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"It's very compact and light. [...] The advantage it has over a gun is that it's more or less silent."
Leonardo da Vinci, regarding his crossbow.[src]
ACB crossbow

Ezio Auditore's crossbow

The crossbow is a ranged weapon consisting of a bow assembly mounted horizontally on a handheld stock with a built-in firing mechanism. Unlike a bow, its range is conventionally shorter due to its heavier, yet more powerful, projectiles known as bolts. Crossbows vary in size from those too large to be carried in one hand, to relatively portable ones that complement the mobile, stealth operations conducted by Assassins.

While crossbows have a millennia-long history throughout Asia, its usage among European armies did not peak until the Renaissance where crossbowmen were regular units of Italian and French armies.

History

Crusades

During the Third Crusade, crossbows were a part of the Assassins' arsenal; the Master Assassin Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad carried one with him during his mission to save Acre from the Crusaders in 1190. Alongside standard archers,[1] crossbowmen such as Nazim were regularly deployed as city guards.[2]

Renaissance

The employment of crossbowmen among European militaries rose dramatically in the 14th century. During this period, crossbow bolts were conventionally carved from holm oak with arrowheads forged from iron.[3] Beginning with their reign in Rome under Pope Alexander VI, the Borgia began investing more on crossbowmen and arquebusiers whereas they had previously relied on archers for the bulk of their ranged units.[4][5][6]

In the same vein, the Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze purchased a crossbow for 12,800 florins upon arriving in Rome in 1500. From then on, the crossbow would become his signature ranged weapon, one which he utilized effectively throughout his campaign against Templars in Rome and Constantinople.[6][7]

Each crossbow quiver increased the maximum number of bolts carried by increments of five, with the starting number of bolts as fifteen with the maximum number available being twenty-five.[6]

However, the largest crossbow quiver could not be purchased, and required the completion of the "Pulling Threads" shop quest for the tailor of Tiber Island.[6]

During the Inquisition, the Spanish Brotherhood used their own model of crossbow. The weapon's ivory stick featured engravings picturing Medieval Assassins fighting Templars. The Assassin insignia was less conspicuously carved in the crossbow.[8]

Ming dynasty

Heavy crossbows were equipped by Chinese guards during the Ming dynasty. However, the Assassin Shao Jun could dodge their bolts.[9]

Usage

Stealth

Although it lacked the firepower of the Hidden Gun, the crossbow allowed for long-range kills that did not draw attention. It was easier to aim, was virtually inaudible when fired and could be used in a variety of acrobatic positions.[6]

Unlike the Hidden Gun, which alerted any nearby guards the moment it was fired, the crossbow only called attention to Ezio if the eliminated target was discovered by fellow guards.[6]

Combat

Alongside its stealth capabilities, the crossbow could be used in open combat. In battle, it could be fired at close range, and could be used to counter an enemy's attack. When fired at point blank, the crossbow would kill the targeted enemy immediately, but the user would be forced to spend a few seconds reloading the weapon.[6]

Crossbowmen and heavy horsemen used the crossbow in battle, both from close and long range. Ezio could also use the crossbow to defend against charging horsemen, by blocking them with the crossbow stock.[6]

Trivia

  • A crossbow was planned to be one of Altaïr's weapons in early designs of Assassin's Creed, but it was removed from the final game due to historical inaccuracies. The crossbow did, however, feature in the E3 trailer and the game's video introduction, showing that it was removed from the game at quite a late date.
  • Despite historical inaccuracies, the crossbow was featured in 1189 in Assassin's Creed: Revelations as the weapon used by Haras to kill Assassin hostages. Several Templar crossbowmen were also present.
  • The crossbow was featured in the mobile version of Assassin's Creed, a historical mistake by the developers. The crossbow could be used to kill enemies at a safe distance, to trigger gear mechanisms, or to shoot down flame-holders to light torches. The ammunition of the weapon could be refilled by walking into a weapon recharge point.
  • In an E3 conference trailer, and in certain pre-release images, Ezio was seen equipped with a different crossbow to the one in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. This particular crossbow had the same design as the ones used by crossbowmen.
  • Sometimes, when Ezio performed one of the possible counterattacks with the crossbow, the firing sound would not occur.
  • During the Animus loading screen, if Ezio drew his crossbow, a single crossbow bolt could be found lying on the ground, though it disappeared when the crossbow was put away.
  • When performing certain actions with the crossbow, Ezio's upper body did not move at all. This gave Ezio an unnatural appearance when running, as his entire upper body was completely still while performing any action.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, it took more than one crossbow bolt for Ezio to kill a Byzantine Almogavar or an Ottoman Janissary; despite a shot performed by an Assassin apprentice killing them instantly.

Gallery

References