Madeleine de L'Isle (1732 – 1777) served as Master Templar of the Louisiana Rite of the Templar Order, operating under the alias of the "Company Man". Living in New Orleans, she was the second wife of the wealthy French merchant Philippe de Grandpré, though she was the first to be legally recognized.
After Madeleine discovered proof that a First Civilization artifact was located in Mexico, she devised a plan to acquire workers to excavate it. She subsequently entrusted the execution of said plan to her right-hand man, Rafael Joaquín de Ferrer.
Simultaneously, she noticed the potential of her stepdaughter, Aveline de Grandpré, and decided to groom her for membership in the Templar Order. Manipulating Aveline's biological mother Jeanne into leaving New Orleans, Madeleine then adopted the role of doting stepmother. When her stepdaughter later joined the Assassins, Madeleine managed to subtly procure valuable information on the Brotherhood, allowing her to become the head Templar of Louisiana.
In 1765, the slave trafficking operation that Madeleine had orchestrated was discovered by Aveline, who immediately started a journey to find and dismantle it. As the years went by, the Master Templar would see her activities shut down and most of her subordinates eliminated.
When her identity as the Company Man was eventually uncovered in 1777, Madeleine invited Aveline to join her Order, to which her stepdaughter agreed. Confident she had secured Aveline's alliance, Madeleine was then assassinated by her stepdaughter, who had merely pretended to go along with her induction to eliminate the Templars from within.
Early life and marriage to Philippe
- "You know my arrangement with Madeleine was... business. She convinced me... If the law was different..."
- ―Philippe on his marriage with Madeleine, 1776.[src]
The cherished daughter of a wealthy merchant family, Madeleine was born in New Orleans in 1732. By the time she was in her teens, she had taken notice of the Templars' control over society and they, in return, had taken notice of her. Aware of Madeleine's desire to join them, Magdelaine Lévesque contacted the young woman in 1747 and granted her a position within the Order, though her family was not to know of her new affiliation. As well as this, Magdelaine tasked Madeleine with looking into valuable objects that were supposedly buried beneath the Mayan structures on the Yucatán Peninsula.
A year later, Madeleine learned from her informants in Port-au-Prince that a woman named Jeanne had stolen a precursor artifact from the local Mentor François Mackandal. After finding out that Jeanne had been purchased by Philippe de Grandpré, a rival merchant in New Orleans, Madeleine devised a plan to get her hands on the relic. She contacted Reginald Birch, Grand Master of the British Templars, and requested he use his influence to negatively affect de Grandprés' business; as the daughter of one of de Grandpré's investors, this allowed her to visit the family frequently.
For her ruthlessness and cunning, Madeleine was promoted to Master Templar somewhere around 1751. She spent that year convincing Philippe to marry her, claiming it would benefit both his business and that of her family's. Eventually, he acquiesced and wed Madeleine in 1752, causing his relationship with Jeanne to become strained.
Madeleine subsequently moved into the de Grandpré villa, though both Jeanne and her daughter Aveline were permitted to stay at the mansion, receiving their own private quarters. By taking on the responsibility of her stepdaughter's education, while also employing Jeanne as her personal handmaid, Madeleine managed to integrate herself into the family.
Organizing the Chichen Itza excavation
- "Madeleine, bless her soul, has sworn to love and raise Aveline as her own, and see to her education and protection - at least until it is safe for me to return. Using her contacts, she has found a place for me in Chichen Itza, where I will find both safety and employment."
- ―Jeanne regarding her departure from New Orleans, 1757.[src]
Thanks to intelligence acquired by her most trusted agent, Rafael Joaquín de Ferrer, Madeleine was able to determine that a valuable First Civilization artifact called a Prophecy Disk was buried somewhere in the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, Mexico. Realizing the amount of manpower it would require to unearth the relic, she came up with a scheme to procure workers from around the Caribbean, the execution of which she entrusted de Ferrer with.
While de Ferrer began setting up their slave trafficking operation, Madeleine was growing closer to Jeanne, regularly conversing with her on her life as a slave in Saint-Domingue. Aware of the fact that Jeanne was afraid of the Assassins, Madeleine fed the placée's paranoia by telling her that François Mackandal, a former acquaintance of Jeanne, had been seen boarding a ship bound for Louisiana. In doing so, Madeleine endeavored to have Jeanne remove herself from New Orleans, so that Madeleine could raise Aveline – whom she had noticed to possess great potential – as her own.
Madeleine's machinations proved to be a success, with Jeanne eventually succumbing to her fears. After consulting Madeleine for aid, Jeanne left New Orleans in 1757 and was escorted to the work camp in Chichen Itza, being one of the first slaves to arrive there. Having fooled the placée into thinking the arrangement was temporary, Madeleine gradually neglected to stay in touch with Jeanne and dedicated herself to raising Aveline, preparing her for her eventual induction into the Templar Order. In 1758, Madeleine had Mackandal publicly executed to make an example out of him.
