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"For I have dipped my hands in muddied waters, and withdrawing them find 'tis better to be a commander than a common man!"
―Bartholomew Roberts to his crew, on becoming their captain, 1719.[src]-[m]

Bartholomew Roberts (1682 – 1722), born John Roberts, was a Welsh pirate and Sage, who raided ships in the Caribbean and on the West African coast between 1719 and 1722.

He is regarded by many historians to be the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy, judging by the number of ships taken and the amount of goods stolen. For his actions, he earned the moniker Black Bart, although the name was never used in his lifetime. His death is often considered to be when the Golden Age of Piracy truly ended.


Early life[]

"I always fancied it should have a placard at its borders: 'Welcome to Casnewydd-Bach, the town you have just passed.'"
―Roberts regarding his home town, 1719.[src]-[m]

John Roberts was born a Sage in 1682 in Casnewydd-Bach, Wales. It is commonly assumed that he went to sea around the age of thirteen, eventually becoming an experienced sailor.[1]

It is unknown at which point Roberts became aware of his nature as a reincarnation of Aita, but by the 1710s, he was fully aware of his past life[2] and sought to liberate his 'beloved' Juno, Aita's wife, from her imprisonment inside the Grand Temple.[3]

Imprisonment by the Templars[]

"Here he is, a man both Templars and Assassins have sought for over a decade. I am told your surname is Roberts. Is this so? You recognize this, I think."
―Laureano Torres to Roberts, 1715.[src]-[m]

The Assassin Brotherhood and Templar Order in the West Indies both learned about Roberts, the first known Sage in almost half a century, around 1705 and sought to locate him due to his memories of the Observatory, an Isu surveillance facility built by Aita. While the Templars wished to use this facility to control world leaders, the Assassins sought to keep Roberts and, by extension, the Observatory out of their enemies' hands.[4]

The Templars ultimately managed to find Roberts first and arranged for him to be delivered to Grand Master Laureano de Torres y Ayala's estate in Havana.[4] The Assassin Mentor Ah Tabai caught wind of the capture and sent his student Duncan Walpole to free Roberts and bring him to the Assassin city of Tulum. However, Walpole had secretly turned traitor to the Brotherhood and instead decided to aid the Templars.[5]

A Man They Call The Sage 7

An Assassin freeing Roberts

Roberts eventually arrived in Havana in July 1715, whereupon he was greeted by Torres, his fellow Templars Woodes Rogers and Julien du Casse, and the pirate Edward Kenway—who had killed Walpole and taken his identity—at the docks. As the Templars were escorting Roberts to Torres' estate, they were ambushed by a group of Assassins. During the chaos, Roberts was freed by one of the Assassins and fled, though he was quickly re-captured by Edward.[6]

Upon being imprisoned in one of the cells of Torres' mansion, Roberts waited until nightfall to make his escape and take to the sea. Edward, who had planned to free Roberts in order to learn the Observatory's location, arrived to find the Sage gone, before he was captured by the Templars, who had deduced the pirate's identity and vowed to re-capture Roberts.[7]

Slaving in Kingston and Príncipe[]

Roberts: "I remember you. The Templar from Havana."
Edward: "I'm no Templar, mate! That were just a ruse! We've come here to save your arse from this slaver."
Roberts: "Save me? I work for Mister Prins."
Edward: "Well then he's a poor man to call master. He meant to sell you out to the Templars."
—Roberts confronting Edward at Prins' estate, 1717.[src]-[m]

By January 1717, Roberts had found employment with the Kingston-based slaver Laurens Prins, who hired him to tend to his plantations and allowed him to stay at his estate. Upon learning of a bounty placed on the Sage's head by the Templars, however, Prins secretly planned to sell him out to them.[8]

Edward, acting on information given by his fellow pirates, confronted Torres and devised a plan to have the Templar Grand Master meet with Prins in Kingston and lead Edward to Roberts. However, Prins detected Edward and the Assassin Mary Read and managed to flee back to his mansion.[9]

Unmanned 9

Roberts holding Mary Read hostage

When Edward infiltrated Prins' estate and killed him in his gardens, Roberts appeared and confronted the pirate while holding Mary at gunpoint. As Edward informed him of Prins' plan to sell him out to the Templars, Roberts declared that he could trust no one before shooting an alarm bell to alert the guards to Edward's presence. He then made his escape while Edward and Mary were forced to deal with the guards.[10]

By 1718, Roberts had returned to the sea, working aboard a merchant ship of Barbadian origin. He later began working aboard a slave ship called the Princess, captained by Abraham Plumb.[1] This ship made regular trips between Kingston and the Portuguese colony of Príncipe roughly every eight weeks.[11]

Life of piracy[]

