An Assassin Guild, also known as a Brotherhood, was the primary administrative division of the Assassin Brotherhood from the 13th century to the 20th century. The Guilds formed the basis of the Assassin Order's command structure after Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad disbanded the order from Masyaf in 1257, with each Guild led by a Master Assassin but officially by a Mentor. Most Guilds had bureaus for recruitment and conducting missions against the Templars and other high-profile targets.
Arising out of the reforms of the Mentor Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad in the final years of his life, Assassin Guilds were regional branches of the overarching Assassin Brotherhood which coincided with the expansion of the organization across the world. They were the primary subdivision units of the Brotherhood from the mid-13th century until the 20th century and were often but not always coterminous with sovereign states or civilizations, such as China, India, and France. A notable exception to this generality included the West Indies Brotherhood which held jurisdiction over the entire Caribbean region, at a time when its islands were divided piecemeal between various European colonial empires.
Although the title of Mentor denoted the leader of the Assassin Brotherhood, under the Guild system, each branch possessed their own Mentor, reflecting the decentralization of the Brotherhood into independent branches. In practice, not every leader of a Guild was a Mentor, leaving the position vacant for extended periods of time. Such was the case of the Ottoman Brotherhood in 1511, when it was led by Yusuf Tazim, a Master Assassin but not a Mentor. Upon the arrival of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, the Florentine Assassin used the city as a base to take overarching command of the branches across the Mediterranean in his capacity as Mentor of the Italian Brotherhood. He appointed many Master Assassins trained in Constantinople to high-level command positions in cities across Europe regardless of which Guild they fell under. This demonstrates the fluidity of the administrative structure of Guilds throughout the system's history where the autonomy and interconnection between regional branches varied considerably.
Culture and customs
Notwithstanding this, the customs and hierarchy of each individual Guild could also differ drastically from one another. While most branches, per Altaïr's reforms, no longer required the severing of the ring finger as an initiation rite, the Spanish Brotherhood still maintained this practice as late as 1491.
The nomenclature of these branches followed a general standard; most often their official names consisted of a regional descriptor followed by the term Brotherhood, e.g. Chinese Brotherhood, Indian Brotherhood, and French Brotherhood. While the descriptor was often the adjectival form of the region or state which corresponded with the branch, occasionally, it was derived from the name of its capital instead. The French Brotherhood was more formally known as the Parisian Brotherhood, the Chinese Brotherhood was also called the Beijing Brotherhood during the Ming dynasty, and the Japanese Brotherhood in the 21st century is better known as the Osaka Brotherhood because it is mainly based in Osaka.
Constantinople and Venice
The Assassin Guild in Constantinople was originally founded by the Venetian brothers Niccolò and Maffeo Polo in 1258, after they had been inducted into the Order and had been specifically tasked by Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad - Mentor of the Levantine Assassins - to establish several guilds around the world. The Guilds was fully functional by 1259 and attracted people from various places in the Byzantine Empire, including Greeks, Turks, Albanians, Jews, Genoese and Arabs.
When the Polos finally returned to Venice in 1269, they began to establish another Guild in their city, bringing the Order to Italy. Moreover, Niccolò could once again meet his son Marco, who was about 15 years old and was subsequently raised to become an Assassin himself.
Marco Polo acted as a patron to a fellow Assassin and his son, Domenico. The latter was eventually forced to relocate to Tuscany after the Templars had killed his former Assassin mentor, namely Dante Alighieri, his old patron and his own father, as well as being indirectly responsible for the death of his wife Isabetta.
Domenico was able to acquire a new identity for himself and his son, whom he trained to be an Assassin and follow in his footsteps. He posed as a noble in Florence, started the House of Auditore and bought a Villa in Monteriggioni. The Tuscan town therefore housed the primary Assassin guild during the 14th and 15th centuries.
Rome, Constantinople and Beyond
Monteriggioni eventually fell after it was attacked by the Papal armies, led by Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, head of the House of Borgia and Grand Master of the Italian Templars. Even if Cesare personally executed Mario Auditore during the siege, Mario's nephew Ezio survived the attack and took the fight to Rome, heart of the Templar dominance.
In Rome, Ezio collaborated with his allies in order to build a stronger guild, into which he recruited local citizens who were willing to take up arms against Templar oppression. Ezio would later become the Mentor of the Italian Assassins, who were successful in liberating Rome and defeating the Italian Templars.
After the defeat of the Borgia, the Italian Mentor travelled to Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman Empire, where he was received by the Ottoman Assassins, headed by Yusuf Tazim, whose fight against the Byzantine Templars was joined by Ezio.
The Colonial Assassins were led by Achilles Davenport at the Davenport Homestead in Massachusetts. Once a powerful branch that possessed its own navy, the guild was destroyed by the Templars led by Haytham Kenway in 1763. Seven years later, Ratonhnhaké:ton joined the Order and recruited apprentices to fulfill contracts across the colonies from Quebec to Georgia, revitalizing the guild.
St. Petersburg, Russia
During the turn of the 20th century, the Russian Assassins, known as the Narodnaya Volya, had a presence in St. Petersburg. They also had contacts in the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation, who ensured the safety of Nikolai Orelov's family when they were deported following the Palmer Raids.
The Assassin guilds recruited their members in a number of ways—in the city of Rome, for example, the guild recruited from the city's disaffected population; those who had suffered at the hands of the Templar House of Borgia flocked to the guild when approached by a member. Once members, recruits trained through experience; they would embark on actual missions across the globe and aid in the progression of the Order's goals. Communication both between and within the guilds was facilitated through use of pigeon coops.
Each guild provided its recruits with a wide array of weapons and armor qualities. These usually improved in step with the apprentice's rank; higher ranked Assassins would gain access to weapons such as the Hidden Gun and Smoke bombs. Additionally, the number of ranks in a particular guild varied between cities; for example, the guild in Rome only had ten ranks, whilst the guild in Constantinople had fifteen.
In Rome, the ranks progressed as follows:
- Recluta (Recruit)
- Servitore (Servant)
- Assistente (Assistant)
- Milite (Soldier)
- Discepolo (Disciple)
- Mercenario (Mercenary)
- Guerriero (Warrior)
- Veterano (Veteran)
- Maestro (Master)
- Assassino (Assassin)
Whereas in Constantinople the ranks were:
- Assassin First Rank
- Assassin Second Rank
- Assassin Third Rank
- Assassin Fourth Rank
- Assassin Fifth Rank
- Den Master
Upon reaching the rank Assassino, an initiation ceremony would be held. This ceremony marked an Assassin's passage from apprentice to a full member of the Assassin Order. In Rome, these ceremonies would take place within the Tiber Island headquarters. Following the ceremony, the Assassin would don the official garb of Order, similar in style to Mentor Ezio Auditore da Firenze's.
- In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, the Assassin mark is not visible on the recruits' ring finger after the ceremony.
- Assassin's Creed: Rogue
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
- Assassin's Creed: The Secret Crusade
- Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
- Assassin's Creed: Revelations
- Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
- Assassin's Creed: The Movie
- Assassin's Creed: The Secret Crusade
- Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia
- Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy
- Assassin's Creed II
- Assassin's Creed III
- Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
- Assassin's Creed: The Fall
- Assassin's Creed: The Chain
- Assassin's Creed: Revelations - The Lost Archive