|Kingdom of Léon|
|Sep 15 1066|
The Kingdom of Leon is a interesting start for any player. Though much more of a risky game than playing as an independent Irish count or a larger kingdom, a player will find that Leon is a land of great opportunity for a strong King or Queen who wishes to be known as the Conquistador.
"To The Strongest"
So said Alexander the Great on his death-bed, when asked of his succession plan. Ferdinand the Great perhaps didn't want to follow that succession plan, but his decision to split the realm among his five children made it near-inevitable. King Alfonso VI was his father's second son and now the King of Leon; the player will almost certainly see when they look at the map what Alfonso likely saw: the land of Iberia was now heavily fractured, thanks to the splitting of the Christian kingdoms in the north. To the south, the Muslim lands were weakening as well. All of this amounts then and now to one thing: conquista.
The easiest path to expansion for the player at the beginning of the 1066 start date is not conquest or crusading, but instead the killing of only two men. The Kings of Castile and Galicia are Alfonso's brothers and therefore Alfonso is in the direct line of succession for their kingdoms. Killing them both is difficult, but if the player succeeds, he will control by far the most powerful Kingdoms in Spain. Failing that, Alfonso and his heir will have strong claims to his brother's kingdoms. If fighting Alfonso's brothers is out of the picture, the player can instead concentrate on the Muslim realms in southern Spain. These realms can be tricky though because the holy war casus belli allows the Muslim realms to band together and perhaps combat the combined forces of even all three kingdoms. The best strategy is for the player to wait until his brothers have been attacked or are attacking a large Muslim realm and then let both sides weaken their forces. The player can then attack either Alfonso's brother or the Muslim ruler; either way, he should be able to seize for himself a good chunk of territory. The player should be careful though, since taking too much territory will drive up his threat quickly and allow his many enemies to form a strong defensive pact. Instead, the player should be patient and look to the other rulers of Europe to prepare for future expansion.
To the east, lies many opportunities for fruitful diplomacy. The Kingdoms of Navarra and Aragon are smaller realms than those of Alfonso and his brothers, but they can be quite useful allies for the player as they navigate the fractured land of Spain. Further east of them lies the Kingdom of France, by far Leon's most powerful neighbor and therefore potentially a very useful ally. It is important to remember though that diplomacy has many uses and that Leon's allies today may be tomorrow's future conquests.
As the player consolidates the kingdoms of Spain, the player should focus on converting any non-Christian lands they come into control of. Internal revolts will become one of the most dangerous threats a ruler faces as the realm expands. If the player is in control of a large amount of Muslim land, they can likely defeat a religious revolt. However, this can also weaken the realm enough to allow either rival realms to seize on their weakness or allow factions to pose a large enough threat to impose their demands or cause a much larger revolt.
An Early Reconquista
If the player manages to survive the early struggles of Iberia, then they should soon be able to forge the strongest realm in the region. Now the game has changed from survival to hopefully unchecked expansion. Soon Leon will be the only realm left in Iberia and Leon's provinces will slowly begin to return to Catholicism further strengthening the realm. Now is the for the Kingdom of Leon to come to its end and rise as the Empire of Hispania.
With the end of Leon, the player will likely either expand in two directions. The first is North Africa, which can now be easily seized as Leon has already destroyed many of their potential allies. The second is France, whose duchies can now be seized slowly through marriage or war. Either way, the future of the Empire of Hispania looks bright.
Should the player choose to expand into North Africa, vassalizing Catholic holy orders will ensure numerical superiority against the infidels and the odd heretic which may appear.