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—an axe age, a sword age
—shields are riven—
a wind age, a wolf age—
before the world goes headlong..
The Eddas

The Dark Age is the first of the three ages of Rise of Kings and ranges aproximately from 888 AD - 1100 AD, starting with the permanent breakup of the Frankish empire into West, Middle and East Francia and ending with the beginning of the Crusades, the importance of castles, and the rise of the feudal system.

In Rise of Kings, the Dark Age allows for early and quite broad economic and military development, with most buildings and units and a few techs available, though Dark Age military units and fortifications such as the tower and fort do not stand much of a chance against a Castle Age army. Factions such as the Norse and Byzantium are often at their peak during the Dark Age.


The best fortress which a prince can possess is the affection of his people.

 Niccolò Machiavelli

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The Castle Age is the second Age a player may access in Rise of Kings. Historically, the Castle Age is meant to represent the early mediaeval period, and involves the following:

  • The increasing importance of castles and siege warfare.
  • Revival of a mercantile economy, as new contacts with the Middle East and urbanisation take hold.
  • The feudal system increases in influence and begins to dominate society.
  • Organised religion takes hold and begins to play a role in social and cultural development.
  • Infantry, once a neglected part of the army, becomes more powerful as an anti-cavalry force.
  • Naval and siege artillery increase in significance as a decisive factor for your forces.

A good number of factions at this time will become dominant, although it will be said that most Muslim factions will be at their peak, especially the Saracens.

Important technologies[edit]

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. — Matthew 5:14

The Imperial Era is the penultimate Age that can be accessed by players in Rise of Kings. Representing the late Mediaeval or even the Post-Mediaeval era, it is characterised by the following:

  • The development of firearms and naval forces which foreshadow the emergence of modern military forces, tactics and strategy.
  • Exploration and the creation of overseas colonies to feed into a nation's livelihood and defence capabilities
  • The centralisation of government and the emergence of new bureaucracies in the face of the breakdown of the feudal system.
  • The increase in the importance of secular learning and education.

Knowledge becomes an important source for many powers, as it is required for the creation of gunpowder units and (for those with a liberal disposition) the Brig, the fastest warship in the entire game.

Important technologies[edit]