England is the most played nation in Europa Universalis IV. That is according to 2021 Paradox Interactive statistics, anyway. Although England is quite easy to play, realizing its full potential can be a challenge. This EU4 England guide is for those players who want a nation that doesn’t withdraw from the European continent but dominates western Europe in its full glory.
At the start of the game, England’s position is less than enviable. It’s on the backfoot of the Hundred Years’ War against France and under the leadership of the severely incompetent Henry VI. Aside from the foreign threats to the realm, internal divisions have sown the seeds for a looming Civil War, the Wars of the Roses. But don’t worry. This guide will get you to the point where England overcomes its early issues, becomes a beacon of prosperity, unites Great Britain and of course, rules the waves.
A quick administrative note before the guide begins. This EU4 England guide is currently for patch 1.33.2 and with all DLCs installed. If you haven’t gotten all the DLCs, make sure to at least get the England-specific Rule Britannia DLC. The guide also assumes that players know the basics of the game, such as constructing buildings, managing armies and finances, and conquering new territory.
Also, check out our Europa Universalis IV review!
Phase I – Setup
Welcome to England! Once you load, assess the situation. In the first phase, the priority is to set up to defeat and get off a pu (Personal Union) on France – as well as survive the Wars of the Roses. We’ll be dealing with diplomacy, armies, and a resilient economy that should sustain your misadventures for the first couple of years of the game. Also, be aware that part of this game is RNG. My run won’t look identical to yours, but with these general tips, you’ll be fine. You need to take the following steps in the first few months of the game.
Finding your place in Europe
To defeat France, you’ll need powerful allies. The potential candidates on the shortlist are Castile, Aragon, and Burgundy.
Ideally, at least one of these guys has rivaled France, and not you. You’ll need at least one of these to help you out in your war, but two certainly don’t hurt. First things first – you can ally Burgundy, but the chances are very small. Burgundy often starts out as a rival to England, but don’t worry – you don’t need them to pu France! In my run, I managed to ally and royal marry both Castile (which rivaled France) and Aragon. I also allied and royal married Austria, which will be a vital ally after you defeat France. If none of this works out for you, restart your run. The more rivals of France you can ally with, the easier the war with France will be.
Portugal might want a royal marriage with you as well since you’re already allied. You can take it, but I’d hold off on it and find a better ally if you can. If you can get Denmark, break your alliance with Portugal and ally Denmark instead.
For your rivals, pick Scotland and France. For your third, select either Burgundy, Denmark, or Lithuania, if they’re available. I rivaled Denmark hoping that I could reconcile Burgundy in the future. We can dream, right?
By the time you’ve set up your alliance web, it should look something like this:
After these opening moves, curry favors with Castile, Aragon, and/or Burgundy to increase the likelihood of them joining the war with France. Use your traders in the Champagne and Rhineland trade regions to establish communities. Doing so will improve your diplomatic standing and prevent a possibly devastating coalition war from occurring after you’ve taken France. Use your last diplomat to improve relations with Austria.
A Guide to England’s Estates and Economy
Playing as England, you’ll have the advantage that you only have to juggle two estates since there’s no nobility estate. You’re going to want as much money as possible while keeping the estates happy. Give the Clergy:
- Religious Diplomats. This will help you improve your relationship with nations that share your faith. Which just so happens to be all of western Europe.
- Religious State. This will give you more administrative power per month. Remember that your monarch is an absolute dumpster fire.
- Monopoly on Wine. This will give you desperately needed money.
- Clerical Advisory Council. This will make it cheaper to hire a competent administrative advisor.
Give the Burghers:
- Commercial Advisory Board. This will make it cheaper to hire a competent diplomatic advisor.
- Land of Commerce. This will give you more diplomatic power per month.
- Indebted to the Burghers. You’ll get some loans against low interest, which will fund your upcoming war.
After you’ve done your estates, seize land and sell titles. Doing so will give you a very solid treasury without upsetting your estates too much.
