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For the country itself, see the Papal States.

The Papal Controller is a title held by the Catholic nation with most Controlled (loyal) Cardinals in the Curia simultaneously. Do note that as Byzantium, the Papacy can be disabled when the Pentarchy is restored.


The Papal Controller will gain the following bonuses:


The Curia controller can excommunicate an enemy. This requires the enemy to be Catholic, and for the Papal States to have an opinion of less then 0 of the enemy (if the Papal States do not exist this requirement is waived and the Curia Controller can excommunicate any Catholic ruler). Excommunication gives every other Catholic nation a Casus Belli against them and increases yearly decay of prestige.

Excommunication Penalties

  • Yearly Prestige : -2
  • Tolerance of the True Faith : -3
  • Monthly Papal Influence : -5

Call a crusade

The Curia controller can also call a crusade against a single target. This target must be a heathen and the Papal States must have an opinion of -50 of the target. Catholic nations that border the crusade target receive a Casus Belli against it, and all Catholic nations at war with the crusade target receive bonuses to manpower, morale, prestige and yearly papal influence while they are at war with them.

Crusade Bonuses:

  • National Tax Modifier Bonus : +10%
  • Morale of Armies : +10%
  • National Manpower Modifier : +30%
  • Yearly Prestige : +1
  • Monthly Papal Influence : +2

The Curia

The Curia is made up of seven Cardinals who, once chosen, remain in the Curia until death. Control of the curia can be obtained by winning a plurality of cardinals.

  • If a nation has more cardinals than the current controller, they become the controller.
  • If a nation has control and another nation ties them in cardinals, control does not change.
  • If the current controller loses a cardinal and multiple nations now surpass them in cardinals, control passes to whoever among them has the oldest cardinal.
  • Cardinals death probability seems to be different from advisor and monarch death probability, as cardinals frequently live to their 70s and 80s.

Controlled Cardinals

Cardinals maintain a loyalty to the country that has invested the mostPapal influence.pngpapal influence in them; a country's loyal cardinals are referred to as Controlled Cardinals. Once a Cardinal enters the Curia, he can no longer be influenced, and remains loyal to the same country.

For each controlled Cardinal you get the following benefits:

  • +1 Papal influence.png Yearly papal influence
  • +0.1 Prestige.pngYearly prestige
  • +0.2 Legitimacy.pngYearly legitimacy
  • -1.0% Technology cost.pngTechnology cost modifier
  • +0.1% Local missionary strength.png Local missionary strength against heretic religions.

Future Cardinals

There are also five Future Cardinals, awaiting entry to the Curia once another Cardinal dies. These Cardinals can be swayed towards a country by investing papal influence into them. Cardinals can only be influenced in increments of 5. A list of all influencers displays when hovering over the Future Cardinal's current controller.

When a Cardinal in the Curia dies, a random Future Cardinal is chosen to succeed him. He is replaced by a new, randomly generated Future Cardinal.

Cardinals have a country of origin, and that country gains a starting bonus to influence him. Which nation the Cardinal comes from is related to their annual papal influence gain; the higher the gain, the more likely a nation is to receive initial control of the Cardinal. The formula for how much influence is initially invested in the owned cardinal is as follows:

floor( (Yearly PI gain - Bonus from opinion with the Papal States) * 3 )

Four times out of five, you can identify this initial controller by the fact that one of the investors' points is not a multiple of five. This is the only way this can come about.

The chance of increasing the number of Active Cardinals you have is reduced by the possibility that one of your Active Cardinals died to create the vacancy. For example, if you control all five Future Cardinals but have no Active Cardinals, you have a 100% chance that you will gain an Active Cardinal if an active one dies. And at the other extreme, if you have no Future Cardinals but control all seven active ones, you have a 100% chance of losing a cardinal if one dies. In the middle, such as if you have 3 Future and 4 Active Cardinals, the odds of gaining one are practically cancelled by the odds of losing one, leaving only a net +0.03 cardinals on average:

Number of Future

Cardinals Controlled (to right)

0 1 2 3 4 5
Number of Active

Cardinals Controlled (below)



0% +20% +40% +60% +80% +100%
0 0% n/c +0.20 +0.40 +0.60 +0.80 +1.00
1 -14% -0.14 +0.06 +0.26 +0.46 +0.66 +0.86
2 -29% -0.29 -0.09 +0.11 +0.31 +0.51 +0.71
3 -43% -0.43 -0.23 -0.03 +0.17 +0.37 +0.57
4 -57% -0.57 -0.37 -0.17 +0.03 +0.23 +0.43
5 -71% -0.71 -0.51 -0.31 -0.11 +0.09 +0.29
6 -86% -0.86 -0.66 -0.46 -0.26 -0.06 +0.14
7 -100% -1.00 -0.80 -0.60 -0.40 -0.20 n/c

Long story short: If you have a number of Active Cardinals, you have to struggle to keep it that way. It's easy at first, but harder as the number of actives increases.

