10 Most Interesting French Starts in CK3

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In Crusader Kings III you have the option to play as any character you want in the two starting dates.

You can always of course create a character yourself and replace an existing one.

But this list will provide you with some nice ideas for picking characters in the French region. I’ll mostly examine the starting situation and not the characters themselves, meaning that replacing them with one of your own is always a possibility.

While the game does suggest a couple of the characters on this list by default, France hides many more gems.


10. Ekkehard Nibelunging, Count of Chalon, 867

Ekkehard Nibelunging, Count of Chalon, 867 / CK3

The count of Chalon in the 867 starting date is a member of House Nibelunging. It’s a cadet branch representing Carolingian rulers in Burgundy. Distantly related to Carolingian monarchs on the various thrones of Europe, you need to forge your destiny from zero.

However, this means you can enjoy all the prestige of the Karling dynasty without having to immediately partake in the power struggle for the Frankish imperial inheritance.

The decision to unite the Burgundian lands lies open to you but the road will be hard. Split between three kingdoms, acquiring all the necessary land to finally unite Burgundy will require masterful maneuvering from your part!


9. Philippe Capet, King of France, 1066

Philippe Capet, King of France, 1066 / CK3

Well, the adolescent French king in 1066 couldn’t be absent from our list.

Honestly, I contemplated putting him higher up. However I know that a lot of people dislike beginning the game as an already established power.

While it is true that you start in control of a vast realm, your position on the throne is far from stable.

Still a child, Philippe will inevitably face factions demanding more rights and even outright independence.

After consolidating the realm, you can attempt recreating the modern French borders by expanding east or go crusading with the Pope and establish your dynasty in Jerusalem.

Highly recommended for anyone who wants to practice his skills in managing large realms with powerful discontent vassals!


8. William de Normandie, Duke of Normandy, 1066

William de Normandie, Duke of Normandy, 1066 / CK3

William (still the “Bastard”, not yet the “Conqueror”) is undoubtedly one of the most interesting characters in 1066.

He would be higher up as well, but being focused more on England means his inclusion in this list is controversial.

You begin the game in a three-way free for all for the English throne. Successfully overpowering the Anglo-Saxons and the Norwegians will land you on the English throne. All land south of Mercia will be yours to distribute among your loyal followers.

After that, embracing the English culture and solidifying your rule in the north are the logical steps. Of course, you will keep control of Normandy. You can slowly expand into France and eventually achieve what middle-age English monarchs always coveted: The French throne.

As a neat little detail, the English Kingdom CoA changes when you conquer it, and so do some of the duchies. The Kingdom also changes again to a mix of the French and English CoA if you’re also the King of France. Seriously, try it!


7. Bertrand Bosonid, Duke of Provence, 1066

Bertrand Bosonid, Duke of Provence, 1066 / CK3

Yet another character in Burgundy. This time the southern parts of the kingdom though.

Bertrand’s peculiarity is that he starts as a vassal of the HRE rather than France. This gives him a distinctively different early campaign than most characters on the list.

Bertrand has a good part of Burgundy consolidated and can easily conquer the rest through might or guile. Then you can decide to either stay loyal to the German Kaiser or opposing him and achieving independence.

You can go independent after securing the Burgundian lands in the HRE, swear fealty to France, conquer French Burgundy, and then create the kingdom through the unique decision.

Your Mediterranean position also gives you an excellent option in crusading. Either follow the Pope’s summons and go for the holy land, or try to conquer northern Africa on your own!


6. Eudes Robertine, Count of Anjou, 867

Eudes Robertine, Count of Anjou, 867 / CK3

Eudes is the son of Robert the Strong, legendary hero of France and direct ancestor of all the future Kings of France.

Robert died at the hands of the neighboring king Salomon and the Viking Haesteinn.

Now, Eudes has succeeded his father while still a child. You have claims on a lot of land in northern France and familial ties in the eastern parts of the Kingdom.

Gather allies, depose your uncle from the dukedom of Anjou, and get ready to avenge your father’s death.

Historically, Eudes sat on the French throne in 888 and his dynasty ruled France for close to a thousand years. Can you recreate his success yourself?


5. Boudewijn Vlaanderen, Duke of Flanders, 1066

Boudewijn Vlaanderen, Duke of Flanders, 1066 / CK3

Baldwin of Flanders begins controlling a rich realm at the border of France and the HRE. With both his sons ruling the nearby counties in the HRE and his daughter married to William de Normandie, he has already set-up the stage for greatness.

