Get the rest of the story: The Legacy of House Mlechchha
The century following the turn of the millennium was really all about cleaning up the few remaining maharajas in the north of India, doubling-down on the economy, and making efforts to discourage factions from challenging me.
The borders of the Mlechchha Empire reached a natural resting point once the option to subjugate other independent Indo-Aryan rulers disappeared because… I was the only one left.
Pushing into the 12th century, expansion into the south of India was slow. There was a general pattern of:
- Crush rebellion.
- Expand south.
- Ruler dies.
In 1048, the lords of Bengal Empire approved the institution of the Imperial Administration Law. This gives me some amazing benefits:
- Enacts the Duchy Viceroyalties law, so as well as viceroy kings I can now also appoint viceroy dukes. This allows me to keep my vassals weaker. I discussed the benefits of viceroyalties last time.
- Allows free revocation of viceroyal duchies (only the duke has a problem with it – the other vassals don’t mind).
- Allows free retraction of vassals, even from kings.
- Increases the vassal limit by a massive 25, which is huge compared to the -5 hit I took when previously adopting Kingdom Viceroyalties.
The only downside is a -10 vassal opinion malus (plus the -2 stackable modifier every time you give out a viceroyalty). This seems well worth it to me given that, over time, I’m less likely to incur opinion penalties when I want to restructure my realm with revoking vassals and duchies. (I’ll take the initial opinion hit when revoking the duchy title, but then when I hand it back out as a viceroyalty, I never will again.)
In 1061, I empowered women further with the Significant Status of Women Law. I bumped this up further with the Notable Status of Women Law in 1095, and finally enacted the Full Status of Women Law in 1146. This means that women can hold any council position (but Chaplain) and I can implement Absolute Cognatic succession. I do for the Empire in 1147. It takes a little political manoeuvring, but I manage to also do so for the kingdoms of Bengal and Kamarupa.
One needs to invest in the Tolerance cultural technology to keep implementing these laws.
Allowing women to hold these posts doubles the talent pool available to me. With Jainism or Buddhism, I’d be free to select any one of my children as my heir. Female heirs and rulers incur no opinion penalty if the Full Status of Women Law is implemented.
Samrat Birapala the Cruel, who ruled from October 1115 until July 1151, had no fewer than 10 daughters and only a single son. It’s no surprise, then, that it was during his reign that a real push was made for these laws. Before he died, he was able to select his favoured heir, who came to be known as the first female ruler of Mlechchha, Samrajni Ratnavati ‘One-Hand’.
It’s worth noting that for Dharmic rulers (and perhaps other types) there is still a disadvantage to playing as a female ruler; fewer children. Given that children of concubines are legitimate heirs for Dharmic rulers, playing as a female ruler significantly limits the number of children you can have because you can’t have concubines. You also stop being able to have children after 45. These factors reduce the chances of a genetically favourable heir.
As an example, Ratnavati was only able to have four children before dying. Her father, Pushyavarman ‘the Just’ had 11, and her paternal grandfather had 13 (despite being known as Virabahu ‘the Chaste’!).
With the Imperial Administration Law at my back, I’m in a better position to start creating merchant republics. Until this point in the game, I wasn’t even aware that this was a thing I could do – I thought there were just merchant republics at game start and they were the only ones that could be. How wrong I was.
Merchant republics are a special type of realm that can engage in coastal trade. They give you lots of taxes, lots of ships, and the trade posts they build benefit nearby coastal counties. They don’t provide as many troops as feudal vassals, but the trade is well worth it.
To form a merchant republic, you’ll normally need to go through this rigmarole:
- Find a coastal county in a small duchy (one or two counties ideal, three at a push).
- Make sure there’s a city in that county (either it’s already present, or you build a new holding).
- If you don’t own the duchy title yourself, revoke it from the person that does. This might require retracting a vassal from one of your direct vassals (since you can only revoke titles from direct vassals).
- If the mayor of the city isn’t also the count of the selected county, you’ll need to revoke the county title too.
- Grant the county title and then the duchy title to the mayor of the city.
Boom! You should get a bunch of popups informing you of the newly-created merchant republic.
There are all sorts of optimisations to this procedure (such as which mayor you choose), but I prefer to keep things simple – this is complicated enough as it is.
I formed three merchant republics in my empire:
- 1059, the north-eastern duchy of Suhma, kingdom of Bengal;
- 1070, the western duchy of Anartta, kingdom of Gujarat;
- 1087, the southern duchy of Lanka, kingdom of Lanka.
I found, though, that two of these (the first and the last) ended up being dismantled by uppity feudal lords. I managed to re-form the first a second time, but couldn’t stomach the hit to vassal relations by reforming the third again. I think the solution to this is to avoid giving those feudal lords a reason to conquer the republics. I could potentially destroy the titles of the kingdoms in which these republics reside.
I purposefully spaced these merchant republics out. This means the merchant republics can build trade posts freely, there will be larger contiguous trade zones for greater income, and there will be fewer inter-republic wars.
The tax income from Merchant Rebpublics can be boosted by shifting their obligations towards tax. This decreases your levies from them, but they give you fewer levies to begin with, so it’s worth the trade-off.
I’m honestly not sure how I feel about revolts. On the one hand, they’re pretty much my only real threat at this point. On the other, strong factions seem to gather much too frequently. I always have some plot in action to murder a faction leader. Even happy vassals seemingly lead or join factions.
They seem to always blackmail me at the worst of times e.g. three years deep into a subjugation war. I suspect this has something to do with the slowly-worsening relations due to vassal levies being raised. It seems a bit silly that this opinion malus starts ticking immediately – there should be a grace period or something. Isn’t it at least partially in my vassals’ interests that the empire keep expanding?
