- "And so we must fight on. We will vanquish our enemies. We will spread our word. And in time, my brothers and sisters, in time we will have our New World."
- ―Charles Lee.[src]
Charles Lee (1732 – 1782) was a British soldier who served during the French and Indian War, and also assisted in the Templars' search for the Grand Temple. After officially being inducted into the Templar Order, Lee became second-in-command under Haytham Kenway, and he later joined the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War as a General.
Throughout the Revolution, Lee competed against his superior and political rival, Commander George Washington, and ultimately aimed to take control of the Patriot leadership over the colonies for the Templars.
- "Master Birch said I should know only as much as you saw fit to share. He sent me a list of names and bade me ensure you could find them."
- ―Charles Lee.[src]
Charles Lee was born to John Lee, a prominent British Colonel, and Isabella Bunbury, the daughter of a British Conservative politician. Due to his father's reputation and encouragement, Charles pursued a military career at a young age. He was sent to a military academy in Switzerland, and by 1746, Charles joined his father's regiment as an ensign. Five years later, in 1751, Lee returned to England and was commissioned to the rank of lieutenant.
In 1754, Charles was sent to the British colonies in America to serve under General Edward Braddock, to fight in the French and Indian War. At some point, Lee learned of and became affiliated with the Templar Order, to which he was keen to join them. In response, Lee was given instructions by Reginald Birch to assist Haytham Kenway.
Induction into the Templar Order
- "If I am to serve the Order I can imagine no better mentor than yourself."
- ―Lee to Haytham.[src]
Haytham, soon after Lee, arrived in America and the two met at a pier in Boston. As they strolled forward, the pair introduced themselves and became well acquainted, following which Lee arranged for their stay at the Green Dragon Tavern and introduced Haytham to William Johnson.
After a brief conversation with Johnson, Lee and Haytham set out to meet with Thomas Hickey, who was scouting a nearby bandit compound. The three proceeded to raid the compound, retrieving Johnson's stolen research on the Kanien'kehá:ka, before they returned to the tavern.
From there, Lee and Haytham searched for Benjamin Church, who was captured by Silas Thatcher and his accomplice, Cutter, for protection money. After searching Church's ransacked home and eavesdropping on several guards and eyewitnesses, Lee and Haytham deduced Church's location; in a warehouse on the docks. On Haytham pickpocketing a key to the warehouse from a nearby guard, both Lee and Haytham rescued Church from being tortured and brought him to the Green Dragon.
Subsequently, the two went to gather the final recruit, John Pitcairn, from General Braddock. However, despite Braddock also being a Templar, he and Haytham were clearly at odds. Furthermore, Braddock was already angered by the fact that Lee was in service to Haytham, which led to him denying their request to give them Pitcairn. In a plan to retrieve Pitcairn, Lee followed and pretended to be an angry citizen against the Redcoats, provoking Braddock into a chase by throwing horse manure at him. Lee then lured Braddock and his men to a dead end, which allowed him, Haytham and Pitcairn to fight and kill Braddock's patrol, though Haytham spared Braddock.
With all of the Templar recruits assembled at the Green Dragon tavern, Haytham proposed a plan to infiltrate Southgate Fort and kill Silas Thatcher, a notorious slaver. Haytham explained that by killing Silas and freeing his captive slaves, they would be able to gain favor with the Kanien'kehá:ka in order to gain information that would lead them to the mysterious precursor site.
Proceeding to ambush a slave cart transport, Lee and the others killed the escorts and disguised themselves in their uniforms, where they then escorted the convoy into the fort. Inside, Haytham stealthily freed the slaves while Lee and the others blended with and distracted the guards. However, upon realizing that the slaves had escaped, Silas raised the alarm. To this, Lee and the others triggered a battle, fending off Silas' troops while Haytham and Church killed the slaver, allowing them to free the remaining detainees.
After several weeks, Haytham decided to make contact with a Kanien'kehá:ka woman, Kaniehtí:io, who would be a valuable ally in the search for the precursor site. Lee was able to find a lead, informing Haytham that she had been seen in the wilderness near Lexington. However, Lee left shortly after beginning the search, explaining that he had to return to his commission under Braddock.
