Crusader Kings III – How to Manage Factions

This guide is to help explain how and why vassals join factions, and how to manage your realm to weaken the factions chances of rising up.


To know how to combat factions, one must know what they are and what drives their purpose. There are many underlining logic that the AI uses, and most of it makes sense and is logical. (Even if the outcome isn’t always). These logics, and reasonings are not shown in any tool tip or guide in-game, but way extremely heavily on the AI’s decision on which faction to join, why, and when.

Many complaints and frustrations come from people I see who say “My vassal has 100 Opinion of me, why is he in a faction?!” There’s a good reason for it, and this guide will help you not only understand factions, but also how to identify them before they even pop up, as well as how to transition into a new ruler with as few road bumps as possible.

Then I will end with tips and stragies, like how to identify a vassal you could lock up just before your Kings death, to ensure he can’t join any faction.


CK3 is a strategy game with many many moving parts, and while its much easier than CK2 as a whole, it does still throw you many curve balls now and again, a ruler dieing early or from sickness, your only heir dieing early and you having to take over as an incompetent uncle with no stats, etc..

In situations like this, sometimes its better to give up vassals or land now, and take it back again later. The biggest and most important, and absolutely crucial mistake people make playing Crusader Kings for the first time, is treating it like a Total War game. This will lead to extremely frustrating moments as you drastically over reach, and spread too far, too thin. Like a King in real life, the more steps ahead you are, the better off you’ll be, and like Chess.. Don’t make moves without a plan, and understanding how that’ll effect you later down the road, sometimes maybe even in 50-100 years.

Independence Faction

We’ll start off with the biggest, ugliest, and most extensively in depth faction… As this is the faction you’re most likely here trying to figure out how to deal with right? How do I stop my multiple vassals all ganging up on me every time a succession happens?!?! Why is that 100 opinion vassal STILL joining it?!?!

It’s enough to make you wanna flip a table, and uninstall if you don’t understand it. There are MANY factors which decide why they join this, and 9/10 times most peoples problem is that they are either

  • a) Expanding far too quickly, or…
  • b) Not understanding the title system, or…
  • c) Both.

De-Jure titles are titles that reside within titles.

East Francia is the de jure title of the Empire of Francia for example.

This has far bigger implications than most people new to Crusader Kings thinks, and the minor opinion modifier for not being a de jure liege, or ruler has far bigger impacts than just a small opinion negative… You guessed it.. It’s the major deciding factor in Independence Faction.

Not only that, sometimes they may still join despite being their proper de-jure liege. Example:

You are the title holder of Roman Empire which is your MAIN title. You also hold the Empire of Francia as a secondary title. Because the Empire of Francia is your secondary title, if the vassals are disgruntled enough, they may still join an Independence Faction more easily than if your main title was Empire of Francia.

However it’s not the only deciding factor, as there are many more.

Factors which may cause Vassals to join

(In order of severity to the best of my knowledge)

  • Not being De-jure Liege.
  • Different Culture
  • Different Religion
  • De-Jure title not being your primary title.
  • Opinion of you
  • Strength of the Faction (Vassals who are wavering on joining or not, may be persuaded to join factions that look like they’ll succeed. This is why sometimes removing 1 powerful vassal from a faction, a few others suddenly leave as well.)

How to make this faction a non issue

  • Don’t expand too fast. Looking at the Faction screen you’ll see a bar, that when the military power exceeds that, the faction will become disgruntled. Early on in the game you’ll be pretty weak, even as an Emperor, so expansion needs to be done methodically. Try to expand only in your de-jure provinces, and when you’ve done that, choose 1 title to try to go for, and expand into those, to ensure you have as few vassals not part of your de-jure as possible. Once you get more powerful, get more into late game, and have stronger armies and Men At Arms you’ll be able to expand more, and have more vassals not part of your De-Jure title, and be safe.
  • Give non landed courtiers the new titles who have the same religion/culture as you.
  • Once you’re more comfortable with dealing with this faction, handing over the largest, and most powerful title to your next of heir will also ensure a good chunk of your realm is loyal at all times. As once he inherits, you can then pass those titles to his next of heir, etc. Ensuring that 1 large title/kingdom, etc. is always loyal. (Just make sure it’s a de-jure part of your primary title!!!)

This of course cannot be done until later in the game reliably, or unless you’re playing as the Byzantine Empire.

Additional Notes:

Really what this faction comes down too is just make sure you’re the De-Jure liege, and only handing titles out to vassals with the same religion/culture. Once you’ve done that, it’s usually pretty simple to keep control of this faction, as at that point it’s simply not over extending, and throwing some money and swaying the few vassals who have a bad opinion of you.

Claimant Faction

The Claimant Faction is really only a problem earlier on in the game, when your brothers, or uncles are trying to push the throne, or some other title and your titles are being split up evenly.

Dealing with this faction boils down too saving up money prior to a succession, and buying a few mercenary bands to boost your military power, to give you time to sway members of the faction to your side. So long as the supporters have a higher opinion of you, they generally will leave the faction.

