Too many vassals in Crusader Kings 3

In Crusader Kings 3, one of the key mechanics rulers need to manage is their number of direct vassals. Each ruler has a vassal limit based on their highest title rank and laws, going over which reduces taxes and levies from vassals. Having too many direct vassals can quickly become an unstable mess. Here’s how to avoid and fix the problem of exceeding your vassal limit.

How to solve too many vassals quickly?
  • Create or usurp duchy and kingdom titles and grant them to vassals to condense your vassal counts.
  • Transfer count vassals to existing dukes and kings whenever possible to reduce direct vassals.
  • Strategically grant independence to particular vassals that are too distant or problematic.
  • Increase vassal limit through laws, cultural traditions, and ruler traits like Greatest of Khans.
  • Appoint powerful vassals as kings since they can manage more vassals under them than dukes.

What causes too many vassals?

The most common reasons rulers end up with too many vassals are:

  • Rapid expansion through conquest or inheritance that brings in many new counties and duchies under direct rule.
  • None creating or granting duchy and kingdom titles – holding multiple counties or duchies yourself counts each ruler as a separate vassal.
  • None transferring count vassals to existing dukes and kings – keeping all counts as direct vassals eats up vassal slots.

Consequences of exceeding the vassal limit

Once you go over the vassal limit, you’ll face reduced taxes and levies from all vassals. This makes it harder to fund your realm and raise troops. And in overall your kingdom will be weaker.

You’ll also have many more vassals able to join factions against you. Coalitions of angry vassals can force demands through civil wars. The more vassals you have, the harder it is to maintain the relationships needed to prevent factions.

Getting back under the vassal limit should be a priority for any overextended ruler.

Quick solutions for too many vassals

The best solutions for reducing your direct vassal count are:

  • Create or usurp duchy and kingdom titles, and grant them to vassals – this turns counts into fewer dukes/kings.
  • Transfer count vassals to existing dukes and kings – condense vassals under a smaller elite.
  • Strategically grant independence to particularly distant or troublesome vassals.
  • Increase your vassal limit through higher crown authority laws, cultural traditions like Legalism, and traits like Greatest of Khans.
  • Make your most powerful vassals kings, as their opinion influences faction strength. Appeasing a few kings is easier than many dukes.
  • If you are an emperor, appoint viceroys – their vice royalty duchy or kingdom returns to you on their death.

How to pass vassals to another vassals properly?

Here are some tips for smoothly transferring vassals to avoid unrest against you as their liege. With careful political maneuvering, you can strategically reorganize your realm’s vassal structure without provoking revolt. Smooth transfers keep your council and nobles happy.

  • Check opinions first – vassals with positive opinions are less likely to cause issues when transferred. Avoid transferring vassals who already dislike you.
  • Transfer vassals in manageable groups – one or two at a time. Mass transfers can feel like political shakeups.
  • Time transfers wisely – do it after inheriting many new vassals or expanding realm to get under vassal limit. Avoid frequent random transfers.
  • Transfer vassals to de jure lieges if possible – this avoids the penalty vassals get for not being under their rightful liege.
  • Use marriage alliances and sway schemes to improve relations between vassals beforehand. This makes transfers smoother.
  • Ensure the new liege has capacity – check they are under their own vassal limit after receiving transfers.
  • Consider honorary titles to please frustrated vassals – council seats, court physician, etc.
  • Imprison or revoke titles of vassals who do rebel to discourage further transfers resistance.
  • Have your spymaster “support scheme” in the new liege’s court – boosts relations with transferred vassal.

When not to pass vassal to another one?

Here are some situations where it may not make good strategic sense to transfer a vassal to another liege. Essentially, it comes down to carefully evaluating the specific strategic value of a vassal before transferring them. If they provide key benefits or risks directly under you, it may be smarter to keep them as your own vassal. Here are some examples:

  • The vassal holds a title that is de jure part of your primary title. Transferring them could anger other vassals who feel it belongs to you.
  • The vassal has a claim on your primary title. Transferring them spreads discontent and they could press the claim.
  • The vassal provides a lot of troops or income. You would be better off keeping them as your direct vassal.
  • The vassal acts as a useful buffer between you and a hostile neighbor. Transferring them removes that protective barrier.
  • The vassal has strategic marriage alliances you want to maintain influence over.
  • The vassal holds territory of great cultural, religious or strategic importance to your realm.
  • Your council has enacted a law preventing title revocation. You cannot undo the transfer if the new liege mistreats them.
  • The new liege and vassal have vastly different cultures or religions, causing unrest.
  • The new liege is already powerful and transferring the vassal makes them too strong within your realm.

Is good idea to make vassals kings?

Could be good question if is great idea to make your vassals kings and if isn’t better to keeps kings statuses for your dynasty. There are tradeoffs to making vassals kings versus keeping the king titles and granting them to dynasty members instead.

Some potential benefits of making vassals kings:

  • Kings have a higher vassal limit, so they can manage more vassals under them and reduce your direct vassal count.
  • Granting a king title to an already powerful vassal duke can appease them and dissuade them from factions or independence wars.
  • Kings pay higher taxes and provide more troops as they have more holdings.

However, there are also advantages to keeping king titles and granting to dynasty instead:

  • Dynasty members with king titles will generate more renown for your dynastic legacy.
  • Dynasty kings are unlikely to join factions or independence wars against their own family.
  • You can more easily press dynasty member claims to expand your realm later.
  • Dynasty members often have better opinions of you.

So in summary, granting kingdoms to powerful vassals can provide short-term stability, but keeping titles within your dynasty generates more long-term prestige and strategic opportunities. It’s a tradeoff to weigh carefully when you need to create kings. Focus on appeasing your dynastic kings, and they can be just as useful as vassal kings.

In my point of view is better to keep kingdoms inside your dynasty. Because that’s something that has to survive the whole game in the end. The individual as such will die sooner or later anyway.

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About article
Last edit: 02/10/2023
Article is actual with curent version of Crusader Kings 3 (1.10.2)
Author hours in Crusader Kings 3: 121
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