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"Not only was my cousin involved in affairs I keep at a distance, but he was a treacherous man, a man blessed, I'm afraid, with few principles. A man prepared to sell the secrets of those who trusted him to the highest bidder. I was ashamed to see him bear the Walpole name."
―Robert Walpole on Duncan, 1723.[src]

Duncan Walpole (1679 – 1715) was a Master Assassin of the British Brotherhood during the early 18th century. He was also an ancestor of Nathan, a 21st-century Assassin who was kidnapped and held at the Abstergo Foundation Rehabilitation Center in Madrid, Spain.

An ambitious man, Duncan came into contact with the Assassins through his position at the East India Company and proved to be a skilled, yet arrogant recruit. After more than a decade slowly rising through the Brotherhood's ranks, Ducan became dissatisfied with the Assassins and secretly defected to the Templar Order during an assignment in 1714.

That same year, Duncan was sent by his Mentor Phillip Randall to the West Indies to assist the local Assassins in their hunt for a Sage. Duncan saw this mission as an opportunity to carry out his betrayal and stole a set of maps detailing the locations of the West Indies Brotherhood's bureaus, intending to deliver them to the Templars. However, his plans were waylaid by a fateful encounter with the pirate Edward Kenway, who cut the traitor's ambitions and life short in 1715.

Biography

Early life

"Thirteen years ago when we met, you were all on fire to make a difference. To make things better. You despised the exclusivity the Templars stood for and their desire to control everyone and everything. You believed in freedom."
―Phillip Randall to Duncan, 1714.[src]

The second cousin of Robert Walpole, Britain's first Prime Minister, Duncan's early life was one of relative comfort and ease. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a mid-shipman, hoping to become a naval officer. However, Duncan's impulsive nature and immoderate temper prevented him from rising quickly through the ranks, causing him to become frustrated with his progress.[1]

After three years, Duncan gave up on the navy and instead sought his fortune with the East India Company. There, he befriended a sailor, who introduced Duncan to the Assassin Brotherhood and its teachings. Although wary at first, Duncan soon grew to serve the Brotherhood with a fervor and drive he had not known in the navy.[1]

Training under Phillip Randall, the Mentor of the British Brotherhood, Duncan's reputation increased along with his skills, leading him to eventually become a full-fledged Master Assassin.[2] However, his impulsiveness and temper – coupled with a growing arrogance – continued to be liabilities and often led him to clash with the senior members of the Brotherhood. Despite this, Duncan remained loyal to the Assassins and his talents made him one of the Order's most valuable assets.[1]

Betraying the Assassins

"We've been watching you for some time. I don't know how the Assassins treat you, but I know that you've been passed over for promotion within the company. And if you were truly content with the Brotherhood, you'd never have hesitated to kill me just now."
―Henry Spencer after Duncan's attempted assassination, 1714.[src]

In 1714, Duncan was told to meet Randall at Mrs. Salmon's Waxworks, an instruction he begrudgingly obliged. Arriving late, he immediately entered into an argument with the Mentor, who lectured Duncan on the Brotherhood's ideals and his lack of respect. The Master Assassin was subsequently informed about his new assignment, which was to travel to the West Indies and assist the local Mentor, Ah Tabai, in his hunt for a Sage. Displeased with the idea, Duncan protested, claiming he could not simply leave the East India Company.[3]

However, Randall then revealed that there was another reason for Duncan's sudden relocation: the Templars at the company had learned of hi ties to the Brotherhood, putting them all in jeopardy. Bitter about the fact that his ambition was being stifled by the Assassins and that he supposedly needed additional training from Ah Tabai, Duncan turned down the mission and departed. Nevertheless, Randall was confident that the Master Assassin would come around, as he had before.[3]

Later that day, at the East India House, Duncan spotted Henry Spencer, a member of the company's Court of Directors and a Templar, according to Randall. Tailing the man to a tavern, the Master Assassin decided to strike up a conversation with him, during which it became clear that Spencer was indeed a member of the Order and knew of Duncan's own allegiance. In spite of this, the exchange proceeded peacefully; after Spencer had departed, Duncan followed, intending to assassinate him.[3]

Despite his suspicions that it was a trap, Duncan pursued the Templar via the rooftops and eventually leapt upon his target, who made no move to escape. With a Hidden Blade to his throat, Spencer explained that he wanted to recruit the Master Assassin into the Templar Order. Convinced that the Templars would allow him to attain the fame and fortune he desired, Duncan accepted and met up with Randall the next day to accept his assignment, intending to use it to sabotage Assassin operations before officially joining the Templars.[3]

Journey to the West Indies

"I accept your most generous offer, and await your arrival with eagerness. If you truly possess the information we desire, we have the means to reward you handsomely [...] Therefore, come to Havana in haste... And trust that you shall be welcomed as a brother."
―Laureano Torres inviting Duncan to Havana, 1715.[src]-[m]

Arriving in the West Indies in early 1715, Duncan utilized his time under Ah Tabai to integrate himself into the local Brotherhood and gather valuable information about the locations of various Assassin bureaus in the area. In secret, Duncan also began corresponding with Laureano de Torres y Ayala, the Spanish Governor of Cuba and Grand Master of the West Indie Templars. The pair arranged to meet in Havana, where Duncan would be officially inducted after handing over the information.[4]

