EDIT: I’ve finally changed my mind for a simpler solution: spliting the Teutons into Dutch and Germans (+ maybe Swiss). It’s more suited to the universal game AoE IV is.
[Don’t add the “Teutons”] or worse still the “Holy Roman Empire”. Not only would this latter not fit AoE traditional naming and thus designing of civilisations (ethnonyms/demonyms and not state-related or dynastic), but also historically the Holy Roman Empire was pretty much an umbrella political entity with little unity, gathering Germanic, Romance and Slavic speakers.
But even among the German(ic) speakers of the empire - the proper “Teutons” - there were significant differences. What did a Saxon North Sea hanseatic city like Groningen or Lübeck share with mountainous Bavarians? Very little: different languages (not even mutually understandable), culture, economy, architecture, military, natural environment, etc.
Although there was some feeling of shared belonging between these people as proven by the Teutonic Order, the aforementioned differences make a single “Teutons” civilisation more of an umbrella one, though not as terrible as the “Saracens” or “Slavs”.
In Cossacks (add-ons included), German(ic) speakers of the Holy Roman Empire were divided into six nations: Saxony, Prussia, Austria, Bavaria, Netherlands and Switzerland. This precision scale is similar to AoE II Definitive Edition which included Burgundians, Sicilians, etc. and is the right one IMO.
Thus I would split the Teutons into six civilisations too:
- Saxons (Old Saxony, Hanseatic league, Lübeck, etc. including related Frisians who aren’t enough important ot get their own civ IMO)
- Rhenish (Austrasia, Franconia, Rhineland, Hesse, Luxembourg, Moselle, etc.)
- Alamans (Alsace, Swabia, etc.)
- Swiss (including Romands)
- Bavarians (including Austrians who are technically Bavarian)
- Dutch (i.e. Low Franconian speaking cultures, including Flemings)
Some may argue that this is a very unreasonable number of civilisations, but keep in mind that these regions were already profusely populated by the Middle Ages. A single one of them was more populated than the whole Maghreb! (for which I still delineated two civilisations that I’ll present later).
I admit that the demonym “Rhenish” isn’t great at all but have no good idea to replace it. Ripuarians or Rhinelanders maybe?
I didn’t include an eastern German civ because Ostsiedlung started somehow late within the game timeframe (12th century) and was lead by people from Rhineland, Bavaria, etc. which I already included.
Due to some overlapping, Alamans and Swiss could be merged into one single Alamans civ but it’s politically clunky and would exclude Romands.
Finally remains the most critical question: of all these civs, which one would get the Teutonic Order? Maybe it could be added as a proper civilisation, which would largely portray those Eastern Germans by the way. But then, in order to be fair, some other military orders - at least the Templars - should get their own civ too.
Now, if you still find it’s too much, simpler solutions are possible though naming would be trickier:
- Middle Germans (Rhenish, Thuringians, etc.)
- Upper Germans (Alamans + Swiss + Bavarians + Austrians)
- Low Germans (Saxons + Dutch)
- High Germans (Rhenish + Alamans + Swiss + Bavarians + Austrians)
(This is mostly based upon linguistics)
By the way, I’m well aware that the devs won’t probably even take a look at my suggestions. I’m just sharing my thoughts as I’ve been thinking about a fair and historically accurate AoE for quite a long time now.