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"I fight at your side, any time!"
―A mercenary's greeting to Ezio.

A mercenary is an individual, often a soldier, who participates in armed conflicts, generally functioning as a third party, for private gain or material compensation. Historically, mercenaries were often hired by nations to take part in battles, or by private contractors to serve as personal protection.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, the high number of mercenaries in cities like Rome and Constantinople led to the creation of guilds, collaborating with each other as one large group and acting under a singular leader, known in Italy as condottieri. These mercenary guilds were often notable allies of the Assassin Brotherhood, with the Venetian condottiero Bartolomeo d'Alviano having been a prominent member of the Italian Assassins himself. This was not an exclusive arrangement, however, as famed condottiero Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, at one point assaulted the Assassin stronghold of Monteriggioni under the auspices of the Templars.

Throughout the following centuries, mercenaries continued to operate in the employ of various different bodies. In the eighteenth century, they provided a large portion of the manpower of the Colonial Assassins and the Colonial Templars, both having been newly founded at the time.

Although mercenaries have dwindled as a phenomenon in the twenty-first century, they continue to find their way into the ranks of the Templars and Assassins, most prominently in the example of Juhani Otso Berg, Director of Operations within the Templar's Inner Sanctum.

History

5th century BCE

ACOd-Mercenary

One of the many mercenaries in 5th century BCE Greece

During the Peloponnesian War, mercenaries operated throughout Greece, and many of them were hired to fight for either the Delian League led by Athens or the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta.[1]

The Spartan misthios Kassandra learned the trade from the likes of Photios and Heitor, and eventually rose through the ranks of the mercenaries to become a legend on her own right known as the 'Eagle-Bearer' due to the company of her pet eagle Ikaros.[1]

During her search for the Cult of Kosmos, Kassandra encountered and killed several mercenaries throughout Greece. This included the cult members Deianeira and Exekias, along with mercenaries in service of the cult such as Sosipatros.

Renaissance

During the Renaissance, mercenaries were widespread in Italy, to the extent that guilds devoted to their profession were established throughout major cities such as Venice and Rome. Many among these men were not even Italians, instead hailing from Switzerland, the German states, or Hungary.[2] Entire armies could be composed of mercenaries, and their leaders when contracted by Italian city-states or the Papacy were commonly known as condottieri. Such condottieri could garner fearsome reputations, as could be seen in the likes of Federico da Montefeltro, the Duke of Urbino.[3]

By the latter half of the 15th century, Italian mercenaries came to work closely in concert with the Italian Assassins, who classified them alongside thieves and courtesans as among three regular factions of allies. This was especially so with the condottiero Bartolomeo d'Alviano, head of the mercenary guild in Venice, who was a member of the Brotherhood himself. The Assassins, such as the Florentine Ezio Auditore da Firenze, were accustomed to employing allied mercenaries for street skirmishes or diversions as needed, though their services generally still costed a standard price of 150 florins.[4]

Late in 1499, ahead of Ezio's mission to prevent Pope Alexander VI, the secret Grand Master of the Roman Rite of the Templars, from accessing the Vatican Vault, Bartolomeo transferred his forces to Rome.[5] After Monteriggioni fell to Borgia forces led by Alexander VI's son Cesare Borgia on 2 January 1500,[6] the Italian Assassins, too, relocated their base of operations to Rome for a campaign to unseat Borgia power in the city.[7] In due time, Ezio linked up with Bartolomeo, whose mercenaries were in dire straits of losing their fight against the Borgia. The French Army, with the permission of Alexander VI, had been marching through Italy in an expedition against the Kingdom of Naples, and a detachment under the command of the Templar Octavian de Valois took advantage of this to establish a base in Rome at the Castra Praetoria and assist the Borgia in dislodging the Assassin mercenaries.[8] The arrival of Ezio, however, led to a slow turning of the tide. In August 1503, after Octavian captured Bartolomeo's wife Pantasilea Baglioni in the hopes of forcing Bartolomeo into unconditional surrender, Ezio and Bartolomeo's forces infiltrated the Castra Praetoria disguised as the French in a shocking blow that led to the assassination of Octavian and the withdrawal of his army.[9]

In Rome, the mercenaries acted much as they did in the previous cities, with Bartolomeo and Pantasilea leading their operations from their barracks. There, they actively participated in the fight against the Borgia and their French allies. When Ezio completed all of the mercenaries' guild challenges, they rewarded him with Bartolomeo's Axe and the guild's crest, which could be located in the armor section in the Tiber Island headquarters.[10]

In 1511, a mercenary guild based in the Ottoman Empire's capital of Constantinople was also working in tandem with the Ottoman Assassins. When Ezio moved to Constantinople under a wider mission to find the keys to unlock Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad's fabled library under Masyaf, he helped to expand mercenary bases in the city. They proved an asset to the Assassins, though like their Italian brethren, use of their services costed 150 akçe.[11]

18th century

The services of mercenaries—and often criminals—were regularly employed by both the newly founded Colonial Assassins and their counterparts, the Colonial Templars, in the British colonies of continental America. In 1754, several mercenaries hired by the Assassins captured the research notes of Templar William Johnson that detailed the region inhabited by the Kanien'kehá:ka. They guarded these in an encampment in west Boston while the Templar soldier Thomas Hickey was tasked by Johnson to perform reconnaissance on the compound. Not long after, the Colonial Rite's new Grand Master, Haytham Kenway, having just arrived from England, his protegé Charles Lee, and Hickey infiltrated the fort and retrieved the notes.[12]

