An Empire is the highest tier of landed titles in Crusader Kings II, above kingdom. The title is held by Emperor-ranked characters only. The portrait of emperor (or equivalent) has a golden border adorned by gems.
- Control at least 80% of its de jure territory
- Hold either two kingdom titles, or an empire-rank title
- Pay 600 wealth plus 400 piety (or equivalent) (wealth cost is gradually reduced as the character amasses piety, with 50% discount at 1000 piety)
- Comply with specific religious and/or cultural conditions (since patch 2.0, most conditions only apply to the AI).
- Comply with any other conditions
Empires are very large and difficult to form. However, emperors' ability to employ kings (or equivalent) as vassals makes management of large realms considerably easier, as is their ability to assimilate kingdoms via de jure drift once the kingdom is fully held by the empire. A Catholic emperor can hold the Papacy as a vassal after successfully pressing an antipope's claim. By granting de jure duchies to the various holy orders, a Catholic emperor can easily terrorise heretic and infidel realms. A Zoroastrian emperor in control of the Persian Empire can reinstate the High Priesthood, creating a religious head for the faith. Once in complete control of the Persian Empire, they can declare themselves the Saoshyant, the One Who Brings Benefit, which enhances their (and their descendants') standing with Zoroastrian vassals.
In the Charlemagne start date at 769, the Abbasids have only recently taken power and are on the ascent, while the Byzantine Empire is well-established. The Holy Roman Empire has yet to exist, but may be formed by decision. In the East, the powerful Empire of Tibet looms over its smaller neighbors.
In The Old Gods start date at 867, the Arabian Empire is under the control of the collapsing Abbasids, while the Holy Roman Empire may also be formed by decision. The Tibetan Empire has collapsed into a patchwork of warring states by this date. In the 936 start date, a new empire shows up in Iberia - the Caliphate of Cordoba - and another in the Balkans, Bulgaria.
By 1066, the Arabian Empire has collapsed; the Fatimids control Egypt and a sizeable portion of the former empire. Cordoba and Bulgaria are likewise gone. In 1186, the Empire of Rajastan in India appears. In 1204, the Byzantine Empire collapses, replaced by the Nicene Empire and Latin Empire - though in 1261, the Byzantine Empire once again rises, replacing its successor states. The Mongol Empire appears on the map when starting after 1206 and may also spawn as a horde from 1210 if playing from earlier start dates. The successor Mongol Empires of the Golden Horde, the Ilkhanate and the Chagatai appear at the end of 1227. The Deccan Empire will appear only in the last possible start date (The Hundred Years War) in 1337.
If the Horse Lords Expansion is active, many more empires are available: independent nomadic rulers, or khagans, hold an empire-tier title and will form titular empires when settling (or custom empires named after the capital county if Charlemagne DLC is also active).
Mechanics unlocked at emperor rank
There are two additional mechanics available to emperors who are not merchant republics, which are unavailable for lower-ranked rulers; they are tied to the Legalism or Majesty technologies:
- Imperial Administration: Grants automatic "Duchy Viceroyalties" law and revocation of duchy viceroyalty, free vassal retraction, revocation of duchy-level titles (without Charlemagne DLC), and a substantial bonus to vassal limit (+25 bonus; combined with -10 from "Duchy Viceroyalties" law, net increase is +15).
- Imperial Administration is also required to restrict vassals' ability to declare wars.
- Viceroyalties (requires Charlemagne DLC): They are lifetime-only title grants that revert to the emperor upon the viceroy's death. The emperor may pass Kingdom Viceroyalty (-5 vassal limit), or both Duchy and Kingdom Viceroyalties (-10 vassal limit).
The Byzantine Empire starts with both "Imperial Administration" and "Duchy Viceroyalties" enacted.
- The Byzantine Emperor is called basileus if their culture group is Byzantine
- A German emperor-tier character is known as kaiser, while a Russian liege is tsar
- An Arabic emperor is known as badshah, while a Turkish liege is padishah
- An Iranian emperor is shahanshah and an Indian liege is called samrat
- An Altaic emperor is known as khagan, while a Tibetan liege is called tsenpo
- A merchant republic liege who attains the emperor-tier title is known as grand prince.
This decision is available to an independent king with 8,000 prestige as well as either 180 holdings in their realm, or else three kingdom titles. Custom empires are named after, and take the color of, their creator's primary kingdom (although they can be renamed by owning the Customization Pack DLC).
