- "Someday I will take the time to create, to paint, but not now. For now, I am a soldier on the front lines."
- ―Francesco Vecellio, 1503.[src]
He was raised and trained by Perotto Calderon, an Assassin secretly posing as a courier for the Borgia family. After Perotto's betrayal of the Brotherhood, resulting in his death, Francesco was sent to train under Ezio Auditore da Firenze, who had traveled to Rome to fight the Borgia.
Upon his graduation, Francesco was chosen to lead his own core team of Assassins, and would later accept apprentices of his own.
- "In a way, I already have a child. His name is Francesco, one of the newest members of our Brotherhood. Though he is not yet a man, he is a promising understudy."
- ―Perotto, regarding Francesco.[src]
Francesco was born in the town of Pieve di Cadore in the year 1475, granted with membership of the Assassin Order as a birthright. At a very young age, he began his training as the understudy of Perotto Calderon, who often thought of him as his own child, and described him as an "exceptional addition to our Order."
Though he trained Francesco well, Perotto also thought that it was important "to let a child be a child," and often brought him to a nearby village to play with others his own age. There, he would keep an eye on Francesco, and cheer as he led the other children in their play parade.
When Perotto entered the service of the Borgia as a courier in 1498, Francesco was tasked with delivering his reports back to the Order. Francesco continued to train with Perotto at this time, sparring and learning battle tactics; though Perotto already thought him a match for many of the older Brothers.
However, after Perotto fell for the Templar Lucrezia Borgia, Francesco's untimely arrival to retrieve Perotto's reports caused them some concern. Francesco never admitted that he noticed their relationship, but at one point, he began acting withdrawn, claiming he was ill, though Perotto did not believe him.
- "I have exhausted nearly every resource to lessen Perotto's punishment for his crimes, but I fear there is little left I can do. We will hunt him tonight. Damn his foolishness... all this for a Borgia harlot?"
- ―Francesco, soon after discovering Perotto's betrayal.[src]
Later in 1498, Francesco was involved in the hunt for his master, after Perotto broke all three tenets of their Creed in a desperate attempt to save his child, who had been diagnosed to die shortly after being born. Francesco was deeply hurt by his master's betrayal, but mostly only blamed the "Borgia harlot" for seducing him.
Francesco made many attempts to persuade his Brothers to show Perotto mercy, however, due to his young age and the severity of Perotto's crimes, his objections were outweighed. Eventually, the rest of the Assassins concluded that they were duty-bound to kill Perotto.
Following a trail of bodies, Borgia guards and their own Brothers alike, the team tracked Perotto to Agnadello, and realized that he was attempting to use the Shroud to save his son's life. Along the path, they ran into a bloodied detachment of soldiers - "sloppy work" left behind by Perotto - and were forced to engage them in battle.
Francesco joined the fight, however, he had never killed before. He assisted where he could, staying at the edges of the battle and mostly injuring men to be finished off by the others; though his older Brothers were careful to protect him where they could. At one point, Francesco nearly received a lethal slash to the face, but was pushed to the ground before it could connect.
Finally, the Assassins reached the home of Rinaldo Vitturi, in which they knew the Shroud had been stored. Perotto was nowhere in sight, but the locals informed them that he had set up camp outside the city.
The Assassins surrounded Perotto's camp, but despite their numbers, Perotto's skill with a bow was unmatched, and he managed to kill several of them. Despite still wondering if his master could be reasoned with, Francesco fired upon Perotto nonetheless. Though his arrow grazed him, Perotto only looked at Francesco sadly and did not return fire. Eventually, Perotto was overwhelmed and killed.
Apprenticeship in Rome
In 1501, after his mentor's death, Francesco was sent to Rome to be apprenticed to the Master Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze. In addition to what he already knew, Ezio taught Francesco advanced freerunning, blending, and pickpocketing. Francesco closely competed with the other apprentices under Ezio, and met two of his future teammates by losing to them during the lessons.
