Religion is one of the core aspects of Stronghold games and a source of popularity.
Religion is modeled upon the influence of the medieval church of Christianity and Islam, which attracted civilians in big numbers. Holy books of the Bible and Quran were canonized during the Antiquity and the early Middle Age, which tried to provide a detailed and coherent description for creating life, world and society. They quickly became the icons of pursuing something greater, and they were sometimes justified as tools not only for war, but education and acquiring hope. Both religions have remained very influential even in the present days.
Religion is a source of popularity, which provides a higher bonus with increasing blessing among the peasants. Religious buildings, such as the church, must be placed in order attract people and contribute for better coverage. A priest is needed to work for each building, who wanders out to spread blessing and fame in your town. The bonus popularity from religion can be used for higher taxes or cutting on food rations.
In Stronghold and Stronghold Crusader, popularity is gained from the blessing's spread as the priest wanders around and blesses everyone in his way. A priest's efficiency is limited though and thus more of them may be needed to maintain popularity with increasing population and town. By siting more religious buildings you will train more priests for this purpose. Every 25% blessing coverage nets in +2 popularity, up to +8, and more popularity can come from the presence of more expensive buildings.
Three types of such buildings can be placed:
- Chapel: the cheapest religious building, which requires little area to build on. Costs 250 gold.
- Church: more expensive than the chapel, it needs more area to site on. The first church nets +1 popularity. Costs 500 gold.
- Cathedral: a monumental building, which requires a huge area and can train black monks. The first cathedral nets +2 popularity. Costs 1000 gold.
From Stronghold 2, religion is no longer maintained by priests but candles, which are produced by chandlers and are consumed in the church. Candles are consumed constantly from the stockpile (like food) and their consumption rate determines popularity gain, which can be adjusted from its panel. No consumption means no popularity, while exalted masses give the maximum applicable bonus. Due to the removed blessing mechanic, only one church is needed. The church also costs stone to build.
The priest occasionally holds masses (every one year or so), which attracts lots of civilians and workers. The Lord can also attend masses, when set on "civilian duties". Completing a mass with the Lord nets 300 honour points (SH2-only).