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- "You too must learn to blend like us: seen, but unseen."
- ―Paola, the owner of La Rosa Colta, teaching Ezio Auditore da Firenze to hide in plain sight, 1476.[src]
The courtesans were one of the four factions allied to the Assassin Order, with the other three being the thieves, mercenaries and Romani. They usually aided the Order by collecting information from clients, or by acting as distractions and allowing allies to slip into restricted areas.
Florentine courtesans were led by Paola, Venetian courtesans were led by Teodora Contanto, and Roman courtesans were led by Claudia Auditore da Firenze, who took over the brothel after the death of its previous owner, Madonna Solari.
Though courtesans were mainly based in brothels within a city, many were known to stand along the streets – usually in groups of four – to entice customers. Each possessed a standard style of dress and hairstyle, as was deemed appropriate for those in their profession at the time.
After the execution of Giovanni, Federico and Petruccio, Ezio Auditore da Firenze sought sanctuary with Paola and her courtesans, who taught him how to conceal himself in a crowd, pick pockets, and be "seen, but unseen" as they were.
Afterwards, Ezio hired courtesans to distract the guards and allow his remaining family to escape the city, and would continue to use their services from then on, usually instructing them to seduce a group of nearby guards in order to allow him to slip past unseen. Alternatively, they would follow Ezio along the streets, concealing him among them by walking around him in a diamond formation, in a similar manner to how Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad blended with scholars.
Upon traveling to Rome, Ezio aided the courtesans by funding the renovations for their main brothel, the Rosa in Fiore, as well as renovating smaller brothels throughout the city. After his sister took over Rosa in Fiore's administration, he volunteered to teach the girls several skills.
In China, it was common for successful men to have several concubines. Each concubine had a rank: the highest were considered almost as the man's wife and were called consorts and the lowest as poorly treated prostitutes.
By the Ming dynasty, a concubine hierarchy was systematized in the Forbidden City, strictly controlled by tradition. A former concubine of an Emperor that officially became a wife was generally called an Empress and had the right to produce official heirs to the Empire. An Empress would be seconded by the Imperial Noble Consorts and followed by Noble Consorts, Consorts and Imperial Concubines. Nevertheless, every concubine had no power over the Emperor and could easily be condemned to death by their master.
Imperial concubines were taught the arts displayed by the ladies of the court such as embroidery, dance, music and reading. As with other Chinese women at the time, they were foot-bound and breast-bound according to tradition.
The Zhengde Emperor regarded his concubine Shao Jun highly among others and would use her cat-like skills to spy upon court eunuchs and ministers. Along with her friend Zhang, the pair rose to the rank of Imperial Concubine though Jun was most likely poised with the position of Imperial Consort. Because of her talents, Zhengde took Shao Jun in his expeditions against Mongols to serve as his spy.
After the Zhengde Emperor's death and with the royal court in disarray, Shao Jun joined the Assassin Brotherhood as Zhang decided to stay in the palace as a concubine. As Jiajing was put in the throne by the Templar eunuchs, Zhang rose to the position of an Empress and became the Emperor's second wife.
In 1530, the Templars Zhang Yong and Qiu Ju used Empress Zhang and her friendship with Shao Jun to deceive the Assassin. However, their plans failed as Jun saved trapped concubines and defeated Qiu Ju as Zhang Yong fled.
Golden Age of Piracy
During the 18th century, courtesans were referred to as "dancers" who commonly worked at taverns and streets. They operated in a similar process as courtesans of the Renaissance by working as groups of four.
The pirate-turned-Assassin Edward Kenway hired dancer groups for a handful of coin, using them to distract guards and interfere with fights. By walking between them, Edward would be incognito. He also constructed a brothel near his manor in the Great Inagua to provide services for himself and the Jackdaw crew.
Prior to the beginning of the 18th century, La Dame en Rose, a brothel in Port-au-Prince was constructed. It became a prosperous business. Sometime later, Madame Bastienne Josèphe took over the brothel and increased its financial affairs two-fold, with a portion of the profits used to purchase freedom of the slaves in the place. In addition, Bastienne used the courtesans to gather information from clients to solicit favors.
In 1757, Edward Kenway's daughter, Jennifer Scott, was kidnapped by mercenaries. The Templar Reginald Birch sold her to Turkish slavers and became a concubine in the Topkapı Palace. The palace included the Harem for raising and educating wives of future royalty. She was then transported to Damascus to serve under the Ottoman governor in charge, As'ad Pasha al-Azm. By her mid-40's, Jennifer worked as a servant for the concubines due to her age. Ultimately, her half-brother Haytham and a friend, Jim Holden, infiltrated the palace to find and rescue her.
