|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Feudal Monarchy|
|Number of provinces||1|
|Center of Trade||None|
|Other accepted cultures||Cosmopolitaine|
Heir to the Throne
Berry starts off as Cosmopolitaine but quickly becomes Occitain, unless the Accept Cultural Shift decision is made before 1405 (around), which is unlikely given that a prerequisite is independence. It is surrounded by two French provinces, Burgundy, Provence, and two other small OPM vassals of France.
Trade and Diplomacy
Berry's excellent monarch and relationships with Europe (almost all positive) ensures that there is plenty of time and opportunity to expand diplomatically and economically, while ignoring France's pressures of annexation. Thankfully, unlike when a player demands annexation of an AI nation, relationships between AI France and vassal do not go down if the player declines the AI's request. In addition, AI France prefers to use diplomacy to annex her vassals (for at least twenty years), and good starting relationships (150) along with diplomatic skill almost guarantee France will not attack. In fact, Berry's excellent diplomatic skills can even convince regional powers like Hungary to offer a military alliance after expanding into a mere three province minor.
As a one province minor, there will be plenty of time to build up spies and diplomats for use weakening France whenever possible. While France will protect her vassals, she too will put considerable pressure on annexation (game over) and will quickly abandon any vassals who declare independence. Spies and defections is the only reliable way to gain provinces while still a vassal due to the inability to negotiate peace deals, and the nearby landlocked provinces of Provence are an ideal first target. Provence's capital is further south and unlike the other minors nearby, is not protected or guaranteed by France. If Naples declares war in retaliation, Provence/Naples will have no way to attack Berry as it is a landlocked country. Remember however to try to become friendly with neighboring countries, particularly Burgundy, before declaring independence for potential allies or guarantees. If considering a long term investment in trying to join the HRE, befriending Burgundy and the Emperor is a good investment.
Declaring freedom from France should be no problem assuming an excellent relationship exists between Berry and one of the regional powers, possibly France herself, Burgundy, or both. Military Alliances with France, along with Military Access agreements, ensure a deterrent against France attacking in retaliation due to the cumulative stability hit. Declaring independence should happen relatively soon while Duke Jean is still alive, as he has no legal heirs, and risking independence on a random noble is questionable. This is because Jean's diplomatic skill automatically increases the trust level of nearby nations.
The New World
While landlocked, Berry does get a free Conquest mission on a French OPM that, for better or worse, has a primary culture different from the dominant culture. Spies will enable this mission to be completed without drawing French aggression, opening up new doors to the new world, if and only if France is preoccupied and will not be able to defeat the rebel stack.
If Berry successfully integrates the two Provence provinces, France will be "cut off" between its top and bottom provinces, unless Burgundy or Brittany gets taken over. This will make it harder for France to properly unite, and at the same time, fight against invaders, such as England. Depending on England to take down France is not ideal, however, due to the disadvantages the AI has on sea landings (lack of proper reinforcement until a large stack gets run down on attrition). Instead, wise usage of Berry's diplomatic skills in courting Aragon and Burgundy or the Holy Roman Emperor along with sound financial investments to finance mercenaries (due to Berry's low manpower) can lead to the collapse of France if done early before France successfully annexes the various French duchys.
Alternatively, it is possible to inherit France in a Royal Marriage, but unlikely unless France has fewer provinces, or is force unified under a "Forged Documents" mission.
Jean's excellent administrative and diplomatic skills make attaining good relations with the electors easier than most members already in the Holy Roman Empire, especially since Berry's relationships with all (or almost all) members start at +85, which is very rare for existing HRE members. It is not necessary for Berry to be a member of the HRE to be emperor, although being included is beneficial as non members are usually only elected if they are a sizable regional power and a suitable one does not exist inside the empire (ex.: a large member of a different religion, such as Protestant, will not get votes from smaller Catholic electors), so courting the existing emperor, the next presumptuous emperor, and maintaining a land link to the Empire is preferred.