Assassins

Order of Assassins or simply Assassins is the common name used to refer to an Islamic sect formally known as the Nizari Ismailis. Based on texts from Alamut, their grand master Hassan-i Sabbah tended to call his disciples Asāsiyyūn (أساسيون, meaning "people who are faithful to the foundation [of the faith]"), but some foreign travellers like Marco Polo[1] misunderstood the name as deriving from the term hashish.[2][3][4][5]

Often described as a secret order led by a mysterious "Old Man of the Mountain", the Nizari Ismailis formed in the late 11th century after a split within Ismailism – a branch of Shia Islam.

The Nizaris posed a strategic threat to Sunni Seljuq authority by capturing and inhabiting several mountain fortresses throughout Persia and later Syria, under the leadership of Hassan-i Sabbah. Asymmetric warfare, psychological warfare, and surgical strikes were often a tactic of the assassins, drawing their opponents into submission rather than risk killing them.[6]

While "Assassins" typically refers to the entire sect, only a group of acolytes known as the fida'i actually engaged in conflict. Lacking their own army, the Nizari relied on these warriors to carry out espionage and assassinations of key enemy figures, and over the course of 300 years successfully killed two caliphs, and many viziers, sultans, and Crusader leaders.[7]

During the rule of Imam Rukn-ud-Din Khurshah, the Nizari state declined internally, and was eventually destroyed as the Imam surrendered the castles to the invading Mongols. The Mongols destroyed and eliminated their Order. Mentions of Assassins were preserved within European sources – such as the writings of Marco Polo – where they are depicted as trained killers, responsible for the systematic elimination of opposing figures. The word "assassin" has been used ever since to describe a hired or professional killer, leading to the related term "assassination", which denotes any action involving murder of a high-profile target for political reasons.

The Nizari were acknowledged and feared by the Crusaders. The stories of the Assassins were further embellished by Marco Polo. European orientalist historians in the 19th century – such as Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall – also referred to the Nizari in their works and tended to write about the Nizari based on accounts by medieval Sunni Arab and Persian authors.

Order of Assassins
RudkhanCastle
Rudkhan Castle in the Alborz mountain range - Iran
Formation1090 CE
Extinction1275 CE
TypeMilitary order
Purpose
Headquarters
Location
Official language
Parent organization
AffiliationsNizari Ismaili state

Origins

Asabah2
Artistic rendering of Hassan-i Sabbah.

The origins of the Assassins can be traced back to just before the First Crusade, around 1094 in Alamut, north of modern Iran, during a crisis of succession to the Fatimid caliphate.[8] There has been great difficulty finding out much information about the origins of the Assassins because most early sources are written by enemies of the order, are based on legends, or both. Most sources dealing with the order's inner workings were destroyed with the capture of Alamut, the Assassins' headquarters, by the Mongols in 1256. However, it is possible to trace the beginnings of the cult back to its first Grandmaster, Hassan-i Sabbah (1050s–1124).

A passionate devotee of Isma'ili beliefs, Hassan-i Sabbah was well-liked throughout Cairo, Syria and most of the Middle East by other Isma'ili, which led to a number of people becoming his followers. Using his fame and popularity, Sabbah founded the Order of the Assassins. While his motives for founding this order are ultimately unknown, it was said to be all for his own political and personal gain and to also exact vengeance on his enemies. Because of the unrest in the Holy Land caused by the Crusades, Hassan-i Sabbah found himself not only fighting for power with other Muslims, but also with the invading Christian forces.[9]

After creating the Order, Sabbah searched for a location that would be fit for a sturdy headquarters and decided on the fortress at Alamut in what is now northwestern Iran. The Alamut castle was built by the Justanid ruler, Wahsudan b. Marzuban, a follower of zaydi Shiaism, around 865 AD.[10] Sabbah adapted the fortress to suit his needs not only for defense from hostile forces, but also for indoctrination of his followers. After laying claim to the fortress at Alamut, Sabbah began expanding his influence outwards to nearby towns and districts, using his agents to gain political favour and to intimidate the local populations.

Spending most of his days at Alamut producing religious works and developing doctrines for his Order, Sabbah would never leave his fortress again in his lifetime. He had established a secret society of deadly assassins, which was built on a hierarchical structure. Below Sabbah, the Grand Headmaster of the Order, were those known as "Greater Propagandists", followed by the normal "Propagandists", the Rafiqs ("Companions"), and the Lasiqs ("Adherents"). It was the Lasiqs who were trained to become some of the most feared assassins, or as they were called, "Fida'in" (self-sacrificing agents).[11]

However, it is unknown how Hassan-i-Sabbah was able to get his "Fida'in" to perform with such fervent loyalty. One theory, possibly the best known but also the most criticized, comes from the reports of Marco Polo during his travels to the Orient. He recounts a story he heard of a man who would drug his young followers with hashish, lead them to a "paradise", and then claim that only he had the means to allow for their return. Perceiving that Sabbah was either a prophet or magician, his disciples, believing that only he could return them to "paradise", were fully committed to his cause and willing to carry out his every request.[12] However, this story is disputed because Sabbah died in 1124 and Sinan, who is frequently known as the "Old Man of the Mountain", died in 1192, whereas Marco Polo was not born until around 1254.[13][14]

With his new weapons, Sabbah began to order assassinations, ranging from politicians to great generals. Assassins would rarely attack ordinary citizens though, and tended not to be hostile towards them.

