- "I know that that monarch is appointed by God and I believe that a corrupt monarch can be persuaded to see the error of his ways."
- ―François de la Serre on Louis XVI and monarchy, 1775.[src]
François de la Serre (1733 – 1789) was the Grand Master of the Parisian Rite of the Templar Order during the late 18th century. He was the father of Élise de la Serre and adoptive father of Arno Dorian.
A supporter of the absolutist monarchy of the Ancien Régime, he expelled his lieutenant, François-Thomas Germain, from the Order for his radical ideas of unseating the aristocracy from power and instead giving it to the rising middle class. Germain came to see de la Serre as a complacent Grand Master who had forgotten the Templars' true goals, and had him killed in 1789 as part of a coup within the Order.
François was born in 1733 to the de la Serres, a family of minor noblemen who had held the position of Grand Master of the Paris Rite for several generations. At some point before 1768, he married fellow Templar Julie de la Serre and acquired an estate in Versailles, as well as a smaller residence in Paris. Rising to the position of Grand Master, François had a daughter, Élise, with Julie in 1768. At some point, he became a close confidant of King Louis XVI and the Assassin Mentor, Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau.
In 1776, the Assassin Charles Dorian was murdered by Shay Cormac, and François adopted the former's son, Arno. Out of respect for Arno's father and at the request of his wife and daughter, François did not attempt to bring Arno into the Templar Order, although he asked Élise to influence him in joining their cause. As his wife, Julie, deteriorated due to her illness, he started spending time with the boy and arranged his time table for him to take lessons from the governor and hunting.
At some point in time, de la Serre expelled his lieutenant François-Thomas Germain from the Templar Order. Germain was expelled as he had began to spread radical ideas within the Order, supporting the idea of a violent revolution. De la Serre attempted to persuade his lieutenant to abandon his radical ideas, but to no avail, forcing de la Serre to expel Germain.
Later on, the Roi des Thunes appealed to de la Serre for a position in the Order. However, his appeal was rebuffed by de la Serre, who proceeded to state that he had no use for the 'intrigues of rats'. This unfortunately sealed his fate, as it was this remark that caused the slighted Roi des Thunes to pledge his allegiance to Germain's radical faction and vow to kill de la Serre.
During the Estates-General of 1789, François was a delegate for the nobility of Second Estate. He attempted to make peace with the Assassins, but this was not accepted by other Templars, especially his advisor Chrétien Lafrenière, who believed that Mirabeau could not be trusted.
On the night of his daughter's induction into the Templar Order, de la Serre was unaware of the plot by his erstwhile advisors to assassinate him. After Elise was officially inducted, de la Serre was called to the palace gardens by one of his advisors, Charles Gabriel Sivert. Upon arrival, he asked what could be so important as to draw him away from the ceremony; Sivert's response was to punch him in the stomach. Despite the ambush, de la Serre quickly rallied by headbutting Sivert and slashing his left eye with his sword. However, the Roi des Thunes snuck behind the Grand Master and struck him with a poison-laced Templar pin.
While the two assailants made their escape, de la Serre succumbed to the effects of the poison and died in front of Arno's eyes. Taking advantage of the chaos, Sivert pinned the blame of de la Serre's murder on Arno, leading to the latter's imprisonment in the Bastille.
After the death of de la Serre, the Order split between the conservative faction led by Élise and the followers of the new Grand Master, Germain, who wanted to encourage the rise of the middle class at the expense of the aristocracy.
Personality and characteristics
- "What we Templars know, is that despite exhortations otherwise, the people don't want real freedom and true responsibility, because these things are too great a burden to bear, and only the very strongest minds can do so."
- ―François explaining the Templar ideology to Élise, 1775.[src]
François held relatively moderate views in regards to the Templar ideology. Rather than eradicating free will entirely, he appeared content with preserving the ordered society under the absolutist monarchy in France. As he believed that strong and powerful leaders were necessary in order to advance society, he was opposed to the notions of a constitutional monarchy. François held that a king was chosen by God to lead, and thus believed that Louis XVI should be influenced to rule France more competently, rather than be deposed. François felt that the traditional ways of thinking had been beneficial in guiding humanity for millenia, and therefore found the Assassins' support of freedom, independent thinking and radical ideas anarchic.
Despite these strong philosophical differences, he was reluctant in starting open conflict with the Assassins, in stark contrast to his advisors. Even though he was convinced that the ambush on Julie and Élise was the work of Assassins, he claimed to his advisors that he held no such suspicions, wishing to silence calls for reprisal against the Brotherhood.
While Chrétien Lafrenière considered the Assassin Mentor Mirabeau immoral and self-serving, François trusted the latter and believed him a good and honest man. Together, the two leaders attempted to broker a truce between their opposing orders while meeting at the Estates-General of 1789. François believed that they held common ground on the future of the nation, even if knew that the truce would not last beyond the revolution.
In regards to attire, François usually wore a powdered wig and a black coat adorned with a Templar pin. His favorite hat was a feathered black beaver hat. Francois was also a skilled swordsman, managing to slash out the eye of Charles Gabriel Sivert when he was ambushed and would most surely have prevailed over Sivert had he not been stabbed from behind by the Roi des Thunes.
- François is a French variant of the name Franciscus, Latin for "Frenchman". The family name comes from the French Serre, meaning "talon" or "greenhouse", while de la, "from the", indicates nobility.
- De la Serre's name is listed as a target along with other high-ranking Templars such as Reginald Birch and Haytham Kenway on a notice board inside the Davenport Homestead in 1756.