Ok guys, I need your help: I'm Sir Schemealot, and I'm looking forward to becoming King Schemealot with our foolproof plan!

First thing, the setting:

We're in middle ages like times, and my people lived free in inhospitable, cold lands for ages, happy to be left on our own, grouping in tribes, fighting each other and praying to our divinities. But we were invaded by a medieval superpower coming from far to the south.

They defeated us, but didn't want to live here, so they named a king to rule over us. We had to renounce our religion and bow to this king, but to be honest, things are OK~ish: there is no strict control over our religion, the tribes are united to work more efficiently than ever and our king is, in the end, one of us rather than one of the invaders. (They didn't stick around because of the climate)

Previously a tribe chief, I'm now something akin to a noble, one of the king's advisors; but that's far from enough for someone like me! Moreover, we have to pay a tribute to the sovereign nation, and I consider it to be striping us of our dignity! But I know a few things that could help me take over the power: if we take too long to send the tribute, the sovereign nation will attack, choosing a new king in the process...

If I manage to intercept the tribute and make it look like the king is rebelling, I could denounce him, putting me in prime position to be the new king! With my position, I could forge documents and messages signed by the king, I could stop carrier pigeons and organise bandit attack on the tribute... I'm almost sure some other advisors are also displeased, but I'd rather not chance it if I can.

The sovereign nation is more than 2 weeks away for a messenger on horse, I have more than enough founds and I have a few dozen men that are absolutely loyal to me.

What would be the best plan of action? I don't want to overdo it and kill every messenger/pigeon going south while intercepting the tribute, that would be quite difficult and certainly leave hints of my schemes, no?

So, any idea? Is this achievable? How should I proceed?

P.S.: English isn't my first language, so sorry for any grave mistake... Also, it's my first post, I take all advice!

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    $\begingroup$ For quite a long time, Wallachia and Moldavia were vassals / tributaries of the Ottoman Empire, operating in a system quite similar to what the question describes. The usual method of making the Ottomas displeased with a Wallachian or Moldavian prince so that a rival could claim the throne involved a much simpler scheme: just bribe some high ranking official (a grand vizier, for example) and promise to increase the tribute. Worked many many times. Well-forged accusations of treachery also helped. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 13, 2019 at 9:52
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    $\begingroup$ You wouldn't happen to have a squire named Baldrick by any chance, would you? I only ask because this sounds like you want a cunning plan $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Nov 13, 2019 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ how can you be sure the sovereign wont end up destroy or genocide this vassal state ? rather than just simply replace new king ? $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Nov 13, 2019 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ "Hey, prince, Sir Schemealot told me that he and some buddies are going to try to rob the tribute convoy...and frame you for it. After we cut off their heads, can I get a promotion and most of their lands?" $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Nov 13, 2019 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ @RichardU Edmund: Ah, yes — a drawback. Yes… Perhaps we need something a little more cunning. Baldrick: I have a cunning plan. Edmund: Yes, perhaps, but I think I may have a more cunning one. Baldrick: Well, mine’s pretty cunning, My Lord. Edmund: Yes, but not cunning enough, I imagine. Baldrick: Well, that depends how cunning you mean, My Lord. Edmund: Well, pretty damn cunning. How cunning do you think I mean? Baldrick: Well, mine’s quite cunning, My Lord. Edmund: Alright, then, let’s hear it! Let’s hear what’s so damn cunning! $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Nov 13, 2019 at 19:25

3 Answers 3


You are going to want to set up a two-fer.

You want the King to loose all support. The fact that things are OK-ish will work to your advantage. Life is not rough for the people, but failing to pay the tribute will make it so.

You want to make it look like the king is keeping the tribute and spending it on himself. This will require you to invest an amount of money equal to the tribute into making lavish purchases. You will of course, send your loyal assistant, Patsy to make those purchases. When buying these luxury items, Patsy will repeatedly tell the merchants how much the king will love these. Who, upon delivering these gifts to the king, will tell the king that they are from his most loyal, and grateful adviser, you. Patsy will later die in a terrible, highly improbable accident, which can in no way be traced back to you. If it can look like the King was the last one to see Patsy alive, all the better. Then you start a whisper campaign about how the king is spending so much, as well as your suspicions that the king may have had something to do with Patsy's death.

At the same time, you will arrange for messages to be sent to the leaders of the sovereign nation that the king seems to be spending money he doesn't have, and that as a loyal vassal to the sovereign nation you are concerned. You don't wan't your people to be punished for the kings excesses.

Of course, during all these machinations, you are doing everything you can to earn the kings trust, to the point of assuring him that the tribute would be safest being delivered by your men. After all, you've heard rumors of bandits, and the king should tell no one of your arrangement.

Intercept any messages and messengers from the sovereign nation warning the king not to trifle with them, and send your own replies of the king being aloof, defiant, and unconcerned.

Then you spring your trap.

The other advisers/nobles, are now concerned about the king's spending. The sovereign nation has been informed of the same. Your men have the tribute.

You order your men to bring the tribute to you and tell the king that your men were ambushed, and that you've sent a contingent to track down the bandits.