Papal influence

Papal influence, used to gain the loyalty of Cardinals, accumulates on a monthly basis.

NB: Papal influence does not determine when a Future Cardinal enters the Curia.

The following modifiers determine the total yearly gain of papal influence:

  • +5% of a country's total annual base tax (only considering Catholic provinces). To approximate this value if most of a country's provinces are Catholic, multiply their monthly Taxation (see Income in Country page of Ledger) x Religious Unity percent x 0.6 (12 x 0.05).
  • From -0.02 to +0.02 per Papal State opinion point towards you or other country (Modifier ranging from -4 to +4). Typically the player might have +2.20 for +110 opinion (Same Religion +10 and Improve Relation +100); add +1.00 (+50 x 0.02) for an alliance with The Papal State. Other countries may also Improve Relations; check their relations with The Papal States on their Diplomacy screen.
  • From -0.01 to +0.01 per Prestige point (Modifier ranging from -1 to +1)
  • Up to +5 from religious unity (Religious Unity percent x 5)
  • -0.02 per percentage point of Overextension. For example, Overextension of 100% gives -2.00.
  • +2 for current Curia Controller
  • +1 for each controlled cardinal
  • +2 for current Defender of the Faith
  • +1 for The Societas Jesu (the Jesuits, a Spanish or Portuguese Papal Event)
  • +3 for Devout Catholicism (Spanish National Idea)

As of version 1.6, cathedrals no longer give a bonus to Papal influence.


AI countries will spend their papal influence according to the following algorithm:

  • Control cardinals they originally sponsored, even if it's not the best investment (see next rule). This seems to be new by v. 1.7 (Sept. 2014).
  • Put all remaining points into whichever cardinal requires the fewest further points to control.
  • Don't invest further into cardinals already controlled.

It is often a bad idea to get in a "race" with an AI nation where you use your last remaining papal influence points to barely overtake them, as they will then spend their points retaking the cardinal. The race will continue until he dies or enters the curia. While you might win such a race, it can be a very expensive approach that will only get you one cardinal.

A more fruitful alternative can be to save up your papal influence and get far enough ahead on a cardinal that it becomes unappealing to the AI. If, say, there is a 40 point and a 20 point cardinal, and you have 65 papal influence, you can put all 65 points into the 20 point cardinal for a 45 point lead. After that, the 40 point cardinal will be more attractive to AI countries than the one you control, even for whoever started with 20 points in your cardinal. Now, all the AI nations will compete for the 40 point cardinal and leave your 65 point cardinal alone.

This isn't infallible. If another cardinals moves up or out, everyone that had been investing in him will choose another target. If the brand new cardinal has a high number of points right off the bat, untethered AIs might target your man. C'est la vie.

If you find yourself in a race with a strong nation, you can try an end run by letting them control the cardinal a while. In the meantime, they will invest in someone else, while you let your points build. Come back when they are in a close race on another cardinal, or there is a new cardinal that's cheaper for them, and dump your points on the first one. But you risk losing the cardinal if he is anointed in the meantime. And this doesn't work if they're the sponsor.

These are the general rules. An additional wrinkle is that originating countries usually persist in funding their candidate, even if it's a worse deal than other cardinals. Said another way, you have to fight for every cardinal despite all your best-laid plans, unless the originating country is destroyed or changes faith. (Or, of course, if you're the sponsor country by a large margin.)

Obviously, if you have to fight sponsors, choose cardinals with weak sponsors.

The truly determined should write down all new cardinals' sponsors. Knowing every sponsor can be important to tight races. Not only does this say who might fight you for a given cardinal, but also other cardinals they might be locked onto. If they're a big country, it helps to know if they're losing focus. (But if they're huge, it may not help.)

The only time you don't need to write down sponsors is if it's 1) a big country 2) sure to stay Catholic and 3) their influence points are not evenly divisible by five. Otherwise, will you really remember who the sponsor was or know what might have happened if, 10 or 20 years later, you suddenly notice there's no non-five-point country on a particular cardinal any more? It will probably just be a muddle, and now any contender could be the sponsor. You have lost your information advantage.

Be all that as it may, cardinals are a gamble, no matter how you slice it. At any point, you could get lucky. Or the opposite of lucky.

Occasionally you will see odd things, such as a minor country suddenly taking the lead on several cardinals, especially early in the game. They probably just had an event with a lot of Papal Influence points.

There is sometimes a rhythm where everyone jumps on two new cardinals, then leaves the third relatively alone (or whatever). So saving your points until there is a clear easy candidate might be smart in the long run.

For the record: If you auto-invest, the computer will try to keep you more than five points ahead of the second-highest investor (assuming you have the points), apparently so you can never lose the lead. In other words, it will keep you 6 to 10 points ahead, assuming you have the points to do this.

It is recommended that you auto-invest because otherwise an oddity has been seen where, even with a popup set to stop the game if you lose control of a cardinal, you might still lose control and have that cardinal advance to the papacy on the same day, with no popup(!). For more on this, see this forum message.