From what I gather, I need to keep a strong military to keep the factions’ strength below 100%. (Presumably they’re much less likely to try to blackmail me before this?) I’m trying my hardest to do this, but as the empire becomes richer, everyone, not just me, is upgrading their holdings.
There was a particularly frustrating revolt, the 7th Mlechchha Civil War to increase Council Power, which ran from 1023 to 1025. There were no strong factions just before this revolt kicked off. Between risking some spending on a new holding (to take me down to ~120 gold) and a faction with ~110% power blackmailing me were a few short days. In other words, a strong faction managed to form and blackmail me within days of my coffers running close to dry.
I had never ransomed any prisoners up until this point – I prefer to keep troublemakers locked away. But all of a sudden I was in need of generating gold in whatever way I could to support levies and mercenaries. When the war ended in 1025, I had just dipped into the red.
From this point onward, I made sure to always have 1000 gold (although I prefer 1500) in my coffers to avoid this sort of scenario. As the realm expands, I might need to make sure this is higher.
Unification of the Indo-Aryans
There were just a handful of independent Indo-Aryan rulers at the turn of the Millennium, including myself. Of course, I wanted to take this number down to just one.
Punjab fell in the Mlechcha-Punjab Subjugation War from 1005 to 1009. Gujarat was conquered in two wars. I inherited a five-year-old war in 1036 and was unfortunately on the losing side of it – when I started, anyway. The Salisuka-Pratihara Subjugation War was won in 1040, giving me a couple of counties.
I then cleaned up the rest of the kingdom in the Mlechchha-Pratihara Subjugation War from 1044 until 1048. This was an interesting one because most of the rest of India joined to defend Pratihara due to the existing defence pact. What I learned is that they were nowhere near coordinated enough and were far too busy dealing with internal conflict. I steamrolled them thusly. This bodes well for the future of my conquest of India.
Following this was my first war spilling outside of the bounds of India. Over the centuries, some of the middle-eastern rulers had managed to acquire a few counties in the western kingdom of Sindh. I was able to declare the Mlechchha Holy War for Bhakkar in 1071, winning it just a year later.
1082-1084 saw the Mlechchha-Lambakanna Subjugation War for the De Jure kingdom of Lanka. I was actually in a non-aggression pact with the Maharaja. I care little for the paltry loss in prestige, and the opinion malus for breaking the pact only impacts other Dharmic rulers, all of whom I intend to conquer anyway. This little bit of political manoeuvring also allowed me to side-step the defensive pact against me. Because I had a non-aggression pact with Lambakanna, they weren’t a member of the defensive pact; having ended the non-aggression pact, and keeping the game paused, I was able to declare war before they were able to re-join the defensive pact against me! Doubly-screwed.
By this point there were no Indo-Aryan rulers remaining. However, in the 1130s, a revolution occurred, meaning I could start the Mlechchha-Maharastra Revolt Subjugation War in 1134. Yes, the tiny realm was experiencing a revolt when I cast my imperial eyes upon it. I could wait for the revolution to pass and hope that the revolutionaries won, or I could jump on the opportunity while it lasted; the problem with the latter option is, if I did too much damage, the revolutionaries might surrender to their so-called oppressor.
My strategy was to avoid their army and just occupy rebel territory. This worked well – I acquired three more counties when I won in 1136.
Trade Routes and Immortality
There were a couple of very interesting event lines in the time period from 1000 to 1150.
In January 1054, my Steward suggested I set up a trade route with a foreign realm. This realm ended up being Þorfinn, presumably in Scandinavia somewhere.
There was a gold investment in this escapade and some close brushes with expected etiquette, but I made it through, gaining the incredible Midas Touched trait, plus significant benefits to the realm because of the new trade route.
In 1123, I dove into the mystical world of Life and Death themselves.
This one unfortunately didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped, although the outcome certainly could have been worse.
Boom and Bust
The rolling average monthly income of the Samrat has been increasing reliably for decades now. By 1150, the average monthly income, after taking into the booms from backed-up trade and busts from protracted wars, is around 80 gold/month.
If all is going well in the empire, one might actually expect monthly incomes in excess of 110 gold/month. The plans are going accordingly.
The Situation in 1152
The below shows the difference between 1000 and 1152 India.
Over the course of more than 150 years, the subcontinent has seen the following changes:
- The various northern kingdoms ruled by the Indo-Aryans are now all subsumed within the Mlechchha Empire.
- I’ve acquired small amounts of territory to the west of India, towards the Middle-East.
- I’ve made small gains in the south, subjugating the entire kingdom of Lanka and the county of Honnore.
- Only two kingdoms remain independent; Alupa and Bukkid.
The difference between 1000 and 1152 for the rest of the world is shown below.
- The territory formally claimed by the Abbasids is extremely fractured now, but there is a new force in the region; the Sultanate of Persia, headed by Caliph Nizam ‘the Bold’. This extends far into the steppes.
- The Byzantine Empire is still fairing well, perhaps with some overall gains.
- The Umayyad Empire in the far west retains control of Spain and has spread south through Africa.
- Ireland has united under King Savary ‘the Wise’ of Éire and is beginning to make gains in Britain, starting with west Wales.
- The British Isles in general are beginning to crystallise into three strong kingdoms: the aforementioned Éire plus Scotland and England.
- The Menumarotid Empire, previously limited to eastern Europe, has subsumed a lot of territory, swallowing up some of the smaller states towards the steppes.
- Danmark retains significant control over Scandinavia, but it having trouble unifying it.
- Italy is doing well for itself; it has some disparate counties spread throughout Europe and even the north coast of Africa.
- There’s no real strongman in central Europe, although Austrasia perhaps has the greatest chance going forwards.
I need to chip away at the kingdoms in the south of India. The end is in sight!
Get the rest of the story: The Legacy of House Mlechchha