Although the "Fida'yin" were the lowest rank in Sabbah's order and were only used as expendable pawns to do the Grandmaster's bidding, much time and many resources were put into training them. The Assassins were generally young in age, giving them the physical strength and stamina which would be required to carry out these murders. However, physical prowess was not the only trait that was required to be a "Fida'i". To get to their targets, the Assassins had to be patient, cold, and calculating. They were generally intelligent and well-read because they were required to possess not only knowledge about their enemy, but his or her culture and their native language. They were trained by their masters to disguise themselves and sneak into enemy territory to perform the assassinations, instead of simply attacking their target outright.[11]

Etymology

The word "ASAS" in Arabic means principle. The "Asāsiyyūn" (plural, literary Arabic, official texts, proper form) were as defined in Arabic; people of principle. Asasi (singular) and asasin pronounced "Asāsiyyeen" (plural, literary variation as well as regular spoken Arabic, more commonly used) The term "assassin" can easily, likely in this instance, be thought as finding its roots in "hashshāshīn"(hashish smokers or users). It is far more likely to be a mispronunciation of the original Asāsiyyūn. However, not a mispronunciation of "assasiyeen". One can therefore see how its origins became assassin in Western languages. Originally referring to the methods of political control exercised by the Assasiyuun as defined by their activities and Later, the almost identical borrowed term assassin(s) used in several languages to describe similar activities anywhere.

The Assassins were finally linked by the 19th-century orientalist scholar Silvestre de Sacy to the Arabic word hashish using their variant names assassin and assissini in the 19th century. Citing the example of one of the first written applications of the Arabic term hashish to the Ismailis by 13th-century historian Abu Shama, de Sacy demonstrated its connection to the name given to the Ismailis throughout Western scholarship.[15] The first known usage of the term hashishi has been traced back to 1122 when the Fatimid caliph al-Āmir employed it in derogatory reference to the Syrian Nizaris.[15] Used figuratively, the term hashishi connoted meanings such as outcasts or rabble.[15] Without actually accusing the group of using the hashish drug, the Caliph used the term in a pejorative manner. This label was quickly adopted by anti-Ismaili historians and applied to the Ismailis of Syria and Persia. The spread of the term was further facilitated through military encounters between the Nizaris and the Crusaders, whose chroniclers adopted the term and disseminated it across Europe.

During the medieval period, Western scholarship on the Ismailis contributed to the popular view of the community as a radical sect of assassins, believed to be trained for the precise murder of their adversaries. By the 14th century, European scholarship on the topic had not advanced much beyond the work and tales from the Crusaders.[15] The origins of the word forgotten, across Europe the term Assassin had taken the meaning of "professional murderer".[15] In 1603, the first Western publication on the topic of the Assassins was authored by a court official for King Henry IV of France and was mainly based on the narratives of Marco Polo from his visits to the Near East. While he assembled the accounts of many Western travellers, the author failed to explain the etymology of the term Assassin.[16]

According to the Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf, based on texts from Alamut, Hassan-i Sabbah tended to call his disciples Asāsīyūn (أساسيون, meaning "people who are faithful to the foundation [of the faith]"), and derivation from the term hashish is a misunderstanding by foreign travelers.[17]

Another modern author, Edward Burman, states that:

Many scholars have argued, and demonstrated convincingly, that the attribution of the epithet "hashish eaters" or "hashish takers" is a misnomer derived from enemies of the Isma'ilis and was never used by Muslim chroniclers or sources. It was therefore used in a pejorative sense of "enemies" or "disreputable people". This sense of the term survived into modern times with the common Egyptian usage of the term Hashasheen in the 1930s to mean simply "noisy or riotous". It is unlikely that the austere Hassan-i Sabbah indulged personally in drug taking ... there is no mention of that drug hashish in connection with the Persian Assassins – especially in the library of Alamut ("the secret archives").[2]

The name "Assassin" is often said to derive from the Arabic word Hashishin or "users of hashish",[3](which can be used as a derogatory term in Arabic and it is the equivalent of "drug addict", in this case, "hashish addict") was originally applied to the Nizari Ismaelis by the rival Mustali Ismailis during the fall of the Ismaili Fatimid Empire and the separation of the two Ismaili streams,[4] there is little evidence hashish was used to motivate the assassins, contrary to the beliefs of their medieval enemies.[5] It is possible that the term hashishiyya or hashishi in Arabic sources was used metaphorically in its abusive sense relating to use of hashish, which due to its effects on the mind state, is outlawed in Islam. Modern versions of this word include Mahashish used in the same derogatory sense, albeit less offensive nowadays, as the use of the substance is more widespread.

Idries Shah, a sufi scholar using Arkon Daraul as a pen name, described them as 'druggers' that used hashish "in stupefying candidates for the ephemeral visit to paradise".[18]

The Sunni Muslims also used the term mulhid to refer to the Assassins, which is also recorded by the traveller William of Rubruck as mulidet.[19]

Military tactics

Iran - Qazvin - Alamout Castle View
Remains of the Alamut castle in Qazvin, Iran

In pursuit of their religious and political goals, the Ismailis adopted various military strategies popular in the Middle Ages. One such method was that of assassination, the selective elimination of prominent rival figures. The murders of political adversaries were usually carried out in public spaces, creating resounding intimidation for other possible enemies.[20] Throughout history, many groups have resorted to assassination as a means of achieving political ends. In the Ismaili context, these assignments were performed by fida'is (devotees) of the Ismaili mission. The assassinations were committed against those whose elimination would most greatly reduce aggression against the Ismailis and, in particular, against those who had perpetrated massacres against the community. A single assassination was usually employed in contrast with the widespread bloodshed which generally resulted from factional combat. Hashashin are also said to be adept in furusiyya, or the Islamic warrior code, where they are trained in combat, disguises, and equestrianism. Codes of conduct are followed, and the hashashin are taught in the art of war, linguistics, and strategies. Hashashin never allowed their women to be at their fortresses during military campaigns, both for protection and secrecy. This is a tradition first made by Hassan when he sent his wife and daughters to Girdkuh when a famine was created during the Seljuk siege of Alamut.[21] For about two centuries, the hashashin specialized in assassinating their religious and political enemies.[21]

Masyaf - Gesamtansicht
Rashid ad-Din Sinan the Grand Master of the Assassins at Masyaf successfully kept Saladin off his territory.

