- "Nothing is true, everything is permitted."
- ―The Creed's maxim.[src]
The Assassin's Creed, often referred to as the Creed, was a code and guiding philosophy of the Assassin Order upheld from the High Middle Ages until the modern era. It restricted unnecessary slaughter of innocents, preserved the reputation of oneself and of the Order, and was meant to create peace not only within the world, but within the individual.
The Creed began to take shape in 38 BCE when Bayek of Siwa and Aya of Alexandria, founders of the Hidden Ones–a predecessor to the Assassins Brotherhood–enforced a veil of secrecy over their order. The Assassins had been handing the Creed down orally from generation to generation, ensuring that its message was delivered to and upheld by every member of the Assassin Order. Al Mualim, one of the Mentors of the Order, once remarked that "[they] are nothing if [they] do not abide by the Assassin's Creed."
In the ancient Codex of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, it was stated that the Creed cannot be killed, even if all of its followers were. He went on to explain that the Creed was an idea, and even if all records of it were destroyed, it could eventually be reinvented by another.
The three tenets
The Creed mainly emphasized three simple moral tenets that focused on ensuring a successful mission, mastery of emotions, and the safety of the Brotherhood.
Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent
Hide in plain sight
- "Let the people mask you such that you become one with the crowd."
- ―Al Mualim.[src]
Be unseen. The Assassins' aim was to get close to their target stealthily and escape just as quickly. In more ancient times, Assassins aimed to perform ostentatious, awe-inspiring assassinations, usually in public.
The greatest illusion from such an assassination was that the Assassin seemingly materialized from nowhere, killed a corrupt public figure, and vanished into the depths of the crowd or environment. If an Assassin was spotted while stalking their target, the supernatural effect would be diluted, and it became more difficult for the Assassin to reach his target.
Never compromise the Brotherhood
- "Its meaning should be obvious. Your actions must never bring harm upon us – direct or indirect!"
- ―Al Mualim.[src]
The three ironies
- "Do we bend the rules in service to a greater good? And if we do, what does it say of us?"
- ―Altaïr's Codex, page 4.[src]
- The Assassins seek to promote peace, but commit murder.
- The Assassins seek to open the minds of men, but require obedience to rules.
- The Assassins seek to reveal the danger of blind faith, yet practice it themselves.
Though seemingly hypocritical, the ironies did not undermine the Assassins' cause. Rather, they demonstrated the way in which they embraced contradiction, "that one may be two things – opposite in every way – simultaneously." Another core part of the Creed is the importance of knowledge, which allows one to learn and advance. This was reflected on by Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad when about to kill a target who was ordering a mass burning of books.
- "Our Creed does not command us to be free. It commands us to be wise."
- ―Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad.[src]
"Nothing is true; everything is permitted" was the Creed's maxim and primary guideline. The phrase was created during the 11th century by Hassan-i Sabbāh, the first recorded leader of the Assassin Order.
Al Mualim taught Altaïr that the maxim commanded the Assassins not to be free, but to be wise. Altaïr later explained that for a person to abide by the maxim, they had to transcend the illusion which was the world, and to "recognize that laws do not arise from divinity, but reason".
Ezio Auditore da Firenze once spoke of the maxim at length with Sofia Sartor, who found it rather cynical. However, he told her that the maxim was not a doctrine to be followed, but merely an observation of the world.
In detail, he explained that "To say that nothing is true, is to realize that the foundations of society are fragile, and that we must be the shepherds of our own civilization. To say that everything is permitted, is to understand that we are the architects of our actions, and that we must live with their consequences, whether glorious or tragic".
Arno Dorian ruminated that maxim merely served as a guide and a warning, rather than as a principle meant for an individual to follow, having witnessed directly how ideals led to dangerous extremism.
He elaborated that "Ideals too easily give way to dogma. Dogma becomes fanaticism, Only we can decide whether the road we walk carries too high a toll. All that we do, all that we are, begins and ends with ourselves".
Penalty for disobedience
- "Your selfish act beneath Jerusalem placed us all in danger! Worse still, you brought the enemy to our home! Every man we lost today was lost because of you!"
- ―Al Mualim reprimanding Altaïr.[src]
On most occasions, the breaking of one or more of the tenets of the Creed led to the execution of the involved Assassin, though there have been exceptions. Before the restructuring of the Order, Levantine Assassins were known to take their own life if necessary rather than compromise the Brotherhood.
