Due to its prominent position in trade, New Orleans quickly became a major economic, political and cultural center. Although French in origin, the city would change hands a number of times throughout history.
Before French explorers and traders arrived in the 1690s, indigenous populations inhabited the grounds upon which New Orleans would be built; the city was founded on May 7, 1718 by the Company of the West. Slavery was prevalent even in the city's early days, being a significant component of New Orleans' complex and diversified society.
Due to it being part of a critical trade route that linked the Mississippi River with the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans quickly grew to become a major economic, political, and cultural center. Both the Assassins and the Templars soon realized the region's importance and subsequently established guilds there. The latter group would become involved in trade to secure their hold on the territory, as well as plot with local government officials.
- " I will do all I can to smooth the hand-over of the colony. And your mission will have all the workers it needs – provided you make good on your promise. Labor is in tight supply as it is, and, I must remain in power as gouverneur."
- ―D'Abbadie to de Ferrer, 1765.[src]
After France's defeat in the Seven Years' War in North America, New Orleans, along with the rest of Louisiana, was ceded to Spain in the Treaty of Fontainebleau in 1762, though the general populace remained unaware of this. In 1763, Jean-Jacques Blaise d'Abbadie, the newly-appointed governor of Louisiana, was sent to the territory to dismantle the remaining French garrison and prepare the hand-over of the colony to Templar plants in the Spanish government.
Roughly a year later, Spain's acquisition of Louisiana was officially announced. The Templar Order used the colony's transfer to gain access to the highest levels of government and extend their operations. Meanwhile, the transition from French colonial control to Spanish occupation left the residents of New Orleans dissatisfied with Spain's weak political authority, as it tried to distance itself from the previous French administrative structures.
This ambiguous and unstable political environment soon enticed the Templars into attempting to take control of New Orleans. In 1765, governor d'Abbadie made a deal with the Templar Rafael Joaquín de Ferrer; d'Abbadie would remain in power, provided he supervised the colony's transfer and supplied de Ferrer with workers for a secret project. However, this scheme was uncovered by the Assassin Aveline de Grandpré, who assassinated the governor during a party held at his mansion.
In 1766, the nobility of New Orleans was targeted by a dissident Assassin from Saint-Domingue named Baptiste, who intended to poison them to help the Templars tighten their grip on the city. This crisis was averted when Baptiste was assassinated by Aveline, putting an end to his plans for New Orleans.
- Main article: Louisiana Rebellion
That same year, Antonio de Ulloa, a Templar adviser, arrived in New Orleans to serve as the first Spanish Governor of Louisiana. However, he allowed the French flag to remain over the city, leaving the administration of the territory to French Creole officials while he and his family lived at La Balize, away from New Orleans. In secret, de Ulloa had citizens of low standing kidnapped, sending them to a work camp run by de Ferrer in Chichen Itza, Mexico.
In 1768, de Ulloa implemented rigid trade restrictions within the colony, which benefited the Templars and allowed their shipment of workers to continue. This caused French Creoles' opinion of him to drop even lower and led them to rebel against the governor's regime. Riots soon grew commonplace, with citizens setting up barricades and openly challenging Spanish soldiers.
The widespread chaos in the city eventually forced de Ulloa to leave his hiding place, so that he could attempt to negotiate for peace. While en route, his envoy was ambushed by Aveline, who had orders to assassinate the governor; however, she ultimately chose to spare him, and forced Ulloa to go into exile. Following his departure, New Orleans was briefly governed by the French Creoles.
Under the approval of the French King, the Spanish commissioned de Ulloa's replacement, General Alejandro O'Reilly to suppress the rebellion and punish those responsible. To prevent any further violence, French Creole leaders urged citizens to avoid military confrontation and accept Spanish authority. In the summer of 1769, O'Reilly arrived in New Orleans without any major interference and executed those that had been at the forefront of the rebellion. He introduced "O'Reilly's Code", which embodied the laws of Castile and of the Indies, thus aligning Louisiana's legal system with that of Spain. In the following years, Spain secured a tighter grip on the colony, but also encouraged free trade and eased the restrictions on the emancipation of slaves.