When the angry sovereign army arrives, you rush out to meet them (under a white flag of course), with a large chunk of the tribute (1/2?) and beg them not to punish your people for the actions of their king. You also tell the sovereign army that they should send messengers to the king to make one last demand. You have of course have your men ready to ambush the messengers. After re-dressing the bodies of the messengers to make them look like bandits, your men bring them to the king, and tell them your men have found the bandits and recovered the tribute, which you are having delivered to the sovereign army , and in addition to the tribute, The king's personal guard should deliver the heads of the bandits to the sovereign army to prove that it was bandits that took the tribute.

Then, of course, when the sovereign general sees the heads of his messengers... all hell will break loose. Your men will take revenge on the murders by quickly rushing up and killing the murderous king's guards.

The sovereign army makes a beeline to the castle to eliminate the king, while you go to all the other nobles/advisers and tell them that you have given half the tribute from your personal fortune, but need them to contribute the rest, so that the sovereign nation does not lay waste to the land.

When the dust clears, you will be a hero to the sovereigns, and a hero to your people, and have the loyalty of the nobles and advisers, as you have stepped in to spare them from the ravages of a vengeful army. Sadly, your men who assisted you in this scheme all died on the siege of the castle. But, you will honor them, and their families will live comfortably under their new king, being you.

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    $\begingroup$ this idea does seem to leave quite a few loose threads, what if your own men talk to another noble of their doings? What if the king tells someone else of your patsy bringing him gifts on your behalf? I wouldn't trust this scheme until my own influence was further from it $\endgroup$
    – BKlassen
    Nov 13, 2019 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ @BKlassen Obviously the king is trying to frame OP for his spending, and has murdered Pasty to keep him from coming to OP's defense.... OP's men, would of course, tell nobody, as they all have families, and accidents can happen.... The object is to sew dissent and chaos. If a few things come out AFTER the OP is king, there can be MORE accidents $\endgroup$
    – user20762
    Nov 13, 2019 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ @BKlassen besides, I'm just providing the mechanism, OP can work out the details. If I were to write the whole thing, it would be my story and my world then, wouldn't it? $\endgroup$
    – user20762
    Nov 13, 2019 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ fair point, similarly I just wanted to point out where I would try to refine the scheme were it my own plot :P $\endgroup$
    – BKlassen
    Nov 13, 2019 at 17:07
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    $\begingroup$ This! This is exactly what I was looking for! Thank you for your help, and... sorry you'll have such a tragic accident... $\endgroup$
    – Penchal
    Nov 14, 2019 at 15:48

A king or a prince? Usually the vassal kingdoms didn't have kings, just princes.

If you just want to scheme then marry off your son to supreme kingdom noble house, then persuade the emissary to your court to come to your side, make him write a letter saying current king didn't pay the tribute but you're such a good lad and you paid it from your own pocket. Send the current prince to fight some little war as a vassal then marry his wife, have another baby with her, pay your prince enemy extra dough to kill him during the little war, proclaim yourself the new prince.

Just kill the current one and proclaim yourself the new one, promise higher tribute and some extra for the occupiers to not interfere. Done.

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    $\begingroup$ Vassal kingdoms have kings. Vassal principalities have princes. Vassal duchies have dukes. Vassal counties have counts (or earls). Easy. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 13, 2019 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP ok, I might not have phrased that right. During medieval times there was no kings iif they were vassals to someone. A monrach neded to be crowned to be kings. Any kingdom that conquered a kingdom took the crown and added it to their crown leaving the monarch a duke/prince. $\endgroup$ Nov 13, 2019 at 12:18
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    $\begingroup$ Kings could be vassals, just like anybody else; and they could be in a relationship of vasselage in their personae as kings, or in some other of their multiple personae -- kings usually held multiple titles. As a well-known example, the Kingdom of Bohemia was one of the states of the Holy Roman Empire. For another well-known example, the kings of England (in their personae as Dukes of Normandy) were vassals of the kings of France. Feudal relationships were always personal; vasselage was in no way a dishonourable position. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 13, 2019 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ Even from linked wikipedia "the Bohemian king was a prince-elector of the empire" $\endgroup$ Nov 13, 2019 at 12:34
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, he was an elector, that is, one of the topmost elite of the HRE. Not emperor, although it could happen to be elected. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 13, 2019 at 12:35

If you are a high up noble, then it should be relatively easy to simply...

Replace the tribute with a rude drawing of the Southern King

I'm guessing that if it's a medieval setting, the tribute will be delivered in a material form: gold, silver, jewel, ingots, and a few expensive items such as honey or meat perhaps, depending on what this region can produce. If you're high up enough to intercept this cargo fairly early on (as it's being loaded onto a cart for example), then you can simply replace the gold / jewels / whatever is the most expensive with, for example, a drawing of your sovereign ruler in the south with particularly small genitalia, or looking puny compared to your local ruler. Of course, this is quite childish, but any document approved by the Local King saying that they will no longer pay the tribut or as much of a tribute would probably invoke the ire of the the Southern King.

Then, once you have the gold, you'd probably want to incriminate the Local King with it, for example by smelting the coins into a brand new crown or necklace or whatever.

Once the Southern Nation starts to demand more gold from your province, it should be quite easy to pit the Local King against the Southen King by hiding a few letters and rewriting a few documents. Which letters and documents to modify will depend a lot on how both parties behave once the troubles start.


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