Next up is Parliament. The options you can take here differ per session, but it’s always good to fund the expansion of the bureaucracy (which lowers advisor cost by 10%) or Quartering of Troops (which decreases land maintenance by 10% and lowers attrition). To get MPs on board, bribe those that want you to promote meritocracy, grant autonomy, or take sides. If that’s not enough, choose everything that doesn’t cost you ducats.
Once this is all set and done, it should look something like this:
Advisors – Cheap and Efficient
With the decisions in the estates and possibly in parliament, your advisors should now be a lot cheaper, which means you can hire them. The most important advisors are military and diplomatic. For the military adviser, go for ones that offer army morale or discipline boosts. Make sure to pick a level 1 – higher levels become too expensive very quickly. If those advisors are not available, hire another army-related advisor. For diplomatic, improving relations or especially diplomatic reputation will serve you very well. For administrative, hire advisors that reduce inflation or interest, or give you more tax revenue. This will help your treasury a lot.
Gathering your armies
It’s time to gather your armies. Look closely if France has allied with Scotland. If it has, you should move 14 units (10 infantry, 4 cavalry) to York. Move the remaining units to Caen and build up to an army of 16 infantry units and 4 cavalry ones. Once the Surrender of Maine event fires, you should start hiring mercenaries. You’ll need two companies. Hire the company whose general has the highest shock, and one whose general has the highest siege. These mercenaries are immensely expensive, so only start recruiting them after the war with France is on the horizon. The mean time for the Surrender of Maine to fire is 12 months.
Phase II – War with France and the Wars of the Roses
The Surrender of Maine is a remnant of the mess the English made before you took charge.
In exchange for accepting the Treaty of Tours in 1444 the county of Maine was promised to France. In practice, however, this has still not come to pass. No English governor wants to be remembered as the one to surrender Maine and in London prominent nobles are claiming that William de la Pole, had no mandate to make this concession in the first place. French emissaries have repeatedly tried to remind us of this ever since the signing and Charles VII has now finally taken matters into his own hands and shown up at the walls of Le Mans, demanding the city to surrender. Unless we surrender Maine to the French we are very likely looking at a hasty resumption of hostilities.
This is your cue! You can use the Surrender of Maine event to get that pu on France at the very start of the game. Before you unpause, hire the previously mentioned mercenary companies in Normandy. Place defensive edicts in Normandy and Gascony. Make sure both your armies have generals: put John Talbot in charge of the 20-units army, and King Henry VI in charge of the 14-units army (or hire a new guy, if your ruler is a cruddy general). It takes a couple of weeks for your armies to be fully prepared, so don’t click the event away just yet. Make sure to also hire an admiral for your fleet and raise war taxes. Once you’re in position, choose not to surrender an inch of territory to those French!
This is an offensive war, meaning that your allies won’t come in automatically. If you’ve curried favors with Castile, Aragon, and Burgundy, you should be able to get at least one of them in with the promise of land. In my case, Castile was the one who joined.
When you’re all set for the attacks, complete the Hundred Years’ War mission for some permanent claims on Northern France.
Fighting France and its allies
We’re finally at the part of this EU4 England guide in which setup time is truly over. This war follows a general strategy. France has two fronts to fight on: you – and whoever joined you. In my case, Castile. Use the siege-focused mercenary army to recapture Maine, and then use it to siege down important french holdings in the north of the country. Your primary goals are Anjou, Chartres, and Paris. Maintain large army stacks, since the French AI will be too scared to engage a large number of units. Always keep your other armies nearby to reinforce your sieging army in case the French do decide to attack.
While you’re fighting, improve relations with powerful nations around France. Milan, Switzerland, Savoy, the Papal States, and Cologne could become the backbone of a coalition against you later on. Keep your relations with Austria high as always, so they don’t break the alliance.
One you sieged down Anjou, siege down some of Provence’s provinces in the east to peace them out separately as soon as possible. That’s one enemy less! You can now also complete the Strategic Control mission in your mission tree.
