With the Pope’s half-hearted attempts to seize back Italy fought off, it’s time for Amalrich to do some expansion of his own. The target will once again be in the Middle East. The De Jure kingdom of Damascus has been under Frankish control since the early Crusades. Damascus is one of the holy sites I need if I want to be proclaimed Caliph. And you’re damned right I want to be proclaimed Caliph.
I spend 1000 piety for an invasion of Damascus. My retinues and demesne troops are right next to Damascus, so they swoop in quickly and start sieging. I gather my forces in Poland and Bohemia and strike against the Franks in Allemania. Meanwhile my Italian, African, Mauretanian and Spanish troops set up a few sieges in Burgundy. This combined approach works, for the Franks quickly capitulate. Amalrich doles out the territories won to the few discontented Kharijite kings to avoid the penalty for holding too much land. Amalrich is just over 50 years old now, so I think he’s due a big birthday present. I create the Kharijite Caliphate to give him.
The Franks have been the one constant in this game – the big blue blob that will never die, constantly in the way of my expansion, competing with me on crusades, forming defensive pacts against me even when I was so big I could have crushed them one-on-one. So If I want to port this campaign over to Europa Universalis IV (and I do) it seems natural that they will be the only real external threat to me. I can see it being a race between Catholic France and the Muslim Romans to colonize the Americas. So while I can, I’m going to do my best to destabilise them and to steal as much territory as I can. And now that I can call jihads…
… hmmm, wait a second… why is my levy stuck at 40K and my income at -30 a month.
Oh no, Gerlach! Gerlach! What is this? Have you been eating grapes?
While I have not been paying attention, apparently my son and heir Gerlach has been shaming the whole dynasty with his decadent ways. As a result my tax income is heavily curtailed, my levies are miniscule (seriously I have no ships. None), and my vassal limit, already overtaxed is actually shrinking. This is my first experience with decadence, one of the most annoying game mechanics in CK2. I find it very difficult to believe that after reclaiming two of Islam’s most holy sites, going on Hajj, celebrating Ramadan each year and single-handedly turning the world’s biggest Christian Empire into a stable Caliphate my vassals would judge me a “bad Muslim” because one of my sons likes luxury a bit too much. But putting aside for now how ridiculous this is, how on earth do I fix it? I try and straighten him up but he doesn’t listen, although he does give me a gift of an excellent eunuch to leave him alone. I try giving him his dead brother’s barony of Carthage to run. It does nothing. How on earth can I get rid of decadence?
The only thing that stops the decadence gain is Gerlach’s own foolish ambition. Mere months after giving him Carthage, I get news that he is plotting to have Amalrich killed. So into the jail with Gerlach, where he perishes from general neglect in short order. Decadence gain stops at 26%. I let the game run for a while to see if it depletes now that Gerlach is dead – it doesn’t.