Part 5: Brian O'Brian 1086 - 1112
Now that castle villages are springing up all across our demesne, we need to build some form of protection around them. Wooden Palisades will give us a small bonus to levy size, tax income, and make it harder for hostile forces to siege our castle. They are necessary to build before the castle village can grow any further, anyway. Construction of wooden palisades begin in our capital and then we build them elsewhere as our treasury permits.
While we're enjoying a period of peace, I begin looking around at our neighbor's titles to see if they have any claimants that we can use for our own benefit. After clicking on a province, we can click on any of the title coats of arms to bring up its title screen. Here's the title screen for the county of Ossory:
From this title screen, we can see claimants to the title for the county by clicking on the 'Claimants' button.
There is one claimant to the County of Ossory, and it looks like he would be receptive to an invitation.
He is unmarried, and his claim can be inherited by his successors. This means that if we marry him matrilineally to a woman of our dynasty and they produce a child, we'd be able to press a claim on their behalf to seize the county for them, someday.
We just need to open diplomacy with him and invite him to our court. We don't have a relative to marry him to just yet, but it'll be nice to have him in our court should the opportunity present itself.
In the north, the county of Tyrone has a ton of claimants, but one stands out. Niall is the heir to the county, he's young, talented, and unmarried. He'll be a fine addition to our court as well.
Our new friends arrive hopeful that we'll someday press their claims.
Time passes, and some of our extended family who we arranged marriages for in the early years start to have some children come of age. A talented soldier and an ambitious schemer.
We arrange for Eilionora to marry the claimant to the county of Ossory. We need to be sure to click the 'matrilineal' checkbox here. In a matrilineal marriage, any children produced by the couple will belong to the mother's dynasty. This is how we'll hopefully be able to breed a young Ua Briain with a claim on Ossory.
Murchad is getting on in years, and he falls ill suddenly. Sometimes this can mean the end is coming. Illness reduces your character's health, and low health increases the chance for sudden death.
Our duke manages to fight the illness off after a few weeks though, feeling as good as ever.
Another woman of our dynasty comes of age and becomes Ireland's least eligible bachelorette. She's gluttonous, lazy, and dumb as a rock with 0's in every stat. My first reaction was to marry her off to someone immediately and get her out of my court, but I actually decided to hold off on that and see if I could marry her into the family of a strong rival neighbor as some kind of genetic atom bomb. So, for now she'll remain around in our court.
Niall takes the place of our former chancellor - a cousin who has passed away. Soon after, he successfully fabricates a claim on the county of Leinster.
There's no time to waste. Murchad is getting on in years and he can't afford to be patient. We declare a war to press our claim on Leinster right away.
Our army is as big as it has ever been. The combined forces march against the duchy of Meath.
Our own daughter comes of age and we marry her matrilineally to Niall, heir to the county of Tyrone and chancellor of Munster.
While the battle against Meath rages on, our spoils from the war help continue the development of our holdings. With palisades protecting our castle villages, we can now grow them to castle towns to increase our income even further.
Meath puts up a tremendous fight. They are allied through marriage to the Duchy of Gwynedd in Wales. Gwynedd's troops bolster their numbers and force several army battles to take place over the course of the war. More than once, it's necessary to send our troops back home and disband them for a short time to allow our numbers to recover before going back into the fray.
Finally, after many battles and the complete occupation of Leinster, the duke of Meath gives in to our demands and surrenders the county of Leinster to us.
The church in Leinster needs to have a new bishop assigned as its successor, otherwise it will pass out of our realm when the current one dies. This is because when the duke of Meath controlled the county he appointed his own choice as successor. By going to the religion tab, we can change the successor to someone of our choosing. I pick Niall, our chancellor. This will remove him from the line of succession for the county of Tyrone, but his children should still be able to inherit the title.
We can see that despite being in line for a bishopric, his claim is still inheritable.
A new alert at the top of our screen tells us that we have new titles which we can usurp. Clicking on the alert opens the page for the Duchy of Leinster. As we can see, since we own at least half of the duchy (one of its two de jure counties), its possible for us to usurp the title from its current holder: the Duke of Meath. Its costly though, and there's no rush. For now we'll continue to build our infrastructure.
Niall has a son of our dynasty. Some day, we may press a claim for this child on the county of Tyrone.
The pope calls for a crusade against Jerusalem, but we refrain from taking part in it just yet. It turns out this may have been for the best, because after a few years, the crusade ends in failure.
Finally, at the age of 68 Duke Murchad passes away and his titles go to his first son, Brian O'Brian.
Brian is not exactly in the best of places right now, though. His father reigned for a long time, and he takes the throne at the ripe age of 47. His wife is past her childbearing years, and the only child that they had managed to produce died at a young age of illness. He also suffers from paranoia and depression. As things stand, his younger brother will end up taking the throne upon his death. Being the ruler of Munster, he may need to petition the pope for a divorce so that he can re-marry and try to continue his own direct line. As things stand right now though, he does not have enough piety for us to even bring that request to the pope. We could plot to have his wife assassinated too, but that's just too cruel!
