Part 6: Brian 'The Old' 1112 - 1124
By 1112, Brian has really turned things around for himself. In the past 13 years he has sired five children to continue his line, and he has a new-found sense of contentedness.
Our holdings are growing more impressive as time goes on. Bunratty castle, the capital in Thomond is the most developed of them all, but the others aren't far behind.
We've stopped our development for long enough to gather the required funds to usurp the title or Meath or Leinster. The Duke of Meath is a fierce rival of ours after our conquests of Dublin and Leinster, and he has proven to be dangerous with his two neighboring allies, so we'll focus on him first.
We just need to click on the coat of arms for his title to the Duchy of Meath and then click the Usurp button.
We are now the Duke of both Munster and Meath. Our primary title is still Munster, so our realm will still be displayed as simply Munster on the map. If you have more than one title of the same rank as your highest rank title, you can pick which one will be your primary and thus displayed title. To do so, go to your primary title screen and then click on the coat of arms for one of your other titles. On that title's screen there should be a 'Make Primary' button.
Just as a reminder, the diplomacy map mode will show us our demesne, who we have claims on, who our allies are, and who we're at war with. So on this map mode, we can see that we have a claim on the Count of Kildare - the former Duke of Meath. That claim will be a ducal claim on his county in the de jure duchy of Meath. We have an ally in the north - the Countess of Tyrone. This is from the marriage we arranged with the heir of Tyrone in the last update.
One thing I may not have mentioned before is that while we're in the diplomacy map mode, we can click on other realms to see what their diplomacy map mode looks like. So here, I've clicked on the Count of Kildare and we can see that he still has his alliances with Brittany and Gwynedd. With only one county to his name though, we should be able to seize his last few holdings and bring a quick end to the war before his allies can help.
The war against the Count of Kildare is quick and decisive, and he is forced to swear fealty to us. He absolutely loathes us though. We've stolen so many titles from him and then forced him to bend his knee to us. The next step it to usurp the duchy of Leinster and then bring the county of Ossory under our control with a de jure claim as well.
Ossory falls without much trouble, and the entire south is now within our realm.
A new alert appears at the top of the screen informing us that we can create a new title - the Kingdom of Ireland. Click the alert to go to the title's page. Now that more than half of the counties in the de jure kingdom are within our realm, we can create the title for the kingdom. There is no current holder of the title and so rather than usurping it, we must create it. Once we have the available funds, we'll immediately do so.
As we allow time to pass and our coffers to fill with gold, Brian's eldest son Murchad comes of age. He's somewhat shy and a bit craven, but he is otherwise a well-rounded individual who isn't severely lacking in any area.
And finally, Duke Brian of Munster, who has come to be known as Brian the Old claims the crown of Ireland.
The northern lords are all offered vassalage. Since we're their de jure lord and we haven't had any conflicts with the northern lords, I am not expecting much resistance to our suggestion. We begin with the Duke of Connacht. To do so, we just open diplomacy with them and then 'Offer Vassalization'. It appears that he would be willing to accept us as his liege.
The Earl of Breifne seems receptive to our offer as well.
The lords of Connacht swear fealty to us and unite under the crown of Ireland.
Similar offers are sent to all of the northern counts of Ulster, and each one accepts our offer without pause.
We still have a problem with our two southern counts, though. The Earls of Ossory and Kildare both despise us, because we usurped their titles, seized their land, and waged war against them to force their vassalage. By looking at the opinion modifiers with the Earl of Ossory we can see a few other problems that are affecting our opinion.
The 'Short Reign' penalty is one that simply passes in time. This is one reason that succession is a difficult time - our new ruler isn't trusted by everyone just yet. Another problem we can see is that 'Too Many Held Duchies' is giving an opinion penalty. Vassals of a king or emperor dislike it when their liege holds more than 2 duchy titles. They would like to think that their liege is being generous with his lands. We hold the titles to the duchies of Munster, Meath, and Leinster for ourselves currently, so we're getting a -10 penalty for holding one too many. We can fix that. Finally, he 'desires the duchy of Leinster'. He wants us to make him a duke. Whenever we have a direct count vassal for a duchy that we hold the title of, that count will be expecting us to hand him our title. This means that our goal should be, as a king, to only hold 2 duchies, and to hold every single county in those 2 duchies for ourselves so that we don't have expectant counts.
This is the de jure duchy map mode, once again. Since we only want to have 2 duchies for ourselves, we should decide which ones to take. I think that Munster is a no-brainer, since it's consisted of 3 counties with 4 holdings each which we've spent significant time and resources on developing. It would be nice to have two duchies that border each other so that all of our holdings are concentrated near one another. This would make Connacht, Meath, or Leinster the best options. Of those three, Meath and Leinster are probably the better two, since those are held by problem counts anyway. Of those two, Meath is by far the better duchy since it consists of a 5 holding and 4 holding county, while Leinster consists of a 4 holding and 3 holding county. We'll aim for holding Meath and Munster in our personal demesne.
This means that we need to decide who to make the duke of Leinster. Looking through our court, I find a young member of our dynasty who has no claims on our titles and who isn't set to inherit any. This makes him a grade A candidate because we get an opinion boost with other members of our dynasty.
We open diplomacy with him and click on 'Grant Landed Title', then give him the county of Leinster.
