- "They have taken the fight out to the enemy, and there have been bloody battles in the fields outside the town. I would not go any further in that direction, my son; there lies only devastation and blood."
- ―A Spanish man to Ezio Auditore da Firenze during the siege of Viana.[src]
The Siege of Viana was a military conflict fought between the Kingdom of Navarre and the Earldom of Lerin in the town of Viana. King John III of Navarre and his general Cesare Borgia commanded Navarrese troops against the forces led by Louis de Beaumont.
On 18 August 1503, Pope Alexander VI, Grand Master of the Italian Templars, died from a cantarella-laced apple which was forced down his throat by his own son, Cesare Borgia. With his death, Rome was fully liberated from the Borgia's control.
After murdering his father, Cesare was arrested by the newly elected Pope, Julius II; Cesare was subsequently exiled to Spain to be imprisoned in the Castillo de la Mota in 1504. However, in 1506, Cesare managed to escape his cell with the help of his ally Micheletto Corella, who provided him with a rope.
After dropping seventy meters to the ground, Cesare landed on top of a servant who had accompanied him, breaking his fall. Despite several fractured bones, Cesare was able to evade the law disguised as a merchant, later joining his brother-in-law, King John III of Navarre, who granted him full command over the Navarrese army. However, Cesare was pursued by the Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze, who wished to kill Cesare and prevent any threat he might pose.
Viana under siege
Beginning of the battle
- Cesare: "How did you find me?!"
- Ezio: "The Apple you stole from Mario Auditore led me here!"
- —Ezio facing Cesare during the siege, 1507.[src]
By 1507, King John intended to seize the town of Viana from the Count of Lerin, who controlled it on the behalf of Ferdinand II of Aragon. In March of that year, King John had Cesare lead a Navarrese army of 10,000 soldiers to Viana to take the castle. Secretly, Cesare intended to take Viana so as to regain the support of France, which would further aid him in his planned reconquest of Rome, which he had lost control over due to the actions of the Assassin Order. The Navarre forces were able to besiege the Viana countryside, and battled with the Vianan infantrymen.
Ezio, who had tracked Cesare down to Viana after a pursuit lasting four years, found him among his men in the outskirts of the town, fighting with the Vianan soldiers. As the battle raged on, with the forces' cannons destroying the town and surrounding countryside, Ezio charged into the battle in an effort to kill Cesare. He lunged towards him with his Hidden Blade at the ready, though Cesare was able to hold off the Assassin's attack.
Cesare demanded to know how Ezio had found him, to which the Assassin replied that the Apple of Eden that was stolen from his uncle, Mario Auditore, had led him there. Despite Cesare holding off Ezio's killing blow, Ezio eventually gained the upper hand and overpowered Cesare, striking him across the throat. However, Cesare's armor protected him, and he managed to push Ezio aside. Fleeing, he commanded his soldiers to attack the Assassin, though Ezio fended them off with ease. Despite this, a cannon ball tore into the ground close to Ezio, knocking him unconscious for a while. Eventually, the Navarrese infantry were able to move into the town and fight with the soldiers there, as the cannons attacked Viana Castle and the siege towers closed in on the town and castle.
- "He once ruled all of Roma. I heard an Assassin killed his supporters. Great rulers rise and fall like leaves in the wind."
- ―A Vianan guard conversing about Cesare's downfall, 1507.[src]
Moving through the battle, Ezio continued to pursue Cesare, and charged through the battlefield on horseback in an attempt to reach the ruins of what was once an olive grove. However, a cannon ball struck and killed the horse he rode on, forcing him to continue on foot.
As Ezio made his way through the outskirts of the city, the chaos only grew worse, with the Navarrese siege towers evidently closing in on the town. As Ezio drew closer, making his way past the bodies of slaughtered soldiers, he eventually arrived at the olive field ruins, where a force of Viana soldiers had set up camp.
As he inconspicuously neutralized any patrolling guards, and dispatched those who challenged him, Ezio overheard the soldiers speaking of Cesare's downfall, and of the Assassin responsible - Ezio himself. Soon after, the Navarrese forces had reached the town and began to invade it.
Cesare himself entered the city with a group of his own men. As the soldiers passed through the town, a woman rushed to Cesare's side, pleading assistance for her injured son, but she was promptly killed and discarded by the Spanish general's men, with Cesare continuing towards the city fortress.
- Ezio: "Cesare! The walls surround you. There is nowhere to run."
- Cesare: "Come then, Ezio!"
- —Ezio and Cesare, before their final battle, 1507.[src]
While the Navarrese infantry reinforced their assault, attacking the city guards, they tortured the civilians, burning down their homes and killing them. Many soldiers clashed in the town outskirts and city square. Ezio pushed through the soldiers, seeking a way into the fortress. Eventually, he came across a burning and damaged siege tower, allowed him to proceed up towards the castle ramparts. As he climbed the interior of the siege machine – which had sustained heavy damage from cannon fire – Ezio was forced to perform a Leap of Faith from its peak once he had reached it, due to the tower crumbling under its own weight.
As many Navarrese soldiers drew closer to the castle, several waves of soldiers reinforced the attack. At this point the battle was in favor of Navarre, and a siege tower had breached the castle walls, with several soldiers now attacking the castle, Cesare among them.
Not long before the Navarrese forces secured victory, which would assure Cesare a major hand in his attempt to retake Rome, Ezio scaled the siege tower and reached the castle walls. Defending himself from the attacking soldiers, Ezio ran across the battlements to face Cesare directly.
- Cesare: "You cannot kill me. No man can murder me!"
- Ezio: "Then I leave you in the hands of Fate."
- —Cesare's final words, 1507.[src]
Finally reaching his archenemy, Ezio called out for Cesare's attention and warned him that there was nowhere to run. After killing the soldiers attacking him, Cesare responded to his claim by immediately challenging the Assassin to one last duel.
As the siege raged around them, the two men battled face-to-face for the first and last time. Cesare skillfully attacked Ezio with his sword and pistol, dodging his incoming blows and countering his attacks, while also periodically calling in waves of Navarrese and Borgia soldiers to reinforce him. Despite this, Ezio's own speed and skill were enough to defeat the soldiers and overpower Cesare, slowly breaking off the pieces of his armor that protected him from his Hidden Blade.
After a lengthy battle, Ezio eventually managed to pin Cesare down beneath him, holding his Hidden Blade to the Templar's throat. Still convinced in his ways, Cesare claimed that the throne was his right, to which Ezio responded that a leader could not merely take what he wished, and that a true one "empowers the people he leads." Cesare then declared that he would "lead mankind into a new world," but Ezio dismissed him, replying that no one should ever remember Cesare Borgia's name in history.
Enraged, and knowing his death was inevitable, Cesare repeatedly shouted that no mortal man could kill him, to which Ezio declared that he would leave Cesare "in the hands of Fate", before dropping him from the castle wall to his death.
Subsequently, the siege concluded with a Navarrese defeat. With the loss of their commander, Cesare, the Navarrese army could not continue the siege and were forced to pull back. Cesare's body was buried in a marble tomb beneath the altar of the Church of Santa Maria, with the inscription: "Here lies in little earth one who was feared by all, who held peace and war in his hand." Ezio, who had ended the Borgia tyranny once and for all, returned to Rome and embarked on various reforms of the Assassin Order, such as improved communication and standardized training programs.