Situated at the borderlands between two powerful realms you’ll have to result to guile to further your dynasty’s lands.

With your heirs being strong claimants to the French throne, there are multiple options for the future.

Secure a powerbase in the lowlands and eventually unite them in an independent kingdom or usurp the French throne for your dynasty.

If you enjoy playing as a vassal and slowly building up your power, then this is the start for you.


4. Herbert Karling, Count of Vermandois, 1066

Herbert Karling, Count of Vermandois, 1066 / CK3

Herbert is a direct descendant of Charlemagne, and the only ruler of the senior branch of the Carolingian dynasty.

In fact, all members of the Karling house are in your court.

This campaign plays out as any count-to-emperor campaign does. With no claims to any titles, you’ll have to ascend the feudal ladder the old-fashioned way.

The shoes you’d need to fill are not big. They are gigantic.

Secure your powerbase, dethrone the pretenders in France and Germany, and restore the Carolingian empire to its days of glory.

The Carolingian cadet branches of Luxembourg and Wigeriche can serve as powerful allies. Use these dynastic ties to your advantage. Aachen is not far away either.

For maximum roleplay, I suggest seizing Aachen and ruling from there.


3. Antso Vasconia, Duke of Gascogne, 867

Antso Vasconia, Duke of Gascogne, 867 / CK3

The duke of Gascogne in 867 is Basque. Yes, in my opinion that’s enough to grant him a spot high up on the list.

Antso or Sancho was a legendary Basque hero who valiantly fought in the Reconquista as well as against Viking incursions into Gascony.

Called the mountaineer by the Basques and the terrible by the Muslims, he’s one of the most obscure, albeit interesting rulers of the period.

Antso succeeded in declaring himself de-facto independent from the Carolingian rulers to the north and his family ruled the region until the 11th century.

Having all the tools at your disposal, you can lead the house to greater feats, uniting the Basque lands and fighting back against all invaders.

Historically, the Basque lands north of the Pyrenees eventually fell under the control of the Ramnulfid House of Poitou.

Can you fare better and make everyone Basque in your glory?

Get it, Basque? I‘ll show myself out.


2. Hæsteinn Hæsteining, Count of Montaigu, 867

Hæsteinn Hæsteining, Count of Montaigu, 867 / CK3

Well, Hæsteinn begins the game in France so he had to be included in the list.

Hæsteinn has a big difference from any other ruler on this list.

He isn’t a Christian nor a Frenchman. He’s a legendary Viking hero who allegedly raided all the way to Italy!

And this is reflected in the game.

He has the Whole of Body trait, meaning he is going to live longer than most. Having excellent stats and an heir he shares the Quick trait with, his position is particularly unique. He follows an unreformed religion but starts as feudal.

You can literally do anything and go anywhere starting as Hæsteinn. Varangian adventure your way all the way to the Mediterranean? Easy.

You can even reach India in his lifetime if you play your cards right!

Hell, half of my achievements have been unlocked starting as him.

Due to this, you will usually start as Hæsteinn to do something whacky. Exactly because his start has no real ties to France, I decided to not put this fan favorite at position #1 – but #2 is great too.


1. Ramnulf Poitiers, Duke of Aquitane, 867

Ramnulf Poitiers, Duke of Aquitane, 867 / CK3

Ramnulf of Poitou gets the first place in our ranking.

Well, the 1066 start with the same house is also fun and slightly easier as well.

In both start dates, the house of Poitiers is in the position to claim the Kingdom of Aquitaine for themselves. Controlling most Aquitanian counties, you can quickly consolidate your domain and move against the French king.

In 867 your future liege, Luis the Stammerer is your vassal!

This makes for a unique situation that is rarely (if ever) a thing in campaigns.

With a ton of options, I find this start to be one of the most overlooked ones.

You can embrace Occitan or Basque culture, even convert to the pagan Basque faith, meddle in Iberian affairs, or simply consolidate the kingdom of Aquitaine and prepare yourself for the Crusades.

One of the most fun campaigns I ever had was securing Aquitaine for myself, and then placing family members in various thrones in the Mediterranean, eventually switching into a Crusader campaign in the Middle East.

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G. Tsechilidis

Born and raised Greek citizen. His love of history, geography, and all things map-related, are certainly a contrast to his pursuit of a master in civil engineering. An avid gamer from a very young age, he found the perfect match in Grand Strategy Games. If not for a good chess match or a round of carambole billiards, you'll certainly catch him firing up EU4 or a Total War game to spend the evening.