As of the Monks and Mystics Expansion version, there were 4,457 holdings in the world in 1066, with potential for up to 5,190. As the map receives further updates, the number of holdings may increase.
Holdings have the following characteristics, which are modified by buildings:
|Demesne income||The primary source of wealth for most rulers|
|Fort level||Slows down sieges and resists raiding|
|Garrison||Must be outnumbered in order for an enemy to siege|
|Levies||Can be raised, or left to defend along with the garrison|
There are five types of settlements, each with a different set of buildings. Each form of government has preferred and allowed settlements, and will get "Wrong government type" (-75% levies and income) penalty while holding other types of settlements directly. Hindu characters will suffer opinion penalties if they have holdings which do not match their caste. Also, they cannot be granted such holdings directly.
Castles correspond to feudal rule. They are normally ruled by nobles, and their buildings are mostly focused on the military. Castles often have the highest level of fortification among all holding types. As a feudal lord/lady, castles will be the bread and butter of your demesne, but they won't bring in income comparable to temples and cities. As a Christian feudal ruler, the player will have severe income and levy penalties for having holdings other than castles. On the other hand, most of your levies will originate from castles, especially heavy infantry and all types of cavalry. Meanwhile, Muslim iqta rulers are allowed to freely rule over castles and temples without penalties. Hindu characters who hold castles are expected to be of the Kshatriya caste.
Temples correspond to theocracies. They are normally ruled by members of the clergy - bishops (or equivalent) - or iqta nobles for Muslims (imams). Their buildings are balanced between military ones and providing taxes, although they start out with very little fortification like cities. The pagan religions have their own names for these rulers, e.g. Godi for the Norse. Temples usually provide heavy infantry levies, with light infantry and archers, but no cavalry. Hindu characters who hold temples are expected to be of the Brahmin caste.
Cities correspond to republics. They are normally ruled by burghers. Their buildings are focused on economy and offer few heavy troops as levies. Later in the game, a significant part of light levies - light infantry, archers and heavy pikemen - will come from cities. Much of a feudal ruler's income from vassals is likely to come from vassal cities. If a burgher owns the capital of a county, their lands turn into a vassal republic which increases taxes collection. When a count-tier burgher is granted a duchy and their capital is coastal, they will form a merchant republic, resulting in greater taxes, construction of trade posts, and allowing them to rule cities and castles alike. Hindu characters who hold cities are expected to be of the Vaishya caste.
A Nomadic capital is a special holding for the capital of khagans and khans. When a nomadic ruler moves their capital, all buildings are transported to the new location, although some may become inactive (such as the "fishing village" and "harbor" in a landlocked province).
Like trade posts, forts are built in dedicated slots and thus do not count as a full fledged holding.
Forts are primarily used to "lock" the occupation of an empty province when warring against a nomadic faction, as it would otherwise automatically return to the original owner's control as soon as the occupying army tries to move out of the province. Once a fort is constructed, the original owner will be forced to put it under siege or attack it. Nomads cannot build forts; when fighting against fellow nomads, occupying nomadic capitals is the main way to get warscore, besides battles.
Forts are also particularly useful when warring against Unreformed Pagans as they negate the attrition bonus in provinces holding a friendly one. With its building speed, if the player reacts fast enough, it is possible to negate the attrition before their army even starts taking losses!
It is also possible to build a fort in any owned province, and the character's enemies will be forced to besiege it before sieging other holdings. Thus, it can be a good idea to build forts in border provinces to delay enemies, granting the character time to assemble levies without extensive damage done to holdings (e.g. due to raids).
Family palaces are the essential capital holdings of patricians in merchant republics (requires The Republic Expansion). In early starts, they are often the only holdings of vassal patricians. No character or dynasty can own more than one family palace. These holdings have no province, but provide troops (which spawn in the republic's capital if the patrician owns no other land) and money to their owner. Family palaces are always inherited by the heir of a patrician family, and cannot be usurped or revoked, leaving the family only if it ceases to exist (by having no male family members).
