What makes Assassin’s Creed such an enthralling and memorable saga to play through is the sensation of walking through some of the most interesting points in human history. For me, there really is something truly awe-inspiring about the sensation of being a part of such monumental points that we’ve all read and been taught about. History is written by the people and characters who live through it and Assassin’s Creed opens up our eyes to those who we might not have otherwise been exposed to.
The first Assassin’s Creed game I ever played was actually Assassin’s Creed II, sometime going into 2010 which made the now infamous Pazzi Conspiracy in Florence the first taste of Assassin life for me. The thrilling story of corruption, envy, greed and betrayal that comes from the game’s portrayal of these once noble houses competing at the height of Renaissance Italy only gets more fascinating once you unfold the true details behind the real history surrounding it all.
In terms of real-world history, the game does a fine job in getting most of the Pazzi Conspiracy down to a tee. When we meet Francesco De’Pazzi, the heir and main mercenary of the Pazzi bank, in Assassins Creed II he’s a man who is almost entirely gripped by an intense hatred of Lorenzo De’Medici, his entire family and anyone else attempting to make a name for themselves in Florence. Born into what was then the wealthiest family in the city, Francesco was forced to watch on as his family’s previous might was increasingly eclipsed by the emerging Medici. Rodrigo Borgia, only known at this point as ‘The Spaniard’ then comes to Francesco and the rest of the Pazzi family with an interesting proposal: kill the Medici and hold Florence for the Templar order. Taking the leading role in planning the attack against Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano for high mass outside the city’s Duomo, Francesco is the real power holder in the Pazzi family and he absolutely revels in the role.
Along with Bernardo di Bandino Baronchelli, Francesco ignites the attack on the Medici by throwing himself at Giuliano, slicing powerfully across his neck and viciously stabbing the younger brother of Lorenzo as he descends into a crazed fit of rage. It is only when Ezio leaps to Lorenzo’s aid that Francesco is finally pulled back to his senses, showing his true colors and fleeing from the failed assassination attempt. It would be later on that evening that Francesco would meet his end. Screeching at his guards to execute the young assassin and refusing to concede defeat, it is only after another failed escape and a killing blow from Ezio that Francesco finally admits that “It’s over… It’s all over…”
Francesco is a brash, presumptuous and very aggressive man in the game with very little that makes us feel any remorse for putting him down. He constantly ignores or dismisses any of the warnings his father might have brought forward, palming off the Medici and their friends as ‘arrogant and too stupid to notice’ the events he’s conspiring. Even as a father, he doesn’t appear to have much of a relationship at all with his son, Vieri, that we can look towards, showing a total lack of emotion even when Jacopo reminds him of his son’s death at the hands of Ezio.
In terms of real-life history, the game does exceptionally well incorporating Francesco into the story. At the outbreak of the Pazzi Conspiracy in 1478, it was Francesco De’Pazzi and Bernardo Baronchelli who delivered the first blows and the apparent nineteen stab wounds to Giuliano De’Medici could be the evidence of the Pazzi man’s fury. Even in his death, Francesco’s corpse really was hung from the Palazzo della Signoria and was joined by his father, Jacopo, when the latter was caught and made to answer for his treason.
Francesco and his part in the Pazzi conspiracy against the Medici remains one of my favorite little subplots in the entire Assassins Creed franchise, purely for the fact that it couples everything you love about the game together. You have the mystery of discovering the intrigue and plotting behind the Auditore’s death, a series of eventful and exhilarating missions and challenges and just this accurate sense of watching real history unfolding in front of you.