In 1364, Amalrich III had reasons to celebrate. In the year since he’d succeeded his father as Byzantine Emperor, he’d announced his conversion to Islam and murdered his brother Werner all without serious consequences to his reign. Now, he welcomed the news his wife, Marie of Carthage, was pregnant, and for good measure decided to take a second spouse. He found one in Adila, the 16-year-old strong genius daughter of the Sultan of the Kilabids, who held the land bordering the Kingdom of Mesopotamia, all the way down to the Red Sea. To top that off, he’d just arranged an alliance with the French that ought to shore up his western borders. Everything was coming up Amalrich.
Some changes needed to be made to accommodate the Empire’s new religion. First, the Christian court chaplain was fired, and a good Kharijite Muslim appointed in his place. Then that chaplain was sent to preach in England, and hopefully convert the child king. Mordeleg, the old king, who had been Muslim, had died in suspicious circumstances some years before (although many suspected Amalrich’s father, Amalrich “The Cruel”), proving the biggest stumbling block to the acceptance of Allah in the British Isles. With the Queen of Wales having converted to Islam in Amalrich’s dungeon, where she had languished since the last big revolt, and the ailing Enudaig of Pictland’s son and heir Iestan a convert also, England with luck England would follow suit.
In fact, the makeup of the Empire seems to be a roughly half and half split between Catholics and Kharijites. See below for a list of my major vassals:
Emperor, King of Cyprus, King of Great Moravia, King of Portugal, King of Castille
Queen of Sicily, Wallachia
Queen of Wales
King of Galicia
King of Mesopotamia
King of Alania
King of Georgia
Republic of Venice
King of Poland
King of Bavaria
King of Scotland, Mauretania, Ireland and Andalusia
Queen of Sweden
King of Greece
King of Anatolia
King of Trebizond
King of England
King of Antioch
Queen of Afric
King of Italy
As you can see, it’s roughly 50/50. I will say, however, the Christian rulers have definitely got the strongest parts of the empire. England, Scotland, Italy, Poland and Bavaria, for instance, are incredibly strong, while on the Muslim side the recently-conquered Georgia is still nursing enmity with the Empire, while the others are all small kingdoms with very little in the way to offer for levies. Luckily I’ve got the alliance with the French and the Kilabids as well as cash for mercs if I need them.
So although everything is good now, it couldn’t really be expected to stay that way forever, could it? The Greeks of the Eastern Roman Empire had never quite gotten used to being ruled by Germans, but Muslim Germans? That was a step too far.
Since taking the Byzantine Empire, I’ve faced so many revolts I couldn’t count them. Some of them big, some of them against single kingdoms that I’ve deliberately provoked in order to remove them from factions. I’ve even, on occasion, switched off and reloaded because the revolt was too stupidly big for me to counter. That made me feel like a cheat. I understand why the game does this – it doesn’t want you to become too powerful so will knock you down on occasion. But I just don’t want to have come this close to achieving my goals and get kicked back to one county because I didn’t understand the rules when I started playing. Next time my empire will be more stable because I will have made the necessary changes to laws etc to manage a larger empire. I’m stuck playing catch up right now, but I simply cannot get any law change past the council. Even the ones who like me vote against everything. I have two loyalists, but there’s always one malcontent that I’ve had to give a council position to stop them from factioning, and they’re nearly always bribing at least two other council members to also be dicks.
|It's probably fine.|
This means my jail is now full of rebel monarchs, and I will have to decide what to do with them. I am definitely going to revoke a title or two from Enudaig, probably Andalusia and Mauretania if I can, and give it to a family member. Four kingdoms is too much for one person, even if young Iestan is a good Muslim. Then it will be into the oubliette for Enudaig for the rest of his short life. I’m also going to revoke Italy and give it to a family member. Possibly someone of the Gausian dynasty that I’m married into, because they have a historic claim to it from the days that Italy and Africa were one country. Maybe I’ll just land some sons to stave off decadence.
The next stage is a holy war to take Damascus from the French Revolt. The Emperor was mighty peeved to be pulled into my wars so he broke off the alliance. That means I only have a non-aggression pact to break, which isn’t too much of a problem. Here’s a question, though – will my Christian subjects send levies to fight in a war to take Christian lands away from Christian rulers? Only one way to find out.
I also have another adventurer due in a year or so I’ll wipe the floor with him, take his gold and banish him. I’m not Greek anymore so all my torturey options are out, also I can’t spare the piety.
I’ve seen a lot of hate online for the new Monks and Mystics secret cult mechanics. I’m going to voice an incredibly unpopular opinion here: I actually quite like them. I’m not playing with the Monks and Mystics DLC itself yet, but the update to the base game adds an incredible new dimension, provided you like to play the game the way I do. One of the things I find fascinating about CK2 is the way you can essentially end up playing against yourself. A classic example from my game would be Amalrich II “The Cruel” murdering Mordeleg of England. This turned out to be completely not in Amalrich III’s interest, since he was a strong Muslim vassal and the guy who replaced him is a Catholic and a pain in my behind. CK2 has always been about defining your own aims, and secret cults sort of force choices upon you that you didn’t know you wanted to take. Reforming Rome sounded like a good idea, but becoming Caliph of a Muslim Byzantine Empire – something I had never even considered – is in this case only possible because of the influence of secret cults. To me the sudden conversion of the Emperor at a crucial time just adds more depth to the story. It prevents it from getting boring as well. I’ve never played a Muslim before, never dealt with their succession system, never had multiple wives or decadence etc. It’s really been quite an enjoyable late game twist.
EDIT: OK, so we’re clearly going to have to forget about holy warring the revolting Franks for now. I played through it last night but had to savescum because it just wasn’t working. There aren’t enough revolting provinces in the east, so in order to increase war score I have to actually go to France and fight, with both the French crown and rebel armies hostile to me. To top it off, I have an adventurer threat imminent, and this guy has 30K troops. That’s not something I can defeat with my retinues and demesne troops alone. At the same time, I have ANOTHER independence revolt (uuughhh) which is England, Wales and part of Africa. I honestly cannot be bothered fighting another revolt army. It is becoming most tedious. At this rate I’ll have no vassals left out of prison. I know this wouldn’t have been a problem if I’d understood the importance of changing laws to limit council power at the beginning of the game. I’m going to level with you. I’m going to keep cheating in order to actually keep the game interesting. It’s 1368 and I still have 85 years left. All I want to do is convert the Empire to Islam and become Caliph. Maybe take a couple of duchies and Jerusalem from the Franks. That’s it. I’m not asking much. Just that those rabbling bastards stop rabbling and let me get on with things.