Holy orders are bands of troops that can be hired with piety to fight religious enemies. Holy orders can also operate as independent rulers, constructing castles and waging their own wars. Most religions only have one holy order; only Catholics have multiple orders.
The size of holy orders is scaled according to the religion's moral authority. If the holy order is currently hired, its size will be updated only when it is dismissed.
Hiring holy orders
You can hire a holy order if:
- You follow the titles religion
- You have sufficient piety
- You have not expelled the holy order
- They are not a vassal of another ruler
- They have not been hired by another ruler or raised their own troops to fight a war
During great holy wars, as well as when defending against infidels, holy orders have no wealth upkeep. During offensive wars, however, they have a substantial gold upkeep cost, similar to mercenaries.
Forces hired from holy orders will only fight against enemies of the faith:
- Christian holy orders only fight heretics of their religion and infidels. For example, a Catholic holy order will not fight against the Orthodox or Iconoclast Byzantine Empire, but will fight against any Cathar or any Muslim ruler.
- Muslim, Pagan, and Indian holy orders are also hostile against other religions within their group.
With Sons of Abraham, holy orders have received a major overhaul.
Holy orders often operate on their own, without the contract of a ruler. They may ask rulers of their religion to allow them to build a castle in the ruler's demesne. The holy order only requires the local count's approval; the permission of the count's liege, if any, is not required. Once they get permission, construction will begin.
Holy Orders will continue to request the rights to build castles as long as they have enough wealth (300g), no county titles, and fewer than 10 controlled settlements. This will eventually put them over their demesne limit, and they will grant extra castles with appointment succession. If you have Imperial Administration or Iqta government, retracting these baron vassals will allow the Holy Order to build more castles. This is an inexpensive, if gamey, way to increase the strength of your realm.
Rulers cannot use the "de jure holdings" CB against holy orders of their religion. However, for 1000 piety, they can expel the holy order and seize all castles. Any debts with the Order will also be cancelled. The Order will no longer request to build castles in the ruler's realm.
Relatives of rulers
Occasionally, an unmarried son or brother who does not stand to inherit may ask to join Holy Order of their religion. They are more likely to request if Zealous , and will be more likely to join a Holy Order with an aligned cause or is more local (for example, a German would be more likely to join the Teutonic Order than the Knights Templar if both are formed).
If allowed, the courtier moves to the holy order and unmarries all spouses. If the allowing ruler shares their religion, the ruler gains 100 piety. Characters cannot marry or inherit as long as they remain in the holy order. Except for CM holy orders (Zun and Ibadi), the character also gains the Celibate trait.
Once in the holy order, it is possible for them to become the successor through Open elective succession, which selects the man with the highest prestige plus age. This can be very useful if your dynasty: each holy order controlled by your dynasty gives you (and all other count+ rulers of your dynasty) +2 monthly prestige and +1 monthly piety. Holy orders controlled by your dynasty are also much cheaper to hire. High dynasty prestige can help your relatives win, as can the skills to obtain a council position within the holy order.
Loans and Donations
Aside from castle and hiring income, Holy Orders can also gain money from donations. Donating 300 Wealth to a Holy Order will grant you 300 piety and put you in good standing with the Grandmaster of that Order, your religious head, and all temple vassals. Note that you cannot donate to holy orders which you have vassalized.
You can also borrow money from a Holy Order. At any time you can borrow 300 gold from any Holy Order of your religion, so long as they have 300 gold to give. However, while in debt the Grandmaster can make various demands, either demanding a son or brother to join the Order or building a castle in your demesne. If this happens, you may either accept (canceling your debt), refuse (losing 1000 Piety and damaging your relations with your religious head), or pay back the 300 gold debt.
Vassalizing mercenaries and holy orders
Some mercenaries and holy orders are vassals of feudal lords in historical starts, or can become vassals by special decision. Others can become vassals, but only under certain circumstances if they become landed.
