OK, so it looks like I might have saved the empire after all, but in doing so I made a couple of sacrifices and created a couple of other problems I’m going to have to deal with further down the line.
So I finished trouncing the Serbia/Croatia revolt and revoking those two titles while beating down the Avarian duke and his claimant to a white peace. I also dealt with an annoying adventurer, but since banishing him and confiscating his 500 gold (along with a 350 gold loan from Jewish merchants and a couple of ransoms) is all that is keeping me solvent right now.
That done, I was able to deal with the succession issue. Domelch, despite waiting patiently in the wings for all of Uirup’s long reign, was going to be very disappointed. I switched my primary title to the Byzantine Empire and destroyed the Empire of Pictland title, effectively merging the two empires into one giant, purple blob, all of which would go to Amalrich “the Just” of Hamburg. I admit that was a hard call to make. I’ve placed a lot of care into maintaining the Pictish identity of my empire, even foregoing turning Scottish and getting decent retinues. And now after scuffling to turn parts of Italy and North Africa from purple to blue now I’ve turned them purple again. It kind of hurts to look upon it. I have to keep reminding myself that my Empire has not been defeated, merely morphed into something else.
Domelch then died of an infected wound, meaning that this action could actually have turned out to be pointless.
Uirup “The Holy” finally died, aged 78 years old, having been, on the face of it one of the most successful rulers I’ve ever had. But I will admit I was not sad to see the back of the incompetent A-hole. A man literally nobody liked, he still managed to join the two largest empires in the world. However, he couldn’t resist one last fuck up on the way out the door. In destroying the Empire of Pictland, he ensured both empires would go to one man. Unfortunately, that man was a German. Germans can’t use Tanistry succession because they’re not from the right culture group. That means that the Empire has gone back to default succession settings. And that means…
Before I realised what was happening, I had lost everything. Uirup’s death caused all of my kingdoms split between his sons, creating the two single most powerful vassals I have ever had, whilst simultaneously reducing my demesne to one single county (Constantinople, but still). The stress of dealing with all this while secretly practicing Islam killed poor Amalrich immediately, the Empire and Constantinople passing to his son, Kaiser Amalrich II, the third ruler in under five years. So, to more clearly explain what is happening, I lost a number of the titles that were on tanistry due to elections, and the ones that defaulted to gavelkind were split among my heirs in a grotesque clusterfuck that left me virtually landless.
Despite this, I’m down to a more manageable five vassals over my limit, I’m back up to 63 gold a month coming in, and my troop levies are finally getting back to normal, currently sitting at around 60,000 men. So… the empire is stable now.
What is NOT stable, is Amalrich II’s position at the top of it. And oh my god, you thought Uirup was an incompetent. This guy is… not good. No stats above five. Total schlub. On top of that, he’s gay, and so’s his wife, so getting an heir is going to be a problem. For now, his vassals seem to like him and there is minimal plotting against him, even with the council not over their new-monarch jitters. Cenræd “The Son of Satan”, Uirup’s Anglo-Saxon child by the disfigured Duchess, now reigns as King of Sicily, Wallachia, Croatia and Serbia, while his genius half-brother Enudaig reins as King of Scotland (*sob* he changed it to Scotland), Mauretania, Andalusia, and Ireland. I also have four king titles, but each is only titular i.e. has no actual lands attached to it.
So, aims going forward:
1) Neutralise Cenræd and Enudaig
2) Enlarge demesne
3) Conquer remaining provinces needed to create Roman Empire
4) Change succession to anything except gavelkind
The first one should be tricky. How to do this? Assassins are out of the question due to Amalrich’s lamentable intrigue stats, so I suppose I shall have to trick one of them into rebelling and use the other’s forces to crush them. Then I revoke their titles, take their armies and use them to wipe the floor with the other one. I may concentrate my efforts of Enudaig, since he is the more pertinent threat than his rather dull-minded brother. Sadly, Enudaig had a claim on Francia I was going to use, dating from when he was back-up heir to Domelch but I think giving him MORE power would be a very poor idea at this point.
Point two: I am inundated with options in this regard due to my new position in East giving me a wad of holy war options. I think my first move will be to grab Baghdad and its surrounding counties from the Sheikdom that owns it. If I get there quickly with a lot of men I should be able to get them without any bother. The other option is to take Famagusta on Cyprus from the Georgian Revolt. Other possible easy targets include Antioch, which is an independent duchy.
Which leads us on to point three: I need Antioch, Jerusalem and one more county in Italy to reform the Roman Empire. Antioch won’t be a problem, and neither will the county in Italy (probably a vassal will take care of that before long). Jerusalem, on the other hand, belongs to France, and I would like to avoid fighting them if at all possible. Spoiler alert: It won’t be. Eventually I’m going to have to fight them, probably a few times to get Jerusalem away from them.
And on the succession issue: I can’t use tanistry anymore since I’m no longer in the Celtic culture group, so I’m going to switch to primo as soon as Amalrich’s ruled for 10 years.That means I'm stuck as a German for now. Going to try and get a Pict to educate my heirs.
All right. Let’s try this out. Death to Enudaig and Cenræd! SPQR!