Master Templar of the Southern Colonies
- Madeleine: "How many years have we worked together, for the slaves?"
- Aveline: "You kept them enslaved, on your own terms, out of sight, for your ill gain!"
- —Aveline and Madeleine on the latter's activities, 1777.[src]
After discovering that Aveline had joined the Assassins in 1759, Madeleine took advantage of her stepdaughter's relationship with the local Assassin Mentor Agaté to uncover information relating to the Brotherhood's activities. This connection allowed her to secure the leadership of the local Templar Order in 1764. To prevent people from finding out her true identity, Madeleine adopted the alias of the "Company Man" when acting as Louisiana's head Templar.
Although she largely oversaw the transit of slaves and vagrants, Madeleine would also identify potential workers herself, "rescuing" them from enslavement and having her contacts escort them to Chichen Itza. In doing so, she became a progressive abolitionist in the eyes of Aveline, who was unaware of the slaves' true destination. With their "similar" views on slavery, Madeleine was able to strengthen her bond with her stepdaughter.
In 1765, Madeleine was called upon by Aveline to treat a slave, Thérèse, whom she had rescued from one of Madeleine's subordinates. Sending her stepdaughter into town to fetch traveling clothes, Madeleine treated the young slave and then had her transferred to Chichen Itza, unbeknownst to Aveline. Shortly thereafter, Madeleine, still pretending to be ignorant of her stepdaughter's identity as an Assassin, requested Aveline's help in reuniting an enslaved family.
While Madeleine continued her practices of discreetly liberating workers and sending them to Chichen Itza, Aveline uncovered the slave trafficking operation headed by de Ferrer. Although she remained unaware of her stepmother's involvement, Aveline would, over the years, continually undermine Madeleine and the Templars' efforts, causing the Master Templar to grow frustrated. By 1769, Madeleine had come no closer to acquiring the Prophecy Disk, with her right-hand man assassinated and the work camp of Chichen Itza liberated from Templar control.
Focusing her efforts on maintaining control in New Orleans, Madeleine had Diego Vázquez come to the city in the 1770s and ordered him to take control of the Louisiana Bayou, which served as an important trade route. Despite the large amount of Spanish troops Vázquez managed to gather, so too would his schemes be repeatedly sabotaged by Aveline. However, knowing that her stepdaughter was capable of collecting the shards of the Prophecy Disk, Madeleine did not interfere with Aveline's activities.
In 1776, Philippe discovered evidence of Templar interference in his business, though Madeleine reacted quickly and began poisoning him. That same year, Madeleine also freed a slave by the name of George, though she demanded his servitude to the Templar Order in return. Securing his alliance, she aided her new recruit in his escape, but her plan went awry when George was discovered by soldiers. Madeleine then requested Aveline's help in escorting George out of the city, to the North.
Madeleine would continue administering her bedridden husband an herbal tonic, laced with foxglove, which eventually proved fatal for Philippe. After informing Aveline, who had been out to track down Vázquez, Madeleine met with her stepdaughter and Gérald Blanc at Philippe's grave in Saint Peter's Cemetery. There, Madeleine, to whom the de Grandpré villa had been left, assured Aveline that she was still welcome to live at the mansion.
- "I needed you to quash the terrorist elements in my organization. I need you still. I cannot let the Assassins waste your talents. You are too valuable to me."
- ―Madeleine attempting to convince Aveline to join the Templars, 1777.[src]
In 1777, Aveline finally discovered that the Company Man, the person she had been searching for, was in fact Madeleine; she returned to New Orleans at once and confronted her stepmother in their mansion. During the encounter, Madeleine reacted with amusement, as she revealed that she had known all along of Aveline's affiliations, before pulling out a pistol and ordering her stepdaughter to sit down.
Furious, Aveline refused Madeleine's order to stay and ran outside, where the Assassin was quickly surrounded by her stepmother's guards. Forthwith, Madeleine warned her stepdaughter to cease her struggling or she would die, and the Brotherhood with her; she then proceeded to question Aveline's motivations. Maintaining an air of hostility, and her parasol gun's aim at her stepmother, Aveline retorted that Madeleine kept her slaves for her own selfish purposes, though Madeleine tried to convince Aveline that she had ended the operation and that de Ferrer did not represent the Templars.
Madeleine insisted that she genuinely cared for Aveline, but her stepdaughter angrily accused her of lying. In response, Madeleine defended herself, claiming that she had only been trying to protect her, and attempted to persuade Aveline to join the Templars. She then cited the broken relationship between Aveline and her Mentor as proof that their goals were the same.
Ultimately, Aveline agreed and traveled to the bayou to confront Agaté, while Madeleine convened the entire Louisiana Rite in the Saint Louis Cathedral. She later returned with his necklace as proof of his death, following which she handed Madeleine the Prophecy Disk. After inducting Aveline into the Order, Madeleine attempted to use the Prophecy Disk, but the artifact failed to work as she had intended it to, causing her to become frustrated, as she believed them to possess all of the pieces.