The first instance of murder in the effort to establish a Nizari Ismaili state in Persia is widely considered to be the killing of Seljuq vizier, Nizam al-Mulk.[22] Carried out by a man dressed as a Sufi whose identity remains unclear, the vizier's murder in a Seljuq court is distinctive of exactly the type of visibility for which missions of the fida'is have been significantly exaggerated.[23] While the Seljuqs and Crusaders both employed murder as a military means of disposing of factional enemies, during the Alamut period almost any murder of political significance in the Islamic lands was attributed to the Ismailis.[20] So inflated had this association grown that, in the work of orientalist scholars such as Bernard Lewis, the Ismailis were equated with the politically active fida'is and thus were regarded as a radical and heretical sect known as the Assassins.[24]

The military approach of the Nizari Ismaili state was largely a defensive one, with strategically chosen sites that appeared to avoid confrontation wherever possible without the loss of life.[25] But the defining characteristic of the Nizari Ismaili state was that it was scattered geographically throughout Persia and Syria. The Alamut castle therefore was only one of a nexus of strongholds throughout the regions where Ismailis could retreat to safety if necessary. West of Alamut in the Shahrud Valley, the major fortress of Lamasar served as just one example of such a retreat. In the context of their political uprising, the various spaces of Ismaili military presence took on the name dar al-hijra (دار الهجرة; land of migration, place of refuge). The notion of the dar al-hijra originates from the time of Muhammad, who migrated with his followers from persecution to a safe haven in Yathrib (Medina).[26] In this way, the Fatimids found their dar al-hijra in North Africa. From 1101 to 1118, attacks and sieges were made on the fortresses, conducted by combined forces of Seljuk, Berkyaruq, and Sanjar. Although with the cost of lives and the capture and execution of assassin dai Ahmad ibn Hattash, the hashashin managed to hold their ground and repel the attacks until the Mongol invasion.[27] Likewise, during the revolt against the Seljuqs, several fortresses served as spaces of refuge for the Ismailis.

Assassination

Assassination of Nizam al-Mulk
14th-century painting of the successful assassination of Nizam al-Mulk, vizier of the Seljuq Empire, by an Assassin. It is often considered their most significant assassination.

At their peak, many of the assassinations of the day were often attributed to the hashashin. Even though the Crusaders and the other factions employed personal assassins, the fact that the hashashin performed their assassinations in full view of the public, often in broad daylight, gave them the reputation assigned to them.[28]

Psychological warfare, and attacking the enemy's psyche was another often employed tactic of the hashashin, who would sometimes attempt to draw their opponents into submission rather than risk killing them.[6]

During the Seljuk invasion after the death of Muhammad Tapar, a new Seljuk sultan emerged with the coronation of Tapar's son Sanjar. When Sanjar rebuffed the hashashin ambassadors who were sent by Hassan for peace negotiations, Hassan sent his hashashin to the sultan. Sanjar woke up one morning with a dagger stuck in the ground beside his bed. Alarmed, he kept the matter a secret. A messenger from Hassan arrived and stated, "Did I not wish the sultan well that the dagger which was struck in the hard ground would have been planted on your soft breast". For the next several decades there ensued a ceasefire between the Nizaris and the Seljuk. Sanjar himself pensioned the hashashin on taxes collected from the lands they owned, gave them grants and licenses, and even allowed them to collect tolls from travelers.[29]

Downfall and aftermath

Siege of Alamut (1256).jpeg
View of Alamut besieged. The last Grand Master of the Assassins at Alamut Imam Rukn al-Din Khurshah (1255–1256) was executed by Hulagu Khan after a devastating siege

The Assassins were eradicated by the Mongol Empire during the well-documented invasion of Khwarizm. They probably dispatched their assassins to kill Möngke Khan. Thus, a decree was handed over to the Mongol commander Kitbuqa who began to assault several Hashashin fortresses in 1253 before Hulagu's advance in 1256. The Mongols besieged Alamut on December 15, 1256. The Assassins recaptured and held Alamut for a few months in 1275, but they were crushed and their political power was lost forever.

The Syrian branch of the Assassins was taken over by the Mamluk Sultan Baibars in 1273. The Mamluks continued to use the services of the remaining Assassins: in the 14th century Ibn Battuta reported their fixed rate of pay per murder. In exchange, they were allowed to exist. Eventually, they resorted to the act of Taqq'iya (dissimulation), hiding their true identities until their Imams would awaken them.

According to the historian Yaqut al-Hamawi, the Böszörmény, (Izmaleita or Ismaili/Nizari) denomination of Muslims who lived in the Kingdom of Hungary from the 10th to the 13th centuries, were employed as mercenaries by the kings of Hungary. However, following the establishment of the Christian Kingdom of Hungary, their community was vanquished by the end of the 13th century due to the Inquisitions ordered by the Catholic Church during the reign of Coloman, King of Hungary. It is said that the Assassins are the ancestors of those given the surname Hajaly, derived from the word "hajal", a rare species of bird found in the mountains of Syria near Masyaf. The hajal (bird) was often used as a symbol of the Assassin's order.