Months later, Lee returned to Lexington in 1755, to aid Haytham in his plan to kill General Braddock. Charles assisted by taking part in Braddock's expedition and attacked, allowing Haytham to kill Braddock in the resulting chaos.
Haytham returned days later, revealing that the precursor site had contained nothing and disregarded it as merely a painted cave. He then changed their goal to establish a permanent base and to expand Templar power and influence throughout the colonies. Commending Lee for his dedication and loyalty, Haytham decided to formally induct Lee into the Templar Order, placing a Templar ring on his finger that had previously belonged to Braddock.
Fighting in the French and Indian War
- "You are nothing. A speck of dust. You and all your ilk. Living in the dirt like animals, oblivious to the true ways of the world."
- ―Lee to Ratonhnhaké:ton.[src]
Lee participated in several battles during the French and Indian War throughout 1755 to 1759, such as the battles at the forts of Ticonderoga and Niagara, and the British conquest of Montreal.
In 1760, Lee and his fellow Templars, with the exception of Haytham and Pitcairn, sought to meet with the elders of the local Kanien'kehá:ka tribe. Along the way, Lee encountered a young boy in the forest and forcibly demanded the location of his village. Instead of answering, the boy defiantly asked for Lee's name, before warning him steadfastly that he would find Lee. Amused, Lee mocked the boy, saying that he would look forward to it, and left after Johnson had knocked the child out.
Unbeknownst to Lee, the boy was actually the son of Haytham, Ratonhnhaké:ton. Soon after, Lee and the others gave in their search. Following this, the Templar group left, though Ratonhnhaké:ton's village was soon set ablaze by George Washington and his forces; something which Connor would mistakenly attribute to the Templars.
Soon after, Lee returned to England in 1760 and was promoted to the rank of Major, where he fought in several campaigns in Portugal and Poland. Despite his service, Lee was not well paid, hence he became an critic against several military and political figures in England. This backfired however, and as a result, Lee was unable to advance his career as his payment didn't improve nor did his chances for promotion.
Joining the Continental Army
Lee returned to America in 1770, rejoining his Templar brothers. Along with Haytham, Lee instigated the Boston Massacre by firing his pistol into the air, alarming the guards and causing them to open fire against the protesting citizens.
By 1773, the colonists rebelled against the British rule and the policies imposed by the British Parliament. This led to the American Revolutionary War, beginning with the Boston Tea Party, during which the citizens dumped a large supply of British tea into the water of Boston's port in defiance of the tax laws. As a result, Johnson and Lee were unable to smuggle the tea, cutting off the Templars' main funding. The Boston Tea Party was also partially led by a man by the name of Connor, who, unbeknownst to them, was Ratonhnhaké:ton, the boy Lee had encountered and assaulted years ago.
Lee resigned from the British Army and joined the Continentals in 1775. He quickly established himself as a strong supporter of the Patriots and became a likely candidate for the position of Commander-in-Chief, alongside George Washington. However, Lee was mostly notorious due to his demand to be well compensated, which contrasted against Washington's selfless and modest insistence for little payment. As a result, Washington was favored by the Continental Congress to lead the Continental Army.
Despite this, Lee was still promoted to the rank of General and served directly under Washington. Charles also attended Washington's acceptance speech and watched with contempt and criticism. It was also at this moment that Lee met Connor, but did not recognize him and merely dismissed him as Samuel Adams' lapdog.
Plotting Washington's assassination
- "Your meddling in the revolution has caused us no small measure of grief. It cannot continue. Our work is too important."
- ―Lee to Connor.[src]
In 1776, Hickey was tasked to murder Washington in order for Lee to replace him and take control of the Continental Army for the Templars. Hickey failed at first as he was arrested in New York and imprisoned along with Connor for counterfeiting.
On receiving word of Hickey's shortcomings, Lee and Haytham visited him in Bridewell Prison, where they reprimanded him for his recklessness and informed him that he could not be pardoned due the investigations against him by Benjamin Tallmadge. Upon realizing that Connor, the Assassin, was also locked up in a cell next to Hickey's, Lee formulated a new plan.
