You see, as the Italians, I had dominated much of the Byzantine Empire, converting almost all the lands to the true Catholic religion. The Pope had taken what I wanted most of all, though: Rome and Naples. Surrounded by France to the North, I have made a big alliance (France actually went after Germany, which is the reminants of the Holy Roman Empire, and has been ultra successful. The got England out of the mainland, though the Spanish have been nipping at their heels).
Sicily gained some balls and invaided Naples. Of course, going against the Pope was an immediate ex-communication, which gave me my opportunity! I had a Crusade started, and the target became Naples. Since I own the entire mediterranean sea, I was able to get there in a short amount of time. Naples fell quickly, including the King of Sicily. Unfortunately, ex-communcations are done to rulers, not nations, so when I got zealotous and used the reminants of my crusader army to take Sicily and Malta, the Pope turned his head to me and ex-communicated the great Italian army! I take advantage of this opportunity and chase the Pope out of Rome to the Papal states (I could eliminate the pope, but when that happens, he returns in 5-10 years with an ultra army in Rome and wreaks havok, which is why this is my second attempt at ruling Europe and northern Africa). I pin the pope down and take all the surrounding area, but that Ex-com opens me up to all the other Catholic factions...
Lucky for me the Germans were too occupied by the French to be of any worry, the French and I have bailed each other out on multiple occasions, so I was pretty safe from them, and no one else was really around. I just had to wait it out for either my ruler to die or the Pope. Lets see... my ruler is 34 and the pope is 50. Damnit. Well I have a lot of strong assassins from killing orothodox priests and muslim preachers that dare enter the Italian lands. I send them after the Pope and one-by-one they fail. I guess I have to wait it out.
Then to the west (Burgundy) is taken by a large Spanish army. I send my large (Arab) merc army to the border to encourage the Spanish to stay the hell back, which leaves my eastern army slim near the Byzanite border (they are backed to mid-way across the black sea, now).
The Spanish then did the unthinkable... started a crusade against the (now Italian owned) Sicily! Hell, its hard to go up against them, and so I start bringing my Princes' armies over to help defend, leaving the Byzzies some open targets, yet they don't take them.
The spanish own Constantinople due to an earlier crusade, and I own Greece and the area surrounding, but they are well fortified, so the small attacks they brought up against them failed miserably.
The Crusade finally comes, so I try to fortify my territories so they will just pass through. They start invaiding, but, surprisingly, the french come in on two accounts to bail me out.
Finally, they reach my king. He has less than half the army, but his army is teched up and he has a great command rating, so I don't fight the battle (let the computer resolve it). I figure, he'll either wear down some of the fighters and die, meaning I'd be reinstated into the Catholic faith, or he'd at least wear down some soldiers. The dude actually won the whole fight! Dwindled the crusade to a managable sized army, and they fled to the papal states. I immediately surround the papal states with all my major armies and the crusade is completely stuck.
Of course, the polish find this to be a good time to invade my eastern territories.
Luckily, my latest heir came of age and was quite a general, already. I quickly set him up with a decent sized army (balanced), and set him off. The eastern territory held its own, but became really depleted and couldn't handle another assault.
I pull my arab merc army away from the papal states to aid (the spanish crusade is down to a minimal army after trying to get away twice). My prince arrives in time, protects moldavia and I figured, what the hell, and invade poland (I am still ex-commed). I pin the polish leader into his castle and start bringing in my artillery to take him down, when the norvogods (russians) and Byzzies join his side and make a massive defensive that pushes my prince out of Poland.
My merc army is almost there, so I take my aggressions out on the Byzzies (they pushed their armies north to help the Poles, so I invade from the south where their King sits with a small army).
I devistate them, control the black sea and start moving north. More armies arrive and I reinvade poland, and dig in and simply lay siege to the castle. The polish king flees, the byzzies are busy trying to handle my merc army, so I figure in the next 4 years I'll own all of poland and eliminate the Byzantines....
Then the pope dies of illness at the age of like 56.
Hell, its nice to not have to worry about the spanish anymore, but the Polish are a Catholic nation, so Pope Nicholas V immediately requests for me to remove my armies from Poland in the next two years or I'll face another ex-comm.
So I'm left with a dilemma. I can push almost all my armies to poland and try to eliminate them in two years (possible, but extremely difficult), or I can back out and, instead, finish off the byzzies and point my eyes at the norvogods. I don't want to take on the Russians, though, because soon the Mongols will invade from the east, and I don't want to have to deal with them in full force... rather some other faction softens them up before I have to deal with them.
Next game I'm totally playing a Muslim nation to show those proud Catholics the strength of Islam!!
Now tell me you don't wanna play a little Medieval: Total War....