Start date

From Crusader Kings II Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The starting era selection screen

Your game begins by selecting a start date, the point at which the simulation begins to diverge from history.

You may choose one of the bookmark start dates below, or select any custom start date between 1066 and 1337.

Choosing a start date[edit | edit source]

As technology advances, holdings tend to have more buildings pre-built; tribal realms also tend to be relatively weaker compared to feudal realms, as feudal realms utilize advanced tech for construction of buildings. Large realms become more stable and merchant republics become economic powerhouses. Expect larger wars at later start dates, as crusades and jihads are called, and as hordes invade from off-map.

At later start dates, Horse Lords.pngnomads may find it difficult to destroy holdings via pillages due to the increased number of buildings; revolts arising from pillages also have increased troop counts. Also, tribal realms become less common in some parts of the world.

Faith-wise, at later start dates, pagans become less common across the world, displaced by the Abrahamic faiths or the Indian religions.

You may choose a character immediately, or use "observer mode" to mix things up before playing.

Bookmarks[edit | edit source]

Each start date has its own major powers and regional dynamics. Learn how these historical realms tend to behave, and use this knowledge to form strategies and personal goals.

Early Middle Ages (769)[edit | edit source]

Requires DLC icon Charlemagne.png Charlemagne DLC
Catholic.png Charles and Carloman Karling rule over a divided Francia. If Charles reunites Francia, as he did historically, he will be known as "Charles the Great" or "Charlemagne". He may aim to found the Holy Roman Empire.

On the Italian peninsula, Desiderius is the King of Lombardy, but he holds papal lands in defiance of the Papacy. He may pay a high price for this defiance, but at the same time, he or his descendants can break the temporal power of the Papacy permanently.

Orthodox Heresy.png In the Byzantine Empire, controversy rages regarding the use of religious images. The emperor and ecumenical patriarch are Iconoclast, but may revert to Orthodox Christianity by decision.
Sunni.png The Abbasid Caliphate is at the zenith of its power. However, powerful vassals are already biding their time to break free.
Catholic.png Sunni.png The Umayyad Sultanate of Al-Andalus controls large swathes of Hispania, a consolation prize of sorts after losing their empire to the Abbasids about 20 years prior. To their north, Asturias is in real danger of falling into Muslim hands. The Umayyads may inspire early Crusades if they successfully invade Aquitaine at Toulouse or Burgundy at Provence. However, unlike the 867 bookmark, the Umayyads will have more time to fortify themselves. By forging an empire, they can reclaim some of their lost glory.
Buddhist.png Bön.png Taoist.png Over in the East, the Empire of Tibet looms large over its neighbours, ruling over a realm still clinging to pagan ways; meanwhile the Western Protectorate is at the nadir of its power, as the Tang Dynasty has yet to recover from internal rebellion about a decade prior.

Viking Age (867)[edit | edit source]

Requires Dlc icon the old gods.pngThe Old Gods DLC
Norse.png In Scandinavia, small tribes are attempting to subjugate each other in the hope of forming Norway, Sweden and the Fylkirate.
The sons of Ragnarr Loðbrok are attempting to carve out pieces of England in revenge for the murder of their father. Farther east, Rurik is beginning his attempt to form Rus.
While the Norse are powerful now, they are vulnerable to gavelkind and conversion by missionaries.
Tengri.png King Arpad of the Magyars is beginning a series of invasions with the hope of settling in Hungary. Despite having massive event armies and access to the Tribal Invasion CB, the Hungarians often stay put after conquering de jure Hungary.
Catholic.png Six Karling kingdoms dominate Western Europe. Will enough Karling realms unite, through claim wars or inheritance, to create a new empire?
Catholic.png Sunni.png The Umayyad Sultanate of Al-Andalus controls 66% of Hispania, but Asturias has upgraded holdings and is therefore stronger than it looks. Just like in the 769 bookmark, the Umayyads may inspire early Crusades if they successfully invade Aquitaine at Toulouse; but now they'll have a lot less time to prepare for the counterattack.
Sunni.png The Abbasid Caliph, Al-Mu'tazz, rules over a weakened Arabian empire. Former vassals have become de facto independent. The Caliph's half-brothers consider claimant bids, while the Turkish dukes in Jerusalem clamor for independence. Meanwhile, the Saffarids ruling Persia have less than 90 years to prepare for a Seljuk invasion.