In general, the line between mercenaries, official members, and criminals blurred for the Colonial branches of Assassins and Templars. Hickey was a particular example, for though he was treated as a core member of the Colonial Rite, working closely with its leaders Haytham, Charles, and Johnson, his only motivation was profit, caring not at all for the Templars' goals.[13] Meanwhile, the Assassin Hope Jensen took control of the gangs throughout the colonies of northeast America and carved out a wide criminal network whose brigands served as her forces for the Assassins. These gangs were, in a sense, functionally mercenaries operating out of numerous bureaus and cells in New York and in the wilderness of Halifax and the Hudson River valley. However, during the French and Indian War, the Templar Shay Cormac and the British Army managed to break their power and scatter them, killing Jensen herself in 1759.[14]

By the end of the conflict, the Colonial Brotherhood had been all but destroyed, with only its Mentor Achilles Davenport surviving as a cripple.[15] Thus, in the following decades, mercenaries ceased to be an asset of the defunct Colonial Brotherhood, whereas they persisted as a significant part of the Colonial Rite's forces into the American Revolution. A large number later sided with Benjamin Church following his desertion of the Templar Order, working to protect him from the retribution of Haytham,[16] a task they would ultimately fail in 1778 when Benjamin was killed aboard his ship the Welcome off the coast of Martinique through the combined efforts of Haytham and Ratonhnhaké:ton.[17]

Outside the private war waged in America between both secret organizations, mercenaries saw much use by the political powers of the time. In their attempt to quash the colonial uprising, the British hired an army of Hessian mercenaries to occasionally lead troop detachments in the place of officers. Most notable among the Hessian force were the Jägers, elite scouting units who specialized in unconventional warfare and carried a renowned reputation in Europe for their discipline and ferocity in battle. In accordance with their training, although hired to lead British forces, they typically operated independently of most army protocols. Following the end of the war and the departure of the British forces, some mercenaries chose to remain in the newly-named United States rather than return home, and continued to provide their services in the employ of the Continental Army.[18]

Combat

Mercenaries during the Peloponnesian War were incredibly varied and used a variety of different weapons in combat, including swords, daggers and spears. These mercenaries are - bar a few exceptions - procedurally generated and each have a selection of strengths or weaknesses. Italian mercenaries were the most heavily armored of the three factions available, and they usually wielded heavy, two-handed weapons, fighting very similarly to Brutes in combat.

During the Colonial era, however, mercenaries fought much like British regulars, using the same weapons and tactics as their professional counterparts.

Trivia

General
  • In Assassin's Creed II, mercenaries possess similar weapons to Brutes but are easily defeated by them. This differs from their abilities in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood where they are far more powerful, able to effectively take out several enemies due to their higher health, as seen in in the barracks' fighting challenges.
  • Italian mercenaries cannot perform any form of freerunning. However, Mario Auditore, who behaves like a mercenary, is able to free-run.
  • If Ezio attempts to loot a dead mercenary's corpse, no money can be found despite hiring them.
  • It is possible to kill mercenaries if Ezio uses a lift when they are behind him, where the debris would crush and kill them.
  • If a minstrel attempts to play in front of Ezio while he is accompanied by mercenaries, they will push him away, and one will attempt to chase him before returning shortly afterward.
Assassin's Creed II
  • Regular mercenaries can break out of Ezio's grabs, though the ones in the Monteriggioni training grounds can not do so unless he is training with them.
  • Ironically, Niccolò Machiavelli is portrayed as the leader of the Florentine mercenaries, when, historically, he strongly opposed the use of them.
  • During the mission to assassinate Vieri de' Pazzi, Mario refers to his mercenaries as his brothers, a term usually reserved for fellow Assassins.
  • In the Cannaregio District of Venice, Ezio can hire groups of six mercenaries, instead of the usual four.
  • While Ezio distributes Bartolomeo's men to specific spots throughout the Castello District as a distraction for Silvio Barbarigo, the mercenaries act like normal guards instead of Brutes, even being able to sprint.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
  • With some exceptions, the mercenaries during the siege of Monteriggioni function as regular guards and some are wielding weapons of the arquebusiers, but they are easily defeated by Borgia soldiers except those who accompany Ezio and wield heavy weapons.
  • Fabrizio and Prospero Colonna are two notable mercenaries who are saved by Ezio during a courtesan assignment.
  • Mercenaries can be killed by Ezio's Apple of Eden if they are caught within range of its blast radius.

Gallery

Appearances

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
  2. Assassin's Creed IIDatabase: Mercenaries (Assassin's Creed II)
    Assassin's Creed: BrotherhoodDatabase: Mercenaries (Brotherhood)
  3. Assassin's Creed: Project LegacyItalian Wars: Chapter 3 – Mario Auditore
  4. Assassin's Creed II
  5. Assassin's Creed IIX Marks the Spot
  6. Assassin's Creed: BrotherhoodVilified
  7. Assassin's Creed: BrotherhoodRoman Underground
  8. Assassin's Creed: BrotherhoodGatekeeper
  9. Assassin's Creed: BrotherhoodAu Revoir
  10. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
  11. Assassin's Creed: Revelations
  12. Assassin's Creed IIIJohnson's Errand
  13. Assassin's Creed IIIPublic Execution
  14. Assassin's Creed: RogueCaress of Steel
  15. Assassin's Creed: RogueNon Nobis Domine
    Assassin's Creed IIIA Boorish Man
  16. Assassin's Creed IIIMissing Supplies
    Assassin's Creed IIIFather and Son
    Assassin's Creed IIIThe Foam and the Flames
  17. Assassin's Creed IIIA Bitter End
  18. Assassin's Creed III

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