We continue the History Behind the Game series with Ubisoft’s most recent Creed title, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. With this game, we’re getting out of Italy and moving over to Turkey, specifically the Ottoman Empire at that time to explore that region during the early 16th century. Ezio is much older now and travels to Constantinople to track down 5 keys that’ll open up Altair’s Library in the former Assassin Headquarters of Masyaf.
This time out, I’ll be looking at some interesting historical figures in the game and seeing just how true Revelations is to the real history. Again, you won’t find everyone from the game here as there are quite a bit of fictional characters created specifically for the game, but there’s a good amount of interesting historical figures portrayed here as well. Word of warning though: if you have not completed the game I’d be very careful with what’s waiting for you below. I’ve tried to keep the spoilers to a minimum but ultimately, there’s some details below that may be a bit revealing. Read at your own risk.
Character Name: Sofia Sartor
In-Game Depiction: Born to a Venetian couple while in Constantinople, Sofia grew up with a love for knowledge and books. At the age of 28, Albrecht Durer was commissioned to paint a self-portrait of Sofia but upon seeing her beauty, he refused any money and said that the opportunity to paint her likeness was payment enough. Her father also owned a bookshop in Constantinople, which the family was forced to flee when the Venetian-Ottoman conflict broke out in 1498. She would later return to reopen it in 1507 where she would eventually bump into Ezio Auditore. She helped him decipher maps leading to locations of ancient books for a chance to read through them once he had found them. Overtime, their partnership developed into a relationship and they eventually settled down in Italy with two children, Flavia and Marcello.
Real Life: While Sofia technically doesn’t exist as a real person, her in-game look is based on of a painting by German artist, Albrecht Durer. Art Director Rafael Lacoste took influence from Durer’s Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman, which was created in 1505. He made sure that his art team modeled her very closely from this painting and it’s even mentioned in-game that her father commissioned Durer to paint a portrait of her for her 28th birthday. Creative way to give a back story to a portrait, that’s for sure.
Character Name: Suleiman I
In-Game Depiction: The Suleiman we’re given in Revelations is more of the prince/student type and not the “Magnificent” ruler he’s better known as. Ezio meets Suleiman on a ship bound for Constantinople and while the two become friends, they both do not reveal who they really are. The two met again under much different circumstances as Ezio saves Suleiman’s life during an assassination attempt at Topkapi Palace. From there, Suleiman hires Ezio to uncover who’s behind the plot and together they manage to bring down the Templar Grand Master’s plans. Throughout the story, Suleiman exhibits intelligence and understanding unlike the many other people in his life at the time.
Real Life: Known as Suleiman the Magnificent or Suleiman The Lawgiver, he was the 10th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, taking power in 1520 and regarded as one of its greatest rulers. His greatest achievement to the Ottoman Empire was his complete overhaul of the legal system and forming what is known as the “Ottoman Laws”. During his reign, the empire itself grew significantly and saw him annex the Middle East and large sections of Northern Africa, as well as leading the army to conquer Rhodes, Belgrade, and Hungary. It wasn’t until 1529 at the Seige of Vienna, when the Turkish surge was repelled by Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. In addition, Suleiman also supported the arts ushering in the Golden Age of artistic, literary, and architectural development. In September of 1566, Suleiman died before reaching his army on an expedition to Hungary.
Character Name: Piri Reis
In-Game Depiction: Achieving the rank of Master Assassin after his time as a Privateer with his Uncle and then in the Ottoman Navy, Piri Reis did not involve himself in missions of violence with the Assassins. Instead, he served the order as a merchant and technician, choosing to supply new items such as special bombs. He met with Ezio in 1511 and introduced him to the many different types of bombs available. In 1512, under orders from Prince Suleiman, Piri helped sail Ezio to the Templar headquarters located at Cappadocia to locate the final Masyaf Key being held by Manuel Palaiologos.
Real Life: Haci Ahmed Muhiddin Piri, better known as Piri Reis, was a well-known and highly respected Admiral in the Ottoman Navy. He was also a famous cartographer and geographer with much of his charts being used in his work, The Book of Navigation. His world map is the oldest known Turkish atlas showing the New World and one of the oldest known maps of America in existence. In the early part of his life, Piri was commonly seen with his uncle, Kemal Reis as they took part in many naval battles for the Ottoman Empire. It wasn’t until 1511 after his uncle’s death from a storm that he took up his studies in navigation. By 1516 he had become Captain in the Ottoman Navy and helped conquer Egypt and Rhodes for the Ottomans. By 1547 he was promoted to Admiral and captured key Portugese holdings in the Middle East such as Qatar, Bahrain, the island of Hormuz and Kish. Withdrawing his support for the local Ottoman Governor of Basra, he was made an example of and beheaded in 1555 at the ripe old age of 90. What a way to go, huh?