During his training, Francesco desired more advanced equipment, thus Ezio sent him to an ally of the Order, Leonardo da Vinci. The apprentice described him as a "strange man, interested in art and invention more than politics."
After completing his training, Francesco was placed in charge of a team of Assassins, whose purpose was to disrupt Cesare Borgia's influence over Italy. Notable members of his team were Cipriano Enu, who specialized in archery, and Tessa Varzi, who was skilled with poisons. While many of the team's missions took place in Rome, they also visited Romagna, Camerino, and Venice, among others.
The team participated in the Defense of Camerino, the rescue of several prisoners Cesare Borgia was to execute merely for his entertainment, and the protection of astronomers Novara and Nicolaus Copernicus. They also teamed up with the Borgia-traitor Fiora Cavazza to kill Templar agents Rocco Tiepolo, Cahin, Caha, and Baltasar de Silva.
Sometime in 1503, Francesco sought out Perotto's son, Giovanni Borgia. He sent a message to him by pigeon, and requested for him to meet him by a fountain. As instructed, Giovanni located Francesco using his gift and followed him through the streets as the Assassin navigated the rooftops. However, the boy ran into two thieves, who attempted to rob him. Francesco swiftly leapt down and buried his dual Hidden Blades into the men, rescuing Giovanni.
Francesco then asked him if he would like to come to "live with his Brothers," and at Giovanni's cheerful agreement, Francesco recruited him into the Assassin Order.
Ambush at the inn
- "We have no way to escape. We are dying! I trip over the bodies of my fallen Brothers. So many dead! I have failed."
- ―Francesco at the inn.[src]
However, soon after sabotaging the competition of the French Templar Charles de la Motte in 1503, Francesco's team met with a disaster. Cesare invited Charles' forces into Rome, where they began terrorizing the citizens to purposefully lure out the Assassins.
Francesco and his team hurried to intercept them, with Enu directing his archers to shoot the enemy from above, and Tessa infiltrating them to hand soldiers poisoned flowers. However, after Cesare sent in his own army, the Assassin team was overwhelmed, and they were forced to take refuge in an inn.
As Francesco cursed himself for falling into Cesare's trap, the team hurried to barricade the windows and doors. Just as they were trying to devise a way to get a message to Ezio and the rest of the Order, the enemy broke through. Archers sent several flaming arrows into the room, setting the building ablaze.
The team and the building's innkeeper fled to the second floor, but the floorboards shattered beneath their feet, dragging several Assassins - Tessa among them - into the flames. Here, the only exit to the roof was the window, and though Francesco tried to gather a way to bring him with them, the innkeeper solemnly told them to leave him behind.
Even upon reaching the roof, there was no cover, and the remnants of the team were quickly cut down by the Borgia arquebusiers. Despite the fact that he was also injured, Francesco tried to treat a dying Enu, who had received a gunshot wound to the neck. Eventually though, he gave up, and the two merely sat back to back, watching as the Borgia guards closed in on them.
However, a large explosion broke the silence and, although it is unknown how, Francesco was rescued and he survived.
Hunt in Lonigo
- "My target is old, unsuspecting. Age will take his life soon, but I will not allow it."
- ―Francesco, regarding Niccolò di Pitigliano.[src]
By 1510, Francesco had gained enough experience to perform missions alone, and had even trained his own Assassin apprentices. That year, he took on an important assignment, which involved assassinating Niccolò di Pitigliano and freeing the population of Lonigo from the latter's rule.
Over time, Francesco discovered the reasons for the citizens' dissatisfaction, as well as learning that Niccolò maintained contact with someone in Rome. He then moved to study Niccolò himself, and choose the right opportunity to strike.
After learning of Niccolò's daily activities and slowly destroying his influence over Lonigo, Francesco prepared to assault Niccolò's home directly. For this, he called in several of his students and fellow Assassins for aid.