Connor was later able to steal the prison warden's key and went to kill Hickey in his cell, only to find the murdered body of the warden. There, he was ambushed by both Hickey and Lee, who held him at gunpoint. In this moment, they revealed to Connor that he would be trialed and executed for the murder of the warden and for attempting to assassinate Washington.
Lee justified his actions and the Templars to Connor by slandering Washington, citing his poor military record and calling him unfit for leadership. Connor attempted to attack Lee, however Lee easily overpowered Connor and pinned the Assassin against the wall with his arm against his throat. It was at this moment that Lee finally recognized Connor as the boy from the forest, to which Connor reminded Lee of his vow to find him. Lee then choked and rendered Connor unconscious.
Lee's plan not only framed Connor but would allow Hickey an opportunity to murder Washington, who would personally attend the execution. The next day, Connor was taken to be publicly executed after Haytham and Lee were able to omit the supposed trial.
Hickey escorted Connor to the gallows, with Lee presiding to announce his crimes against Washington and the colonies, before sentencing him to death. However, Connor was saved in part by Achilles Davenport and his Assassin recruits, and also through Haytham's secret intervention. In the resulting confusion, Lee escaped while Hickey made a desperate attempt to kill Washington, but failed and was killed by Connor, proving Connor's innocence and starting his alliance Washington as a later result.
Lee continued serving under Washington, biding his time and secretly undermining Washington's orders and authority. Washington failed in his campaign in keeping New York for the Patriots, and because of this, he ordered the evacuation of his forces as the British Army retook control of the city.
However, Lee intentionally delayed the retreat and allowed himself to be captured by the British. Consequently, Lee was imprisoned, but since he formally resigned his commission in the British Army rather than deserting, Lee was treated with civility and given comfortable accommodations and fine dining. Lee then took this opportunity to give the British information regarding the Continental Army, hoping it would lead to further weaken and disgrace Washington in battle.
Battle of Monmouth
- "I will say it one last time – that man is your enemy and he will not stop until you are dead or dishonored."
- ―Connor's warning to Washington regarding Charles Lee.[src]
On his release from prison, Lee returned to Congress, where he attempted to convince them that the Continental Army was not strong enough to match the British forces. Nonetheless, Washington prepared his armies in Monmouth to stop the British Army's march from Philadelphia to New York in 1778. Washington also ordered the extermination of the Kanatahséton village, Connor's home, due to his suspicions of them allying with the British.
Lee took advantage of this situation by traveling to Kanatahséton, where he met with Kanen'tó:kon and convinced them to join the war against the Continental Army in order to protect their land. He also manipulated Kanen'tó:kon into believing that Connor had betrayed the village by allying himself with Washington.
Following this, Lee took control of Marquis de Lafayette's contingency forces and ordered a full retreat, while abandoning his post, leaving them unprepared against the advancing British Army. However, Connor arrived and intervened, during which he held off the British Army and secured the Patriots' retreat, saving many lives of the Continental Army and sparing Washington a devastating defeat.
Prompted by Lee's behavior, Connor and Lafayette revealed Lee's treachery to Washington. As a result, Washington investigated, leading to Lee's court martial for insubordinate behavior and poor command decisions. Lee was disgraced, though he was spared execution and was instead temporarily suspended from duty.
Becoming Grand Master
- "He will wait. He will watch. And then – when he's seen all his life's work brought to ruin... Only then will I allow him to die."
- ―Lee to his guard regarding Connor.[src]
In 1781, Lee resided in Fort George in the military district of New York for protection, which was under Templar control. Around this time, Haytham visited Lee, encouraging him to leave and assuring him that there was no danger, while also giving him his amulet for safekeeping. Unbeknownst to Lee, Connor intended to penetrate Fort George and assassinate him.
Soon after, Connor infiltrated the military district with aid of several French ships creating a diversion. As he had expected an attack, Haytham remained to confront and kill his son, however Connor prevailed in the confrontation, assassinating Haytham. Lee learned of this and ascended to the rank of Grand Master, in Haytham's place, over what was left of the Templar Order.
