- “You do realize the Assassin will gut you in the very near future? Well, those of you he doesn't drain, castrate, behead, or drop from high places, that is!”
During the Third Crusade, vigilante groups in the cities of Damascus, Acre, and Jerusalem usually comprised men who opposed the local governance of their cities. They were those individuals who openly stood up to guards or whose friends and relatives found themselves in trouble with the authorities. As such, their interests tended to align with the Levantine Brotherhood of Assassins. Assassins such as Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad frequently went out of their way to rescue civilians harassed by guards, and in gratitude, these citizens' families and friends would pledge to protect him in turn at their own peril.
Although they were always unarmed, these vigilantes never hesitated to impede the pursuit of guards by intercepting them and holding them back by the arms. This allowed an Assassin such as Altaïr to either make his escape, dispose of his pursuers, or assassinate his target. The vigilantes' assistance was not restricted to only the Assassins though; in 1191, vigilantes at the southeast entrance of the Souk Al-Silaah in Damascus aided the escape of a thief who stole from a merchant. Because they gathered at regular spots, Altaïr discovered by eavesdropping on this thief that this specific group of vigilantes could serve as a means of escape after his assassination of the Templar black arms dealer Tamir at the souk.
Vigilantes during this period typically donned uniform attire. In Acre, this would usually consist of ragged brown coats, caps, and pants whereas vigilantes in Damascus and Jerusalem wore plain, black tunics.
Vigilantism persisted as a societal phenomenon into the Renaissance period in Italy. From 1500 to 1503, during the Italian Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze's campaign to dismantle Borgia control of Rome, much of the common people came to support his movement. Those who were not recruited into the Assassin Brotherhood as apprentices sometimes undertook vigilantism to assist the Assassins. In each district, Ezio's destruction of the Borgia Tower would inspire small groups of vigilantes to begin openly gathering in the streets, hurling insults at nearby guards and standing ready to aid Ezio at any time.
Their aid was indistinct from that of their predecessors in the Third Crusade; they took it upon themselves to intercept any nearby guard pursuing an Assassin, grabbing them by their arms to hinder their movements. Aside from directly assaulting the guards, they would also hide Ezio from them.
In 1511, when Ezio stirred a riot at the Harbor of Theodosius in Constantinople, several vigilantes participated in the fight against the Janissaries. Though many were unarmed and other wields only pitch forks, they risked their lives to protest injustices of the regime. Once the rioters had broken through the gate and into the Arsenal itself, vigilantes continued the battle against the Janissaries and elite soldiers inside.
During the American Revolutionary War, vigilantes lent their assistance to the Assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton, better known as Connor. Vigilantism by this period had remained largely unchanged throughout the centuries; vigilantes continued to impede pursuers of the Assassins whenever the chase passed before them or otherwise they would hide Connor from his enemies. As with their Roman counterparts in the Renaissance, they became more prevalent as the Assassins eroded Templar influence in the colonies, giving them the freedom to congregate. While vulnerable to dispersal under force by soldiers, they would most often not hesitate to return to the same area once conflict had ended.
Along with ordinary vigilantes, rioters were also widely prevalent in Boston and New York City during this period, fanning the flames of the American Revolution by stirring up crowds of civilians. Their commotions were a distraction for British soldiers and allowed Connor to slip by without notice. In other cases, in the absence of an active riot, Connor would even command his apprentice Stephane Chapheau to spark one himself if a diversion was needed.
Stephane's penchant for riots was first witnessed by Connor on 6 December 1773 when the Frenchman fought back against British tax collectors and then went on a rampage through the streets murdering British soldiers on sight. That day, after he ended his killing spree by killing a henchman of the Templar William Johnson—though he believed him to be a mere taxman—he was recruited by Connor who advised him to channel his aggression through means other than wanton violence.
Rioting had a tradition in the British American colonies that dated back to at least the Boston Massacre on May 5, 1770. On that day, an angry mob that gathered before the Old State House to protest the Townshend Acts were fired upon by British soldiers in a confusion triggered by the Templar Charles Lee.