This guide will lead you through the steps necessary to change your government from Feudal to Merchant Republic, specifically on the island duchy of Socotra. Note: This guide can be used in other starts, as will be noted further into the guide itself. This guide is Ironman compatible as it requires no mods to be used.
This guide is meant for players who wish to start Feudal and end up as a Merchant Republic. This guide will also give some tips on how to change ones culture and religion. The example used in this guide will the Emirate of Socotra and how I ultimately formed a Merchant Republic from that start.
Step 1: Choose a Feudal Start That is Near Tribal Counties
First things first, you will want the right start. Due to the methods that will be discussed later on in this guide, you will want to pick your start as a Feudal Duke or Count which lies in close proximity to tribal counties. Also, you will want to be independent for this guide to work, so if you start as a vassal of a larger realm, you will want to become independent.
Step 2: Conquer Enough Tribal Counties until You Have a Duke Tier Title
The next step is to conquer tribal counties until you either:
- Conquer a tribal duke tier title or:
- Create a tribal duke title.
I did this as the Emir of Socotra because Socotra starts off as a Duke tier OPM (one province minor) on the island of Socotra. To the north of Socotra lies the duchy of Hadramut, which contains several tribal counties. After building enough strength, I invaded the duchy and took enough counties and the duchy itself. I now held two duchy titles.
Reminder: You will want at least two duchy titles. One that lies in tribal land, and one that lies in your Feudal realm.
Step 3: Build Tier 4 Market City in the Tribal Holding, and Give It to Your Heir
You will just have to wait it out until you have maxed out the Market cities to the 4th tier. While you are doing so, it wouldn't hurt to acquire the other upgrades to the tribal holding.
Once that is completed, give the tribal county to your heir. I would suggest having primogenture succession. Then, when you are close to death, give the duchy tier title to your heir.
Remember, you have to be independent for this to work. Since you have two duke tier titles, giving you heir the tribal county and then the tribal duchy will make him independent of you, but with tribal government.
Step 4: Upon Ruler Death, Your New Playable Character Will Have Tribal Govt
Once you die, your heir will succeed you. As mentioned before, ONLY give your heir the duke tier title when you yourself are close to death. This way, you can hopefully prevent your heir from getting into some war with a neighbor over your heirs land. If you heir loses their counties, this will just reset all of your progress, so it is crucial they don't get into any wars. It helps to have an alliance with them prior to your death, just to decrease the chance of a foreign invasion.
When your heir succeeds you, you (the heir from now on) will retain the Tribal government form. If you (not the heir) had Primogenture succession, or only one heir, then you (the heir) will inherit your tribal lands and the feudal county or counties of your parent.
Final Step: Adopt Merchant Republic Decision (Two Ways)
Finally, you now have two ways to become a merchant republic. Either:
- If you have a city in your feudal county, make that the county holding. You can do this by revoking the mayor and right clicking the country and selecting "Make County Capital".
- If you want to keep your capital in the tribal holding, then make sure to upgrade it to Tier 4 merchant city.
Either way, you now have to pass Tribal Organization laws until you reach Max Tribal Authority. Once that happens, select the Intrigue menu and you should have the option to Become a Merchant Republic.
As Socotra, it actually took me quite some time to reach this stage. Due to the fact that Socotra is an OPM, it took a lot of time to upgrade my feudal castle (and have a ruler with a high enough martial skill) to a point where I had enough levies to successfully win a war against the tribals in Hadramut. This took me at least several generations (in game) before I finally managed to conquer the needed tribal counties. The start as Socotra is fairly difficult, as trying to create a power base in Southern Arabia is difficult. Several more powerful realms exist there, and the threat of the Abbassids or Abyssinians is omnipresent.
In any case, I reached a point where my former playable character was on their death bed, and I gifted my heir the Duchy of Hadramut, making him tribal. When he succeeded his parent, I then made the capital Socotra again. I made the city holding as the "Capital of the County", and I then had to wait at least 20 in game years before I had Max Tribal Authority and could "Found a Merchant Republic".
How I Changed My Culture and Religion as the Emir of Socotra
So, before I had actually founded the Merchant Republic, I wanted to change my culture and religion.
Starting the game, the Emir of Socotra is a Bedouin Nestorian (in the 769 start). As luck would have it, the Messalian heresy arose in Socotra (the only province I had at the time) during my first characters rule. This would've caused a game over if a "Heresiarch" had revolted, as my characters levies were too poor to fight any possible revolt. So, my first ruler converted to Messalian.
Now, culture conversion can be a little tricky. In my start as Socotra, the Byzantine Empire (and therefore most of the Greek characters) were out of diplomatic range. In order to culture convert your country, you either need to:
- Change the culture of your heir or;
- Have one of your directly governed counties be of another culture than your own.
The way I was ultimately able to change my culture from Bedouin to Greek was by allowing my last Feudal ruler (who was female) to marry a Greek lowborn. He was apparently in the court of a ruler in diplomatic range of Socotra and was willing to come to my court. My female ruler then converted him to Messalian, and married him Matrillineally. Once he bore my female ruler a male heir, I made the Greek father the guardian of the heir and made sure to make the heir have the "Heritage" education. The heir became once he reached the age of 10 or so. This heir was the same one that became a tribal ruler and who I now play as. He founded the Merchant Republic once his mother (the older ruler) died.