Months later, in 1782, Lee presided over Haytham's funeral and delivered the eulogy in his honor. However, Connor appeared from the crowd and approached Lee, but he was restrained by guards. Enraged by Connor's constant interference of his plans and murdering of his comrades, Lee vowed revenge, promising not only to kill him, but to also murder everyone and destroy everything that Connor loved and held dear.
Connor brushed off Lee's threats, warning him that he would fail and die with the rest of his plans. As the guards carried Connor away, Lee decided to gather an army and recuperate his power. To this end, he recruited the captain of the HMS Jersey and many mercenaries to his cause. After leaving for Boston, Lee learned that Connor had escaped, to which he decided to flee and return to England for safety.
- "Why do you persist...? You put us down. We rise again. You end one plot – we forge another. You try so hard... But it always ends the same. Those who know you think you mad and this is why... Even those men you sought to save have turned their backs on you. Yet you fight. You resist. Why?"
- ―Lee to Connor.[src]
However, Connor tracked Lee down to a pier in Boston, leading to a chase. Lee attempted to lose Connor by running through a ferry under construction, during which an accident had caused it to set ablaze. After a dangerous pursuit, both Lee and Connor crashed through a collapsed floor, with Connor injuring himself against a wooden pole, piercing his abdomen.
Lee approached Connor, looking down on him, before asking why the Assassins fought an endless and futile cause against the Templars, to which Connor replied "Because no one else will!" Catching Lee off guard, Connor quickly raised his pistol and shot Lee in the stomach.
While injured, Lee managed to escape, where he took a ferry up the Charles River to Monmouth and rested at the Conestoga Inn. Connor once again followed and caught up with Lee, where the two sat at a table, both in no condition to fight. Lee silently offered and shared his drink, to which Connor accepted. Accepting his end, Lee gave Connor a slight nod, and Connor proceeded to stab Lee in the heart. After taking the amulet from around Lee's neck, Charles fell forward against the table and finally passed away.
Personality and characteristics
Charles Lee, throughout most of his life, was a veteran warrior and commander from years of military service in the French and Indian War and American Revolution. In his youth, Lee was dedicated, enthusiastic and keen. To this, William Johnson commented that he was "a good lad, if a bit earnest".
All of this changed as he rose through the Order's ranks to become second-in-command. Unlike his fellow Templars (with the notable exceptions of Hickey and Church), Lee was far from noble and honorable, appearing instead as impulsive, violent and slightly power-crazed.
In his pursuit to gain more power, he also became ruthless, vengeful and cruel. This was evident by his strong political motivations and demand for higher pay. Furthermore, his arrogance manifested into violence and contempt for others; for example, he had disgust for the Kanien'kehá:ka people, calling them human refuse, and he also slandered and criticized Washington with passion.
Despite his long, successful career and military prowess, Lee wasn't popular or favored amongst the Patriots. This was evident by how the Congress viewed him: vulgar and slovenly in appearance and attitude, as well as greedy. As a result, Lee constantly plotted and competed against Washington to seize his command. However, Haytham had strong faith in Lee's ability, loyalty and understanding of the Templar vision for a New World Order.
- The initial render of Charles Lee prior to the game's release showed him as an older-looking character.
- Charles Lee was the first major assassination target to die without any last words, neither in the memory corridor, nor at the moment of his death.
- During the infiltration on Southgate Fort, Charles Lee was displayed with an Assassin insignia above his head, despite being a Templar, similar to the other conspirators.
- Among the Kanien'kehá:ka, Charles Lee was known as Ounewaterika, meaning "Boiling Water".
- In the Davenport Manor's basement, Ratonhnhaké:ton's memento from killing Lee was the Grand Temple Key, despite the fact that after Lee's death, the key was buried in Connor Davenport's grave.
- Historically, Lee was only discharged from the Continental Army years after his retreat: On January 10, 1780, he was formally discharged and spent his remaining years reportedly verbally attacking Washington to anybody around, and as a result, was frequently challenged to duels by those loyal to Washington. In a duel with Colonel John Laurens, Lee was heavily wounded in his side, but he continued to duel. Charles eventually retired to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he died of fever on October 2, 1782.