Character Names: Niccolo and Maffeo Polo
In-Game Depiction: Seen meeting with Mentor Altair in 1257, the Polo brothers were actually assassin’s themselves and given a special assignment to establish Assassin orders in Venice and Constantinople. They were also entrusted with Altair’s Codex and the future of the Assassin Order, but were attacked two days after leaving Masyaf by the Mongols. The codex was lost in the battle. After arriving in Constantinople, the brothers began hidding the 5 Memory Seals given to them by Altair in underground locations in the city and also hid various books around the city which would shed light on how to find the seals. Still bothered by the loss of the Codex, the duo set out along with Niccolo’s son, Marco, to retrieve the Codex from then Mongol ruler, Kublai Khan. Niccolo’s old trading post would later become the site of Sofia Sartor’s Book Shop in Constantinople.
Real Life: Father and Uncle of Marco Polo, the pair were Venetian merchants and explorers setting up trading posts in various cities such as Constantinople, the Crimea, and eventually, the western part of the Mongol Empire. Never staying in one place two long and always seeking better profits, the duo managed to avoid conflict just in time. They left Venice a year before the Byzantine’s recaptured and destroyed part of the city, and they also managed to leave Soldaia in the Crimea before Civil War broke out. Their biggest claim to fame however was reaching the court of Kublai Khan in 1266 at modern day Beijing, China. Kublai sent them back to the Pope with an embassador named Koeketei and requesting that the Pope send back 100 educated people to teach Christianity and western customs to his people. By 1271, the pair were joined by Niccolo’s son Marco, as Pope Gregory X finally fullfilled Kublai Khan’s request. The Polo’s remained in China for the next 17 years.
Character Name: Ishak Pasha
In-Game Depiction: Ok, so Ishak isn’t in the game at all, only his scattered pages. Though his in game history mentions that he was the one to establish peace between the Ottoman Turks and the Assassins. Pasha’s other claim to fame was recruiting Yusif Tazim into the order and also being the one who killed the Templar, Vlad “The Impaler” Tepes.
Real Life: Ishak Pasha originated from Croatia or Greece and eventually came to serve the Ottoman Empire as a high-ranking general and eventually serving as Grand Vizier twice. He is credited with transferring the Turkmen people from the city of Aksaray to the newly conquered city of Istanbul to repopulate the city after losing a good portion of the population from the original conquest of the city. He died in 1497.
Character Name: Manuel Palaiologos
In Game Depiction: During the Byzantine collapse to the Ottoman Turks, Manuel is technically still the rightful heir to the throne. Fleeing to Rome, Manuel makes fast friends with Rodrigo Borgia in an effort to restore Byzantine control over Constantinople. After plans fell through, Manuel returned to the city where he exchanged his rights to the Ottoman throne for a comfortable pension where he could live out his life as a subject of the Sultan. In actuality, Manuel continued his work with the Templars in secret as they formed their headquarters in the underground city of Cappadocia, growing a large army.
Real Life: Interestingly enough, the game history and real life history are virtually identical. Far as we know, Manuel wasn’t associated with a secret order or out to regain the throne for the Byzantines. Little is known about his life outside of the fact that he was the son of Thomas Palaiologos and nephew of Constantine XI. By 1460, his father, Thomas Palaiologos was recognized as Byzantine Emperor even though his family had fled to Rome during the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Ottoman Turks. In fact, during the reign of Bayezid II, Palaiologos returned and renounced his rights to the throne for a very comfortable pension and life in Constantinople. He fathered two children with a Turkish woman and even reportedly converted to Islam. Just like in the game, Manuel died in 1512.
Character Name: Ahmet
In-Game Depiction: The chosen heir to his father Bayezid II, Ahmet was regarded by the Janissaries as weak, indecisive, and restless during times of peace. In truth, Ahmet was highly intelligent and also arrogant as he counted heavily on his father’s support on him becoming the next Sultan. With his keen interest on keeping his public image spotless, Ahmet moved behind the scenes as the secret leader of the Byzantine Templars as he had grown tired of the “pointless blood feuds” and sought to bring mankind under the rule of one master mind. To this end, he assigned rightful Byzantine heir Manuel Palaiologos to secure the 5 Masyaf keys so he could open the secret library under the ruins of Masyaf. He also devised a plan to kidnap his nephew, Suleiman, at a party and arrange it so he would “rescue” the boy to further increase his popularity with the public.
Real Life: Suleiman’s uncle and oldest son of Sultan Bayezid II, Sehzade Ahmet became governor of Amasya as part of his royal training. While not official, Ahmet was considered the crown prince mainly due to his support from Grand Vizier, Hadim Ali Pasha. Custom dictated that upon the ruler’s death, the first offspring to reach Istanbul would have the right to ascend the throne. While the ruling Sultan wasn’t dead at the time, the three brothers began jockeying for position over one another for when that day arrived. This more or less caused the three brothers to war against one another. Bayezid turned on his son, Selim, in 1511 and managed to defeat his army due to Selim’s tampering with the rules of succession. Ahmet quickly rushed to Istanbul to secure the right to succession but was blocked and turned away by soldiers who sought a more abled Sultan. Bayezid, now believing his children to be out of control, abdicated the throne and Selim was declared Sultan. His first act? Rounding up his brothers and executing them.