Trade posts provide income to patricians and controllers of Silk Road provinces (the Silk Road requires Horse Lords or Jade Dragon DLC). Every coastal province has room for one trade post, though this slot is distinct from regular holdings. Trade posts focus on providing money, and the more trade posts of the same owner there are in a connected trade zone, the more money they will provide individually. Trade posts have their own limit, independent of demesne limit, which is determined by technology and the size of the patrician family. This limit is solely for building new trade posts, with no repercussions to owning more than the limit, should the limit decrease.
Hospitals help to protect provinces from disease and depopulation. Additional upgrades to this holding can also produce piety, tech points etc. The Reaper's Due DLC is required in order to build hospitals and to appoint a court physician.
Great works, also called wonders of the world, are special holdings that are constructed at great cost and confer lasting benefits. Great works bring new ways to spend a dynasty's amassed fortune by creating new developments that can provide bonuses for the character, its family, and the realm.
Empty holding slot
For most government types, an empty holding slot represents nothing more than the potential to eventually construct a useful holding. For tribes, however, empty holding slots directly increase the levies and income of the tribal holding in the province, as each empty slot gives a +50% bonus. For nomads, empty holding slots are vital, as they determine the maximum population of the nomadic clan, which in turn determines the manpower available for horde troops.
Getting additional empty holding slots
It is possible to gain additional empty holding slots, but it takes time, wealth and some luck. There are two events associated with this, one is gained from high prosperity, the other from great works. The province which is to gain the empty holding slot through prosperity must be at prosperity level 3 (Booming) (requires The Reaper's Due DLC), and the crown focus set at the said province. Given time, an event can occur which offers the choice of creating an empty settlement slot for 250% of yearly income. It has an MTTH of 65 years, decreasing by 10% if you have higher stewardship and/or learning (breakpoints being 12, 16 and 18). The same 10% apply if the ruling character has the lifestyle administrator , architect , scholar or gardener ; the trait diligent; the education scholarly theologian , mastermind theologian , charismatic negotiator , grey eminence , fortune builder or midas touched . If the character is not independent, it increases by 20%.
As mentioned before, it is also possible to get a holding slot through an event called "A Town is Born" associated with a local great work. To get this event, the ruler must not be at war, the great work must be at least 50 years old and the great work must have at least two upgrades. You can not get this event twice in one province.
Construction improves an existing holding by:
- Constructing new buildings in the holding
- Upgrading existing buildings to improve their benefits
- Creating new settlements in a province, provided an empty slot is available.
Construction is a long-time prospect, as it will take very long for most buildings to pay off, if strictly speaking on their income output alone. Military buildings and upgrades form the backbone of a character's personal levies and help deter faction revolts.
The construction time itself can be reduced by the steward's "Oversee Construction" job.
Note that the last two levels of "castle towns" do not need further "wall" upgrades. If "wall" upgrades are taken into account, there is a gradual progression for how long it takes to get a return on investments. It is displayed on that assessment that aiming for level 1 firstly in all owned holdings, then going to the next level and so on, makes the most sense.
As long as the player has good stewardship, the break-even point for construction will be considerably faster, as 2% more demesne income is generated for every point of state stewardship beyond 5 points. Thus, at 30 state stewardship, the player will get 50% higher income, reducing the time to break-even by one third.
It is also possible to build new settlements in a county if there are free slots. Nomads can build temples; tribal rulers can build tribes and temples; settled rulers can build castles, cities, and temples. Once a province has each one of a castle, temple, and city, a ruler is free to create duplicates.
Creating a new settlement costs 400 wealth, plus an additional 100 wealth for each settlement already built in the province. This cost is reduced by the Construction technology. Tribal rulers can construct tribal settlements in provinces without them, for 25 prestige per empty slot.
- Castles will repay themselves between 175 and 166 years, and are as such not really worth it for the money alone. Build castles with the intention of using them to strengthen your military. Building and holding new castles in your capital county (and maybe capital duchy) can help increase demesne levies immensely, since the capital bonus (available as long as the ruler is not a count-rank vassal) and marshal's "Train troops" job apply to all personal holdings in the capital county.
- Temples add piety-to-liege slots. In some religions, they can be granted to disqualify heirs. Catholics can also use a created temple to set up an antipope without needing to revoke a temple or murder a bishop. Be warned that rulers must consider tax and levies from their Catholic clergy to be unreliable at best. Building a new temple will give a +1% bonus to the religion's moral authority for 20 years after it's completed, but except for research and piety, building temples is rarely an attractive option beyond county requirements.