List of de jure empires
|CoA||Empire||Capital||De Jure Kingdoms||Special Requirements||AI additional requirements||ID||Alternate names|
|Abyssinia||Gondar (883)||Abyssinia, Nubia||King of Egypt, Nubia and Abyssinia||East African culture group||e_abyssinia|
|Arabian Empire||Damascus (728)||Arabia, Jerusalem, Egypt, Syria, Yemen (& Israel)
769 only: Maghreb, Africa
|Arabic culture group||e_arabia|
|Bengal Empire||Laksmanavati (1151)||Bengal, Bihar, Gondwana, Kamarupa, Orissa||Empire of India does not exist.||e_bengal|
|Britannia||Middlesex (32)||England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales||English, Anglo-Saxon, or Norman culture, or Celtic or North Germanic culture group||e_britannia||Prydain, Alba|
|Bulgaria||Tyrnovo (499)||936: Bulgaria, Wallachia
All other starts: None
|Byzantine Empire||Constantinople (496)||Anatolia, Armenia, Bulgaria, Epirus, Georgia, Greece, Serbia, Sicily, Thrace, Trebizond (& Amalfi, Cyprus, Saruhan, Trinacria, Tekke, Ottoman Turks, Rum, Mentese, Karaman, Germiyan, Eretnid, Aydin, Candar)||Roman Empire does not exist. Latin empire does not exist. Must be Orthodox or Hellenic/Hellenic Reformed.||e_byzantium|
|Carpathia||Pest (522)||Hungary, Wallachia, Croatia||e_carpathia|
|Deccan Empire||Manyakheta (1210)||Andhra, Karnata, Lanka, Maharastra, Tamilakam, Telingana||Empire of India does not exist.||e_deccan|
|Francia||Ile de France (112)||All starts: Aquitaine, France, Brittany, Burgundy
Additionally in 769: Frisia, Lotharingia
|One kingdom title other than Aquitaine, France, Brittany, or Burgundy||French, Norman, or Occitan culture||e_france||Gallia|
|Germania||Würzburg (254)||769: Bavaria, Carinthia, Germany, Saxony (& The Hansa)
All other starts: None
|Saxon culture or Central Germanic culture group||e_germany|
|Hispania||Toledo (197)||All starts: Andalusia, Navarra
769 and 867: Asturias
from 769 to 1147: Badajoz
from 769 to 1212: Galicia, Valencia
from 1066: Aragon, Castille, León
from 1109: Portugal
|No de jure kingdom is held by an infidel (with Holy Fury)||e_spain|
|Holy Roman Empire||Jülich (90)||769: None
All other starts: Bavaria, Carinthia, Frisia, Germany, Lotharingia (& The Hansa)
From 1066: Bohemia
|Can only be created by special decisions.
867 and beyond: requires Catholic or Fraticelli religion, German or Dutch culture, neither the HRE nor the empire of Francia exist, the ruler be adult, not a prisoner, not Incapable, 1000 Prestige, 180 Realm Size, Kingdom of Germany and one other Kingdom title, and 2 years of wealth
769: requires Catholic or Fraticelli religion, not holding the Byzantine Empire, the ruler be adult, not a prisoner, not Incapable, 1000 Prestige, 220 Realm Size, holding the Kingdom of Italy or Empire of Italia, a Kingdom or Empire title within Francia, Germania, Britannia, or Hispania, no Christian holder of Francia, Germania, Britannia, or Hispania other than the ruler, 100 opinion with your religious head, and 2 years of wealth. It will inherit the coat of arms of the ruler's previous primary title if it is an empire.
|Italia||Rome (333)||Italy, Romagna (Papal States in its place in most bookmarks), Sardinia and Corsica, Venice (& Genoa, Pisa, Naples).||
King of Sicily. (This requirement changes based on de jure drift. You must own all of the following kingdoms if not titular and not de jure Italia: Kingdoms of Sicily, Naples, Trinacria, Italy, Sardinia-Corsica, Romagna, Venice.)
|Maghreb||Marrakech (843)||769: none (titular)
All other starts: Africa, Maghreb
|Mali||Timbuktu (911)||Ghana, Mali, Songhay||West African culture group||e_mali|
|Persian Empire||Esfahan (646)||Al-Jazira, Daylam, Iraq, Kabulistan, Khorasan, Persia, Sistan||Iranian culture group||e_persia||Parthicum|
|Pontic Steppe||Saray (619)||Alania, Crimea, Khazaria||Altaic culture group, Alan culture or Hungarian culture||e_pontic_steppe|
|Rajasthan||Kanyakubja (1356)||Delhi, Gujarat, Kosala, Malwa, Punjab, Rajputana, Sindh||Empire of India does not exist.||e_rajastan|
|Rus||Kiev (547)||Chernigov, Galicia-Volhynia, Kievan Rus, Novgorod, Vladimir||East Slavic, North Germanic or Finno-Ugric culture groups||e_russia||Suomi|
|Scandinavia||Uppland (290)||Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lapland, Norway, Sweden||North Germanic culture group or Finnish culture||e_scandinavia|
|Tartaria||Kara Khorum (1457)||Cumania, Mongolia, Sibir||Altaic culture group||e_tartaria|
|Tibet||Lhasa (1498)||Guge, Kashmir, Kham, Nepal, Yarlung, Xia||e_tibet||Bodchenpo, Tufan, Tubo|
|Turan||Khiva (626)||Khotan, Oghuz, Transoxiana, Zhetysu||e_turkestan||Turkestan|
