|County of Dubhlinn|
|Sep 15 1066|
General Advice for CountsEdit
If you don't have the Jade Dragon expansion, your primary means of expansion in the early game will be fabricated claims, so you will want to have a chancellor with a high diplomacy score. The stats of your courtiers is randomized at the beginning of every game, and the fabrication of claims will proceed far quicker with a good chancellor than a poor one. If you don't like waiting and twiddling your fingers, restart the game as much as necessary until you get a decent one (I recommend 16+). This goes for any game where you begin as a count. Alternatively, you could try to invite a character with high Diplomacy to your county from overseas. If a character is dissatisfied enough with their liege, this could lead to you getting a Chancellor with a Diplomacy ranking of 21 at the very start of the game, making the fabrication of claims pitifully easy.
If you do have the Jade Dragon expansion, your primary means of expansion in the early game will be the ducal conquest and force vassalization casus bellis. The former allows you to claim another county in a duchy in which you already have a county, and the latter allows you to vassalize a weak neighbour of lower rank. These kinds of wars cost gold, piety, and/or prestige to declare. You also still have the option to use your chancellor to fabricate claims, as described above, which will cost you some gold and prestige, and is cheaper and much more flexible because it can target any county, but requires you to wait an unknown amount of time before it fires. The Jade Dragon expansion also gives you access to the border dispute casus belli, but it comes with a nasty opinion penalty with all your vassals and the Pope, and you should not normally need to resort to using this in order to form the Kingdom of Ireland.
Whether you have the Jade Dragon expansion or not, you will also occasionally be able to use the de jure claim on county casus belli during your expansion, which costs nothing to use and should almost always be your preferred option when it is available. This kind of war can be declared to vassalize or claim any county in a duchy that you or one your vassals personally holds. Once you hold the Kingdom of Ireland, you will be able to use this on any county in Ireland regardless of whether you or your vassal holds the duchy.
Jump-starting your economyEdit
Try to invite a good steward to collect maximum taxes in your capital (or richest province).
Improving your character's stewardship attribute increases your demesne income from all provinces, and also allows you to hold a larger demesne. You should probably pick the ambition to improve stewardship or the Business focus.
You should probably increase city taxes. Church taxes are trickier because Catholic bishops will pay taxes to the Pope if they like him more than you.
Alternatively, you could revoke the city and temple holdings from vassal mayor and bishop. They will flee your realm, so don't revoke titles from excellent and irreplaceable council members. You can then:
- Keep the holdings yourself, suffering a 75% income and levy penalty (mismatch between government type and holding type). That's still an improvement if the bishop was paying taxes to the Pope rather than you.
- Grant the holdings to new rulers, who will be duly grateful (+20 granted a holding). Be sure to pick a bishop who will like you more than the Pope, and try to pick characters with high stewardship skill so they pay you more in taxes.
Expanding your dynastyEdit
At the beginning, I recommend marrying everybody who comes of age to lustful or hedonists. The game ends when your dynasty ends – ensure its future prosperity by ensuring that you won't run out of dynasty members. Also, once you become a duke and have 3-4 counties in your demesne I recommend that you start giving counties to dynasty members. People in your court tend to have 0-2 children, while rulers don't seem to have a hard limit. Landing your dynasty ensures, again, that you will have an ample supply of dynasty members in the future.
It will be difficult at first for you to play the marriage game as Dubhlinn. All the children and unmarried characters are male, and there are almost no noble females in Ireland. You'll have to marry them to outsiders; Powys offers two princesses with weak claims that can be passed to their successor, making the conquest of Wales a little easier in the future. You can also marry several daughters of William of Normandy, allowing you to press claims for England in the future or assassinate your way to the throne in Powys and England.
Forming the Kingdom of IrelandEdit
The Earl of Dubhlinn will soon inherit his father's county of Laigin, which will give you enough troops to begin your conquests. The first targets for your expansion (either via claim fabrication or via the Jade Dragon casus bellis) should be Cill Dara and Osraige, since each will allow you to create a duchy after you win the war, and you will need at least two duchies to be allowed to form a kingdom. You also need seven counties to create the Kingdom of Ireland. If using claim fabrication, there are two possible approaches to getting the next three required counties: fabricate any three separate county claims, or fabricate two county claims within the de jure borders of the Petty Kingdom of Mumu, create or usurp that duchy, and then press a de jure claim on the remaining county. There's no true right or wrong way. The claim fabrications will probably have a cheaper up-front cost than duchy creation or usurpation, however if your chancellor is bad or you get bad luck, you may have amassed the money to create or usurp the ducal title before you get the third claim fabricated. Also, depending on your play style, you may find it useful to have all the duchies in your kingdom created – if you do want them all created, you will eventually have to incur the creation expense anyway.
Once you create the kingdom, it will look something like in the thumbnail (I helped the Earl of Urmhumhain win independence, hence the weakened Petty King of Mumu in the picture. Probably a mistake).
Now, you can offer the remaining counts and dukes vassalization. Unfortunately, the Earl of Urmhumhain was of foreign culture, so I needed to declare war to vassalize him.
Note: Most of them will accept (if they have the same culture as you) because you are their de jure liege. If you choose, instead, to press your de jure claims in war, then the result of the war will be vassalization of the counts (no benefit), but declaring on the dukes will result in the destruction of their duchy and incorporation of their county into your demesne. I'm not sure of the rationale behind this mechanic, but I like maximizing my demesne and landing dynasty members over having non-relatives in power, so war against the duchies is the route I took.
If you've pissed any of them off before, by taking a county they have a claim on, or there are counties between yourself and their territory, they are less likely to accept vassalization and you'll have to fight a war for them.
Congratulations on forming and uniting Ireland.
You have many paths open now. The traditional route would be to intermarry with the Scottish crown and get claims into your dynasty (ideally, claims for your heir's heir). Pressing the claims will either lead to a union of the two nations, or else a permanent dynastic alliance. Both nations have fairly weak manpower so one or two mercenary companies will ensure your victory. Other options include picking at Wales or Breizh - either marry into claims, or fabricate claims on two counties in Wales so you can usurp one of the duchies. If the Petty Kingdom of Søreyar is still independent, that is also a potential target (though Scotland will have de jure claims on it).
Breizh is a common target for France, however, Wales often maintains an independent existence from England up through the 1200s. As the smallest of the Brittanian kingdoms, Wales might be the best first choice if you want to form Britannia first. Breizh, on the other hand, gives you a foothold onto the continent but opens you up to invasion by France or the HRE.