- Cities can bring in quite a bit of money, at a base rate of 12 wealth per year. This is easily worthwhile for a grand mayor, but even for a feudal or Muslim ruler, it will take only 50–150 years to repay itself; the repayment time is even shorter if the county is coastal or on the Silk Road. Trade off time depends on tax laws, technology, and stewardship-skill and decisions of the mayor.
- Cities and temples add technological growth slots, increasing both tech spread rate and the ruler's research points
- Tribes are extremely cheap and should always be built if possible, especially, since they can usually be converted to combinations of castle + city + temple.
- Constructing a castle or city in formerly-nomadic provinces can prevent them from reverting due to nomad agitation.
A character can build new holdings in any province they directly or indirectly control. The new holding becomes part of the builder's demesne and they are not obliged to grant it to the county's owner. However, the county's owner will get a -25 opinion penalty, because they desire that barony. As such, building new holdings in lands held by non-direct vassals is a good idea, as their opinion is largely irrelevant to the player character.
Building new holdings is usually more relevant if the player is isolated and their realm is under-developed at the selected start date. On the flip side, rich realms can further strengthen themselves by building more holdings after upgrading their existing ones.
Preferred holding type for capital
Each government type has its preferred holding type and will try to change the capital of their counties they personally hold if they hold nonpreferred holdings.
- Feudal and Iqta prefers castles.
- Monastic Feudal prefers castles and temples.
- Imperial (both Roman and Chinese) and Confucian Bureucracy prefers castles and cities.
- Republics and Merchant Republics prefer cities.
- Theocracies prefer temples.
- Tribals prefer tribes.
- Nomads prefer nomadic capitals and empty holding slots.
- Give out settlements of the wrong type. It is rarely worthwhile to keep settlements for which the player character gets the "Wrong government type" penalty. Exceptions include tribal rulers preparing to feudalize, feudal rulers preparing to convert tribal holdings, and nomads in the process of pillaging.
- Catholic churches are unreliable for taxes and levies. At +100 opinion towards their secular liege and the Pope, Catholic bishops will still pay taxes to the Pope and withhold levies from their secular liege.
- If Hindu, be sure to match the character's caste with the holding type. If a character is of the wrong caste, they cannot be granted the holding.
- Seize the advantage if the realm is on the Silk Road. If the player's demesne has counties on the Silk Road, castles, temples and cities give increased taxes to the holders of the counties.
- Focus construction in the capital, and control multiple holdings there. A character's capital county will almost always be inherited by their heir(ess), even if the realm's under gavelkind succession. This is important, as buildings often won't pay back the investment within a single character's reign. The capital county will generally have the highest technology level of all holdings, and many technologies enhance the output of owned buildings, thus constructions in the capital will repay investment faster. Building up a county and then losing it 20 years later due to gavelkind isn't too great an idea. (By comparison, losing baronies through gavelkind is not as bad, as barons cannot join factions and do not have vassals under them.) In addition, all directly controlled holdings within the capital county receives an extra 50% levies (if independent), or at least a +15% if the character is a vassal duke or king-rank. By holding multiple baronies, the effectiveness of tax collection by the steward and troop training by the marshal is multiplied.
- Build additional settlements for maximum troops and income. It's best to build firstly castles in the capital county, where they gain the largest levy bonus (up to +50% capital county if independent and perhaps +50% trained troops). Then, cities could be built outside the capital duchy for increased income. If the character is Catholic, temple resources are unreliable, so they are not a priority for a feudal ruler. However, if the player character is Muslim or eligible for Monastic Feudalism, temples are good at increasing monthly piety, and as usual gives a +1% to moral authority for 20 years after being built.
- If the player character is grand mayor (or equivalent) of a merchant republic, construction should be balanced between the capital and other baronies/counties owned by the character. While the capital gets great troop bonuses, it can be lost in an election. Instead, by holding separate county titles and baronies, a patrician's family will retain a large portion of its former military base. The player can also develop baronies in the capital, as those do not go to the new grand mayor. A strategy is avoiding over-investment in outlying titles that are likely targets of de jure wars from other realms. It is better to focus on coastal cities, which tend to provide highest income (from trade post bonuses and "port" buildings).
