Welcome back to real life Assassin’s Creed, your best insight into the compelling characters and individuals that not only shaped the game saga we all know and love, but the entire world’s history we see today!
Today we’re going to be moving away from the dusty, bustling streets of Renaissance Florence and moving along the north of Italy to the utterly beautiful city of Venice, home to greedy merchants, cunning lords and ruthless cut-throats. Our target amongst these crowds is Marco Barbarigo, Doge of Venice from 1485 to 1486.
Whilst the Barbarigo name has left a mark on history through the achievements and largely successful reign of Agostino Barbarigo, Marco’s younger brother, as our friend Shaun Hastings reminds us, Marco left his own rather black mark on history as well…
Born into one of the wealthiest families in the entire region, Marco was nothing short of a turbulent tyrant from the age he could walk, being all too aware of his supposed superiority and right to rule over anyone beneath him. But never one to sit back and enjoy what he had, Marco was always looking to better himself through the ins and outs of Venetian intrigue, resorting to the most underhand and dirty tactics possible. It was this greed, coupled with his willingness to partake in acts that weren’t entirely lawful that led him right into the Templar order, along with his cousin Silvio and his brother Emilio.
Already a contact of Rodrigo Borgia through the attempted coup in Florence and having seen Ezio’s own father in Venice some years before we meet him in the game, Marco is shown to be a close and trusted ally of the Spaniard’s. It was Marco, along with his Templar ally Carlo Grimaldi, who planned out the assassination of Doge Giovanni Mocenigo in 1485. In terms of real life history, there are plenty of rumblings about the nature of Doge Mocenigo’s death and a possible poisoning headed by the Barbarigos.
Both in the game and in history, Marco is seen as a shy and reclusive Doge. Living out most of his year as Doge of the city inside his own Palazzo, cowering from any would be Assassins, he would keep his public appearances to strictly important formal events. Agostino was the second most powerful man in Venice behind Marco, and the younger brother took Marco’s reclusive nature to really show himself off to the people of the city so that when the time came for him to become the new leader he was already a familiar face. The most high profile sighting of Marco Barbarigo was at the annual Venetian carnevale where it would have been almost a criminal offence not to be seen by enough people. With his newly designed hidden gun, it was on board his very own boat that Ezio Auditore would assassinate the Doge, ushering in a more Assassin-sympathetic time in the city under Agostino.
Marco’s tenure as Doge of Venice was brief and when compared next to his more famous brother, quite unremarkable. His sudden demise in real life events probably arose from a violent dispute between his nobles, no doubt triggered by his ambitious younger brother. His traits as a reclusive, cunning man captivated by greed and a lust for power is beautifully captured in the game and remains one of the best illustrations of how brutal the Venetian nobility could be at that time.