Legends and folklore

The legends of the Assassins had much to do with the training and instruction of Nizari fida'is, famed for their public missions during which they often gave their lives to eliminate adversaries. Historians have contributed to the tales of fida'is being fed with hashish as part of their training.[30] Whether fida'is were actually trained or dispatched by Nizari leaders is unconfirmed, but scholars including Vladimir Ivanov purport that the assassinations of key figures including Saljuq vizier Nizam al-Mulk likely provided encouraging impetus to others in the community who sought to secure the Nizaris protection from political aggression.[30] Originally, a "local and popular term" first applied to the Ismailis of Syria, the label was orally transmitted to Western historians and thus found itself in their histories of the Nizaris.[26]

The tales of the fida'is' training collected from anti-Ismaili historians and orientalist writers were compounded and compiled in Marco Polo's account, in which he described a "secret garden of paradise".[31] After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said to be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fida'is would awaken. Here, they were told by an "old" man that they were witnessing their place in Paradise and that should they wish to return to this garden permanently, they must serve the Nizari cause.[26] So went the tale of the "Old Man in the Mountain", assembled by Marco Polo and accepted by Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, an 18th-century Austrian orientalist writer responsible for much of the spread of this legend. Until the 1930s, von Hammer's retelling of the Assassin legends served as the standard account of the Nizaris across Europe.[31]

Another one of Hassan's recorded methods includes causing the hashashin to be vilified by their contemporaries. One story goes that Hassan al-Sabah set up a trick to make it appear as if he had decapitated one of his hashashin and the "dead" hashashin's head lay at the foot of his throne. It was actually one of his men buried up to his neck covered with blood. He invited his hashashin to speak to it. He said that he used special powers to allow it to communicate. The supposed talking head would tell the hashashin about paradise after death if they gave all their hearts to the cause. After the trick was played, Hassan had the man killed and his head placed on a stake in order to cement the deception.[32]

A well-known legend tells how Count Henry of Champagne, returning from Armenia, spoke with Grand Master Rashid ad-Din Sinan at al-Kahf. The count claimed to have the most powerful army and at any moment he claimed he could defeat the Hashshashin, because his army was 10 times larger. Rashid replied that his army was instead the most powerful, and to prove it he told one of his men to jump off from the top of the castle in which they were staying. The man did. Surprised, the count immediately recognized that Rashid's army was indeed the strongest, because it did everything at his command, and Rashid further gained the count's respect.[33]

Modern works on the Nizaris have elucidated their history and, in doing so, dispelled popular histories from the past as mere legends. In 1933, under the direction of the Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III, the Islamic Research Association was developed. Historian Vladimir Ivanov was central to both this institution and the 1946 Ismaili Society of Bombay. Cataloguing a number of Ismaili texts, Ivanov provided the ground for great strides in modern Ismaili scholarship.[32]

In recent years, Peter Willey has provided interesting evidence that goes against the Assassin folklore of earlier scholars. Drawing on its established esoteric doctrine, Willey asserts that the Ismaili understanding of Paradise is a deeply symbolic one. While the Qur'anic description of Heaven includes natural imagery, Willey argues that no Nizari fida'i would seriously believe that he was witnessing Paradise simply by awakening in a beauteous garden.[34] The Nizaris' symbolic interpretation of the Qur'anic description of Paradise serves as evidence against the possibility of such an exotic garden used as motivation for the devotees to carry out their armed missions. Furthermore, Willey points out that a courtier of Hulagu Khan, Juvayni, surveyed the Alamut castle just before the Mongol invasion. In his reports about the fortress, there are elaborate descriptions of sophisticated storage facilities and the famous Alamut library. However, even this anti-Ismaili historian makes no mention of the gardens on the Alamut grounds.[34] Having destroyed a number of texts in the library's collection, deemed by Juvayni to be heretical, it would be expected that he would pay significant attention to the Nizari gardens, particularly if they were the site of drug use and temptation. Having not once mentioned such gardens, Willey concludes that there is no sound evidence in favour of these legends.

These legends feature in certain works of fiction, including Vladimir Bartol's 1938 novel Alamut, and Simon Acland's[35] First Crusade novels The Waste Land and The Flowers of Evil. In the latter, the author suggests that the origin of the name Assassin is the Turkish word hashhash meaning opium, partly on the basis that this drug is more suitable for producing the effects suggested in the legends than hashish.

Fortresses in Syria

Map Crusader states ca. 1100
Map of the Crusader states, showing the area controlled by the Assassins around Masyaf, slightly above the center, in white.

During the mid-12th century the Assassins captured or acquired several fortresses in the Nusayriyah Mountain Range in coastal Syria, including Masyaf, Rusafa, al-Kahf, al-Qadmus, Khawabi, Sarmin, Quliya, Ulayqa, Maniqa, Abu Qubays and Jabal al-Summaq. For the most part, the Assassins maintained full control over these fortresses until 1270–73 when the Mamluk sultan Baibars annexed them. Most were dismantled afterwards, while those at Masyaf and Ulayqa were later rebuilt.[36] From then on, the Ismailis maintained limited autonomy over those former strongholds as loyal subjects of the Mamluks.[37]

In popular culture

The Hashashin were part of Medieval culture, and they were either demonized or romanticized. The Hashashin appeared frequently in the art and literature of the Middle Ages, sometimes illustrated as one of the knight's archenemies and as a quintessential villain during the crusades.[38]

The word Assassin, in variant forms, had already passed into European usage in this general sense as a term for a hired professional murderer. The Florentine chronicler Giovanni Villani, who died in 1348, tells how the lord of Lucca sent 'his assassins' (i suoi assassini) to Pisa to kill a troublesome enemy there. Even earlier, Dante, in a passing reference in the 19th canto of the Inferno, speaks of 'the treacherous assassin' (lo perfido assassin); his fourteenth-century commentator Francesco da Buti, explaining a term which for some readers at the time may still have been strange and obscure, remarks: 'Assassino è colui che uccide altrui per danari' (An assassin is one who kills others for money).[39]

The Assassins appear in many role-playing games and video games, especially in massively multiplayer online games. The assassin character class is a common feature of many such games, usually specializing in single combat and stealth skills, often combined in order to defeat an opponent without exposing the assassin to counter-attack.