A landed mercenary company or holy order may, like any independent duke-tier ruler, accept diplomatic vassalization if the requester is a same-religion neighbor. As with any vassalization offer, you must be at least two of:
- Two tiers higher (emperor)
- Their de jure liege (you may grant one of your de jure duchies to a holy order while at peace)
- Same culture (having high dynasty prestige ensures that any kinsmen who become knights have a good chance of being elected)
Since rulers will only accept diplomatic vassalization if their would-be liege is significantly stronger than they are, it can be hard to vassalize a powerful holy order. One rather gamey way to appear more powerful than the order is to hire them and then deliberately deplete their troops, such as via futile assaults or having them stand around in high-attrition land. With the order temporarily weakened this way, the ruler will appear stronger.
Alternatively, you may be able to find claimants. Open Elective succession does not generate claims for the second and third in line, but holy order captains may have children, who will inherit weak claims. You may get a chance to press such a claim when the ruler is incapable or bedridden from illness. If the ruler has an intrigue education, plotting against them will usually get them to go in hiding , which also forces a regency.
Mercenaries, but not holy orders, can be targeted with the Force Vassalization CB. However, they must have land before you can declare war on them. Independent mercenaries can be given land in two ways:
- A) Become bankrupt while employing the mercenary band. They might invade a kingdom
- B) Invite lowborn women and send them to marry heirs to mercenary companies. After a generation, some new mercenary captains will have sons. Invite a mercenary captain's son, give him land, then kill him.
Benefits of vassalizing holy orders
- A vassal company can only be raised by its liege, and at 1/5 the regular hiring cost. There is no upkeep cost.
- Holy orders of Pagan religions are allowed to raid, which greatly help their liege in upgrading their holdings. (Requires TOG.)
- With SoA:
- Many sons of rulers will become courtiers of the holy order. With the holy order under your control, you can land these characters to either press their claims or allow them to inherit their parent's title. (For the latter, you may need to reload or `recalc_succ` on their parent.)
- You can remove members of other dynasties from the order's line of succession to help a knight of your dynasty become the next grandmaster. This further decreases the hiring cost, and gives monthly prestige and piety to all count+ rulers of your dynasty with the correct religion.
- Holy order captains can become incredibly rich from donations and effectively owning 10 castles. By appointing a wroth character as your marshal, you may get a chance to seize their wealth. Without Conclave, appointing a greedy character as your steward works too.
- With SoA and Imperial Administration or Iqta Government: you can freely retract the castles they erect. You will inherit these castles, as their succession remains Appointment even after retraction. With fewer than 10 castles under their control, the holy order will be able to construct new castles for only 300g each, completing the cycle.
However, to keep the holy order as a vassal, the grandmaster must have a reasonably good opinion of the liege (above -20). Otherwise, the holy order may declare independence and walk away from the vassal contract.
Becoming the grandmaster
If the vassal company/holy order somehow changes its Succession law to a non Elective law (such as gaining a kingdom), the kingdom's succession law will supersede the "default" succession, forcing the Company/Holy Order to be passed along Dynastic routes. Since there is no Dynastic heir, you will be the Heir by default (inheritance by appointment), enabling you to possibly gain command of the company/Holy Order.
Take note, however: upon the Grandmaster's death, you inherit his wealth, the kingdom title you gave him, and any holdings he controlled directly. The vassalized Order will likely continue with a new elected Grandmaster as your vassal, presumably because it still has baronies that were indirectly controlled, i.e., held by other Knights o/t Order. It is uncertain how this may affect any holdings you may have granted with the Kingdom title. For safety, it is best to give an empty kingdom title, such as transferring the Duke of Brittany to another king, then granting the Kingdom of Brittany to the Order with no accompanying lands. If the Order has significant wealth, this may be worthwhile even if it only gains you wealth and a single barony.
It is possible to revoke the holy order title and become grandmaster yourself, though this seems to have little benefit over vassalizing them. The duchy title may deteriorate your vassal relations due to the -10 "Too many held duchies" penalty. You can raise them for free (no initial cost nor maintenance—the Military screen may show an "upkeep" but it does not actually deduct anything). You may be disallowed from arranging marriages while you hold the title.