Elimination of the Templars
- "The Templars will never allow slaves to be free! They keep even the rich in bondage - though most people would never suspect..."
- ―Aveline on the Templars' control over New Orleans, 1768.[src]
For a while, the city remained free of Templar machinations, but by 1771, a Templar by the name of Diego Vázquez became active in the region, recruiting Spanish soldiers to his cause through bribery. He intended to seize control of the Louisiana Bayou, which was economically important to New Orleans due to its popularity as a smuggling route. Vázquez's progress was temporarily set back by Aveline that same year, but her absence allowed his troops to recover.
Preferring the British be kept away from Spanish territory, the Governor of Louisiana decided to support the American Patriots in 1776 by having the smugglers send them supplies, an arrangement that the Templars opposed. Vázquez subsequently ordered his men to steal the wares from the smugglers at the nearest opportunity, but in this too he failed, as Aveline would once more obstruct his schemes.
Following the assassination of Vázquez that same year, the Templars' power in New Orleans dwindled, though the "Company Man" remained at large. In 1777, Louisiana's head Templar was revealed to be Madeleine de L'Isle, Aveline's stepmother. After being led to believe that Aveline would join the Templars, Madeleine was killed by her stepdaughter in the Saint Louis Cathedral, temporarily removing Templar influence in New Orleans.
In the decades that followed, several devastating fires ravaged New Orleans, destroying much of the French colonial architecture. In 1801, Spanish rule ended and the city was handed back to the French, though Spain had made a considerable contribution to its expansion. However, French rule ended two years later when Napoleon Bonaparte sold the colony to the United States, a transaction directed by the United States President, Thomas Jefferson.
Enclosed by a palisade wall, the city of New Orleans could be roughly divided into three regions. In the southernmost region lay the docks, populated by rough sailors and tense smugglers. One of New Orleans' most important sources of income, the docks housed numerous warehouses and storage facilities, as well the slave trader's holding area, located in the southwest corner of the city.
The central region was the largest, being home to New Orleans' wealthy and powerful. With the Saint Louis Cathedral as its dominating landmark, the district was a testament to the city's prominent position in trade, being dotted with opulent mansions, trees and lush gardens. Decorative features such as gazebos and balconies, as well as courtyards and markets - the French Market near the docks being the most prominent example - were commonplace. During Mardi Gras, masks, lanterns and colorful fabrics were strung up to give the region a festive air.
The northernmost region, largely inhabited by farmers and workers, did not share in the city's wealth, as evidenced by most residences being in a dilapidated state. Animals could sometimes be seen walking around in the streets, which were unpaved and tended to be narrower than those of New Orleans' wealthier neighborhoods. The poor district housed the city graveyard, as well as the military barracks located in the northeast.
A multifarious society, the general populace of New Orleans was varied, with a range of different people inhabiting it. The city's residents were usually, though not exclusively, of French origin, leading them to wear similar styles of clothing; even the servants were often dressed in civilized attire akin to that of their masters, albeit with less vibrant colors.
Notable landmarks in New Orleans included Saint Louis Cathedral, the Place d'Armes, Saint Peter's Cemetery, Congo Square, Madame John's Legacy, the Governor's mansion, the de Grandpré mansion and the de Grandpré warehouse.
- Historically, New Orleans' layout during the 18th century would have followed a grid plan, a type of city plan in which streets run at right angles to each other. However, the level designers did not adhere to this structure too strongly as they found it did not accommodate interesting gameplay.
- French soldiers were only found in New Orleans, and the Louisiana Bayou, during Sequences 1 and 2. In later sequences, they were replaced by Spanish guards, as Spain had, by then, started to assert its control over the colony.
- During the short sequence in which Aveline and Gérald escape in a gunpowder carriage, the streets of New Orleans were altered slightly to give the rig more room to move.