As his Brothers distracted the villa guards, Francesco snuck into the building and assassinated Niccolò. He left after dealing his target a grievous blow, but Niccolò managed to crawl to the hiding place of the Shroud, which he used to rejuvenate himself.
However, when the artifact eventually backfired and brought Niccolò's brutal end, Francesco returned and took possession of it.
- "Francesco Vecellio. The blossoming painter. I never would have suspected."
- ―Fiora Cavazza discovering Francesco's identity as an Assassin.[src]
In 1524, Francesco signed an altarpiece for San Vito in Cadore. During the 1540s, he painted a polyptych in Candide, as well as the organ shutters of San Salvatore in Venice. He also painted an Annunciation for San Nicola di Bari, which currently resides in the Accademia.
Personality and characteristics
- "I teach tactics to Francesco, but he is taken aback by my brutality. He has a needless sense of honor and fair play."
- ―Perotto training Francesco, 1498.[src]
In his younger years, Perotto found Francesco to be wise beyond his age, commenting that "speaking with him is like speaking to an adult at times." However, he also noticed that he had a "needless sense of honor and fair play," one that he feared would teach Francesco a hard lesson one day.
As Francesco trained under Perotto, his master observed him to be both eager and thorough, but also a perfectionist. He would repeat his questions, and insist that Perotto repeat a lesson until he was sure he had mastered it, sometimes frustrating the older Assassin.
Francesco also possessed something of a temper, his sword strikes usually fueled by anger and emotion, and easy to intercept. Perotto would often calm him, and insist that emotion was a weakness. Even upon training under Ezio, Francesco still occasionally grew irritable or impatient upon being beaten during the exercises.
Francesco cared for his master, who he owed so much, saying that Perotto had taught him "how to fight, how to live." As such, he harshly blamed Lucrezia for Perotto's betrayal of the Brotherhood, and his blinded pursuit to save his son using the Shroud. Francesco was also protective of his Assassin teammates, and became almost inconsolable after the deaths of so many of them at the inn in 1503.
After the loss of nearly his entire Assassin team, by 1510, Francesco had grown more severe, and willing to do anything to accomplish his missions. He did not hesitate to interrogate or kill potential informants, but still remained careful to respect innocent citizens.
At this time, he described himself to be a "man of detail", and his inclination for perfection allowed him to be meticulous in his assassinations. Francesco was careful to plan several potential escape routes, and use many methods to study and anticipate the movements of his targets, or their guards.
Though he had trained his entire life to be an Assassin, Francesco was intrigued by Leonardo da Vinci's interest in art rather than politics or warfare. This likely inspired him to pursue his own, similar career later on.
Even while still participating in missions for the Order, Francesco possessed an amount of respect for artwork. In 1510, though he and his associates managed to steal Niccolò di Pitigliano's collection of art, instead of having it sold, Francesco insisted that they be given to him instead, so he could make sure they were cared for.
- Francesco's memories were extracted from the genetic memory of one of his descendants by Abstergo Industries, and relived by another person in 2012 via the Data Dump Scanner.
- Francesco was the only known Assassin to wield the Hidden Bolt, a weapon that could fire small crossbow bolts. Since Ezio had not initially allowed him to use the Hidden Gun, Francesco requested that Leonardo da Vinci create a lighter, silent alternative to it.
- Despite still training under Ezio as an apprentice, Francesco was already granted dual Hidden Blades, a right usually only given to Master Assassins.
- Francesco's Assassin robes closely resembled those worn by Giovanni Auditore da Firenze and later his son Ezio Auditore da Firenze.
- Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy – Italian Wars: Chapter 4 – Perotto Calderon
- Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy – Rome: Chapter 2 – Giovanni Borgia
- Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy - Rome: Chapter 3 - Francesco Vecellio
- Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy – Rome: Chapter 1 – Fiora Cavazza
- Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy – Italian Wars: Chapter 2 – Francesco Vecellio