As you’re gathering war scores, try and wipe out some smaller armies. These armies are too small to regroup, so you’ll be able to wipe them off the map!
When you’re around 60 war score, you can make peace. Select Union with France to get the actual pu. You’ll get a coalition, which is okay. Look at which large nations might be joining the coalition, and improve relations specifically with them to prevent them from joining. You can also complete the Subjugate France Mission – but don’t do so yet if you’re still dealing with the Wars of the Roses. See the next section for how to deal with that.
Dealing with the Wars of the Roses
You may be familiar with the Wars of the Roses as the inspiration behind the story of Game of Thrones and its diverse media franchise. EU4 also features the conflict, and it couldn’t be timed worse.
You can stop or prevent the Wars of the Roses from happening if you have Henry VI produce an heir. Alternatively, you can also introduce an heir – but be aware that to avoid the Wars of the Roses the heir needs to be from the Lancaster, York, or Plantagenet dynasty. The odds of this happening are very small, and in my opinion not worth risking your prestige and legitimacy over. To improve your chances of getting an heir, royal marriage all your allies (Austria, Castile, Aragon, and Portugal in my case). However, you may not get an heir at all. In that case, you’ll start getting pretender rebels all around, while your army is in France! First, you have to back a Lancastrian or a Yorkist. Pick the worse option.
Pretender rebels start appearing all over England. Don’t interfere with them. Instead, concentrate your military might against France. After you’ve conquered France, don’t subjugate them just yet. They will be disloyal, meaning that if the pretender takes over, France will break free and your hard-fought battles will have been for nothing. Instead, wait until the pretender breaks your nation. Once they did, the Wars of the Roses will be over. Peace out with France, and get them loyal by increasing development in their provinces and improving relations. They won’t break away anymore.
Beware not to go bankrupt. This will also likely cost you your recent gains since you’ll be dealing with the rest of Europe, which has formed an opinion about your expansionism. Disband your mercenaries and everything that costs you too many ducats.
Keeping the Gains
An EU4 conquest guide is nice, but England has issues hanging on to territory. You’re likely happy with your result, and you should be! But guess who isn’t happy – Europe. Specifically, France’s neighbors. You could end up with a pretty major coalition. This coalition isn’t a huge problem – as long as you’ve done the following.
- Improve relations with France and develop some of their provinces to keep them loyal. The largest threat to you losing France is France.
- Keep your friends close. Make sure Austria, Castile, Aragon, Portugal, or any other ally you may have doesn’t break their alliance with you.
- Improve relations with angry countries. Permanently put a diplomat on ‘outraged countries’ to target exactly the upset countries, and keep establishing communities in important trading areas. Doing so will keep many countries from joining the coalition, or at the very least leave it if they already joined.
- Ally other countries. Bohemia, Milan, the Papal States, Brittany, Switzerland. Ally as many as you can to make the prospect of war too scary for the coalition. That way, they won’t declare. Don’t agree to a royal marriage with them, so you can easily break the alliance once they’re no longer necessary.
Follow the guide closely, and England escapes its coalition one nation at a time. While your Aggressive Expansion ticks down, focus on improving your financial situation and stability. Get France to like you and become loyal to you by improving the development in their provinces, improving relations (supporting loyalists helps too!), building up your armies to the limit, and improving your trade.
Phase III – Subjugating Scotland and Ireland
At this point, you should have a loyal France with you, that has started to subjugate its own vassals. The coalition disintegrated, so now you can go back to an acceptable number of alliances to preserve diplomatic power. The first institution, the Renaissance, should have spawned by now, so you can develop some cities to get it faster. One trick to doing that is giving the Burghers the privilege “Exclusive Trade Rights.” This will cause a slight dent in your income, but will heavily favor developing your provinces. If you can take the prestige, legitimacy and stability hit, let Henry VI abdicate (if you still have him) in favor of your heir.
