counties that would one day form Ireland, I decided to start as a Duke in Italy in Early Medieval Ages. This was the time of Charlemagne, before Italy was the way we know of it today and it was called Lambard.

My plan was relatively simple:  I was going to start as a Duke, try to get as much control over the adjacent counties until I had an army strong enough where I could just demand to be nominated King of Italy, perhaps even expanding from there to conquer other countries.

I decided to start as a duke in Pisa. This decision was based on no other reason that I liked the name of the place. Plus for some unbeknownst reason I thought it would be a good launch place to attack one of the arabian nations across the ocean if I felt crazy enough. :p

Showing where I started in the map of Italy

From there, I ordered my chancellor to fabricate some claims to Lucca. Once that was done I went and conquered the county. Then through marriage, I got some actual claim on Sienna to the south. The wife was the one who ruled that county but that was ok. Once my character and she died, the heir inherited all those titles, being able to rule over  those counties directly. I tried then to fabricate claims on Firenzze to the east. Unfortunately by then the king of the  time had changed the laws so that all his vassals (that included me), couldn’t fight each other, no matter what. Hoping that he would just give the land titles of Firenzze didn’t work out either as the king didn’t like my character of the time.

Luckily though, the next king did like my next heir and he thought the claim over Firenzze was totally legit, giving the place to me. That was the last place I was able to put under my control though for quite a while. I did fabricate some claims over Obertello, to the south, which belonged to the Pope. Even went to war to over it but turns out the Pope is a big cheater. As soon as I beat his main army he just spawned another big one out of the blue. This kept going long enough that it was just unsustainable for me so I had to propose a White Peace, leaving those lands alone.

Meanwhile the king got us into some stupid wars, some of which even lost some lands and in only one case he won a county in another island. Throughout all that I didn’t raise my armies to help him out. I figured out if he was too stupid to get into those wars it should be his soldiers to pay the price, not mine. That and I was often too busy fending off Viking raiding parties. For some reason the Vikings loved to try raiding my counties. Even though there were plenty of other counties just as good in the coasts. I swear they were doing that just because I was the player. :p

I also kept an eye on the kings dinasty, hoping to marry one of mine to one of his so I could eventually have a valid claim over the throne of Italy. That eventually happened. I was able to marry one of my heirs to the king’s sister. That alone should be enough to guarantee a rightful claim. But for some dumb reason I thought that wasn’t enough and married that heir to the king’s daughter. So my heir becomes an adult, I am waiting the right time to make my claim to the throne. But due to some kerfuffle I put the heir’s wife as a spymaster. She discovers a corrupt noble that instead of admitting his guilty and giving back the money, sends some thugs to assassinate her. Still acting in a very dumb way, I end up marrying the heir to the other daughter the king had. Her age made her past the the time to produce children so there would be no one to inherit their titles when they died. Since due to some circumstances I had the law of elective succession, which allowed me and people of a certain rank to vote for the next heir.  With this I made the next one in line to be my heir’s sister who also had a valid claim on the throne, I wasn’t too worried about it. I also had the erroneous thought that my laws would just transfer over once I became king. That didn’t happen but more about that soon.

Now that I had all my pieces in place, it was a question of waiting for the right moment to strike. The king was old, with only a boy for heir. My plan was to wait for the king to die of old age, which should make the next king nothing more than a boy, without any real political power or allies. In other words, a much easier target if things came to war as they most likely would.

The old geezer took too long to die of old age though. Even my ruler was started to become old. His wife died too… I am not sure of what, if it was old age or sickness. So I had him remarry the princess of somewhere else, a young one this time. Then the arabians decided to declare a holy war for a county in an island far away from us, that didn’t even belong to our kingdom anymore. Why did they declare it against us and not whoever ruled the place, I have no idea, but that wasn’t the first time it happened and not the last. Someone else declared war against our king too for some reason I didn’t care. This was another good thing for me, because if I made my move as soon as the wars ended it meant the king’s troops would be depleted while mine would still be at full capacity. Yes, that means I haven’t lifted a finger to help the king, as always. :p

Mallorca, the island county that was the cause of many holy wars

The war dragged on for a long time. The old king died, we got his son, an infant, as the new king. If this war didn’t end before the new king became an adult, he could marry, getting some other kingdom as an ally and then I might have fight him and whatever ally his got.