List of holy orders
Holy orders are created by events when certain conditions are met. If a heresy becomes mainstream, they always join the new mainstream religion.
Taoism does not have an holy order.
Most pagan holy orders require reformation of the religion, except the Germanic holy order.
|Knights Templar||Catholic||French|| Crusades unlocked and either
Vassal of Jerusalem from 1119. Can be vassalized by decision by King of Jerusalem for 500 gold (requires Sons of Abraham).
|Knights Hospitaller||Catholic||Occitan|| Crusades unlocked and either:
Vassal of Jerusalem from 1099. Can be vassalized by decision by King of Jerusalem for 500 gold (requires Sons of Abraham).
|Livonian Order||Catholic||German|| Crusades unlocked and either:
Landed from 1204.
|Teutonic Order||Catholic||German|| Crusades unlocked and either:
Landed from 1225.
|Knights of Calatrava||Catholic||Castillian|| Sons of Abraham DLC, Crusades unlocked and either:
Vassal of Castile from 1164.
|Knights of Santiago||Catholic||Castillian|| Sons of Abraham DLC, Crusades unlocked and either:
Vassal of Castile from 1171.
|Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre||Orthodox||Greek||
|Order of Saint Anthony||Miaphysite||Ethiopian||
|Order of Saint Addai||Nestorian||Persian||
Landed from 1090 until 1256.
|Bektashi Order||Sunni||Persian|| Sons of Abraham DLC, Jihads are unlocked and either:
|Haruriyyah||Ibadi||Bedouin||Charlemagne DLC, Jihads are unlocked, there is an Ibadi caliph, and one of the following counties' owner is not Muslim: Hajar, Damascus, Cairo, Jerusalem or Mecca||
|Zealots||Jewish||Ashkenazi||Sons of Abraham DLC and Jewish high priesthood is restored||
|Immortals||Zoroastrian||Persian||Sons of Abraham DLC and Zoroastrian priesthood is restored||
|Army of Light||Manichean||Persian||
Sons of Abraham DLC, created by decision taken by a Manichean ruler.
Taking the decision cost the ruler 300 prestige and 300 wealth.
|Jomsvikings||Germanic (or Reformed Germanic)||Norse||
|Lords of the Sky||Reformed Tengri||Cuman||Sons of Abraham DLC and Tengri reformation||
|Spirit Guardians||Reformed West African||Mandé||Sons of Abraham DLC and West African reformation||
|Warriors of Perun||Reformed Slavic||Russian||Sons of Abraham DLC and Slavic reformation||
|Chosen of Perkunas||Reformed Romuva||Lettigallian||Sons of Abraham DLC and Romuva reformation||
|Sons of Kaleva||Reformed Suomenusko||Finnish||Sons of Abraham DLC and Suomenusko reformation||
|Cult of Huitzilopochtli||Reformed Aztec||Nahua||Sons of Abraham DLC and Aztec reformation||
|Chosen of Ashoka||Buddhist||Marathi|| If five of major cities in India (Mahoyadapuram, Cholamandalam, Manyapura, Navasarika, Kataka, Laksmanavati, Magadha, Jaunpur, Manyakheta, Goa, Vijayawada, Mallabhum, Tripuri, Ujjayini, Debul, Ajayameru, Kanyakubja, Lahur, Delhi, Multan) are owned by non-Dharmic rulers, all three holy orders become active.
|Followers of Arjuna||Hindu||Hindustani||
|Bulls of Rishabha||Jain||Kannada||
|Knights of the Sun||Reformed Zunist||Afghan||Charlemagne DLC and Zunist reformation||
|Myrmidons||Reformed Hellenic||Greek||Holy Fury DLC and Hellenic reformation||
|Children of Dralha||Reformed Bön||Bödpa||Jade Dragon DLC and Bön reformation||