  • The Exile series of action role-playing games revolves around a time-traveling Syrian Assassin who assassinates various religious historical figures and modern world leaders.[40][41]
  • The Assassin's Creed video game series portrays a heavily fictionalized Ḥashshāshīn order, which has expanded beyond its Levantine confines and is depicted to have existed throughout recorded history (along with their nemesis, the Knights Templar).[42] Both orders are presented as fundamentally philosophical, rather than as religious, in nature, and are expressly said to predate the faiths that their real-life counterparts arose from, thus allowing for the expansion of their respective "histories" both before and after their factual time-frames. However, Assassin's Creed draws much of its content from historical facts, and even incorporates as the creed itself the purported last words from Hassan i Sabbah: "Nothing is true; everything is permitted" (though the sources for that quote are largely unreliable). The series has since developed into a franchise, comprising novels, comic books, and a film.
  • In the Sword of Islam DLC for Paradox Interactive's grand strategy game Crusader Kings II, the Hashashin are a holy order associated with Shi'a Islam. Once established, Shi'ite rulers may hire the Hashashin to fight against non-Shi'a realms, and can potentially vassalize them. The Monks and Mystics DLC expands their role, making the Assassins a unique secret society that Shi'a characters may join.
  • In the Netflix series Marco Polo, the emperor Kublai Khan is attacked by a group of assassins, which is said to be the work of the Hashshashin who are led by the Old Man of the Mountain according to the Taoist Monk, Hundred Eyes, in the King's court. The Old Man of the Mountain is then pursued by Marco Polo and Byamba. The show shows how the Old Man leads Marco Polo into a hallucination state.[43]
  • Louis L'Amour, in his book The Walking Drum, used the assassins and the stronghold of Alamut as the location of his main character's enslaved father. Mathurin Kerbouchard, who initially seeks his father in the 12th century Moor-controlled Spain, then throughout Europe, must ultimately travel to the Stronghold of Alamut in order to rescue Jean Kerbouchard.[44]
  • The Faceless men, a guild of assassins in the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin and in the TV series Game of Thrones are inspired by Order of Assasins[45]
  • The Fate franchise of visual novels features the sect quite prominently with Hassan-i-sabbah, also known as the "Old Man of the Mountain" (山の翁, Yama no Okina), being a pseudonym of 19 wraiths able to be summoned into the assassin class. Their Noble Phantasm is called Zabaniya (Japanese: ザバニヤ), from Arabic (Az-zabānīya: الزبانية‎), named after the 19 angels that guard hell in the Islamic faith. In both Fate/Zero and Fate/ Stay Night: Heaven's Feel, 'Assassin' is a character (servant of Kotomine Kirei and Matō Zouken respectively) that portrays members of the sect of Hashashin.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Komroff, Manuel (2013-04-16). The Travels of Marco Polo. Read Books Ltd. ISBN 9781446545997.
  2. ^ a b Burman, Edward (1987). The Assassins – Holy Killers of Islam. Wellingborough: Crucible. p.70.
  3. ^ a b Lewis, Bernard (1967), The Assassins: a Radical Sect of Islam, pp 30-31, Oxford University Press
  4. ^ a b Daftary, Farhad (1990). The Ismailis: Their history and doctrines. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Page 12.
  5. ^ a b Daftary, Farhad (1990). The Ismailis: Their history and doctrines. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Page 13. quote=[p.13]"the tale of how the Nizari chiefs secretly administered hashish to the fadaeen in order to control and motivate them has been accepted by many scholars since Arnold of Lueback. But the fact remains that neither the Isma'ili texts which have come to light in modern times nor any serious ..." [p.353] "However, contrary to the medieval legends fabricated by uninformed writers and the enemies of the sect, there is no evidence that hashish was used in any way for motivating the fidaeen who displayed an intensive groups sentiment and solidarity."
  6. ^ a b Lane-Poole, Stanley (1906). Saladin and the Fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Heroes of the Nations. London: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
  7. ^ Acosta, Benjamin (2012). "Assassins". In Stanton, Andrea L.; Ramsamy, Edward. Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa: An Encyclopedia. Sage. p. 21. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  8. ^ Eddé, Anne-Marie (2003). Vauchez, André, ed. "Assassins". Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. Oxford. ISBN 9780227679319. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  9. ^ Lockhart, Laurence (1930). Hasan-i-Sabbah and the Assassins. London: University of London.
  10. ^ Daftary, Farhad (2007-09-20). The Isma'ilis: Their History and Doctrines. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139465786.
  11. ^ a b Nowell, Charles E. (1947). "The Old Man of the Mountain". Speculum. 22 (4).
  12. ^ Frampton, John (1929). The Most Noble and Famous Travels of Marco Polo.
  13. ^ Italiani nel sistema solare di Michele T. Mazzucato
  14. ^ Many sources state "around 1254"; Britannica 2002, p. 571 states, "born in or around 1254".
  15. ^ a b c d e Daftary 1998, p. 14
  16. ^ Daftary 1998, p. 15
  17. ^ Maalouf, Amin (1998). Samarkand. New York: Interlink Publishing Group.
  18. ^ Daraul, Arkon (1961). A History of Secret Societies. Citadel Press. p. 13, p. 29.
  19. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=uTcRBQAAQBAJ&lpg=PT113&pg=PT114
  20. ^ a b Daftary 1998, p. 129
  21. ^ a b Wasserman, p. 102
  22. ^ Willey, p. 29
  23. ^ Willey p. 29
  24. ^ Lewis, Bernard (2003). The Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam. Phoenix. ISBN 978-1-84212-451-2. Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  25. ^ Willey, p. 58
  26. ^ a b c Hodgson, Marshall G. S. (2005). The Secret Order of Assassins: The Struggle of the Early Nizârî Ismâʻîlîs Against the Islamic World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-1916-6. Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  27. ^ Wasserman, p. 104
  28. ^ Wasserman, p. 109
  29. ^ Wasserman, p. 105
  30. ^ a b Ivanov, Vladimir (1960). Alamut and Lamasar: two mediaeval Ismaili strongholds in Iran, an archaeological study. Tehran, Iran: Ismaili Society. p. 21. Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  31. ^ a b Daftary 1998, p. 16
  32. ^ a b Daftary 1998, p. 17
  33. ^ The Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam, p. 25
  34. ^ a b Willey, p. 55
  35. ^ Cookie Dude Web Design (June 1, 2012). "simonacland.com". simonacland.com. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  36. ^ Raphael, 2011, p. 106.
  37. ^ Daftary, 2007, p. 402.
  38. ^ The Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam p.18
  39. ^ The Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam p.20
  40. ^ Szczepaniak, John (April 11, 2009). "Hardcore Gaming 101: Exile / XZR". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
  41. ^ Leo Chan, Sunsoft scores Telenet Japan franchises, Neoseeker, December 10, 2009
  42. ^ The History of Assassin's Creed by IGN
  43. ^ "Marco Polo" Hashshashin (TV Episode 2014) - Plot Summary - IMDb
  44. ^ L'Amour, Louis (1984). The walking drum. Toronto: Bantam Books. ISBN 9780553249231. OCLC 12268583.
  45. ^ Sokol, Tony (June 29, 2018). "The real history of game of thrones the faceless men".