When you reach your first admin tech, there are various options you can pick from depending on the style of game you want. If you’re still stuck with loans and need some serious ducats, I’d recommend economic ideas. However, for a headstart in colonization, you could also pick exploration ideas.
Once you have recovered enough manpower, you can complete the mission Levy the Troops, which marks your attempt to unite the British Isles. While you wait, you can already start to visualize an Irish minor state to annex all of Ireland quickly. My recommendation would be the largest. If they’re all one province, ally one that can annex Irish minors you may fight during your upcoming war with Scotland, which in my case happened to be Kildare.
Levy the troops gave you a series of permanent claims and, more importantly, a subjugation casus belli on Scotland, which allows you to vassalize them immediately! Gather your troops, and prepare the offensive. Focus on Scotland first, and use your navy to prevent their Irish or continental allies from reinforcing. Should Scotland have powerful allies, declare war on an Irish minor nation instead to circumvent the issue. Alternatively, you can park one army in Ireland while keeping the Scottish at bay with the other standing guard near York. This is the strategy I used, which worked quite well in my run.
This war shouldn’t be any issue whatsoever. With your superior navy, you’ll be able to keep Scotland and their Irish allies from joining forces, allowing you to use your military supremacy to take on both separately. You may get a coalition, but this is not a terrible one either: it’s mostly just Irish minor nations and Burgundy. Since you have France to back you up and those nations can’t get to one another (because again, naval supremacy) you can simply improve relations and wait for it to fall apart.
You can also now finish the mission to conquer Scotland. Don’t integrate them yet – when you form Great Britain, you’ll get them for free!
After subjugating Scotland and some Irish states, take some time to let Aggressive Expansion tick down. Ireland is far away from France, so many nations won’t care as much as you take them out. Declare on as many Irish nations as you can handle simultaneously, and give them to the Irish state you vassalized before. Ten years after vassalization, you can annex that vassal. Congratulations, you’ve successfully conquered Ireland! Once you’ve integrated your vassal, you can complete the mission to conquer Ireland.
You are now also able to take your second idea, which should be exploration ideas. With your home secure, it’s time for this EU4 England guide to go global!
Phase IV – Going global and becoming Britain
Now it’s colonization time! Next up in this EU4 England guide, I’ll show you how to colonize fast, strengthen your position in Europe, and form Great Britain.
The Iberian Wars – Using Castile and Portugal
You’ll have a few early rivals in the colonial game – notably Portugal and Castile. Both these nations colonize quickly, but there’s a way to get a headstart. Consider the strengths of Portugal and Castile. Do they have powerful allies? In my game, Grenada still existed, so I justified a war to claim Gibraltar, which will allow you to dominate the Meditteranean later on. Build up your navy to its limit to get a permanent claim on Gibraltar, so you won’t have to harm your stability by declaring war without a casus belli. Once you take Gibraltar, make sure to spend some diplomatic points to convert its culture to English. This will make the place significantly less rebellious.
As a general rule, make sure to mark provinces you want as vital interest and station troops nearby early so you can lead any future siege. In my case, the Portuguese also wanted Gibraltar, meaning I had to be there first to make it English.
Fighting Castile and Portugal in this phase is important as well since it allows you to deprive them of important strategic bases and take them from your own. Especially the Azores, the Canary Islands, Madeira, Cabo Verde, and Arguin. Make sure to core these states as well once you conquered them!
If you selected exploration ideas early on, you’ll be able to colonize, starting in West Africa. For your native policy, pick coexistence. The African natives can be quite strong when they revolt, which they do quite often. So unless you want to commit a major force to this area, this is the simplest and most cost-efficient policy. Don’t hesitate to declare new wars on Castille or Portugal if they take strategic provinces you desire, like Bermuda. Around this time, you may already be able to pick your third idea. This should be quality ideas for a more powerful army and navy.