Due to poverty and the lack of jobs, many turned to prostitution as a way to earn a living. After assassinating Crawford Starrick and his Templar control over London, the twin Assassins Jacob and Evie Frye recruited initiates from child labor, orphans and prostitutes. A couple female initiates took upon the identity of courtesans who worked in a Whitechapel brothel owned by Olwyn Owers, as undercover agents.
Courtesans could not perform any sort of freerunning, and were usually unarmed, though in the cases where they were, they carried knives and bladed fans. Should they be discovered aiding Ezio in an attempt to infiltrate a guarded area, the courtesans were usually attacked mercilessly, and killed very quickly in the fight.
If Ezio or Edward encountered a group of guards while walking with the courtesans, two of them would leave the group to distract them, while the other two stayed with the Assassin, in order to maintain the blend and help keep him anonymous. This behavior was very helpful in assassination missions where the target walked among civilians.
The courtesans in Rome acted much as they did in other cities, however, after Ezio had allied himself to their guild for some time, the girls he hired were able to poison any enemies they were instructed to distract.
- Main article: La Rosa Colta
- Main article: La Rosa della Virtù
- Main article: Rosa in Fiore
- Madonna Solari - Former owner of the Rosa in Fiore, killed by slave traders working for the Borgia.
- Fiora Cavazza - A courtesan working for the Solari, who eventually entered the service of Cesare Borgia.
- Giuletta - A traitorous courtesan who traded information about the Assassins to a Borgia contact.
- Lucia - A courtesan who accompanied Fiora and Santino Solari on one of his business outings, who was also kidnapped by slave traders alongside madonna Solari. She was sent back to alert the other girls of the ransom for Solari.
- Mina - A victim of the Templar Malfatto, a rogue doctor that preyed on courtesans. Ezio Auditore found her being mourned by her friend in a back alley of Rome.
- Fabiola Cavazza - A courtesan affiliated with the Templars.
- Dilara - An Ottoman spy.
- Jennifer Scott - Daughter of Edward Kenway sold to Turkish slavers.
- Shao Jun - A concubine-turned-Assassin.
- Empress Zhang - Second wife of the Jiajing Emperor and friend of Shao Jun.
- Main article: La Dame en Rose
- Bastienne Josèphe - Madame of La Dame en Rose.
- Olwyn Owers - Madame of several brothels.
- Mary Ann Nichols
- Annie Chapman
- Elizabeth Stride
- Catherine Eddowes
- Mary Jane Kelly - A victim of Jack the Ripper.
- Nellie - An Assassin ally.
- The "Red Light Addict" achievement could be gained by spending 5,000 florins on hiring courtesans. As one group of courtesans cost 150 florins to hire, it means that approximately 34 groups must be hired.
- A courtesan's appearance had five randomly generated options: hair, face, dress color, necklace and sleeves.
- In Assassin's Creed II, if Ezio hired a courtesan group and then immediately attacked guards, the courtesans may draw weapons and fight the guards alongside him.
- Should a courtesan in a group fall into water, the remaining three would continue to activate the blending effect without her, indicating that the death of one courtesan was similar to when two left the group to distract passing guards.
- Despite this, a glitch could be encountered with a group of hired courtesans outside of Forlì, where if one of them became stuck and separated from the rest of the group, the remaining three would not activate any blending effects until Ezio approached the lost courtesan's perimeter and enter into the middle of the group.
- Courtesans could not be killed or grabbed by Ezio.
- The only exception to this rule could be seen in the Assassin's Creed II memory "Fitting In", being the only one where Ezio could beat up, pickpocket and grab courtesans.
- During the memory "Carnevale", courtesans appeared in the streets wearing masks.
- In Monteriggioni, after renovating the brothel, random courtesans appeared to walk in the streets. However, Ezio was unable to hire them.
- They no longer appeared during the early scenes of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, except for one who appeared behind Ezio as he was leaving the hidden tunnel from Monteriggioni.
- In Brotherhood, if a civilian Ezio stole from prepared to have a fistfight with him, courtesans that he had hired would sometimes go and fight them instead, knocking the civilian out with only two punches.
- In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, courtesans were replaced by the Romani, as they were not accepted in Ottoman-Byzantine society.
- Courtesans were visible in Assassin's Creed: Unity; however, they could not be hired or interacted with, as they were civilians.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Assassin's Creed II
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - Freedom Cry
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Assassin's Creed: Forsaken
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Assassin's Creed: Unity (novel)
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 Assassin's Creed: Syndicate - Jack the Ripper
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood novel
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Assassin's Creed: Revelations