References

Further reading

  • Daftary, Farhad (1990). The Isma'ilis, Their History and Doctrines. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-37019-1.
  • Daftary, Farhad (1995). The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Ismailis. London: I.B. Tauris. pp. 88–127. ISBN 1-85043-950-8. Review
  • Franzius, Enno (1969). History of the Order of Assassins. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
  • Maalouf, Amin (1989). The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (translated by Jon Rothschild ed.). New York: Schocken Books. ISBN 0-8052-0898-4.
  • Polo, Marco (1903). H. Cordier, ed. The Book of Ser Marco Polo, volume 1 (3rd revised translated by H. Yule ed.). London: J. Murray. pp. 139–146.
  • Rzewuski, Venceslas (1813). Fundgruben des Orients. Wien: Anton Schmid, K. K. Buchdrucker. pp. 201–207.
  • Silvestre de Sacy, Antoine Isaac (1818). "Mémoire sur La Dynastie des Assassins, et sur L'Etymologie de leur Nom". Memoires de sins, et sur l'Institut Royal de France. 4: 1–84. English translation in F. Daftary, The Assassin Legends, 136–188.
  • Stark, Freya (2001). The Valleys of the Assassins and Other Persian Travels. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-375-75753-8.
  • Willey, Peter (1963). The Castles of the Assassins. London: George G. Harrap.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg "Assassins" . New International Encyclopedia. 1905.

External links

13 Assassins (2010 film)

13 Assassins (Japanese: 十三人の刺客, Hepburn: Jūsannin no Shikaku) is a 2010 samurai film directed by Takashi Miike, a remake of Eiichi Kudo's 1963 Japanese black-and-white film 13 Assassins. Loosely based on historical events, the film is set in 1844 toward the end of the medieval Edo period where a group of thirteen assassins—composed of twelve samurai and a hunter—secretly plot to assassinate the savage leader of the Akashi clan, Lord Matsudaira Naritsugu, before his appointment to the powerful Shogunate Council.

The film stars Kōji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Sōsuke Takaoka, Hiroki Matsukata, Kazuki Namioka, and Gorō Inagaki. It is the third film in which Yamada and Takaoka co-starred, the first two being Crows Zero and Crows Zero 2, both directed by Miike. Principal photography took place in the course of two months in Tsuruoka, Yamagata, in northern Japan, in the period from July to September 2009. The film opened in Japan on 25 September 2010 and in the United States on 29 April 2011 to very good reviews.

Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed is an action-adventure stealth video game franchise created by Patrice Désilets, Jade Raymond and Corey May, developed and published by Ubisoft using the game engine Anvil Next. It depicts in the centuries-old struggle, now and then, between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The series features historical fiction, science fiction and characters, intertwined with real-world historical events and figures. For the majority of time players would control an Assassin in the past history, while they also play as Desmond Miles or an Assassin Initiate in the present day, who hunt down their Templar targets.

The video game series took inspiration from the novel Alamut by the Slovenian writer Vladimir Bartol, while building upon concepts from the Prince of Persia series. It begins with the self-titled game in 2007, and has featured eleven main games. The most recent released game is 2018's Assassin's Creed Odyssey.

A new story and time period are introduced in each entry, and gameplay elements evolve from the previous one. There are three story arcs in the series. For the first five main games, the framing story is set in 2012 and features series protagonist Desmond Miles who uses a machine called the Animus and relives the memories of his ancestors to find a way to avert the 2012 apocalypse. In games till Assassin's Creed Syndicate, Abstergo employees and Assassin initiates recorded genetic memories using the Helix software, helping the Templars and Assassins find new Pieces of Eden in the modern world. The latest two games, Assassin's Creed Origins and Assassin's Creed Odyssey follow ex-Abstergo employee Layla Hassan as she is recruited into the Assassin's Creed.

Main games of Assassin's Creed are set in an open world and presented from the third-person perspective where the protagonists take down targets using their combat and stealth skills with the exploitation of the environment. Freedom of exploration is given to the player the historical settings to finish main and side quests. Apart from single-player missions, some games also provide competitive and cooperative multiplayer gameplay. While main games are produced for major consoles and desktop platforms, multiple spin-off games were also released in accompany for consoles, mobiles, and handhelds platforms.

The main games in the Assassin's Creed video game series have received generally positive reviews for their ambition in visuals, game design, and narratives, with criticism towards the yearly release cycle and frequent bugs. The spin-off games received mixed to positive reviews. The video game series has received multiple awards and nominations, including Game of the Year awards. It is also commercially successful, selling over 100 million copies as of September 2016, becoming Ubisoft's best-selling franchise and one of the highest selling video game franchises of all time. Assassin's Creed was adapted by its self-titled film, which received negative reviews. A book series of art books, encyclopedias, comics, novelizations, and novels is also published. All of the media take place within the same continuity as the main video game series.

