Conquering as an Englishman, and as a Gentleman
Warfare is unpleasant. Even though it is the core of M2:TW, yet we need not let the constant warfare turn us into mindless tyrants who slay even the stray cat who bars our way. We can remain as gentlemen who talks softly but carries a big stick. Through bows and arrows might the world turn but good words of diplomacy also do their part. Listen to my good general George the Honest. He knows his stuff.
It is said "Before you need to fix your nation, fix your backyard, and before that, fix yourself." Now England is a great nation with the potential to rule the world, but before you venture to the continent you need to clean up your backyard and settle the scores with the rebels and the vermin Scots. With that in mind, the capture of York should be your priority. Without a castle in their name, the Scots are left witout a fang to bite, and you may deal with them as you choose. The Portuguese will try to get a foothold in the British Isles as well but ignore them for the time being, since they have other matters to occupy themselves. An alliance with them is recommended but not required. The rule of the thumb for a smooth sailing is "Never fight more than necessary."
Now, the French on the other hand, will bear watching. These frogs are infact as slimey as their false words of friendship. A good English gentleman, however, do not strike first, even when the Frogs' treachery is imminent. He will weather it, and call down divine wrath of vengeance that will shake them to their very core. However, there is a more urgent matter for you to resolve if you wish to go down the bloody road.
When a man wishes to do great things he must have someone there to shoulder the hardships and toil. A good-olde-wyfe if you know what I mean. Like a proper English wyfe, she should be honorable and full of integrity and unwavering in devotion even if her looks are somewhat undesiring. Trust me, you don't want a wife like poor Sir Robert.
Like an English woman, it takes a lot to let Papal States sleep on the same bed as you with full military access, (infact it cost me Marseille, a crusading target) but once she agrees to be your mate she will follow you without fail through good and bad. The trick to get into her skirt is to act fast. Send your available diplomat immediately to Rome and meanwhile conquer a couple of Rebel settlements. The Pope will be more agreeable early on and with settlements to give away, you won't be forced to spend your precious florins at this stage. However, if the wily Frogs got to her instead of you, then sir, you simply lack as a gentleman.
With the alliance with Papal States(remember military access is a must) comes the blessing to flex your might. Do not doubt your prowess since the Scots are naught but a rabble without York and the Frogs only look good on diplomacy scroll. Don't believe me? Then here is the ultimate proof of the absolute inferiority of the French.
Be bold yet righteous at the same time. Never attack a neutral nation first, never execute prisoners, and never exterminate the cities, even heathen ones. Peace and mercy will bring you the good wills of other nations, even far flung ones, and you can gain the necessary florins through more available trades routes. Around the 50th turn I even had "very good" relations with Egypt and Turks for being just and merciful to my French and Scottish opponents. Earn high enough reputaion, and nations will be more lenient to have alliances with you at this critical early stages.
Be firm to those who slight you or your "wyfe", She will let you know her displeasure when she declares a crusade but it is much more efficient to select targets yourself. With crusade as an excuse, your reputation will not suffer even if you attack a neutral nation.
Don't be greedy, and take only what you need. Better men had fell into the dark whirlpool of greed and conquest and suffered the consequences. As a good Englishman you will not. Give presents to the good wyfe occasionally, even though she can well support herself. A gentleman should master at least the basic principle of Romance.
"Here dearest, I brought you Dublin." "Why thank you George, but how did you ever manage to wrap it?"
Also support your wyfe in elections no matter the outcome, she won't forget it. Just look at this. Still in the 12th century and I'm "trustworthy" (highest level of reputation) in other's eyes.
Your first priority will be the subjugation of France since the Frogs will never rest until you are thrown off the continent, so remind them forcifully that you are here to stay. With good English courage, huge boulders of trebuchets, and steady hands of Dismounted Knights, even the hardest siege can be won.
Again, be merciful to those who surrendered and don't chase down those who flee. You sir, are an Englishman, and a gentleman, never forget. Occasionally, your faithful wyfe will take up arms with you against the common foe, though her choice of troops might be bit odd. Still, she knows how to roast a frog.As a proper Englishman, you should always grab a chance to duel those who insulted you.
Stick to highest morals then your reputation will not suffer even if your kingdom becomes a wide empire.
My line army for the high period: At the time I liked Armored Swordsmen, but later I found out about their slow movespeed so I switched back to the good olde Dismounted Knights.
A word of advice at this stage. if you have Alliances with nations other than the Papal States then terminate them now. Give the other side good sums of florins in order not to offend them. Otherwise, when they incur the wrath of yer wyfe then you will have to choose sides, and either way your reputation will go down. Stay with the wyfe by Saint George.
This is my late period army with the addition of gunpowder led by my good general Tostig the Ugly. Funny how he is courted by 3 different princesses. Culverins to bombard at the extreme range, Retinue longbowman for medium range barrage, and Dismounted Knights for close and personal combat. On assaulting Citadels, Mortars are best to drop the holy hand grenade of divine justice on the hidebound foe.
I hope all of you have gained a good deal of insight into the way of a gentleman through this guide and may you adjust your conduct towards the right path. Be merciful and fair yet be brave to stand up against evil as well.
As the parting words, heed these words of a true Englishman and take heart.