"In honest service there are thin commons, low wages, and hard labour. Yet as gentlemen of fortune we enjoy plenty and satisfaction, pleasure and ease, liberty and power... so what man with a sensible mind would choose the former life, when the only hazard we pirates run is a sour look from those without strength or splendor?"
―Roberts to his crew, before his first voyage as a pirate captain, 1719.[src]-[m]

In 1719, the Princess was captured by the Welsh pirate Howell Davis and Roberts chose to join his crew, becoming a pirate himself. During his time sailing with Howell, he served as navigator and consultant to the captain, with the two having a particularly strong bond as a result of them both being able to speak Welsh.[1]

Trust is Earned 4

Edward meeting Roberts in Príncipe

On 19 June 1719, Davis was killed in a Templar-orchestrated ambush at Príncipe, forcing Roberts to go into hiding. Approached by Edward once again, the two struck a deal: Edward would free Roberts' imprisoned crew and kill the Templars John Cockram and Josiah Burgess, and in exchange Roberts would take him to the Observatory. Edward did as he was asked, recapturing the Princess in the process. Roberts donned Davis' outfit and then gave a speech to his crew, declaring his intentions to sail as a pirate, before the two captains returned to the West Indies.[12]

In the following months, Roberts made a name for himself by plundering ships and making a fortune. He kept his crew to high standards with an eleven-part creed. It discouraged gambling on the ship, required the men to keep their equipment in good working order, and provided that pirates should live their lives as fully as possible and die before they became weak and old, vulnerable to having their power stripped from them; a philosophy he summed up with the words "a merry life and a short one."[1]

Black Bart's Gambit 1

Roberts on his ship

Roberts and Edward met again off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, where they infiltrated a Portuguese camp to steal Isu crystal vials that had been imbued with the blood of both pirates and Templars alike. After completing the heist and commandeering the Portuguese flagship, Nosso Senhor da Compreensão, Roberts renamed her to the Royal Fortune.[13]

After Edward killed his former comrade Benjamin Hornigold, who had allied himself with the Templars, to ensure the pirates were not followed,[14] he met with Roberts again at Long Bay, on the northern shore of Jamaica. The two went ashore with four of Roberts's crew in search of the Observatory.[2]

The Observatory[]

"Dirty and decrepit. Not quite as I remember. But it has been over 80 millennia."
―Roberts, on the Observatory, 1719.[src]-[m]

Edward cleared the jungle of its protective Guardians while Roberts and his crew followed until they reached the Observatory's door. Upon opening it with an incantation, Roberts suddenly shot his four crewmen dead, telling Edward he did it to save them from the insanity that was sure to follow if they entered the building. However, he believed that Edward would be able to handle the secrets stored within, and instructed him to take up the case of blood vials before they made their way inside.[2]

Roberts informed Edward of his past as a Sage and his new life as a pirate, including his pirate's creed, as they made their way deeper into the Observatory. He commented on the complex being in much worse condition than what it had been when he had last seen it eighty millennia ago, although he still knew how to deactivate the building's security measures once inside.[2]

The Observatory 10

Roberts operating the Crystal Skull

In the Observatory's antechamber, Roberts showed Edward exactly what its purpose was, using the blood vials they had taken from the Portuguese and inserting them into a Crystal Skull set into the centerpiece of a golden armillary sphere. Soon, the machine began to operate, projecting the vision and hearing of the individual whose blood was in the vial—a near perfect method of spying on anyone in the world; this was demonstrated as both Roberts and Edward surveyed through the eyes and ears of Jack Rackham and Woodes Rogers.[2]

Although Edward agreed with Roberts that the Observatory would be too powerful for the Templars to have control of, Roberts had a different plan on how to stop them, by removing the skull and rendering the Observatory inoperable. Though Edward had hoped to work with Roberts and use the device to increase their wealth, the Sage had other ideas, knocking him into the water below. Revealing that he had only used Edward to get to the Observatory and acquire the Crystal Skull, Roberts declared Edward's usefulness to be at an end and sealed him inside the temple.[2]

The Observatory 15

Roberts capturing Edward

Roberts returned to the shore and ordered his crew to subdue the injured Edward who had made his way out of the Observatory. Though Edward fought back against the pirates, he eventually collapsed from his injuries, just as the Jackdaw sailed away. Knowing that Edward had a large bounty on his head, Roberts decided to turn him over to the British authorities.[2]


"A merry life and a short one, as promised. How well I know myself."
―Roberts reciting his motto in his final moments, 1722.[src]-[m]