- Focus on the player character's own baronies, not their vassals' holdings. The character's own baronies deliver their entire income and levies, while vassals' holdings will only give the liege a percentage. In addition, the benefits received from vassals are also subject to change in the long term due to changes in opinion, while the player character's own holdings are unaffected. Note that although the liege will get maximum tax if their vassals have at least 0 opinion of their ruler, Catholic bishops will continue to pay taxes to the Pope if they like him more than the liege. However, if the player character erects "town markets", "town harbours" and "church villages", they will increase the income of cities and bishoprics respectively, allowing them to construct more improvements on their own. While cities provide higher revenue per town building than castles, the liege still gets less overall due to only getting a percentage of the town income. For patricians and Muslims rulers who can personally hold cities and temples respectively, upgrading them is a higher priority.
- However, constructing in vassals' holdings will increase their opinion. This might be helpful in certain situations, particularly if the increased opinion is enough to convince a Zealous vassal of another religion to convert. Another exception is to help tribal vassals construct their Stone Hillforts so that they can adopt feudalism.
- Build technology buildings. Churches and cities do, however, have one building each that is particularly useful for the development of technology, the "monastic school" and the "university," respectively. If The Reaper's Due DLC is active, hospitals add several more, as follows:
- The monastic school increases technology spread rate in the province by 10% at level 1, and 20% at level 2, for a total of 30%. It also grants +0.04 cultural tech points and +0.05 piety per month per level
- The university increases technology spread rate in the province by 30% and grants +0.05 economic tech points per month
- The translation house grants economic tech points and prestige; the library, cultural tech points and a 25% increase to technology spread rate; the laboratory, another 25% increase to technology spread rate; the medical academy, tech points of every type; and the observatory, military and cultural tech points.
- This can make a major difference in the long run, so if the player prefers a technology-based approach to the game, investing in these buildings would be a good idea.
- Build economic improvements, then military. Initial focus should be on improving the demesne's economic situation. The higher the income, the faster the ruler can construct or upgrade more buildings, so while at first the realm will lag behind on the military front, the ruler will quickly catch up once economic buildings repay their cost. After having reached decent economic capital, with at least "castle villages" in all the player character's holdings, it is a proper decision to upgrade military capabilities. At this point, income flows pretty well, so this should be relatively quick to do. As before, the capital's holdings could go first, then other holdings are good to be upgraded. For each military building constructed, the ruler's personal military power increases. This powerbase will be there for the character even in times of crisis, and as such it gives the player a base military capacity at all times. Greater military means better results during civil wars and also on foreign wars, both defensive and offensive. It also helps to stabilize the realm, since vassals are less likely to form factions against a powerful liege. Do remember that increases in military capacity also translates into greater expenses whenever the ruler raises their own levies. Planning ahead is advised.
- Upgrade demesne holdings as fast as possible. The quicker they are built, the sooner their investment is repaid. The more it is possible to construct in the future, the lesser a ruler will fall behind their rivals.
- Keep wealth and piety reserves. A good strategy is to imagine the worst possible economic scenario that could happen to the realm, and keep that much money (or more) and piety (or equivalent) in reserve at all times. As a small realm like say, Scotland, having 50 wealth/piety in reserve at all times would likely be enough most of the time, except if the liege suddenly needs to hire mercenaries or holy orders. As such, it would be a thoughtful decision to save 100 wealth/piety at the very least for any small realm, as that much (along with the 300 wealth from Jewish merchants) will enable the liege to recruit a band of mercenaries or holy order and pay their upkeep for some months through that reserve alone. As for large empires neighbouring big potential rivals, it may even be necessary to keep a reserve of more than 1,000 wealth or piety at all times. Tribal rulers are required to save prestige points too, for their buildings are constructed with this currency up until they feudalize or turn into a merchant republic.
- Build new holdings in counties not held by direct vassals. The player character's direct vassals won't ask for a transfer of control, and it's possible to indirectly weaken them. However, non-direct vassals may declare de jure wars to bring the holding under their control.