During the Siege of Masyaf in 1176, Ahmad Sofian was captured and interrogated by the Saracens about the identity of the Assassin who infiltrated the camp. Ahmad broke and gave the name of Umar Ibn-La'Ahad. This resulted in him breaking the third tenet of the Creed, as Umar was executed for this, and though he was spared Ahmad could not bear the shame and guilt and took his own life but not before begging the young Altaïr for forgiveness. Umar himself also technically broke the first and third tenets as well by killing a Saracen nobleman, who was not his target and which resulted in the Saracens electing to continue the siege unless he surrendered himself, which would have resulted in many Assassin deaths. Umar elected to give himself up for execution to save his fellow Assassins.
In 1191, Altaïr broke all three tenets during an important mission at Solomon's Temple. By murdering an innocent (an old man who he thought could have alerted the guards), and revealing himself to Robert de Sable, Altaïr inevitably led the Templars back to Masyaf, jeopardizing not only his own safety, but the livelihood of the entire Brotherhood.
Upon his return to Masyaf, Altaïr was publicly chastised and executed via stabbing as punishment by his Master. However, the execution was only an illusion, as Al Mualim wished to grant him a second chance. Instead, Altaïr was merely stripped of all his weapons and equipment, and demoted to the lowest rank of novice, forced to re-earn his rank through the Hunt for the Nine.
Following his return from exile, Altaïr decided to eliminate those of Abbas Sofian's followers who had compromised the Brotherhood by harming civilians, while leaving alive those that still lived by the Creed.
- "Our tenets are clear. One of our brothers has decided to disobey them and must pay with his life."
- ―An Assassin of Jerusalem.[src]
Though he was successful, a team of Assassins later tracked Perotto down, and executed him as punishment.
Around 1511, one of Ezio's Ottoman apprentices broke the first tenet after mistaking a cleric for the Templar Cyril of Rhodes and rashly assassinating him. Instead of punishing him, Ezio ordered him to reflect on his mistake and gave him the chance to redeem himself when they confronted Cyril again. Ironically, Ezio himself broke the first tenet indirectly during his visit to Derinkuyu, when he ignited the Templars' cache of gunpowder to destroy it, resulting in a firestorm that engulfed the underground city and killed many of its civilians.
During this time, an Assassin of Jerusalem broke the Creed, and the Ottoman Assassins were asked to intervene. Despite his treachery, the other Assassins of his guild asked that he be executed covertly with a crossbow.
In 1793, the French Assassin Council expelled Arno Dorian from the Brotherhood for repeatedly assassinating targets without consulting them. He was accused of compromising the Brotherhood and pursuing a personal vendetta. However the expulsion was temporary as the Council decided to reinstate the young Assassin years later, after he had matured and demonstrated true fidelity to the Creed.
- "Egypt has fallen, Greece also, and Rome will fall too. All will fall to the creed, yet no one will know."
- ―Bayek to Aya, referring to their compromise in enforcing a veil of secrecy over their actions.[src]
Together, they developed a creed emphasizing two simple tenets: to work in the shadows and to kill only those who deserve it.
The First Tenet
- "From this day, no Hidden One will raise a sword against an innocent. So it shall be written."
- ―Bayek to Gamilat[src]
- "Though I ask my brothers now to abandon their rituals, I do not ask that they abandon the Creed. This is what makes us Assassins. Not the removal of a finger. Not a false promise of paradise. Not the prohibition of poison. Our duty is to the people, not to custom."
- ―Altaïr's Codex, page 6.[src]
Nevertheless, Altaïr unknowingly broke the third tenet after dispatching eight, highly-ranked Templars. Upon deducing his mission, Robert de Sable hoped to trick Altaïr into inadvertently allying two opposing forces.
Since the targets were of both Saracen and Crusader origins, their respective leaders, Saladin and Richard I of England, would likely have been more willing to join together in order to combat a considerable, new threat: the Assassins.
Robert attempted to convince Richard to join forces with Saladin in an attack against Masyaf; wherein he planned to recover the Piece of Eden that he had lost to Al Mualim at Solomon's Temple. However, Altaïr's subduing of Robert in front of Richard convinced him not to attack the Assassins, and Altaïr went unpunished for this transgression.
After becoming the leader of the Assassins, Altaïr began bringing the Order underground in extension of the second tenet, believing their obligation was to hide and shape the world in secret. His Assassins disagreed, but Altaïr countered that having them become a public organization had led them to be simply branded as madmen.
- "You are not Vieri, do not become him."
- ―Mario Auditore to Ezio Auditore da Firenze.[src]
When Ezio Auditore killed Vieri de' Pazzi during one of his early assassinations, he showed disrespect to his corpse, cursing him and calling for his everlasting suffering.
Seeing this as a violation of the Creed, his uncle Mario intervened, chastising the young man for his vengeance, which prevented both the victim and the Assassin from finding the peace that the Order wished each assassination to achieve.
