- "The Truth is in peril, my brothers. She is beset on all quarters. Jacobins lay her on the rack, cruelly breaking her to their populist agenda. False prophets go among the people, promising "Liberty, equality, fraternity". [...] Within our own Order, false brothers would see us abandon her and throw in with the very forces we strive against! And always, always the Assassins lurk in their shadows, watching for signs of weakness. [...] Our enemies believe that by taking our weapons, they take our power. I think the Friends of Truth are not so easily dissuaded! Union, Strength, Virtue! Ready yourselves, brothers! Tonight, the Truth is on our side!"
- ―Lafrenière to his fellow Templars, 1791.[src]
Chrétien Lafrenière (1730 – 1791) was a member of the Parisian Rite of the Templar Order, active during the final years of the Ancien Régime and the early part of the French Revolution. An advisor and a staunch supporter of Grand Master François de la Serre, he tried to prevent his murder by François-Thomas Germain and later resisted Germain's takeover of the Order.
In March 1791, Lafrenière prepared to attack Germain and his radical faction of the Order at the Hôtel de Beauvais. However, Germain had manipulated the Assassin Arno Dorian into believing that Lafrenière was behind the death of de la Serre, the adoptive father of Arno. He subsequently assassinated Lafrenière at the Holy Innocents' Cemetery of Paris as the latter was rallying his supporters.
Early life and service to the Templars
Lafrenière was born as the third son of a rich spice importer in 1730, and was destined to become a priest. He studied at the College of Sorbonne and entered the seminary school in 1750. However, Lafrenière was forced to leave the seminary and take over the family business when his father and brothers died in a shipwreck off the coast of Mauritius.
Lafrenière spent most of his income joining and founding various religious groups and secret societies. Around this time, he became a member of the Templar Order, serving as an advisor to Grand Master François de la Serre. Lafrenière and the other advisors, including Charles Gabriel Sivert and Marie Lévesque, were referred to as "the Crows" by the Grand Master's daughter, Élise, for their long black coats, dark felt hats and "eyes that never smiled".
They held meetings with de la Serre at his estate in Versailles, but rarely agreed with the Grand Master on the Order's course of action, especially when it came to the Assassin Brotherhood and the political situation in France. During meetings, only the Grand Master's wife, Julie, would support him. Nonetheless, while the other advisors generally held de la Serre in low regard and secretly coveted the position of Grand Master for themselves and their families, Lafrenière was always loyal to the Grand Master despite their disagreements.
In the spring of 1774, Julie and Élise were attacked on a visit to Paris by Bernard Ruddock and another assailant, and upon returning to Versailles, the Templars convened to discuss a response. Lafrenière and the other advisors were convinced that the Assassins were responsible, and urged de la Serre to strike back at them and start open conflict with the Brotherhood. Unbeknownst to them, Ruddock was a former Assassin hired by the British Templar Peter Carroll and his wife, and the attack was not related to the Assassins. Though de la Serre himself also believed that the Assassins were responsible, he refused to acknowledge this, not wanting to initiate a war with the Brotherhood.
- "Grand Master de la Serre,
I have learned through my agents that an individual within our Order plots against you. I beg you to be on your guard at the initiation tonight. Trust no one. Not even those you call friends.
May the Father of Understanding guide you,
- ―Lafrenière's letter to de la Serre, 1789.[src]
When the Estates-General convened in 1789 to resolve France's financial crisis, de la Serre organized a truce with the Assassins and their Mentor, the Comte de Mirabeau. Though de la Serre did not believe the truce could last permanently, he realized that he and Mirabeau held common ground in their wishes for the future of France, each wishing to avoid a violent and bloody revolution. Lafrenière was strongly opposed to this, believing Mirabeau to be untrustworthy and immoral. Despite this, the Grand Master stood firm, reminding Lafrenière that the decision was ultimately up to him.
