How To Prevent Getting Excommunicated in EU4

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When playing as a Catholic country, the Papal State (a.k.a. The Pope) can excommunicate you if they have a negative opinion of you. The Pope can do this on their own initiative, or the Curia Controller can request this from them.

To prevent getting excommunicated, you only need to maintain good relations with the Pope. This is the simplest and most reliable method. There are alternatives, but some are quite drastic and come with their own problems.

For thoroughness’s sake, this guide shall explore all of these options to avoid excommunication:

  1. Maintain Positive Relations with the Papacy (Best Method)
  2. Buy Indulgence from the Papacy
  3. Become Defender of the Faith
  4. Convert to a Different Religion

Method 1: Maintain Positive Relations with the Papacy


Positive Modifiers

You can grant the “Religious Diplomats” privilege to your Clergy estate. It gives a passive +25 opinion with all Catholic nations.

Aside from that, have a diplomat do the Improve Relations action with the Papal State. You can maintain up to +100 opinion with this, which is enough to offset the usual negative opinion modifiers.

For all of the diplomatic actions that you can do, refer to this table:

Action Action Type Opinion Change
Improve Relations Relations Up to +100
Offer Alliance Alliance +50
Scornfully Insulted Their Rival Relations +25
Send Gift Economy +25
Transfer Trade Power Economy Up to +20
Give Subsidies Economy Up to +15
Proclaim Guarantee Influence +10
Offer Military Access Access +10
Take on Foreign Debt Great Power +10 per loan
Influence Nation Great Power +25

The Treaty of Tordesillas

The Pope awards this treaty to whoever’s the first to have five cores in a colonial region. That nation becomes that region’s sole colonizer. However, this doesn’t stop you from settling your own colony there.

If you do, you’ll lose -50 Opinion with the Pope. This modifier does decay by +1 per year, but it stacks every time you violate the treaty.

Most newbies usually get excommunicated because of this.


Method 2: Buy Indulgence from the Papacy

You can’t be excommunicated if you’ve bought indulgence from the Pope. You can do this in the Papacy screen (hotkey: F2), which you can open by pressing its icon beside the mini-map.

This only lasts for 5 years. After which, you’ll need to buy it again to renew your protection.

Its price depends on the amount of land controlled by the Clergy estate of all Catholic nations. As the Catholic world expands, indulgences will become more expensive.

The “Buy Indulgence” Button and the Price Difference of Two Time Periods / EU4
The “Buy Indulgence” Button and the Price Difference of Two Time Periods

Method 3: Become the Defender of the Faith

The Papacy can’t excommunicate the Defender of the Faith. So taking on that role protects you from their judgment even if they hate you.

Note: Only independent countries with male rulers can claim this role.

“Defender of the Faith” Button in the Religion Tab / Europa Universalis IV
“Defender of the Faith” Button in the Religion Tab

It costs 500 ducats to do this. You’ll also get various modifiers depending on your defender tier.

This tier is determined by the number of countries that are Catholic.

Modifier Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4 Tier 5
Number of Catholic countries 1–4 5–9 10–19 20–49 50+
Missionaries +1 +1 +1 +1 +1
Missionary maintenance cost -10% -10% -20% -20% -20%
Yearly papal influence +1 +1 +1 +1 +1
Yearly prestige N/A +0.5 +1 +1 +1
Monthly war exhaustion N/A -0.03 -0.03 -0.03 -0.03
Morale of armies N/A N/A +5% +5% +5%
Morale of navies N/A N/A +5% +5% +5%
Manpower in Catholic provinces N/A N/A N/A +20% +20%

However, there’s one massive caveat to becoming the Defender of the Faith. You’re obligated to protect all of your brethren nations against heretics and heathens.

When a Catholic country gets attacked by a non-Catholic, you’ll automatically get a call-to-arms from them. Refusing to answer this removes your role as the Defender and has these penalties:

  • -20 Trust with all Catholics
  • -2 Diplomatic reputation for 5 years
  • -25 Prestige
  • -100 Opinion with the nation you’ve spurned

If you do accept a call but then lose the war, you’ll also lose your position as the Defender of the Faith.


Method 4: Convert to a Different Religion

Excommunication affects Catholics only. The Papacy has no power over other Christian denominations and non-Christians for that matter.

One way to escape the Pope’s fury is to convert to a different religion.

Your opportunity for this depends on your nation and region:

  • Bohemia can convert to the Hussite faith via the “Return of the Hussites” event. This can happen around 1446–1500, as long as they control Prague.
  • The Protestant Reformation can break out in Central Europe if the Catholic Reform Desire is at least 100%. Centers of Reformation will start appearing across Europe, and will steadily convert nearby provinces. Affected nations can convert to the Protestant or the Reformed faiths.
  • The Britons can establish their own Aglican Church when at least 15 years have passed since the start of the Reformation.
  • The Iberians can conquer North Africa and annex Muslim provinces. They’d have to force-spawn a Muslim zealot rebellion and then accept the demand for conversion.
  • Eastern Europeans have easy access to Orthodox provinces. Like with the Iberians, they’d need to encourage an Orthodox zealot rebellion to convert to Orthodoxy.
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Louie Nelson Zafico

As a frustrated otter who dreams of getting published, Louie instead wastes his life cuddling his cats. He spent his childhood playing Suikoden, grew up with Total War, and matured (somewhat) with EU4. He hopes to someday find a geopolitical JRPG with the 4X systems of a Paradox game.