The feudal system from both the Middle Ages and Crusader Kings III revolves around vassals, characters who are granted by a liege lower-ranked titles to more easily manage the realm in exchange for a cut of their taxes and levies. Each vassal can be a liege towards their own set of vassals, as long as lower title ranks exist. Every character can have at most one liege.
The amount of taxes and levies granted by a vassal to their liege depends largely on their government type:
- Feudal vassals provide taxes and levies based on their individual feudal contracts.
- Tribal vassals provide taxes and levies based on the liege's level of fame, with minimum amounts determined by tribal authority.
- Clan vassals provide taxes and levies based on their opinion towards their liege, with minimum amounts determined by crown authority.
- Theocracies provide taxes and levies based on the liege's level of devotion.
- Republic vassals always provide 20% taxes and 10% levies to their liege.
- Rulers whose faith has the Theocratic doctrine lease their temple holdings to a Realm Priest, who then provides taxes and levies based on their opinion towards their liege.
The vassal limit is the number of direct vassals (excluding Barons) a ruler can have without penalties. It is primarily based on the rank of the ruler's primary title and can be increased by title laws and traits.
|Has title law Princely Elective||+20|
|Has trait Greatest of Khans||+20|
|Has dynasty legacy Assertive Rulers||+10|
For every vassal above the Vassal Limit, -5% is imposed on vassal taxes and vassal levies, up to -95%.
A character can avoid going over the vassal limit by creating duke vassals and transferring count vassals to them through the grant vassal interaction. A character's vassal limit can be seen by opening the Realm menu (key: F2) towards the bottom-right.
In each realm, vassals with the highest tax income and number of levies are designated as powerful vassals, who expect to be part of the liege's council and will have -40 opinion of their liege if they're not. The number of powerful vassals a liege will have depends on the rank of their primary title:
|King & Emperor||5|
In elective succession types, powerful vassals have more votes than regular vassals. They're also much harder to use the sway scheme on. In order for the succession law of a realm to be changed, all powerful vassals must either have positive opinion of the liege, be terrified or be imprisoned.
Factions are organized groups that are united against their liege for a common purpose. As long as their issue isn't resolved they will keep growing until they will be large enough to deliver an ultimatum to the liege.
All factions (with the exception of the peasant rabble) have two important values: military power and discontent.
- Military power is the ratio between the combined military strength of all faction members and the military strength of the liege. When the ratio is above 80%, the Faction will gain discontent; when it is below the threshold, the faction will lose discontent.
- Discontent is a measure of how close the faction is to sending their ultimatum.
A faction will deliver its ultimatum shortly after discontent reaches 100%. It can also send the ultimatum early if the liege unjustly imprisons someone. If the ultimatum is accepted, the liege will gain -20 dread. If it is refused, it will start a civil war.
There are 5 types of factions. Populist factions cannot form within the first 5 years of a game.
|Type||Ultimatum||Military power||Members||Requires military power for discontent|
||25% to 50% of each county's levies||Counties|
|Peasant rabble||50% to 100% of each county's levies||Counties|
Vassals cannot join a faction against a liege if:
- They are allied.
- The liege has a strong hook on them.
- They are friends.
- They are lovers.
- The vassal is terrified of them.
- The vassal is a child.
If a faction's ultimatum is refused, it will start a civil war. During a civil war, faction members stop providing taxes and levies to the liege and their liege loses access to certain powers such as imprisonment. All faction members will turn hostile to both the liege and all vassals that did not join the faction, though they will focus on fighting the liege.
- If the civil war ends in white peace, the liege will gain an imprisonment reason against all faction members.
- If the civil war is won by the faction, they will enforce the faction's ultimatum.
- If the civil war is won by the liege, all faction members are imprisoned and the liege gains +20 dread. If the faction was caused by popular opinion, each rebelling county will gain +20 popular opinion for 10 years. The liege will also have cause to revoke a title from each faction member (allowing the liege to revoke a title without gaining tyranny).
Rulers of some government types can lease other rulers' holdings. A leased holding is still considered part of its holder's realm, but provides levies and taxes to its lessee instead, and does not count towards the domain limit of either of them. The game considers a character with only leased titles to be unlanded. County capitals can never be leased.
When founding a holy order, a castle or city must be leased to the order. This does not make the order a vassal of their patron, and the order may end up leasing holdings in several realms later on. Leases to holy orders can be revoked, although this costs piety, reduces the holy order's grandmaster's opinion of the holder, and may destroy the holy order entirely if it ends up with no leases and no land of its own.
When a ruler's religion has the Theocratic Doctrine, temples are leased to a Realm Priest as church holdings. The realm priest provides their liege with taxes and levies based on their opinion. The minimum is at 0 opinion, where no taxes or levies are provided, and the maximum is at 50 opinion, where 50% of the taxes and 100% of the levies are provided. Unlike leases to holy orders, there is no option to revoke church holdings.
For vassals of the same religion, a vassal's income from their realm priest's church holdings are not directly taxed by their liege. The vassal's realm priest provides their liege's realm priest with 25% of their temples' taxes, and 15% of their temples' levies. This vassal realm priest contribution is provided by the liege realm priest to the liege at the same rate as directly leased holdings. Vassals of different religions are skipped in the hierarchy of lease payments.
Example: You are a duke with one county within your domain. That county has a temple with a tax of 1 gold and a levy of 300. At 50 opinion with your realm priest, he will provide you with 0.5 gold in taxes and 300 levy.
You also have a vassal count who has one county with one temple as well. That temple has the same tax of 1 gold and levy of 300. Your vassal's realm priest provides your realm priest with 0.25 gold and 45 levy, before he splits the rest with the count based on his opinion of the count. Then, your realm priest splits this contribution with you, for a final .125 gold and 45 levy from your vassal's temple. The count will receive a maximum of .375 gold (50% of the remaining .75 gold), and 255 levy (100% of the remaining 255) from their realm priest at 50+ opinion.
As you can see from the example, having a Realm Priest with a high opinion of you is important for your finances and military strength.