The Iron Century (936)[edit | edit source]

Catholic.png Tengri.png As the galloping hordes of the Hungarian warlord Arpad Zoltan raid across Europe, the Christian world stands divided. Otto Ludolfinger is the king of Germany, and stands poised to unify Central Europe under a Holy Roman Empire. Young King Louis IV rules the West Franks, the direct heir to Charlemagne's legacy, but is incapable of controlling his southern lords. England has achieved unification at last under King Æthelstan, while León stands alone in the path of Reconquista. Finally, King Haakon the Good rules over pagan Norway while staying true to his Christian faith.
Orthodox.png Sunni.png

Shia.pngShia Heresy.png

After suffering great defeats to the rising power of Bulgaria, the Byzantine Empire watches over the Mediterranean with great concern: the mighty Abbasid Caliphate has shrunk but still commands many hearts and minds; in Egypt the Ikhshidid Sultanate rules with an iron fist; from Africa the Fatimid Caliphate has risen against the Sunni establishment; in Iberia the first caliph of Cordoba Abd-al-Rahman holds the last light of the Umayyad legacy. Meanwhile in the Arabian deserts, the Qarmatian fanatics under Abu Tahir raid the pilgrim routes into Mecca and beyond.
Norse.png Zoroastrian.png Slavic.png Being exiled from Norway, Eirik Bloodaxe bides his time, with a great army ready to sail away to conquer whatever his heart desires. In distant Persia, the recent Muslim convert Vushmgir Ziyarid considers the legacy of his deceased Zoroastrian brother; in the cold lands of the Kievan Rus', Igor Rurikid rules over a diverse people still clinging on to their old gods.
Taoist.png Buddhist.png Hindu.png Holding control over the Guiyi Army - the last Tang presence in the West - Cao Yuande plots to build a new kingdom for himself away from the influence of his wartorn homeland. North of Dunhuang, Emperor Taizong of the Liao dynasty builds a large military presence across the steppes with his eye turned to the riches of both west and east. On the Indian subcontinent, Mahipala Pratihara holds one of the largest armies in the known world, ready to reclaim the lost glory of generations past.

High Middle Ages (1066)[edit | edit source]

Orthodox.png The descendants of Rurik have converted to Orthodox Christianity. The continued practice of gavelkind has left Ruthenia and Rus a mess of independent duchies. However, the inheritance of the crown of the Kievan Rus follows the rota system (modeled by Seniority succession in-game); anyone who dares to attack one is likely to draw the ire of all Rurikid rulers.
Catholic.png The Holy Roman Empire and France are major powers. The Karling dynasty rules neither: they have been reduced to a single county, Vermandois in France. Hungary, Poland, and much of Scandinavia have converted to Catholicism. Although Catholic and feudal, the Hungarians have not forgotten the raiding ways of their forefathers.
Catholic.png King Harold of England is being invaded by two claimants: Duke William "the Bastard" of Normandy, and King Harald "the hard-ruler" of Norway. (This describes 15 September 1066, before the battle of Stamford Bridge. If you wish to start with William the Conqueror, select 26 December 1066 instead.)
Catholic.png Sunni.png The Sunni Andalusians rule small duchies in the wake of the disintegration of Al-Andalus. The Catholic Castilians in northwest Hispania have also split into multiple kingdoms, ruled by three brothers. How long will Hispania remain a fierce battleground of holy wars and Castilian infighting?
Sunni.png Shia.png The Seljuk horde has swept through Persia and Mesopotamia, reducing the Abbasid Caliphate to a mere vassal duchy. But can they survive their rebellious vassals? Meanwhile, the decadent Fatimid dynasty controls Egypt and large swaths of the former Arabian Empire. However, the Caliph is bankrupt and the impending First Crusade seems poised to take back Jerusalem...