Fortunately the war did end up before that, with both sides declaring a White Peace. So I made my demand to become king of Italy. Of course, my demand was refused so we had to go to war. Thanks to my underhanded tactics, my army was bigger than the king’s one. Plus I had enough money to hire some mercenaries too, which I did, just to be on the safe side. This war made me start to wonder if the AI just cheats though. Because as soon as I destroyed his army, he was already deploying another one with a number considerable enough to make my life harder. Oh, and  there were some Viking raiders too. Screw you Vikings!

My lucky though is that West Francia (part of what would one day become France), decided to declare war on the king too, for their own causes. The king moved his troops to deal with the newcomers while I moved mine to the south and siege some cities there. In a few more months I won the war!

The former king, plus a bunch of his supporters, end up in my oubliette, dying in a few months. The war with West Francia just ended since they didn’t have a rightful claim anymore to our lands. So everything was well…. except for the laws.

Remember when I said, I wasn’t too worried about not having an heir because of the succession laws? Well, turns out the laws of duke just do not automatically transfer to the laws of a king. Which makes quite a lot of sense actually. Due to the way the game works there are some laws that I can’t change until I ruled for 10 years. That meant that if my character was to die then all his titles would be transferred to people outside my dynasty, which would mean a game over right there. To rub salt in the wound, the centralization laws were pretty weak, which allowed any of my vassals to wage war against each other. This makes for a very poor power base as old allies could suddenly lose their titles and a rival take over.

The good news though (well, good for me anyway) was that my ruler’s wife had died of… old age, I think, while that holy war thing was going on. I had my ruler marry someone else then, a princess of some place or another. A couple years after the start of my rightful rule of Italy, they had children. Which was a good thing too, because four years after that my ruler died of old age. Since his heir was just an infant, who obviously couldn’t rule, he was appointed a regent. And likely all stupid regents they made the laws even weaker, to the point where the king was nothing more than a figurehead. At least that regent suffered an “accident”. A fatal one. :p

While my ruler was growing up, the arabians declared another war for that county that even ours anymore. At first they pretty much steam rolled through my troops. But other kingdoms started to offer help to fight them off. Eventually I was able to muster enough troops to start turning the tide. Things were dragging for too long though, becoming unsustainable. So I decided to just send a request for a White Peace and that was that.

After that things have been thankfully uneventful. My ruler became an adult, got married and started the slow process of changing the laws to centralize power. Although it will be a couple generations at least until the king is powerful political figure. Meanwhile I am planning on taking back some of the lands that the previous rulers lost. Possibly even expanding, by taking those lands that belong to the Pope, or maybe to take over Bavaria or some other smaller place. There are some lands adjacent to Italy that belong to the Byzantine empire that I’d like to own too. But they are too strong to star a war with right now. So maybe in the future.

Aquillea, the place I intend to conquest next

Once again, I apologize, for the lack of better screenshots or if it was hard to follow along in certain places. Like I said, this was a spur of the moment post. If I had planned it then I’d been more careful to write down names and take screenshots as the action (or as close to it as Crusader Kings II gets) went on.

Also, I realize this story is pretty tame as far as this game goes. I mean, there were no incest, kinslaying, a war against five different kingdoms for no good reason and a conversion to an heretic religion just to setup an Anti-Pope. :p

2 thoughts on “[CK2] How I became the (terrible) King of Italy”

  1. Although I’ve never played this game, your account of events read as if they could’ve been ripped from a history book. Pretty awesome how those game mechanics manage to recreate the whimsicality of Europe’s political history!

    • That is the main attraction of Crusader Kings 2. It tries to be pretty accurate and simulationist for a certain time period of medieval Europe, to the point of  even having real name of historical figures and places. Of course, after the player starts a game anything can go! For example, the muslims could take the entirety of Europe and hold it successfully forever. Or the Irish could be the ones to create the United Kingdom. Or the Pope decide to convert to an heretical variant of catholicism! Really, there is some crazy stuff on this game!

      Paradox, the developers of the game, also constantly release new DLCs that add more depth to the game too so as the game gets older it gets more interesting… and crazy.

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