EU4 Cardinals: What They’re For & How To Get ThemThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Cardinals are a core part of the Catholic faith. They are a prerequisite for becoming the Curia controller and claiming its bonuses.
The best way to peacefully ensure you can accumulate more Cardinals is having high development Catholic provinces and a high base tax in general.
You can also belligerently annex provinces that are home to cardinals. The Cardinal will then be under your influence.
Passive Assignment of Cardinals
The max number of concurrent active cardinals is 49.
If at the start of a year the number is lower than 49, a Catholic province of a Catholic nation is assigned a new Cardinal. The specific formula for choosing the province is quite convoluted.
Factors that affect Cardinal selection are:
- Development of the target province – Must be at least 10 in total.
- Total provincial base tax of all Catholic provinces owned by nation – This is taken considerably into account during the selection process.
- Total provincial base tax of all non-Catholic provinces owned by nation – This is the least important modifier.
- Number of Cardinals already controlled by nation – The more Cardinals a nation controls, the lower the chance of their provinces getting assigned another.
- Papal States are excluded from this mechanic – Provinces controlled by the Papal states will not be considered when calculating potential candidates.
After taking all of that into account, the top 10 provinces will have a chance to be selected at the year’s beginning. Usually, all provinces will have a chance close to 10% to be selected.
This clearly favors nations with their development concentrated in a few provinces.
Diplomatic Assignment of Cardinals
The Papal State has access to the “appoint cardinal” diplomatic action.
This action assigns a cardinal in an eligible province in the target nation. It has a monetary cost for the Pope, depending on the target nation’s number of cardinals and the total number of cardinals. It also improves this nation’s opinion of the Papal State by +50.
This way of distributing cardinals is completely dependent on the Papal State AI. The Pope can also assign a loyalist cardinal through the papal interface, which spawns a cardinal in the Pope’s own lands.
How To Ensure the Pope Gives You Cardinals
We will of course assume that you aren’t playing as the papal states yourself.
The Papal State will use the “assign cardinal” action towards you, depending on the following:
- Their opinion of you – Allying them and maintaining their opinion of you high enough will make them more likely to assign a Cardinal in your nation.
- The number of Cardinals you control – The more you have, the less likely they are to assign another one.
- Being a powerful nation near them – If the Pope is threatened by you, he will attempt to improve relations. This includes assigning a cardinal to your nation, as it improves your opinion of them.
- Be Italian – This is based on observation alone, but the pope tends to appoint cardinals in the Italian peninsula far more than outside of it.
Assigning Cardinals as the Pope
1. Appointing Cardinals To Other Nations
If you are playing as the Papal State yourself, you can freely use the “appoint cardinal” interaction.
You can exploit this by appointing cardinals to nearby nations that you are going to expand into. After you conquer a province with a Cardinal, that Cardinal will remain in the province, only now under your control.
The same can be done by appointing a cardinal in one of your vassal’s provinces that you are going to annex soon.
2. Appointing Loyalists
Another tool at your disposal is the “Appoint loyalist Cardinal” in the Papal interface. The button in question is located at the top left.
It replaces the usual button that every other nation has, which expends papal influence to increase their chances of being elected as the Curia Controller.
The cost of appointing loyalists as Cardinals will sharply increase the more Cardinals you already control. It also increases the more Cardinals exist in total.
Actively Acquiring New Cardinals
1. Conquering Cardinal Provinces
The most efficient way to acquire new Cardinals is to take matters into your own hands. Conquering nearby provinces with a Cardinal is the best way to do that.
Especially as a nation with no Cardinals, securing one the soonest is vital.
Note: You cannot become the Curia Controller without a Cardinal.
2. Acquiring Them Through an Event
The most usual event resulting in the acquisition of a Cardinal is the “Cardinal across the border” event.
This event gives you a choice between bribing a cardinal to move into your lands, or getting a reduced-cost spymaster advisor in your court.
With the first option:
- You will lose 0.05 years’ worth of income
- Gain 0.5 corruption
- You get a Cardinal in the targeted province
- The foreign, neighboring province loses its Cardinal
The second option simply gives you a reduced-cost spymaster advisor.
If the first option is chosen, there is a 50% chance the foreign nation uncovers your scheme. In that case:
- The foreign nation gets 1 corruption
- Their opinion of you is reduced by -30
- They gain a “Diplomatic Insult” Casus Belli against you
Beware that the event can trigger the opposite way too. That way you can lose your cardinals in border provinces.
Another more conditional event is the “Contacts in the Holy See” event. To trigger it you need:
- Less than 7 Cardinals
- A Catholic Theologian or Inquisitor advisor currently employed
- A province with more than 10 development in Europe without a Cardinal
- There are less than 49 Cardinals active in the world
- The Papal interaction is active
This means that the Theologian and Inquisitor advisors are slightly more important for Catholics when you have less than 7 Cardinals.
There are also various events, some of them tied to the “Cardinal in administration” modifier from the “Cardinal Minister” event, that remove an active Cardinal from a province of yours.
Benefits of Controlling Cardinals
Controlling at least one Cardinal is important for any Catholic nation. It should be a top priority as any Catholic country.
Having at least one Cardinal is a condition that must be fulfilled if you want to control the Papacy.
It also makes the “Cardinal Minister” event available.
On top of those things, each controlled cardinal provides +0.5 papal influence yearly,