After he owns a county, we can give him a duchy title. We open diplomacy with him again and offer him the Duchy of Leinster. This will make the count of Ossory a direct vassal of him instead of us, which is a good thing because now we don't need to deal with the miserable count of Ossory directly.
This is how our direct vassals map mode looks. Our personal demesne consists of the de jure lands of Munster and the county of Dublin. The Duchy of Leinster is properly set up with its duke in control of all of his de jure territory. The north needs a bit of work. The Count of Breifne is a direct vassal to us, but his county is actually a de jure part of the Duchy of Connacht. This actually makes the Duke of Connacht dislike us a bit because by all rights he should be a direct vassal to the duke of Connacht. This is something we can easily fix, too.
We just open diplomacy with the Duke of Connacht and select 'Transfer Vassalage'.
This will bring up a list of all of our direct vassals. On this page we select the Earl of Breifne and then hit send. This will make the county of Breifne a direct vassal to the duke of Connacht.
In the middle of our reorganization, our eldest daughter comes of age and we arrange a matrilineal marriage between her and a 15 year old son of the duke of Brittany. We may be able to get an Ua Briain on their throne in the coming years.
The county of Ulster have remained so fragmented that none of them had been able to create the Duchy in all these years. Since they are all vassals under us now, we're able to create the title.
The Duchy of Ulster is created and we grant the duchy title to the holder of the county of Ulster, a member of the house of Sithrigi. Our direct vassal map more looks much more organized now. The only remaining problem is the angry count of Kildare.
The capital is moved from Thomond to Dublin. We do this by clicking the 'Make Capital' button next to the county name. Each ruler can only move their capital once in their lives. Dublin is the county with the most potential on the entire island since it has 5 holding slots while the others all have 4 at most. I think that we'll eventually build another castle here to add to our own own demesne, and perhaps another city.
Out of curiosity, I check our Realm tree and expand it to see who our strongest duke is. The Duke of Ulster is capable of raising about the quarter of the men that we currently can.
Handing the county and duchy of Leinster to our kinsman has reduced the size of our personal levy slightly, but the number of men we can raise from our new duke vassals more than makes up for that.
Another thing that we can do with a kingdom title is change 'crown laws'. Crown Authority and Investiture can only be changed by those with kingdom or emperor titles. Crown Authority both dictates the minimum amount of troops that a vassal is required to contribute, and also places other restrictions on your vassals the higher that it gets. For example, as crown authority rises you gain the ability to revoke titles, assign specific leaders to the center and flanks of your armies, your vassals lose the ability to declare war on each other, and other effects. You can hover over each level of crown authority to see its exact effect.
Investiture determines how bishops are appointed. Under Papal investiture, the papacy automatically replaces your bishops as needed. Free investiture allows you and your vassals to pick successors for bishops. You may be wondering why its set to Papal now, but we could appoint bishops as the Duke of Munster. This is because when the Kingdom of Ireland didn't exist, we weren't affected by crown laws. A fresh Kingdom will always begin at minimum crown authority and papal investiture.
Since all of our dukes currently love us for granting them titles and transferring vassals to them and so on, now is the perfect time to raise crown authority. We can only move one step at a time, so we move from minimum to low.
Another neat thing that we can do as a kingdom is to hold a grand tournament for all of our vassals to participate in. It is costly, but it will improve the relations with all of our vassals and give us a fair amount of prestige.
The tournament is announced and our vassals arrive to compete soon after.
Our own marshal wins the grand tournament, with courtiers from Ulster taking second and third. This gives us an additional opinion boost with those three characters.
The tournament ends and everyone returns to their own holdings with a heightened opinion of our king.
Another of our sons comes of age. The part of the message which says 'He has became a Midas Touched' is referring to what type of education trait he picked up during his childhood. Midas Touched is the best version of the stewardship education traits, and each other the other types have their own names. The best type of Martial education is 'Brilliant Strategist' for example.
Niall is married to a Princess of France, sealing an alliance between us and our huge southern neighbor. She even has a claim on the kingdom, but I don't think we'll be in any position to press that claim within our lifetime.
The king of France immediately requests our aid in his war against his rebellious duke of Gascogne. I don't really think he 'needs' our help, but I raise our levies from our personal demesne and sail towards southern France to offer our aid.
As our forces arrive and I get my first glimpse at the French army, I'm suddenly feeling pretty good about this alliance.
Shortly after our arrival, the King of France announces victory and the war is over. Our men sail back home and then disband.
The young son of the Duke of Brittany comes of age and the betrothal between him and our daughter is sealed with a matrilineal marriage.
Our aging younger brother successfully gets us a claim on the county of Kildare. This will allow us to revoke the title without angering our other vassals. It won't be considered a tyrannical action by them if we have a direct claim on it.
You can't declare war while you have armies raised, but what we can do is march a large number of men to Kildare before informing the count that we've decided to revoke his title.
Our men arrive and the message is delivered. The Earl of Kildare makes the poor decision to fight the revocation and his holdings immediately come under siege.
There's really nothing he could have done to save himself from this. His holdings fall one by one, and once he is in chains we revoke his final title to add to our demesne.
The current direct vassal map mode of Ireland in 1124.
The current state of the British Isles. Our first major goal has been accomplished: to form the Kingdom of Ireland. From here, we could try expanding into Wales or Scotland, or we could try getting our family onto the throne in Brittany. In the next update, we'll likely spend a great deal of time building infrastructure to further strengthen our realm while we wait for good opportunities to present themselves.