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I started my first game with the Charlemagne DLC in 796. I am playing as a Frankish Count and trying to suck up to the King so he would grant me a Duchy. It sort of worked, but not until after he won a Holy War on the Saxon pagans. He granted me a Duchy in Saxony with 3 pagan, tribal vassals.

20 years later and three revolts later, I've managed to convert all 3 provinces to 'majority' catholic and replace one pagan with a Catholic sycophant vassal. However, his holding is terrible and I'm strapped for cash having to call levies out all the time to fight revolts to a stalemate – they have dynastic and marital allies, but I have none I can call and can't call any religious cohorts as it's an uprising and not a holy war. The other two uprisings I've had to end by assassination of the leaders. This could gradually end my pagan problem, but I don't think I'll be able to keep pace.

I can't demand conversion directly as they hate me, and they hate me because they won't convert. I can't leverage my catholic vassal in pagan lands because he has 'wrong holding type' penalties on taxes and levies.

What can I do to turn this burden into a blessing and continue conquering the world?

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And the answer, in one word, is Proselytize. I had sent my chaplain there briefly, long enough to get the 'Majority population has converted to Catholicism' message once for each county, and then sent him back on his merry way to Rome. This didn't stick to provide lasting reform, however. You have to preach long and loud enough to:

  • Convert the count population
  • Have a Catholic ruler by one of:
    • Hang onto the county yourself, consuming your precious Demesne limit
    • Convert the existing pagan ruler (can take a long time, especially if he has a court full of pagans and a pagan temple holding)
    • Install a lackey ruler through some combination of revocation or revolt crushing

That unlocks the option to upgrade tribal settlements to a castle, which you do by right-clicking the tribal settlement in the county holdings view. This decision costs no money or prestige. This creates a bishopric and city holding if there are enough empty slots (which is basically a free 1300-1400 gold), or converts an existing pagan temple to a bishopric if one exists.

However, you can only make this decision if you are the holder of the capital tribal settlement. If you leave it in the hands of the lacky or the pagan, they can make the decision in their own sweet time, potentially waiting long enough for the county to convert back to paganism, or be inherited by a pagan ruler. In my case, I had to murder an incompetent courtier I had installed who still hadn't managed to secure an heir and upgrade the holding myself, before installing a (hopefully) better lackey.

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