Crusader Kings 2 and What it Taught Me about British History

It was some time back in October when I purchased the computer game Crusader Kings 2. The game is set in Medieval Europe and starts in the year 1066 which is one thanks to playing so much I will now Always remember for William the Conqueror.  The game puts the player in the shoes a land holding dynasty during the difficult Middle Ages.  It explores different aspects  of Medieval England which came up in class such as feudalism, vassals, marriage alliances, and role of religion. Though their is no clear way to win this game the main way that people go about playing is trying to acquire more land. Your character can have a series of positive or negative traits that affect the game making things interesting such as being, possessed, insane, inbred or a drunkard on the negative side and being brave, diligent, gregarious or a genius on the positive end.

This can be done in a number of ways such as by marrying into a dynasty with more land or gaining more through war. The catch is war cannot be declared unless there is a valid claim on the land.  Claims can be fabricated but this takes quite a bit of time and is not usually effective. Of course gaining more land is all well and good but there has to be an heir to pass the land on to. There are several different kind of succession laws such as gavel-kind where titles are split among all the children and Primogeniture, where the oldest child inherits everything. Inheritance can also be based on gender but illegitimate children cannot get anything unless they are legitimized.

Of  course whoever is not included in line for succession will get be pretty mad and this can be a for rebellion, as can high taxes, keeping your vassals military levies raised too long or pretty much upsetting them in anyway.  Personally I resort to bribery to keep all vassals in line usually but it is not always easy to get a lot of money. If the pope likes you enough he can give you money or approve of divorce if it is needed (usually for purposes of finding a spouse that can provide an heir such as in the case of Henry VIII).  If he does not like you that can result in an excommunication which can cause further problems. Trying to create free investiture of Bishops like Henry I did that can also cause the pope to get mad too because he wants to pick the bishops.

The game can be started as figure of your own design  or as number of historic figures such as Harold  Godwinson, who I played as during my first game. Though the real point of the political alliances and backstabbing being able to run the military is an important aspect as well. This was something I had not yet learned my first game and I was sounded defeated when Harald Hardrada invaded from Norway. he then became Harald “the conqueror” because for some reason William of Normandy never mobilized.  This is a game that is difficult to learn and harder to master but I have since improved and ran some Irish dynasties that got so powerful they took over Scotland and like a third of England. In the future I’m considering starting a file as William where in I will attempt to play as close to actual history as possible which will be quite a challenge. I totally would have done this specifically to write about it for the blog but this game takes forever to play! I even have an expansion that would let the game start earlier and I could play as Ethelred the Unready. Anyway for anyone interested in the History of the Middle Ages in England or Europe in general I highly recommend this game. To learn more, wiki it!

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