Over the next two years, Roberts captured hundreds of ships, earning the attention of both the British and Spanish navies as well as the Templars; he was forced to retreat to Príncipe, where he was eventually found by Edward on 10 February 1722. Roberts attempted to flee aboard the Royal Fortune, keeping the Jackdaw at bay with mortar fire and fire barrels, before moving into open waters where Spanish and British forces engaged him.[3]

Eventually, the Royal Fortune was disabled by the Jackdaw and boarded. There, Roberts and Edward fought one another, with the latter emerging the eventual victor, having impaled Roberts with a rope dart. In his final moments, the Sage noted the aptness of his motto before remarking that he may have misjudged Edward, and perhaps he was indeed the one 'she' had sought. He then expressed regret that, like many other Sages before him, he was born too early, and that he did not have the time to open the door to the Grand Temple and get to hear her call him by his real name Aita,[3]

Royal Misfortune 6

Roberts' final moments

This confused Edward, who demanded that Roberts talk sense. However, the Sage did not elaborate and instead urged Edward to destroy his body in order to prevent the Templars from gaining anything from it. After Roberts succumbed to his injuries, Edward complied with his final request and threw his body overboard.[3]


Edward's partnership with Roberts had a profound effect on the pirate-turned-Assassin in his later life, as it taught him to be careful who he trusted.[15] In 1725, to prove to Shimazu Saito that he was familiar with betrayal in an attempt to get her to trust him, Edward offered to tell her about how Roberts, someone he had trusted "like [his] own brother", had sold him out to the British.[16]

By the 21st century, Roberts was among the Sages known to both the Assassins and Templars, but as his body had been disposed of by Edward, no attempts were made by either group to recover his remains.[17][18]

Personality and traits[]

"A merry life and a short one."
―Roberts' motto.[src]

Bartholomew Roberts proved himself to be a wise, cunning, and surprisingly manipulative opportunist. Extremely charismatic and a skilled strategist, Roberts became a captain and gained a fierce reputation over the span of a few months as among the deadliest of golden age pirates.[1] Unlike normal humans from his time, Roberts was unfazed by references to the Isu as well as their secluded temples, whereas most would be driven insane by such marvels.[2]

Upon realizing he was a Sage and amalgamating the memories of Aita into his own consciousness, Roberts became highly cynical, sadistic, nihilistic, and thoroughly amoral. He was also extremely misanthropic, viewing humanity as sheep to be preyed upon.[2] Roberts' own methods and beliefs were able to horrify the likes of Edward Kenway, who himself had served with the most deadliest pirates of the Golden Age of Piracy without being fazed by their ruthless aggression.[19]

Skills and equipment[]

Royal Misfortune 5

Roberts dueling Edward

As a Sage, Roberts could wield the Pieces of Eden with much better control and potency than regular humans as well as have an unparalleled understanding of Isu relics.[2] He was also a competent swordsman, as while he was no match for Edward Kenway, he did parry several of the master swordsman’s attacks. Robert’s greatest combative ability, however, was his marksmanship, as he never missed a shot during his pirate career, killing four men in quick succession and expertly firing at a bell.[3]

Roberts also demonstrated some freerunning skills while attempting to escape from the Templars in Havana, though Edward also outmatched him in this regard and quickly caught up to him.[6]

Roberts was a charismatic and assertive leader, expertly taking control of his crew after the death of his former captain.[12] His skill as an orator and manipulator was made evident in his partnership with Edward, as the young man was easily enticed by Roberts' promises of riches and didn’t anticipate the Sage’s betrayal.[2]


  • Roberts could be seen wearing a portrait necklace, depicting a visage of a woman, identical to the one worn by John Standish, one of Aita's later incarnations.
  • Roberts acquired his outfit from Howell Davis, the Princess' former captain, after the latter's death at Príncipe.
  • Historically, Roberts was known to be one of the few "Gentleman Pirates", having established a strict pirate code as a captain. Additionally, he died when he succumbed to an attack by the British Royal Navy ship of the line HMS Swallow. A full broadside unleashed by the Swallow ripped Roberts's throat out with grapeshot, and he was buried at sea by his crew at his own request.
  • Also, despite his character, he committed a serious atrocity in the burning of the slave ship Porcupine, where many innocent sailors and slaves were killed after the crew refused to surrender. This incident is not mentioned by any character in the game, but Edward does recall it while pursuing him in the novelization.
  • In real-life, Roberts was one of the most successful pirates in the Golden Age of Piracy, believed to have captured more than 400 ships during his career, [citation needed] though his efforts pale in comparison to the female Chinese captain Ching Shih, who personally commanded over 300 junks with a force of anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 pirates at any given time.[20] In the Assassin's Creed series, this record is surpassed by the pirate and Assassin Samuel Bellamy, who is estimated to have captured the modern equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold and treasures in his short career. [citation needed]