William the Conqueror (1066)[edit | edit source]

This minor bookmark can be selected using a custom game.
Catholic.png After a long campaign, William of Normandy has conquered England and sits on the throne he fought hard for. However unrest grows in his realm, as his unruly Anglo-Saxon vassals grumble about the Norman conqueror and the new ways he brought from the south.
Orthodox.png Sunni.png The fate of Asia Minor shall be decided in the upcoming days, as Alp Arslan of the great Seljuk Empire prepares a massive invasion of Anatolia - will Byzantine Emperor Romanos IV be able to withstand the Turkic storm?

The Alexiad (1081)[edit | edit source]

This minor bookmark can be selected using a custom game.
Sunni.png After failing to usurp Persia, Suleyman Seljuk conquered Anatolia and created an independent Sultanate of Rum, claiming to be the rightful successor of the old Roman Empire.
Orthodox.png Constantinople is in danger from the rising Turks, but Alexios Komnenos has the potential to be a strong Byzantine Emperor and reverse the setbacks of previous centuries.

The Third Crusade (1187)[edit | edit source]

This minor bookmark can be selected using a custom game.
Sunni.png Catholic.png The great sultan Saladin of Egypt has recaptured Jerusalem from infidel hands. With the Kingdom of Jerusalem in danger, the great leaders of Europe - Richard the Lionheart, Philippe Augustus and Frederick Barbarossa - prepare to embark to the Holy Land on the largest crusade ever.
Sunni.png Catholic.png The Christian kingdoms of Iberia reach a stalemate in the Reconquista, as the powerful Almohad Caliphate rises from beyond Gibraltar with the declared intent of halting the Christian invasion and returning Al-Andalus to its former glory.

The Latin Empire (1204)[edit | edit source]

This minor bookmark can be selected using a custom game.
Catholic.png Orthodox.png The Fourth Crusade sacked the great city of Constantinople, and a new Latin Empire has risen from its ashes. However the remains of Byzantium - the Nicene Empire - may be able to retake the Imperial City and stop the empire's decline.
Sunni.png Tengri.png The Khwarazmian Empire rules Persia and Transoxiana with an iron hand, its eyes set on retaking lost territory. Meanwhile in distant Mongolia, a Mongol warrior plans to unite the divided tribes and forge an empire of his own.

Age of the Mongols (1220)[edit | edit source]

This minor bookmark can be selected using a custom game.
Tengri.png The legendary Mongol leader Genghis Khan leads a vast horde, with the declared intent of uniting the whole world under the Mongol banner and the might of its armies.

Rise of the Hansa (1241)[edit | edit source]

This minor bookmark can be selected using a custom game.
Tengri.png The Golden Horde controls Tartaria. The Ilkhanate controls Persia. The steppe nomads' attentions are likely to be focused towards Eastern Europe.
Catholic.png Dlc icon the republic.png A new merchant republic known as the Hansa has formed on the northern coast of the Holy Roman Empire. Venice and Genoa control large trade zones in the Mediterranean.

Late Middle Ages (1337)[edit | edit source]

Catholic.png The Hundred Years War between England and France is about to start.
Sunni.png The small Ottoman state in northwest Anatolia begins its rise to greatness as Byzantium declines.
Sunni.png The feared Tughluq empire is expanding across India, but internal dissent fueled by religious turmoil may create a power vacuum waiting to be filled.

Other key years[edit | edit source]

There are some features that become enabled, disabled or change functionality at certain years in the game. As most of those are not directly visible in the user interface, this section will attempt to list those that are either a possible cause for player confusion or important in general.