Assassin's Creed II

Assassin's Creed II is a 2009 action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the second major installment in the Assassin's Creed series, a sequel to 2007's Assassin's Creed, and the first chapter in the Ezio trilogy. The game was first released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in November 2009, and was later made available on Microsoft Windows in March 2010 and OS X in October 2010. Several minor game related features could be redeemed on Uplay and three downloadable expansion packs were released on Xbox Live.

The plot is set in a fictional history setting and follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Knights Templars, who desire peace through control. The framing story is set in the 21st century and follows Desmond Miles as he relives the genetic memories of his ancestor Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The main narrative takes place at the height of the Renaissance in Italy during the 15th and early 16th century. Players can explore Florence, Venice, Tuscany and Forlì as they guide Ezio on a quest for vengeance against those responsible for betraying his family. The primary focus is to utilize the player's combat and stealth abilities, as Desmond begins to uncover the mysteries left behind by an ancient race known as the First Civilization in the hope of ending the conflict between the Assassins and Templars.

Using a newly updated Anvil game engine, Assassin's Creed II began development shortly after the release of Assassin's Creed. The game received critical acclaim from video game publications, with praise directed towards its Renaissance setting, narrative, characters, map design and visuals, as well as improvements from its predecessor. It has sold more than 9 million copies. It is considered to be one of the best games ever made, and it popularized the Assassin's Creed franchise. The PC version was met with some criticism in relation to the digital rights management system and, thus had the always-online DRM permanently removed. The game spawned a follow-up, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and its direct sequel, Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Remastered versions of all three games were released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 15, 2016 as part of The Ezio Collection.

Assassin's Creed III

Assassin's Creed III is a 2012 action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and Microsoft Windows. It is the fifth major installment in the Assassin's Creed series, and a direct sequel to 2011's Assassin's Creed: Revelations. The game was released worldwide for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, beginning in North America on October 30, 2012, with a Wii U and Microsoft Windows release following in November 2012. A remastered version will be released for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One in March 2019 and a Nintendo Switch version of the game will release on May 21, 2019.The plot is set in a fictional history of real world events and follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The framing story is set in the 21st century and features series protagonist Desmond Miles who, with the aid of a machine known as the Animus, relives the memories of his ancestors to find a way to avert the 2012 apocalypse. The story is set in the 18th century, before, during and after the American Revolution from 1754 to 1783, and follows Desmond's half-English, half-Mohawk ancestor, Ratonhnhaké:ton, also known as Connor, as he fights the Templars' attempts to gain control in the colonies.

Assassin's Creed III is set in an open world and presented from the third-person perspective with a primary focus on using Desmond and Connor's combat and stealth abilities to eliminate targets and explore the environment. Connor is able to freely explore 18th-century Boston, New York City, and the American frontier to complete side missions away from the primary storyline. The game also features a multiplayer component, allowing players to compete online to complete solo and team based objectives including assassinations and evading pursuers. Ubisoft developed a new game engine, Anvil Next, for the game.The game received positive reviews from critics, who praised it for its gameplay, narrative, diverse cast of characters, visuals and grand, ambitious scale, while criticism was directed at the unevenly developed gameplay mechanics and the glitches within the game. It was a commercial success, selling more than 12 million copies worldwide. Its sequel, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, was released in October 2013, and follows Ratonhnhaké:ton's grandfather – Edward Kenway – a pirate and Assassin operating in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy.In September 2018, a remastered edition of Assassin's Creed III was announced as a downloadable add-on to Assassin's Creed Odyssey. The remastered version was confirmed by Ubisoft to contain enhanced visuals, a brand-new graphics engine relying on physics-based lighting, brand new character models, several tweaked or heavily-modified game mechanics and brand new native 4K resolution scaling. The remastered version of the game is set to be released on March 29, 2019, both as a downloadable add-on to Odyssey and a stand-alone game.

Assassin's Creed Unity

Assassin's Creed Unity is an action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released in November 2014 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is the eighth major installment in the Assassin's Creed series, and the successor to 2013's Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. It also has ties to Assassin's Creed Rogue which was released for the previous generation consoles, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on the same date.

The plot is set in a fictional history of real world events and follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The story is set in Paris during the French Revolution; the single-player story follows Arno Victor Dorian in his efforts to expose the true powers behind the Revolution. The game retains the series' third-person open world exploration as well as introducing a revamped combat, parkour and stealth system. The game also introduces cooperative multiplayer to the Assassin's Creed series, letting up to four players engage in narrative-driven missions and explore the open world map.

Assassin's Creed Unity received mixed reviews upon its release. Praise was directed towards its visuals, improved gameplay, customization options, multiplayer-oriented format, mission design, setting, characterization, and narrative. However, the game was criticized for a lack of gameplay-innovation, unrefined controls, and numerous graphical issues and bugs upon release. Because of the game's poor launch owing to the technical issues, Ubisoft issued an apology, and offered compensation.Assassin's Creed Unity was followed by Assassin's Creed Syndicate, which takes place in Victorian England, and was released in October 2015.

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, occurred on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo when they were mortally wounded by Gavrilo Princip. Princip was one of a group of six assassins (five Serbs and one Bosniak) coordinated by Danilo Ilić, a Bosnian Serb and a member of the Black Hand secret society. The political objective of the assassination was to break off Austria-Hungary's South Slav provinces so they could be combined into a Yugoslavia. The assassins' motives were consistent with the movement that later became known as Young Bosnia. The assassination led directly to the First World War when Austria-Hungary subsequently issued an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, which was partially rejected. Austria-Hungary then declared war on Serbia, triggering actions leading to war between most European states.

In charge of these Serbian military conspirators was Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence Dragutin Dimitrijević, his right-hand man Major Vojislav Tankosić, and the spy Rade Malobabić. Tankosić armed the assassins with bombs and pistols and trained them. The assassins were given access to the same clandestine network of safe-houses and agents that Malobabić used for the infiltration of weapons and operatives into Austria-Hungary.

