I tried AAA's advice, and no one who wasn't a vassal would take any of my cities. Just like the last minor I played and lost, I was once again pondering why the AI does and does not take free cities. Here was my thinking just now: "Carthage is like +8 with me, why won't he take any of my cities and become the 2nd largest civ. Maybe if I get him to friendly he will finally take some free cities finally. I can't believe I'm so far ahead and umm and uhhhhh.... ....... when did he turn buddist? " I gifted him about 40 techs after that, got +5 you have shared your technology, and won the game in 1080AD with his votes. Joao lost a ton of population to spies and privateers, but was still #2 in population by two population when the next vote came up. Thnx AAA!