Conquering West Africa & North America
After you’ve taken down the early colonial holdings of Castile and Portugal, set up a trading company to improve your trading position in the Safa, Seville, and Cabo Verde trade nodes. Rather than making them an integral part of your nation, this positions them as the linchpin of the young Empire of England. There are a few tricks to improve your colonization speed that are valid throughout this (and every other EU4) guide:
- Keep up with diplomatic technology.
- Have several colonies next directly next to each other. This eliminates a penalty that makes places more difficult to colonize.
- Choose the most aggressive colonizing strategy (native repression) – although this does make your colonies more prone to revolt and thus more expensive to maintain.
- Finish exploration and expansion ideas.
- Form Great Britain – their second national idea lets you settle a lot faster.
- Get a colonial nation. These countries spawn after colonizing five provinces in a region. They can expand on their own as well.
- Use parliament – by selecting the charter colonies mission, you’ll get one additional colonist and a +20 global settler increase. You’ll need either expansion or exploration ideas to be complete for this.
- Grant the Burghers estate ‘New World Charters.’
In the Americas, you can complete the mission to Discover the Americas. This will give you additional settlers, and thus make it easier to expand quickly. Once you settled there, you can also complete the Settle in America mission.
Annexing Brittany and Integrating France
If your aggressive expansion in Europe is low enough, you can now use your permanent cores on Brittany to make your sphere of influence in France a little bigger. This war should be easy since you have France and Austria to back you up. In my case, Brittany was too large to annex in a single war, so I set myself up to annex or vassalize them in the next war. Your choice between annexation and vassalization depends on your available diplomatic power and administrative power. I ran into the issue that Brittany’s lands became too developed to annex them in one go, so I had to chip away at their possessions before I could fully annex them.
Around this time, you can start integrating France, too. This will let you advance down the mission tree further, but I decided to wait a little while to consolidate my position on the British isles. France is a formidable military buffer state for you with unique military buffs. The process will also take quite some diplomatic power, so time the moment you decide to integrate well.
Unifying Great Britain
Around this time, you should reach admin technology level 10, which means you’ll be able to unite England and Scotland into the United Kingdom. Since you have Scotland as a vassal, you’ll be able to form the British nation diplomatically. This option is better than the alternative ‘form the British nation,’ as it lets you inherit Scotland immediately. This saves a bunch of diplomatic power you can use to pursue ideas, get better diplomatic technology or develop your provinces. Forming Great Britain does grant you some permanent claims, but most of these claims are likely already owned by Scotland. If you want to pursue the Faroe Islands and Iceland, you can simply fabricate a claim on those and take them from whoever owns them (probably Norway).
Phase V – Next Steps
At this point, you should be the unquestioned ruler of Western Europe. There’s still a lot of the game left to be played, but you’re set up to conquer anything you desire. For the final part of this guide, here are some steps on how to guide England through EU4‘s following 300 years!
After the protestant movement has been around for about 15 years, you’ll get the opportunity to start your own church and convert to Anglicanism. As long as your primary culture is British, you will always get this option. The question is, should you? Aside from upsetting the pope, some major benefits come with Anglicanism:
- Construction cost decreases by 15%
- You’ll get a 50% Innovativeness gain
- There will be various religion-specific actions you can do, which can contribute to your economy, stability, and how good your consorts are (since you can now divorce them)
- The Treaty of Tordesillas no longer applies to you. You no longer get settlement debuffs if a region has been awarded to someone else.
When the event for Anglicanism pops up, you can also choose to evangelize the religion and spread it throughout all Christendom. However, this comes with some major debuffs, like a high price tag (800 ducats) and a significant penalty to your diplomatic reputation and relations with other countries. If you want to keep things easy for yourself, simply pick the ‘found a new state church’ option. Use the Propagation of State Religion issue in Parliament to temporarily convert faster!
You can also now complete the Control State Religion mission.