Seeing her chance, Aveline attacked, as her induction had merely been a ploy to eradicate the Templar Order from within. After she eliminated all the Templars present, the Assassin confronted a defeated Madeleine, who asked her why she had done what she had. Aveline responded by blaming her stepmother for secretly killing her father with poison, enslaving her mother and attempting to force Aveline into the Templar Order.
Madeleine insisted that it had been for the benefit of humanity, but Aveline refused to serve her and stabbed Madeleine in the stomach with her Hidden Blade, eradicating the Louisiana Rite. Madeleine would later be buried inside the Saint Louis Cathedral, in recognition of a lifetime of service to the people of New Orleans.
- "However, as Aveline matured, a new side emerged. A well-mannered and considerate lady of poise and compassion. Aveline came to embrace a new mentor: her stepmother Madeleine de L'Isle, a tireless fighter for the rights of slaves."
- ―A biased market analysis of Aveline's memories.[src]
In the 21st century, the Templar-run Abstergo Industries, a corporate giant, had one of their subsidiaries produce a video game based on Aveline de Grandpré's genetic memories. In it, Madeleine was portrayed as an unappreciated abolitionist of slavery, with key events deliberately omitted to validate her actions and Templar views. The game's ending had also been doctored, with Aveline supposedly abandoning the Assassins to join her stepmother's cause.
In a similar vein, Abstergo had portraits commissioned of several notable Templars, among which they counted Madeleine, for a series titled "Great Minds in History". In the accompanying description, she was called one of history's "most overlooked leaders". Notably, said description also claimed Aveline was an orphan that Madeleine had rescued from a broken home.
Personality and characteristics
- "You, who know so well the pain of a life lived in secret, shrouding your power in petticoats and lace, pretending obedience to men who deny you the right to your own abilities. Am I really so strange to you?"
- ―Madeleine pointing to the similarities between her and Aveline, 1777.[src]
Despite living in a time when women generally wielded very little political or economic influence, Madeleine managed to attain a position of power amongst her fellow Templars, owing to her keen intellect and sharp sense of business. However, in spite of these skills, her journey to becoming Master Templar of the Southern Colonies was a long one.
Hiding her Templar identity behind the guise of a loving wife, Madeleine spoke cautiously at all times, so as not to reveal herself through her actions or words. By relegating many tasks to her subordinates, most obviously her right-hand man de Ferrer, Madeleine herself managed to stay in the shadows, allowing her to escape the notice of her enemies, while simultaneously being able to deny responsibility for their actions when confronted by Aveline. To further disassociate her position of Master Templar from her public persona, she began utilizing the "Company Man" pseudonym.
A gifted actress, Madeleine was particularly adept at manipulating others, by uncovering their weaknesses and then exploiting them. This made her a particularly persuasive speaker, as noted by Jeanne, who always found herself "compelled to answer", beyond the politeness she owed Madeleine as an employer. Indeed, by preying on the placée's paranoia and feeding her lies about the Assassins, Madeleine managed to scare Jeanne into leaving New Orleans. Similarly, she was able to steer conversations in a certain direction, if she so desired.
In raising Aveline, Madeleine perfected the role of a doting stepmother. Her act became so convincing that, in many ways, her care and love for Aveline seemed to be almost genuine. This made it difficult to determine whether Madeleine was honestly fond of her stepdaughter, or merely playing her part so as to have more control over Aveline. At the very least, she considered Aveline to be too valuable to have her talents wasted by the Assassins.
Although she portrayed herself as an abolitionist to Aveline to win her trust, Madeleine seemed to have little issue with enslaving people, justifying it by insisting that work had always been the "divine purpose" for which humanity had been created. Much like other Templars, she sacrificed the lives of individual people for what she believed to be the greater good.
- Madeleine is the first female Templar to play the role of main antagonist in the Assassin's Creed series.
- Madeleine's speech during Aveline's induction was nearly identical to the one spoken by Haytham Kenway.
- During her final confrontation with Aveline, Madeleine justified the Templars by stating that "Work" was the purpose for which humanity had been created. This was a reference to how humans were originally a slave race under the First Civilization.
- Madeleine is mentioned in a letter in Assassin's Creed: Rogue where Chevalier de la Verendrye suspected that her family's shipping companies were Templar-owned, which was seemingly true. She also wrote several letters to other Templar rites throughout the world, most notably Reginald Birch.
- Along with her Master Templar outfit, Madeleine wore a hat that had a floral accessory in the shape of a foxglove flower, which was the same plant Madeleine used to kill Philippe.
- Madeleine is a French variant of the name Magdalene, meaning "of Magdala", originally an Aramaic word meaning "tower". De l'Isle means "of the Island", "Isle" being an archaic script for "Île" meaning "Island", or a region isolated by marshes or rivers in Middle French.
- Madeleine is the only major Templar in the game who does not share their last words in the Memory Corridor.