Edward Kenway Memory 5

Duncan aboard the Jacobite

Around June, Ah Tabai learned that the Templars had imprisoned a Sage in the southern Spanish colonies and entrusted Duncan with the task of intercepting the Templar ship that was carrying the captive. Seizing his chance to abandon the Assassins, Duncan agreed to this task and departed on a frigate called the HMS Intrigue, setting sail for Havana to join Torres.[4]

However, during the voyage, the HMS Intrigue attacked a pirate brig, the Jacobite, which was captained by Abel Bramah. The pirates managed to de-mast the frigate, but soon found that their own weapon magazine had been hit. Boarding the enemy ship, Duncan assassinated the captain with his Hidden Blade and advanced on another sailor, but the magazine suddenly detonated, pitching all aboard into the ocean.[4]

Death

"Havana... I must get to Havana. [...] I can pay you. Isn't that the sound you pirates like best? One hundred escudos."
―Duncan haggling with Edward Kenway, 1715.[src]-[m]
Edward Kenway Memory 10

Edward haggling with Duncan

Shipwrecked in Cape Bonavista and badly injured, Duncan attempted to enlist the aid of the only other survivor, the pirate Edward Kenway, in reaching Havana. Edward attempted to haggle the price of passage, but Duncan threatened him with a flintlock pistol in response. Voicing his contempt for pirates, Duncan tried to shoot the man only to find that the pistol was unable to fire due to wet gunpowder; discarding the pistol, Duncan subsequently fled into the jungle, and Edward gave chase.[4]

During this chase, the gunpowder in Duncan's second flintlock dried, allowing the Assassin turncoat to shoot Edward once with his pistol. However, this only angered the pirate, who chased Duncan to a clearing. There, the turncoat met his end at Edward's blades, as despite his Assassin training, Duncan's injuries allowed him to be easily bested and killed by the pirate.[4]

On Duncan's corpse, Edward found a letter from Torres, referencing the cargo Duncan was bringing to him: a blood vial and maps detailing the locations of Assassin bureaus across the West Indies. Edward chose to steal Duncan's robes and assumed his identity, intent on collecting the reward for himself.[4] In going to Havana, Edward became entangled in the secret war between the Templars and the Assassins.[5]

Legacy

"Although Duncan's story does not have a happy ending, it clearly demonstrates that the Templars' highest goals of peace and order need not exclude personal success and achievement."
―Juhani Otso Berg, 2014.[src]-[m]
Edward Kenway Memory 17

Edward donning Duncan's robes

Due to his treachery, few mourned Duncan's passing; when Edward later met Robert Walpole, the man thanked him for killing Duncan, having thought of his cousin as a man lacking in scruples, willing to serve whoever paid the highest price and betray even those who trusted him with their lives.[6]

The Assassins themselves were infuriated by Duncan's treachery, particularly Ah Tabai, and were gratified to learn of his death.[7] However, the maps Duncan had stolen and which Edward unknowingly sold to the Templars placed many of his former brothers and sisters in grave danger, as well as causing them to lose their advantage over the Templars.[5] Even his aspiring Templar allies did not show much regret for his death based on Duncan as a person, merely lamenting the loss of his skills and potential.[8]

Three centuries later, the Templar Juhani Otso Berg considered Duncan one of his main sources of inspiration and saw his story both as a tragedy and as an example of why the Templars' goals should welcome individual accomplishments from the Order's members.[9] In 2015, Isabelle Ardant included Duncan's name on a list of known British Assassins. This list was later unveiled by the Assassins Rebecca Crane and Shaun Hastings when they infiltrated Ardant's office to plant a bug.[10]

At some point during his life, Duncan fathered at least one child, who became an ancestor to the Assassin Nathan. By 2016, Nathan had been kidnapped by the Templars, who hoped to learn more about Duncan's life while exploring the young man's DNA using the Animus.[3]

Personality and traits

"Bloody fucking pirates!"
―Duncan expressing his contempt for pirates, 1715.[src]-[m]
Edward Kenway Memory 11

Duncan pointing his gun at Edward Kenway

Allegedly described by Woodes Rogers' wife as "devilishly handsome",[5] Duncan was rash and hot tempered, which led to clashes with authority within both the Royal Navy and the Brotherhood. Ambitious to a fault, Duncan saw the Assassins as stifling his potential for fortune and recognition, which led to his eventual betrayal of the Brotherhood in 1714.[1]

In one of his letters to Laureano Torres, Duncan expressed his desire to kill Ah Tabai, though he did not carry out this intention before his departure.[11]

Skills and equipment

Having served in the Royal Navy for three years, Duncan was an experienced sailor.[1] As well as this, he possessed the freerunning skills expected of a Master Assassin, capable of performing a Leap of Faith even while seriously injured.[4]

Duncan was also well-versed in deception, as shown by his success in fooling not only Ah Tabai, but his fellow Assassins as well.[1] In terms of equipment, he possessed a sword, dual Hidden Blades, and two flintlock pistols.[4]

Behind the scenes

Duncan Walpole is a character introduced in the 2013 video game Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, where he serves as the first assassination target, providing Edward with the Assassin robes he would use through most of the events of the game as well as indirectly leading him to the greater part of the plot.

Although Duncan has since been mentioned in other works within the franchise, his only other substantial role was in the novelization of the 2016 Assassin's Creed film, which expands upon his story, as well as that of his descendant Nathan.

Etymology

Duncan is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Donnchadh meaning "brown warrior", derived from Gaelic donn "brown" and cath "warrior". Walpole is an English surname originating from either Norfolk or Suffolk.

Gallery

Appearances

References

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