One of the first things that Brian does is to shake up the council, which had remained awfully static under Murchad's reign. His skilled younger brother is assigned to the position of chancellor, and a cousin is assigned to the position of marshal - the role which Brian himself previously held.
Donnchad immediately proves his worth and successfully fabricates another claim against the Duke of Meath. This time, we gain a claim on the county of Dublin.
Gaining that claim cost us, though. We've actually fallen into debt. Having a negative treasury causes the opinions of your vassals to drop, and remaining in the red for a long period of time will cause increasingly bad events to trigger for you.
We weren't too far under though, especially with the strong tax base that we have built up. The death of an uncle adds some gold to our treasury as well, and before the end of the year we're in a health enough financial state to press our claim on Dublin.
Our troops are called up and march towards the county of Dublin. The Duke of Meath is unable to call up many troops on his own, but his ally the Duke of Gwynedd comes to his aid once again.
The war takes a bad turn as the combined forces of Meath and Gwynedd force us to turn back temporarily. Our inability to capture Dublin in a timely manner is making the warscore drop.
Our levies are given a short amount of time to recover and then called up once more. After the army of Gwynedd is stopped in Leinster, our force is able to move into Dublin and siege its holdings. Things are starting to look up once more, but then the duke of Meath leverages yet another alliance that he's made and calls the Duke of Brittany in to aid him. The arrival of fresh troops from Gwynedd and a Breton army leaves our army outnumbered two to one.
The sad news continues to pile up as Brian's wife dies at the age of 49. Its a sad end, but it's Brian needs to produce an heir for his bloodline and this loss presents a new opportunity.
Brian's court arranges a marriage between him and a young german courtier with a sharp wit named Beatrix. A collection of gold is taken for the ceremonies, but its immediately spent on mercenaries to turn the war in our favor.
With the aid of a mercenary company, we're able to win field battles once more. As luck would have it, we capture Duke Jean the Fat as well as a Breton count in a battle at Ormond.
Crushing the Breton army is the final blow in this war, and the Duke of Meath agrees to submit once more and surrenders the county of Dublin.
More good news follows the end of the war - Beatrix is pregnant and Brian will have his heir.
We go to the intrigue screen to deal with our prisoners from Brittany. We can release them to gain an opinion boost with them, ransom them for gold, or execute them. I'm not going to simply let them go after coming into battle against me, but I don't necessarily have a feud to settle with them either. Asking for ransom for them would be a good choice.
The Count of Nantes pays 70 gold for his release - not an insignificant sum of money. This nearly pays back what we spent on the mercenaries by itself. Unfortunately, the fat Duke of Brittany can't afford to pay for his release quite yet, so he'll remain in our dungeons.
Things are actually turning around for Brian. His wife is going to give him an heir, and he's just won a war which strengthened his realm. Not only that, but his younger brother Donnchad has been such a positive influence on him that his feeling of depression has lifted.
Duke Jean the Fat complains that his cell isn't quite big enough. That's fair enough, I suppose. We're planning to release him for ransom in time, so he's removed from the dungeon and placed under house arrest until then.
A son is born to Brian and Beatrix, whom they name Murchad after Brian's father.
We haven't really changed our laws at all since the beginning of the game, but I think at this point we would be fine to increase city taxation. The opinion penalty may net us a few less levies from our mayors, but the increased taxes will let us build up our castles which provide higher quality men anyway.
The proposal for higher city taxes passes without much trouble. This extra income is put to work as we continue to upgrade our demesne. The last war has shown us that we can still be overwhelmed. Our focus moves away from building our economy to strengthening our fighting power. Small and then medium stables are build all across Munster to provide us with powerful light cavalry - these troops do a large amount of damage both early and late in a battle. After the stables finish, we build guard quarters all across our demesne as well. These provide heavy infantry and pikemen, which are the strongest unmounted units available.
Beatrix turns out to be a total animal and literally almost kills Brian with a sex attack. I'm not sure if this event triggered it, but Beatrix announced another pregnancy soon after this and then another immediately following the second.
After living it up in Bunratty castle for a couple years, Duke Jean the Fat finally scrapes up enough gold from back home to pay for his release.
the considerate Duke Brian offers support to his stressed out kinsman Conchobar, easing his troubles.
A long period of peace allows Brian's immediate family to flourish. His third son seems to be a troublemaker, but we try to steer his energy in a more positive direction.
The boy takes the lessons to heart.
With both Leinster and Dublin under our control, higher city taxes, happy bishops, and a strong collection of economy buildings across our demesne, our income has soared.
The new stables and guard quarters across our demesne show their worth as well, putting a large number of high quality troops at our disposal.
Taking a look at the de jure duchies map mode, we can see that we own exactly half of both the Duchy of Meath and the Duchy of Leinster. Our next step will be to pause the upgrading of our demesne temporarily so that we can afford to usurp those titles.
And holding those duchy titles will allow us to press claims on the counties of Kildare and Ossory. That would put the entire south under our control. And more importantly, we would then have more than 50% of the counties in the de jure Kingdom of Ireland in our possession. This will allow us to form the Kingdom of Ireland and offer vassalage to the northern counts and dukes. We'll get to that in the next update.