Throughout the remaining course of his life, Ezio followed his uncle's example, showing respect for the dead by closing their eyes and saying "Requiescat in pace" ("Rest in peace").
Ezio unwittingly violated the Creed twice during his later years, killing Tarik Barleti after a case of mistaken suspicion, and then killing many civilians when he started a fire in Derinkuyu to draw out Manuel Palaiologos. Regardless, he espoused the virtues of the Creed to his apprentices, advising them to be patient in planning their assassinations so as to not compromise the Brotherhood.
Golden Age of Piracy
- "For if nothing is true, then why believe anything? And if everything is permitted... why not chase every desire?"
- ―Edward Kenway to the Mentor Ah Tabai, 1722[src]
Edward's ally and fellow Assassin Mary Read, when telling Edward of the Creed, said that it did not call for the Assassins to act or submit, but to be wise and to choose for themselves when and how to act.
The Assassin Adéwalé was another who followed the Creed's words, particularly in regards to innocents as he freed many hundreds of slaves from plantations and ships, where they endured cruel and often short lives. After a slave ship was scuttled deliberately to prevent the liberation of its cargo, Adéwalé furiously vowed revenge on the man responsible, the Marquis de Fayet of Port-au-Prince, stating that the Creed demanded his death as retribution. When he assassinated the governor, he technically violated the Creed's peace accord by stating that he wanted De Fayet to suffer and beg for his life before tearing his stomach with a machete, ensuring the man's painful death.
On the other hand, Connor's Kanien'kehá:ka upbringing, which taught him compassion and respect for all living things, led him to extend the first tenet of the Creed to trying to spare the Templars, including William Johnson and his father Haytham Kenway. Achilles had to repeatedly remind his protege that the Assassins deemed it necessary for people like them to die.
Achilles warned against Connor's hope to reconcile with his father Haytham, Grand Master of the Colonial Templars. After killing his father, Connor chose to compromise in a small way by acknowledging Haytham was right about human nature, but would hope for a better future instead of lapsing into following Templar logic.
He did, however, follow the second tenet to a certain extent before his incarceration at Abstergo Industries, and was careful about hiding his identity. For years, he was able to bypass Templar detection by avoiding the use of his real name or of credit cards, and was only caught after giving fingerprints when applying for a driver's license for his motorcycle.
During the search for the second prong of the Trident of Eden, the Assassin Yanmei enlightened Natalya Aliyev, who disagreed with Assassins' absolute obedience to the Creed, on the ironies of the Creed and how it truly commands them to be wise.
- In Assassin's Creed, Altaïr can break the third tenet without suffering desynchronization, by killing the Masyaf guards.
- Similarly, after completing the main storyline of Assassin's Creed, civilians can be killed without losing synchronization.
- The exact phrase "Nothing is true; everything is permitted" was taken from the novel Alamut by Vladimir Bartol, a book that served as a primary inspiration for Assassin's Creed. In it, the maxim was the highest truth of the Ismaili, the sect of Islam that gave rise to the historical Hashashin. The phrase in the novel is "Nothing is an absolute reality; all is permitted".
- The maxim of the Creed was translated and used in both Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed II, in the words exchanged with the final target. "Laa shay'a waqi'un moutlaq bale kouloun moumkine" was spoken by Altaïr to Al Mualim, and "Nulla è reale, tutto è lecito" was spoken by Ezio to Rodrigo Borgia.
- The Arabic translation of the maxim was still used in induction ceremonies during the Renaissance; by Mario Auditore during the induction of Ezio Auditore, as well as by Ezio for the apprentices in Rome.
- In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, the doors to the library of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad were engraved with lines in an Arabic script, which read: إتق دم البريء - لآ شيء مطلق بل الكل ممكن - إختبئ وسط الزحام - إختبئ وسط الزحام and نحن من ائتمنك - لأ تخن من ائتمنك. These translated into: "Revere the blood of the innocent - Nothing is absolute, everything is possible" - "Hide in the midst of the crowds - Hide in the midst of the crowds" and "We are the ones who have entrusted you - Do not betray our trust", which paraphrased the tenets of the Creed and its maxim.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Assassin's Creed: Origins – The Hidden Ones – The Greater Good
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 Assassin's Creed
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Assassin's Creed II
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Assassin's Creed: Revelations
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Assassin's Creed: Unity
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Initiates – Eseosa's Codex
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Unity – Dead Kings
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Origins - Last of the Medjay
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 Assassin's Creed III
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Forsaken
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Last Descendants - Tomb of the Khan