|Wendish Empire||Krakow (527)||All start dates: Lithuania, Poland, Pomerania
Additionally at 769 start: Bohemia
Additionally at 867 start: Bohemia, Great Moravia
|West Slavic or Baltic culture groups||e_wendish_empire|
|Volga-Ural||Bulgar (610)||Nenetsia, Perm, Volga Bulgaria||e_idel_ural|
List of titular empires
|CoA||Empire||Capital||De Jure Kingdoms||Requirements||AI additional requirements||ID|
|Aztec Empire||None||N/A||Impossible to create. Always exists once activated. If the Sunset Invasion DLC is active, it can show up somewhere on the Atlantic Coast between 1250 and 1350.||Never||e_mexikha|
|Chagatai||Samarkand (903)||N/A||Impossible to create. Exists if you start after 1227.||Never||e_chagatai|
|Cordoba||Cordoba (181)||N/A||Impossible to create. Only exists in the 936 start date.||e_cordoba|
|Golden Horde||Saray (619)||N/A||Impossible to create. Always exists once activated. Exists if you start after 1227.||Never||e_golden_horde|
|Ilkhanate||Esfahan (646)||N/A||Impossible to create. Always exists once activated. Exists if you start after 1227.||Never||e_il-khanate|
|India||None||N/A (Inherits everything in India region when formed)||Activated and created by the "Become Samrat Chakravartin" decision. Rajastan, Bengal Empire, and Deccan Empire either do not exist or are held by you. Completely control the India region. 500 gold, 1000 prestige.||e_india|
|Latin Empire||Constantinople (496)||N/A||Catholic religion or Catholic heresy. Neither Byzantine Empire nor Roman Empire exists. Control Kaliopolis and Thrake.||e_latin_empire|
|Mongol Empire||Kara-khorum (1457)||N/A||Activated and created by the "Become Genghis Khan" decision. Must be a nomadic Mongol with 1500 prestige and control of 35 counties. Always exists once activated. Exists if you start between year 1206 and 1227. Almost certainly arrives in Mongolia between 1210 and 1218, if it doesn't already exist.||e_mongol_empire|
|Nicene Empire||Nikaea (750)||N/A||Activated and created if the Fourth Crusade is successful, replacing the Byzantine Empire title. Exists in start dates between 1204 and 1261.||e_nicaea|
|Outremer||Jerusalem (774)||N/A (inherits de jure land of ruler's kingdoms in Near East region and de jure kingdom of Egypt if Egypt is fully controlled)||Activated and created by the "Form an Empire of the Outremer" decision.
Requirements: 5000 prestige, Catholic or Fraticelli, not Byzantine/Roman/Holy Roman emperor, king or emperor title in Near East region, complete control of Near East region, County of Jerusalem in demesne.
|Roman Empire||Rome (333)||N/A (inherits de jure land of player's main title when formed)||Activated and created by the "Restore Roman Empire" decision. Requires Byzantine Empire, Legacy of Rome DLC, Christian religion, 3000 Prestige, full control of duchies of Latium, Venice, Ferrara, Sicily, Genoa, Capua, Apulia, Thrace, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Athens, Tunisia and Croatia. With Holy Fury DLC there is also an option to revive Hellenism under a Greek, Italian or Roman Christian Emperor.||e_roman_empire|
|Russia||Vladimir (582)||N/A (inherits as de jure kingdoms of Galicia-Volhynia, Kievan Rus, Chernigov, Novgorod, Vladimir, Nenetsia, Perm, Volga Bulgaria, Khazaria, Alania and Crimea when formed)||Activated and created by the "Form the Empire of Russia" decision.||e_russian_empire|
|Seljuk Empire||Esfahan (646)||N/A||Impossible to create. Seljuk can appear between 965 and 1200, and if he is successful forms this empire.||Never||e_seljuk_turks|
|Slavic Union||Kiev (547)||N/A (inherits as de jure kingdoms of Bohemia, Poland, Chernigov, Galicia-Volhynia, Kievan Rus, Novgorod, Vladimir and Pomerania if Pomerania is fully controlled)||Activated and created by the "Form the Slavic Union" decision.
Requirements: 5000 prestige, king or emperor title, complete control of Bohemia, Poland, Chernigov, Galicia-Volhynia, Kievan Rus, Novgorod, Vladimir, culture must be one of Russian, Polish, Bohemian, Volhynian, Ilmenian, Severian, Pomeranian.
|Timurids||Esfahan (646)||N/A||Impossible to create. Timur can appear between 1350 and 1370, and if he is successful forms this empire.||Never||e_timurids|
|Western Protectorate||Dunhuang (1448)||N/A||Always exists as a Chinese tributary. Its Chinese Bureaucracy government type makes it unplayable, unless a Chinese pretender lost their rebellion and invaded the Western Protectorate instead. In games without , it is largely inactive although it still has a court, and only has a physical presence in 769 and from February 1227 onwards.||Never||e_china_west_governor|