Shortly afterwards, Lafrenière discovered through his agents that someone within the Order was planning to overthrow de la Serre in a coup on the night of Élise's induction into the Order. He wrote a letter of warning and sent his messenger, Perrault, to deliver it to the Grand Master in person. However, the letter was passed on to de la Serre's adoptive son, Arno Dorian, who did not know of the letter's true importance and merely left it in the Grand Master's office. During the induction party at the Palace of Versailles, Lafrenière spoke with fellow Templars Lévesque and Louis-Michel le Peletier, remarking that they had not seen each other in a long time. Later that night, de la Serre, not having been warned, was murdered in the palace gardens by Sivert and the Roi des Thunes.
Opposing Germain and death
- "Brothers! Soon we will strike at the very heart of our hated enemies! They have hounded us for years, but no longer! With one stroke, we will save our Order, and rebuild our Nation! The Father of Understanding marches with us tonight! Prepare yourselves!"
- ―Lafrenière rallying his fellow Templars, 1791.[src]
The French Revolution broke out shortly afterwards, and Lafrenière was forced into hiding from the radical faction of the Templar Order. He learned that it was headed by François-Thomas Germain, a silversmith who had been expelled from the Order by de la Serre years earlier. Sivert, Lévesque and le Peletier were also supporters of Germain, advancing the revolution in the hopes of steering France towards a capitalist society in which the Templars would be able to control the populace in a subtle manner.
Lafrenière set about destroying this faction, sending overtures to other Templars across Europe, including by sending funds to the Austrian Rite of the Templar Order. He also wrote to Élise, pledging to support her claim as Grand Master. Lafrenière was able to gather a considerable number of men, and also received weapons shipments, including rifles from Bavaria, which he stockpiled at the Halle aux Blés grain store. By 31 March 1791, he was preparing to attack the Hôtel de Beauvais, a common meeting place for the Jacobin Club and Germain's faction. However, one of his men, Christophe, had told Germain of his plans, forcing Lafrenière to attack sooner than expected.
During this time, Germain had been approached by Arno, now an Assassin who sought to kill the man responsible for de la Serre's death. Feigning innocence, Germain manipulated the Assassin into believing that Lafrenière was responsible for the murder of de la Serre, and directed him to the Halle aux Blés. Arno destroyed the weapons shipments there, and tracked Lafrenière to the Holy Innocents' Cemetery, where the Templar planned to rally his supporters for the attack on the Hôtel de Beauvais.
At the Templar rally, Lafrenière held a speech in which he decried the revolution and the Jacobins, claiming that they "lay [the Truth] on the rack, cruelly breaking her to their populist agenda". He also condemned Germain's faction of the Templar Order for supporting the revolution and warned his fellow Templars to be wary of the Assassins. Referring to himself and his supporters as the "Friends of Truth", Lafrenière proclaimed that France and the Templar Order would be saved with the eradication of the radical Templars. As Lafrenière made the final preparations for the attack however, Arno struck from the shadows, killing him with his Hidden Blade.
Personality and characteristics
- Lafrenière: "You don't trust the man, do you?"
- De la Serre: "Mirabeau is a good man. An honest man."
- Lafrenière: "Mirabeau is a self-aggrandizing drunk!"
- —Lafrenière and de la Serre, 1789.[src]
Lafrenière was a staunchly conservative Templar, highly distrustful of the Assassins and the revolutionaries, particularly the Jacobins. He also held distaste towards the Comte de Mirabeau, considering the Assassin Mentor self-centered and frivolous to the point that he openly defied Grand Master de la Serre.
Despite such disagreements, Lafrenière was fiercely loyal to de la Serre and his family, in contrast to many of his fellow Templars, who would gladly see themselves elevated to the position of Grand Master and eventually betrayed de la Serre in favor of Germain. Lafrenière was outraged at their treachery and support of the revolutionaries, which he believed was antithetical to the ideals of the Templar Order.
- "Chrétien" is a French variant of the Latin name "Christian".