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Historical Truths Behind Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed

An Assassin's Creed billboard at the E3 conference, 2011.

An Assassin's Creed billboard at the E3 conference, 2011.

Assassin's Creed Overview

Whether you are playing the original, or any of the sequels, you are playing the role of Desmond, a modern day assassin in a sort of virtual reality simulator, sent out on many missions that all add up to one large event at the end of the game. The missions you play throughout the game are all memories of Assassins that had lived in past times- your ancestors. The general goal of every mission is to be sneaky, gather intelligence and at times perform assassinations, to locate or protect the Piece or Apple of Eden.

In the original Assassin's Creed you play through the memories of a crusades-era assassin named Altair ibn La-Ahad, a native of Jerusalem, and member of the Order of Assassins, or Hashshashin. Throughout the second and third installments, you play through the memories of Ezio Auditore, of Florence, Italy. The time spent during game play as Altair takes place during the first crusades in the late 1100's. Ezio's timeframe is all based in Renaissance Italy, around the late1400s.

A fan replicates Ezio's image at Paris Manga 9, February 2010.

A fan replicates Ezio's image at Paris Manga 9, February 2010.

Historical Truth

Order of Assassins

…or what was at the time known as Hashshashin. It is still open to debate whether the word we use today "Assassin" is a derivative of Hashshashin or not, but it is rumored as being such; furthermore, many people will say Hashish got its name from the Hashshashin's love for the substance. During gameplay you might notice that while in the player controlled buildings you will find smoking bowls, lending hints to this statement.

All of that set aside, there are many good articles on the internet about the Hashshashin's endeavors in the crusades era. One of the sworn creedos of the Hashshashin was to never harm an innocent man, and this is definitely portrayed in the game as you will lose health should you hurt innocent parties. The Hashshashin also believed in making a public mockery of their targets while taking their life, to instill fear into their enemies. Ubisoft also made a very good representation of this through the series during the assassination ritual. The Assassin will publicly hold his dying target and say a quick prayer, announcing his target’s death.

In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ezio Auditore is given the chance to explore a section of this cistern in a memory sequence entitled The Yerebatan Cistern.

In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ezio Auditore is given the chance to explore a section of this cistern in a memory sequence entitled The Yerebatan Cistern.

Historical Accuracy of Your Surroundings

Ubisoft definitely did their homework and had some very good historians on hand to help make the surroundings and non-player-characters very accurately portrayed. Everything from the city's buildings to voices of random city folk and the guards were top notch.

Let’s start with the guards here. The uniforms of the guards, regardless which installment of the series you are playing – all are very historically accurate. The uniforms will change with the years and cities you are in, throughout game play. Also, depending which installment you are playing, and what area you are in, you will hear many different languages, all of which are historically accurate and related to which armies of the crusades were occupying said area during that specific time frame.

Throughout all installments you will find small pockets of protesters or activists, rallying for certain causes. Your game play affects their attitude toward you, or the guards. If you're doing a lot of good things for the people of the city they will cheer you on and slander the guards, but if you're doing bad for the city they will do the opposite. Also they will speak propaganda specific to which side controls the city. This propaganda, if you were to listen to the whole message, can be found very entertaining, but also 100% historically correct to the times.

All the historical, well-known landmarks appear to be right where they should be within the cities you explore throughout the series. Everything from the Coliseum in Rome, to the Duomo in Florence and even the many religious landmarks throughout the rest of Italy and the Middle East – it’s all there; Ubisoft once again displays their impeccable attention to detail.

Pope Alexander VI. (Rodrigo Borgia) Detail from a Fresco of the Resurrection, painted in 1492 - 1495 by Pinturicchio

Pope Alexander VI. (Rodrigo Borgia) Detail from a Fresco of the Resurrection, painted in 1492 - 1495 by Pinturicchio

The Primary Antagonists

No matter which game you play, you will find all of your assassination targets, and main players are all real people that lived during the period. That being said, their involvement in the things they were accused during the game is arguable, but much truth is portrayed.

During the first game the main antagonist, or enemy was Robert de Sable; a real Templar leader from 1191 to 1193 and Lord of Cyprus from 1191 to 1192. Another highly notable appearance in the first game is Richard the Lion Hearted. As the King of England, Richard had ruled from 1189 until his death in 1199.

During the Second installment, Assassin's Creed II, and the third, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, The man you are constantly hunting is Rodrigo Borgia. Rodrigo was the Grand Master of the Templar Order, and a cardinal of the Catholic Church. In 1492 he was elected into the papacy. Yes ladies and gentleman, that is correct, the enemy in the second and third Assassin's Creed games is the pope himself. As Alexander VI, Rodrigo served as pope until his death in 1503.

There are many, many more truths behind the game, and I'd love to sit here all day and list every last one for you. But now that I've pointed some out and gave you a general idea, maybe you'll go get a copy, grab your controller, and see what else YOU can find? Leave me a comment and let's see what else we can find shall we?


Faith on September 12, 2016:

Is there historical accuracy in the later games? not so much. A native New Yorker and a huge history buff, the New York in AC III, Liberation and Rogue is nowhere near accurate - neither in layout, local languages and accents nor in events of the spoken propaganda.

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WildWolf on February 13, 2016:

I believe that Rodrigo was poisioned by his own son

Anirudh on September 22, 2015:

From past 4 years I have been researching on Assassins, they really did exist, even during the renaisance assassins did play a part in many things, and during the French and the American revolution. But from my research I found out that Leonardo da Vinci was acquinted with a man named Ezio Auditore and to my surprise after some years of their disappearance he put some serious allegations on the church claiming that it was not real and it was evil. As for the bodies he was some times caught in scandals for transporting dead bodies.

migiel on February 18, 2015:

Ezoi's die in1524

this guy on October 16, 2014:

Very intriguing. If it is completely true, I would love to be recruited.

Catalina on August 06, 2014:

Yeah, I'm so impressed by the history in Assassin's Creed (and I've learned some Italian too haha!). Over the internet, I've seen a lot of people confused about whether or not Ezio himself was ever real, but if you read the databases in ACII, it says Ezio Auditore was a real person but his name disappeared from any records after the age of 17 (so ubisoft made him an assassin lol).

Don Colfax (author) from Easton, Pennsylvania on December 29, 2012:

There is no historical data to show the Hashashin were involved in any way with the Italian renaisance, this part appears to be fictional for the sake of the story line. But hey, who knows? ;)

XD on December 17, 2012:

I know the people are real but was there realy an assassin order in the Italian Renisance?

Don Colfax (author) from Easton, Pennsylvania on September 19, 2012:

Very interesting if true! Thanks for the tip, I will have to dig some more!

Auditore on September 15, 2012:

According some information i found is that a man called Ezio Auditore existen and was Assassin just like was told in game.Also Maria Auditore's Diary is also can be found at one of the museums of Italy.Also im not sure if it is true but Altair Ibnl-Ahad was really existed at his time and was told he was known as carrier of an apple that made him indestructuble or like god,but after couple of time his name was forgotten to the most of history and little remained

Jesse on July 07, 2011:

What about Rodrigo's son? Was he killed by Ezio?

MrShadow on March 27, 2011:

Thanks for sharing these amazing infos. Cheers

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