Ensure of course as well that you’re not holding too many dutchy or kingdom titles and look to see what is causing them to have low opinion. Sometimes its as easy as handing over a vassal to a duke who should be their rightful liege, or holding too many castles than your stewardship allows.

Ultimately this faction is easy to deal with, and when it’s not.. There’s not much you can do about it except try to assassinate the Claimant.

Liberty Faction

This faction seems by its name to be far more worthy of attention than it really does.

The only thing this faction does is push to have you lower Crown Authority. It’s not a big deal. If you can simply sway, or throw some gold at the vassals who already have high opinion and in time they’ll leave it. If not.. Just give in to their demands. You can push the Crown Authority back up later with no problems, and the faction won’t re appear in a meaningful number as you’ve had the time to get opinions, and prestige high enough that the vassals won’t care anymore.

If you REALLY are trying to get to a high Crown Authority and this faction is going to win out anyway, use your prestige if you can to push the Crown Authority even higher, so that when the Liberty Faction presses their demands and you give in, you’re really only lowering it back to what it was before. Thus not losing anything ultimately in the end.

Populist Faction

If you’ve been doing everything I’ve suggested in the Independence Faction part, this faction will practically not exist in any meaningful way what so ever and can be ignored 99.99999% of the time.

The deciding factor on this is two parts:

  • The counties holders culture is not yours.
  • The title holders culture is not yours.

That’s it. You shouldn’t be handing out titles to people not part of your culture anyway, and thus this faction should never become anything more than a few counties throwing a hissy fit.

Peasant Rabble

Let it happen. Nothing you can do about it. Simply raise your Men At Arms and place them on the county that’ll cause a problem.

Tips, Tricks, additional information, and strategies

Additional Information:

Vassals cannot join a faction against a liege if they are underage, the liege’s friend, lover or ally, the liege has a strong hook on them or they have at least 80 opinion of the liege, or in prison with a few exceptions that I’ve seen.

Vassals even with 100 opinion CAN join the Independence Faction, at least I”ve seen it many times myself, however, they will never join that faction above 60-70 opinion if you are the primary de-jure liege, with proper culture/religion, and they will never join if you’re the secondary de-jure liege title holder above 80 opinion.

Terrified vassals can only join factions while discontent is rising.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Abuse the Chancellors “Integrate Title”. Yes sometimes it can be a long time to do, but once you integrate a title as de-jure to your main, you almost never have to worry about that title joining Independent Factions again, so long as you kept most of the boxes checked in the guide. (It will always integrate the highest title. So it may say “integrate county” but it will integrate the kingdom if the Kingdom title exists, it’s just a visual bug
  • Chancellors Domestic Affairs boosts the opinion of your vassals. Very powerful tool to keep the wavering vassals out of factions at the start of a succession.
  • Save gold prior to your rulers death. This will allow you to throw some gold around, and hire mercenaries to push the military power in your favor just long enough to hold out until the vassals get bored and move on as you start swaying them, and stay ruler.
  • Choosing Diplomacy at the very start regardless of whether or not you want to pursue that for your ruler is a good idea. The +3 Diplomacy passively helps boost the opinion slightly of all your vassals and putting 1 point into “Befriend” which is a tier 1 option can help you befriend rowdy vassals. Once a friend, they will not join factions. You can then switch back to whatever you want to pursue.
  • Setting your wife to help diplomacy for awhile at the start can again help slightly boost your vassals opinions.


Crusader Kings 3 is always about planning ahead, and trying to setup your heir to have the tools he needs to keep things going.

If you plan for example to have several Holy Wars, or expand aggressively, it’s probably a good idea to pair your heir with a wife with high diplomacy.

Like-wise, just because your vassals love you, doesn’t mean they aren’t going to try to push for an Independence upon your death. Once you get used to understanding how factions work, especially Independence ones. You’ll start to be able to spot problematic vassals before your die.

It can be a good idea to try to get your spymaster to gain hooks on them, and or reveal sins etc. Giving you a hook to imprison them just prior to your rulers death. Sometimes it might be a good idea (Not all the time!) to forcefully imprison a vassal with a hook, even if you get Tyrant points, purely to keep him in prison through the succession. A vassal in prison cannot join factions. This can help nip the Independence faction in the butt before it even begins.

Keeping your Chancellor on Domestic Affairs, can help trigger random events to raise a vassals contract taxes. Choosing the option that you won’t will give you a weak hook on that vassal.

This can be a powerful random tool to help keep vassals in check as well. Allowing you to force partition succession on them, and revoke other specialty contract modifiers (like guaranteed council rights). It can also be used as a hook to Imprison them. (Though it may still be considered Tyrannical), which can be a good last option to have them in prison upon your death if you’re about to die, and need extra help to keeping a potentially powerful independence faction in check.

Helena Stamatina
About Helena Stamatina 2992 Articles
I love two things in life, games and sports. Although sports were my earliest interest, it was video games that got me completely addicted (in a good way). My first game was Crash Bandicoot (PS1) from the legendary studio Naughty Dog back in 1996. I turned my passion for gaming into a job back in 2019 when I transformed my geek blog (Re-actor) into the gaming website it is today.

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