After fans were left confused and outraged after learning that the newly announced, upcoming third entry in the popular, historically-accurate strategy game series Crusader Kings would remove the battle cry “Deus Vult” due to connotations with white nationalism, a member of the dev team has responded by clarifying that no specific decisions have been made in regards to words and phrases included in the game.
On October 19th, Crusader Kings III was announced at the PDXCon event, an “epic celebration of Paradox Interactive’s game universes and the vibrant communities that bring them to life,” in Berlin, accompanied by a physical choir of hooded singers and a gloomy, ominous debut trailer:
Following the announcement of the game, video game news outlet RockPaperShotgun Reviews Editor Nate Crowley shared a list of “ten things we know so far” about Crusader Kings III.
Among the known items, which included information such as a 2020 release date, the addition of skill trees, and a new focus on the game’s religious system, Crowley also noted that the battle cry “Deus Vult” would not be returning to the series as it “has become a vile meme beloved of racists on the internet.”
“6. There’s no “Deus Vult”.
In the years since CK2’s release, “Deus Vult” – an eleventh century crusader battlecry – has become a vile meme beloved of racists on the internet. I asked how Paradox’s community team felt about this, and was told emphatically that the words will not appear in Crusader Kings 3. That’s refreshing, but in a game set during a time of conflicts fetishised by modern fascists, it’s the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be writing more about how Paradox are handling the political sensitivities of making a game about the crusades, and how they’re handling the representation of non-European cultures, in the weeks to come.”
Fans of the series quickly took issue with this omission, as Crusader Kings II was highly lauded for its attention to detail and historical accuracy, believing that the removal of the phrase was being done to appease groups that would make bad-faith accusations that the game was promoting current-day bigotry.
“In response to the growing confusion and outrage, game director Henrik Fåhraeus issued a follow-up comment to RockPaperShotgun, clarifying that no concrete decisions had been made regarding the use of certain terms, including ‘Deus Vult’ but that all inclusions would need to feel “appropriate.”
“I feel like this issue has been miscommunicated thus far. We have not specifically considered which terms are used in the game apart from making sense in the historical context. The team will decide how any text fits or does not fit into CK3 in a way that feels appropriate.”
The term “Deus Vult,” a Latin phrase meaning “God wills it,” was first popularized as a battle cry in the 11th century by a crowd of supporters who emphatically shouted the phrase in support of Pope Urban II’s declaration of the First Crusades at the Council of Clermont.
The term has also been used as a slogan by some white nationalist groups and individuals, due to the phrase’s perceived pro-Christian, anti-Muslim sentiment.
In Crusader Kings II, the phrase appears as the only selectable option when a Crusade is announced by the Pope during a campaign playthrough:
The phrase, in the context of Crusader Kings II, eventually became a meme among fans of the game, who used the phrase to hyperbolically satirize the over-zealous nature and fierce dedication to God of the Crusaders.