The assassins, the key members of the clandestine network, and the key Serbian military conspirators who were still alive were arrested, tried, convicted and punished. Those who were arrested in Bosnia were tried in Sarajevo in October 1914. The other conspirators were arrested and tried before a Serbian court on the French-controlled Salonika Front in 1916–1917 on unrelated false charges; Serbia executed three of the top military conspirators. Much of what is known about the assassinations comes from these two trials and related records.

Assassins (film)

Assassins is a 1995 American action thriller film directed by Richard Donner. The screenplay was by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and Brian Helgeland. The film stars Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas and costars Julianne Moore. The Wachowskis stated that their script was "totally rewritten" by Helgeland, and that they tried to remove their names from the film but failed.

Assassins (musical)

Assassins is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by John Weidman, based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr. It uses the premise of a murderous carnival game to produce a revue-style portrayal of men and women who attempted (successfully or not) to assassinate Presidents of the United States. The music varies to reflect the popular music of the eras depicted.

The musical first opened Off-Broadway in 1990, and the 2004 Broadway production won five Tony Awards.

Brutus the Younger

Marcus Junius Brutus (the Younger) (; 85 BC – 23 October 42 BC), often referred to as Brutus, was a politician of the late Roman Republic. After being adopted by his uncle he used the name Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, but eventually returned to using his original name. He took a leading role in the assassination of Julius Caesar.Brutus was close to General Julius Caesar, the leader of the Populares faction. However, Caesar's attempts to assume greater power for himself put him at greater odds with the Roman elite and members of the Senate. Brutus eventually came to oppose Caesar and fought on the side of the Optimates faction, led by Pompey the Great, against Caesar's forces in Caesar's Civil War. Pompey was defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, after which Brutus surrendered to Caesar, who granted him amnesty.

However, the underlying political tensions that led to the war had not been resolved. Due to Caesar's increasingly monarchical behavior, several senators, calling themselves "Liberators", plotted to assassinate him. They recruited Brutus, who took a leading role in the assassination, which was carried out successfully on March 15, 44 BC. The Senate, at the request of the Consul Mark Antony, granted amnesty to the assassins. However, a populist uprising forced Brutus and his brother-in-law, fellow assassin Gaius Cassius Longinus, to leave the City of Rome. In 43 BC, Caesar's grandnephew, Consul Octavian, by then also formally known as Gaius Julius Caesar, immediately after taking office passed a resolution declaring the conspirators, including Brutus, murderers. This led to the Liberators' civil war, pitting the erstwhile supporters of Caesar, under the Second Triumvirate, wishing both to gain power for themselves and avenge his death, against those who opposed him. Octavian combined his troops with those of Antony, and together they decisively defeated the outnumbered armies of Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi in October 42 BC. After the battle, Brutus committed suicide.

Contract killing

Contract killing is a form of murder in which one party hires another party (often called a hitman) to kill a target individual or group of people. It involves an illegal agreement between two or more parties in which one party agrees to kill the target in exchange for some form of payment, monetary or otherwise. Either party may be a person, group, or an organization. In the United States, the crime is punishable by 15 years to life in a state penitentiary. Contract killing has been associated with organized crime, government conspiracies, and vendettas. For example, in the United States, the gang Murder, Inc. committed hundreds of murders on behalf of the National Crime Syndicate during the 1930s and 1940s.

Contract killing provides the hiring party with the advantage of not having to commit the actual killing, making it more difficult for law enforcement to connect said party with the murder. The likelihood that authorities will establish that party's guilt for the committed crime, especially due to lack of forensic evidence linked to the contracting party, makes the case more difficult to attribute to the hiring party.

DJ Muggs

Lawrence Muggerud (born January 28, 1968), better known by his stage name DJ Muggs, is an American DJ and producer. He produced tracks for Funkdoobiest, House of Pain, Dizzee Rascal, U2, Depeche Mode, Die Antwoord and more. He is a current member of hip hop group Cypress Hill, trip hop band Cross My Heart Hope To Die, and the leader of Los Angeles art collective Soul Assassins.

Giuseppe Zangara

Giuseppe "Joe" Zangara (September 7, 1900 – March 20, 1933) was an Italian immigrant and naturalized citizen of the United States who attempted to assassinate then-President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 15, 1933. During a night speech by Roosevelt in Miami, Florida, Zangara fired five shots with a handgun he had purchased a couple of days before. He missed his target and instead injured five bystanders, mortally wounding Anton Cermak, the Mayor of Chicago.

John Hinckley Jr.

John Warnock Hinckley Jr. (born May 29, 1955) is an American man who, on March 30, 1981, attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan in Washington, D.C. He wounded Reagan with a bullet that ricocheted and hit him in the chest. He also wounded police officer Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, and critically wounded Press Secretary James Brady, who died 33 years later as a result of the attack.

Reported to have been driven by an obsessive fixation on actress Jodie Foster, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and remained under institutional psychiatric care until September 2016. Public outcry over the verdict led to the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984, which altered the rules for consideration of mental illness of defendants in Federal Criminal Court proceedings in the United States. He was released from institutional psychiatric care on September 10, 2016.

League of Assassins

The League of Assassins (renamed the League of Shadows or Society of Shadows in adapted works) is a group of fictional villains appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The group is depicted as a collective of assassins who work for Ra's al Ghul, an enemy of the superhero Batman.

The League of Assassins has been adapted into other media several times, predominantly in animated Batman productions, the live action Batman film series The Dark Knight Trilogy, as well as the CW TV show Arrow, and the FOX TV show Gotham.

Leon Czolgosz

Leon Frank Czolgosz (Polish pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʂɔwɡɔʂ]; May 5, 1873 – October 29, 1901) was a Polish-American anarchist and former steel worker who assassinated U.S. President William McKinley in September 1901. Czolgosz was executed seven weeks later.

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