Niccolò Machiavelli in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
I am a huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed series and got the newest installment the day it came out. Imagine my surprise when Machievelli appeared before my very eyes. While Machievelli was in Assassin’s Creed: II, he has a much bigger role of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. In this game, his character is unveiled.
I have repeatedly enjoyed how Assassin’s Creed encorperates real settings, but the creators do not claim an accurate portayal. At the beginning of the each game, they always add the disclaimer: “Inspired by historical events and characters, this work of fiction was designed, developed and produced by a multicultural team of various religious faiths and beliefs”.
As I went through the game, I began to wonder whether Machiavelli would agree with this depiction. Machiavelli’s true views are a continual source of debate, as his opinions in “The Prince” directly contradict writings that preceed or follow it.
Some elements of his personality, in particular, stood out to me:
1) Machievelli is an assassin.
For some reason, it’s funny for me to imagine political theorists with weapons. But, who knows? If we consider “The Prince” a satire and consider Machiavelli’s works that suggest his favoritism towards towards republics, then perhaps Machievelli would become an assassin in order to bring about change. If we consider “The Prince” reflective of his true point of view, then Machievelli would be a Templar, in support of monarchies.
2) Machievelli is the leader of Florence’s mercenaries.
In The Prince, Machiavelli critisizes the use of mercenaries, calling them unreliable. However, it is possible that mercenaries are meant to represent the Florentine militia that Machiavelli commanded in real life. And in the “Bonfire of the Vanities”, Machievelli does indeed complain about mercenaries.
3) Machiavelli has an image of being devious.
I think it’s interesting that, in the game, he is suspected of being a traitor to the assassins while, after writing “The Prince”, he is suspected of being a traitor to monarchies. Some may consider writing “The Prince”, Machiavelli was trying to be conspiratorial or he was actually trying to get into the monarch’s good books (no pun intended). In “The Prince”, Machiavelli’s detached analysis of previous monarch’s mistakes and his saying “the ends justify the means” certainly make Machiavelli seem ruthless.
However, we cannot conclusively… conclude that Machiavelli is indeed as Machiavellian as he seems.
Ultimately, I do not think we should learn our political theory from video games but it is pretty cool when you can relate what your learning to something that you think is fun. But, of course, learning is fun too.