Year Short description Explanation or details
769 Early Middle Ages Requires Charlemagne DLC.
800 Start of the Viking Age Norse rulers get free shipyards and Shipbuilding technology. Coastal county conquest and Prepared Invasion CBs unlocked for Germanic pagans. "Settle Iceland" decision unlocked (for North Germanic culture or Germanic religion rulers). "Found Varangian Guard" decision unlocked (for Byzantium).
867 Viking Age Requires The Old Gods DLC.
900 Earliest great holy wars Crusades and Jihads can be unlocked if Christianity or Islam loses control of key provinces.
920 Jomsvikings can be founded Requires that one of the possible provinces be held by a Norse ruler
936 The Iron Century The earliest free start date.
950 Start of Norse culture breakup
Middle graphics era Switch from early era clothing and unit graphics to middle era
960 Fatimid invasion of Egypt If Africa is Shia and Egypt is Sunni, the ruler of Africa may declare war for Egypt and Cairo
1000 Investiture controversy intensifies Realms with Free Investiture can now switch back to Papal Investiture. Pope dislikes rulers with Free Investiture (-30 opinion) and may demand Papal Investiture.
1066 Default start date High Middle Ages and William the Conqueror bookmarks.
Chance for some adventurer hosts decreased Hungarian characters stop using the "duchy adventure" CB, and North Germanic characters use it less. Claimant adventures are unaffected.
Naval mercenary bands enabled This makes ships much more easily available to Christian rulers.
1081 The Alexiad
1089 Fedayeen (Shia holy order) can be founded
1090 Time based unlock point for Crusades Unless Jerusalem is already in Christian hands. Crusades can also be triggered by other conditions.
1100 English Melting Pot begins Anglo-Saxon provinces with Norman rulers can flip to English culture.
Easier Holy Wars From now on, you can Holy War into Kingdoms 2 sea zones away instead of just ones you have land in or directly bordering you. (Holy Wars launched at or by Muslims or by reformed Pagans already could do this before)
Easier to create Dharmic holy orders Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain rulers can now create their respective holy orders with fewer restrictions.
1150 End of Norse culture breakup Provinces can flip back to Norse now, if Norse rulers still exist
Runestones disabled
Northern Crusade If the Teutonic Order exists, they may initiate the Northern Crusade
1170 Hansa can form If the HRE exists, a non-player province along Germany's northern coast can become a new kingdom-level merchant republic
1187 The Third Crusade
Time based unlock point for Jihads Unless no Caliph exists anymore. Jihads can also be triggered by other conditions.
1200 Late graphics era Switch from middle era clothing and unit graphics to late era
1201 Fedayeen can be destroyed If the Fedayeen have no holdings, they can be scattered after 1200 (harmless unless they resurface) or completely destroyed after 1201.
1204 The Latin Empire
1220 Age of the Mongols
1241 Rise of the Hansa
1300 The bubonic plague may appear The deadliest of diseases.
1337 Late Middle Ages Last possible start date.
1350 Non-pagans can send missionaries to Aztecs
Factions fully enabled for Hordes Vassals of Mongol/Aztec hordes do not join most factions until this year. Exceptions include vassals of a different religion or culture than their liege. Factions can also be enabled by the horde ruler merging their special "tribal title" into another empire title.
1453 End date

Horde arrival[edit | edit source]

Main article: Hordes
Years (Historical/Random game rules) Name of Horde
965-985/809-1200 Seljuks
965-1010/809-1200 Ghaznavids
1218/1000-1452 Mongols
1216-1224 Ilkhanate (obsolete)
1224-1250 Golden Horde (obsolete)
1250-1350 The Aztec Empire (only with Dlc icon sunset invasion.pngSunset Invasion)
1350-1370/1200-1452 Timurids

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Some bookmarks have been renamed since launch, like the Early Middle Ages (previously called "Charlemagne"), the Viking Age (previously called "The Old Gods"), the High Middle Ages (previously called "Stamford Bridge") and the Rise of the Hansa (previously called "The Mongols").