|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Feudal Monarchy|
|Number of provinces||4|
|Center of Trade||None, Venetian League member|
|Other accepted cultures||Umbrian|
Naples is a powerful kingdom located in the south of Italy. It has the potential to quickly form Italy and become a major power in Europe.
On your starting king
Your starting king Louis II is from the French "de Valois" dynasty (also with Auvergne and Berry). This dynasty generally expands well in European family trees, thus allowing you to share the same-dynasty relation bonus with other countries. You king is mediocre and very young, and he has a ready (older) strong-claim heir.
Your monarch rules Provence in a Personal Union too. Provence is a medium land and naval force, thanks mainly to their Occitain capital. Moreover they are HRE member, so the Emperor should help you protecting them. Nevertheless, they have two northern landlocked provinces, Anjou and Maine, which are French cores. Despite your dynasty link (which is not a royal marriage) France will attack with the Reconquest CB, preferably as soon as you are distracted on another front. You cannot help it, but do not give them the province of Provence, even if they ask it in peace deal (you do not want Provence to be landlocked and on French cores). So give up Maine or Anjou or both depending how much the HRE helps. Watch your navy during that war, France can bring Scotland or others that have big ships to surprise you while you have galleys. If you manage to keep at least one of the Cosmopolitan province, asking Brittany for military access can prevent them from DOWing as well as giving you a way to kill Cosmopolitan Patriots if they show up.
Naples, being at the heel of Italy, is bounded by sea on all but the northern front. Keeping a navy is very important to survive: block the straits between Calabria/Sicily, Tunis/Sicily, Calabria/Janina to hold off your foes, land troops on northern Italian enemies, blockade, etc. Galleys can make most of your navy until Italian Unification if you build them in number, they're cheap and benefit a bonus when fighting in inland seas (Mediterranean shores are perfect for that), but they'll be no match for large big ships fleets like Venice's or Castille's (watch the ledgers when you go to war). Build enough cogs to be able to ship large troops quickly, and not to get armies blocked somewhere waiting for transport.
You are on the bottom of the Italian peninsula, surrounded by weaker parties. Usual expansion will be gathering your starting cores (see below) and then progressing up towards Northern Italy. Real threats are further and have other things than you in mind (Milan, Austria, France, maybe Aragon).
You have a core on Janina in Balkan/Greece, owned by the Orthodox OPM Epirus which you already guarantee from the start. It's also a Byzantine and Ottoman core, but they would probably leave it to you for decades.
You have a core on 3 Sicilian provinces. You have a larger navy. You can move your army by sea or by the strait. However Sicily starts allied and with a royal marriage with Aragon, in addition, both claim the throne of the other. Both have negative prestige, but Aragon is a bit more prestigious so the Catalans may form a personal union with your neighbor. Let's pray that it won't happen!
You border Roma (Papal States) and Ancona (Urbino OPM), which are needed to form Italy, and you already accept Umbrian culture.
Seek a balance between naval and land. Depending on your style you can go a step or two in your preferred direction. Aristocracy is a good move for more diplomats to plot around with and the shock/army cost bonus. Other sliders depending on your longer term plans. Remember: you're Italian, so the Reformations hit you lightly.
I advise first slider step towards aristocracy (see reasons above). DoW Epirus, load your starting troops and send them to (re)conquest. With unpatched HTTT if you make your monarch a leader, Provence can use him to lead its own troops. Research stability, when maxed go government for the first National Idea.
You'll want to ally with Venice/Aquila to protect you backside on the Adriatic sea, or minors like Tuscany/Ferrara (if they dishonor the call you can punish them ruthlessly). Avoid allying Milan/Savoy, you don't want to draw France into Italy!
Guarantee Urbino at first, it usually attracts DOWs quickly, then other minors. Warn the Papal States and Milan, they are both aggressive enough and attractive targets. Get the military accesses you expect to need: Venice for Greece if Janina is in danger, other minors like Modena in strategic locations.
Money is tight at the beginning: So save your merchants: they're too expensive, but stay in the Venetian League for relation bonus with all members (mostly south Germans) and for the trade events.
Mint a bit, hire a master of mint if you see a good one, avoid advisers for the first years, you may have to take a loan, do not hesitate as a good start is important you will have time later to recover. Recruit troops only when you can afford it. Prefer regular troops, you can succeed without mercenaries normally.
Do not try to convert Janina after taking it, you have much to do in Italy and you will rarely get revolts there (the exceptions are from War Exhaustion or routed Greek patriots from Venice/Ottoman). It is a quiet base on your backyard.
An ideal scenario would be the Papal States attacking Urbino : Join but let the Pope annex Urbino (he takes the BB and saves you one war), and vassalize him, wait 10 years and diplo-annex. On the meantime ally him, his ideal position will help you fighting north (Milan for example) and south (Sicily). Note that annexing the Pope makes him reappear from another theocracy, check where he went and care your relations with the new Papal States not to get excommunicated by your enemies once they control the Curia.
Try not to directly DOW Milan or any other HRE members if you can; wait instead for them to trigger calls as you don't want end up fighting the emperor. If ever you get to war with the HRE, scorch the Earth and play around with accesses, use the Papal States or other northern allies as buffer, or use the navy to drive your army to protected areas.
As soon as Sicily breaks alliance with Aragon (it could happen in a few years), DOW if you can spare the troops or watch them carefully until you are able to wage the war, you will need two wars, unless you vassalize them after the first one; if you don't use the prestige from that war to expand your influence to repel plotters.
A very good job for your first magistrate is Conduct Population Census in Napoli, it has 9 base tax and about 2k base manpower, plus capital plus focus bonus, therefore a 50% more is really worth it in those early conflicts. The second magistrate could be used to commission a tapestry (to lower revolts due to WE and legitimacy bonus, to DOW without cassus belli or claim thrones in medium term).
I suggest Military Drill and National Bank for the first National Idea duo, picking order depends on your progress: if you got lucky and conquered fast, take the National Bank because you have more armies to support with your new holdings and conquered universities help you tech gap for the minted amount; otherwise take Military Drill first to help your expansion.
You can try to befriend Aragon/Castille or Venice/Byzantium waiting for the cores, to get opportunities to fight Northern-African and/or Balkan countries for vassals or just tributes. Do not hesitate as well to claim a throne if you have good prestige (Austria, Hungary, Bavaria). From then on, you can do about whatever you want: go colonization (get bases in Atlantic) or recreate the Roman Empire.
By that time you should already have about half Italy under your rule. If you don't already have all four provinces needed to form Italy, get them as soon as you can, DOW without casus belli if needed. For the other provinces you can try yo get it by diplomacy to let your BB rest. Try to keep France, Austria, and other powers out of Italy, you'll have a hard time gathering the core Italian provinces otherwise. Milan should generally be destroyed militarily, but try not to weaken too much the others not to tempt Austria/France
Form Italy as soon as the four needed provinces core, then gather the remaining provinces. If Venice or Genoa still have holdings out of Italy, you can get it for yourself (rich Greek lands for example) or make them release states (poor Tatar/Albanian provinces for example). If big foreign powers have Italian provinces, gather a strong military and make alliances and chase them, or use patriot rebels (landlocked province or if master is glued in war) ; but the best was to prevent them years ago from getting in the peninsula. Watch especially for Aragon or worse Spain owning Sardinia.