Aragon is a little brother of Castille and one of six countries that can form Spain. But before you can achieve this, you have to plan carefully and expand quickly.
|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Feudal Monarchy|
|Number of provinces||8|
|Center of Trade||None|
|Other accepted cultures||None|
Your king dies early in the game. After that go with a Royal Marriage and vassalization offer to Sicily, they accept half of such offers so sooner or later you will succeed. In ten years, provided your relations are still at 200, you will be able to diplomatically annex them and get your foothold into Italy. In earlier versions you start in a personal union with Sicily.
Next thing you have to decide is whether you are going to be a good guy or a bad guy. Good guy would ally with Navarra before it allies with somebody else and then improve mutual relations with them for ten years to annex them diplomatically. Bad guy would attack Navarra right from the start of the game, as the AI does, and annex them immediately after their city falls.
Next decision is to figure out if it's worth to send armies to the northern Africa or not. There are at least 3 countries you would be interested in conquering and vassalizing, Morocco, Algiers and Tunis. A vassal pays you half of his income. So having control over those three countries would produce a nice net income per year. Taking them is not a cakewalk though. Attrition in Africa is high and they have huge cavalry armies that are in fact harder to defeat than European infantry. You will have to spend some time on besieging their cities too so plan ahead before you drop your first stack of troops to their coast. Also, if you plan vassalizing them or taking their provinces, you have to set tolerance to their religion to the max.
If you plan to take Navarra by force and to conquer and vassalize northern Africa, your advisors should all give bonus to your stability investment. If you don't plan any conquest from the beginning, take tech guys instead.
If you plan to spend a lot of time in Africa, vassalizing everybody up to Mamluks, Deus Vult national idea is worth consideration. If not, take Military Drill as your first idea. By the way, don't go for Morocco until Castille annexes Granada. If both you and Castille are trying to conquer Morocco at the same time a lot of mess can happen. For example, you beat their armies and vassalize Morocco and Castille doesn't stop the war and takes half of their land reducing your income. One way to circumvent that is to wait, second way is to leave Granada to Castille even if you are at war with them. Castille wants Granada and when they take it over they have automatic truce with Morocco and whoever is allied to Granada thus leaving Morocco to you.
Your growing all the time problem is France. They are strong, have the most powerful army in Europe and a number of great generals. They also have a Casus Belli on you. What is weird, they don't usually come after you till late in the game. Maybe they are too busy with their wars with England, Burgundy, Brittany and Lorraine which they usually wage in early years or maybe they are too afraid of Aragon, i have no idea. But I know one thing for sure, Aragon is more than capable of stealing their southern vassals. To do that without much hassle and reputation hits you have to wait for a boundary dispute event with France. You press the issue and attack them immediately. They drag their southern vassals into the war and you attack them first. When they are occupied, annex them immediately. Then, depending if you're winning or losing the war (an alliance with Burgundy can help a lot) try to get a decent or not that decent peace deal with France. If you are really good in smashing their armies, you can get all their provinces with access to the Mediterranean. You can drop 2 or 4 thousand of troops to their northern coast for distraction (but Burgundy would be more distracting).
Conquest of Italy
So, let's summarize, we have northern Africa as our vassals, Navarra is either annexed or our good ally, Sicily already joined or will join our empire in 10 years, we also managed to conquer southern vassals of France and maybe even get a province or two from mighty France herself. A good point to figure out what to do next. You should warn every single country in Italy (except Papacy, not the time to go to Avignon yet, especially if France hates you). If you are a friend of France and are not afraid of going to hell, you can beat Papacy just like anybody else and take their wealthy and well developed provinces. Then you just wait (improving your relations with vassals using gifts and other diplomatic means like military access or royal marriages) until somebody is stupid enough to start a war in Italy. Venice is very likely to be the first here. Having warned them gives you a reason for war and that means you won't get a -2 stability hit, nor that ugly badboy for attacking without a reason. They all are small and weak. You just drop 8k of cavalry to beat their army and 3k stack of troops (mercenaries preferably) to every single province they own. After you have occupied everything, you either force vassalize them and improve your relations for 10 years for diplomatic annexation or take their land right on and annex them completely in two or three wars.
One piece of advice here, wait with your Italian adventure until Sicily (the country, not the island) is yours. Too much badboy means that they will be less likely to join you thus reducing your chances with Venice as you won't have a foothold in Italy, no port to repair your fleet and no close source of mercenaries to occupy they land. Having to ship everything from your homeland is troublesome.
It may take around 150 years to take all the small Italian countries if you are slow and lazy and your war with France takes longer than it should forcing you to lick your wounds for many years. It can give a lot of pleasure though. You can be faster if your monarchs have a good diplomacy skill. The higher diplomacy they have, the more reputation is recovered each year. And there's a lot of difference between 0.3 and 0.8 per year.
It is very good to take all the Italy up to the Alps. They have many good buildings, their universities would make you the most advanced country in Government Research in the world. Don't take Rome though, there is a bugged (version 1.1) event that would make the Pope harass you every three months to give him his city back. That doesn't mean you can't have other provinces of Papacy. Just leave Rome to the Pope. (A note here, this bugged event reduces your badboy. Imagine you take by force, without casus belli, all the Italy. It would produce insane amount of badboy points, probably over the limit. With this event firing every few months you could recover your reputation much faster than using your monarch's diplomatic skills. This may be considered cheating, but if you have no bad feelings about such a trick, why not use it).
Having all those universities and wealthy provinces (especially when they become your cores after 25 years of occupation and start paying you taxes) makes you the strongest country in Europe. You can move on to two things now. One of them is formation of Spain. Second one is colonizing a bit of the world yourself. If you changed your sliders to more naval orientation, free trade and narrowmindess you can safely start racing with other countries for colonies around the world. It is very easy to take for example Ivory Coast and provinces around it as AI fails to colonize it. Just be smarter than AI and use 8k cavalry to kill the natives (they are too aggressive to be left alive, would kill one your colonist after another) and keep sending colonists in. A very nice production profit here (guess why it was called Ivory Coast). There is also a gold producing province in the South Africa that is usually not taken. A nice launchpad to India too, that's why Brits took it in real history. And, if it's still free, you can take Santana in South America (gold) and provinces around it. You can also conquer Incas or Aztecs if they still exist. If you want that, take Quest for the New World and Deus Vult ideas. Make sure you have your tolerance to whoever you conquer set to the maximum. It should prevent any revolts provided your stability is high enough.
See Spanish unification page.
After you own Spain, northern Africa is your territory or your vassal, Italy is your core province and Portugal pays you half of their huge income, you can literally do anything you want. You can colonize or take over others' colonies. You can conquer India, parts of China (don't go too deep if you want to see your troops again...), Japan, Aztecs, Incas, Mamluks, whoever earns money and is still alive (don't forget about Deus Vult!). Nothing can stop you at this stage. You can go on war with whole Europe, vassalize France, England, Burgundy, Austria.