Your mission tree lets you expand virtually anywhere in Europe. At this point in the game, it’s mostly up to RNG to see where expansion is most viable to go first. There are the remains of French independence in the form of Burgundy, which may have ended up inherited by Austria, Castile, or another nation. Taking Burgundy grants you highly developed land, more influence in important trade nodes, and a solid position to befriend the electors of the Holy Roman Empire to become its Emperor.
Britain can also expand north, towards the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland. With France’s and possibly Austria’s help, you’ll be able to defeat the Scandinavians with ease, which also allows you to take some of Norway’s colonies, should they have them.
Gibraltar gave you a bunch of permanent claims all over the Mediterranean sea, which will eventually lead you to Egypt. The claims there could be held by Castile, Aragon, or Spain, as well as independent nations like Naples or Genoa. Depending on your run, there are multiple ways to obtain these areas. Aragon was an important ally for me, but through royal marriages, they eventually got to share my dynasty. This paves the way for a future personal union by claiming their throne. If Aragon rivaled you, or the claims belong to weaker states, conquest might be the most fruitful option. Use your powerful navy and the French army to your advantage to beat up Aragon and take the islands you need.
It may also be wise to declare war on the Mamluks early if there is a powerful Ottoman Empire. This way, you can take some important Egyptian provinces from a weakened state. You can then consolidate your holdings before trying to expand against the Ottomans! Austria will be a crucial ally for you against the Ottoman Empire, but the Russians and Poles can also provide some much-needed assistance.
England will gain more and more settlement bonuses over time, which allows it to colonize faster and faster. However, your slow early colonization means others likely tossed their hats into the colonial game as well, notably Portugal, Castile, and possibly Norway. Your powerful position in Western Europe allows you to regularly invade these countries to take their strategically placed colonial possessions away. If an Iberian snatches a key province away, such as the Cape of Good Hope, simply repeat the Iberian Wars trick to get these provinces from them.
The mission tree serves as a clear guide where England gets boosts for colonizing or conquering. North America, the Caribbean, India, and Australia are areas where Great Britain gets buffs in their efforts. As you’ll be building a global empire, take trade ideas to start making serious bank!
In the end, if keep your friends close but your navy closer, you’ll have no trouble ruling the waves whatsoever! I hope this EU4 England guide has been useful for you. Let me know your experiences in the comments! Did you manage to build the greatest Britain you’ve ever created or were the RNG gods not in your favor? I’m looking forward to reading all about your adventures.
thanks for this – but I tried to follow and got in a mess. war of roses started while I was fighting against france. great. but the pretenders got to 95.3% completion but no higher. then i noticed some text that said pretenders cant fully break country while it is at war. i waited a while longer, pretenders took more territory but no increase in % of completion. eventually i made peace with france, created personal union. week or so later pretenders broke country and personal union ended. what did i do wrong?
Hi Gareth, thanks for your comment! Here are a couple of tricks you can try:
– Beat France fast enough so you have a chance to beat the rebels. You can do that by taking down Provence immediately (siege down Anjou and threaten their holdings east of Paris). If you’re able to keep the French army occupied in the south (through defensive edicts and a Spanish ally), great. This way, you’ll be able to crush France in a few years while the pretender rebels are still relatively few, allowing you to sail back home and beat them up.
– If France isn’t willing to make peace anytime soon, the rebels can still break your country. They’re stuck at 95.3%, but it also gives you an additional modifier. “Rebels can enforce their demands […] from now because they control the capital. If the rebels control London long enough, the completion will tick to 100%. This will end the War of the Roses, give you a Tudor heir, and lets you safely peace out with France!
Let me know if these tips work for you! Would love to help out if it still gives you trouble 🙂
thanks a lot – I tried again. This time I was lucky that the Surrender of Maine happened quite quickly. I was able to defeat France faster this time, and then sail back to take care of the WotR rebels. Ive now spent time building relations with outraged countries and the coaalition has just fallen apart and France are loyal!
So a great start to the game!
Great to hear! Best of luck getting the most out of the rest of your campaign with this solid start behind you!