Historic Personage Sheets were a set of profiles on figures and locations related to the French Revolution. They were compiled by the Abstergo Entertainment employee Robert Fraser while he relived the genetic memories of Arno Dorian, an Assassin during the revolution. Most profiles contained a quote and facts related to the subject, Fraser's own thoughts on it, as well as the history of the subject. The profiles were accompanied by illustrations of the subject, some produced by Fraser himself. The Templar agent known as the Journeyman later made other profiles.
Historic Personage SheetsEdit
"He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows, nor judge all he sees" - Benjamin Franklin
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMIN
- Born 1/17/1706; died 4/17/1790; aged 84.
- Franklin once read part of his letter "Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress", which lists the benefits of taking an older woman as a mistress, to Grand Master Haytham Kenway.
- Franklin was an original member of the Committee of Secret Correspondence, a group that sent tactical information using cyphers and hidden ink. The Committee would later become the CIA.
- Franklin became something of a status symbol in France during his time as a diplomat. Women wore their hair in a style similar to the fur cap he favored, and his image appeared on rings, watches, and snuffboxes.
- Only interacted with him briefly during Arno's childhood. Not a great moment in Arno's memories. Still, seems charming/witty. Better looking in person than on the US hundred-dollar bill.
A genius with a sharp mind (an inventor and a scientist) and a sharp pen (an author, editor, and printer), Franklin utilized both skills along with a sense of diplomacy during the formative years of the United States of America, where he is considered one of the Founding Fathers. His political cartoon "Join, or Die", which appeared in 1754, was one of the first symbols to call for colonial unity.
Franklin was a devoted proponent of the rights of American colonists. He served as one of Pennsylvania's representatives in the Second Continental Congress, where he was a member of the committee that produced the know-famous document, the Declaration of Independence. Although it was Thomas Jefferson who wrote the actual Declaration, Franklin is credited with making several small but significant changes.
He served as America's ambassador to France between 1776 and 1785, where he was tremendously popular. His brilliant intellect coupled with a calculatedly modest style of dress—complete with a beaver-hat—appealed to French sensibilities.
Our research from Sample 17 shows that Franklin briefly interacted with both Haytham Kenway and his son, Connor, also known as Ratonhnhaké:ton. Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton has been flagged as a "person of interest" for our research purposes. To the best of our knowledge, Franklin only interacted with Arno on a single, but memorable, occasion.
We do know that one of his associates in France was Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, a French revolutionary writer, orator, and statesman—and the Mentor of the Assassin Brotherhood at one time.
"Every time I create an appointment, I create a hundred malcontents and one ingrate." - Louis XVI.
LOUIS XVI FAST FACTS
- Born 8/23/1754; died 1/21/1793; aged 39.
- Last monarch of France before it became a Republic.
- Sentenced to death by a vote of 361 to 360.
- During the harsh winter of 1784, Louis gave 3 million francs out of his own savings to be given out to the poor and ordered that the royal trees be chopped down for firewood.
MY IMPRESSION OF HIM
- Very mild mannered (i.e., boring). His speech to the Estates-General almost put me to sleep.
- Hard to hear his last words over the crowd and the drums. Shitty way to go.
Upon learning about the origins and upbringing of Louis XVI, one cannot help but wonder if his unfortunate destiny was inevitable. He seemed to have been both born and raised to be remarkably mediocre.
His name at birth was Louis August de France. He was never expected to become king, as he was the third son of Louis, Dauphin of France, and grandson of Louis XV. Most of his parents' attention went to his oldest brother and heir to the throne, Louis duc de Bourgogne. Unfortunately, the young heir died of tuberculosis at age 9 in 1761. Four years later, his father also died from the same disease, and young Louis Auguste became Dauphin at age 11. His mother never recovered from the shock of losing both her eldest son and then her husband, and tuberculosis claimed her as well in 1767.
Largely ignored as a child, Louis' tutors did him no service by encouraging a natural shyness. They taught him that "austerity" and aloofness were desirable traits in a king and denoted strong character instead of encouraging him to be personable and decisive.
In May 1770, the fifteen-year-old Louis married fourteen-year-old Hapsburg Archduchess, Maria Antonia, in an arranged marriage. While they eventually produced four children, all but one of whom died in childhood, it would seem that Louis' shyness continued in private as well as public, as it took eight years for Marie to conceive her firstborn.
Louis became king in 1774, upon the death of his grandfather. He was only twenty.
Louis' intentions were good, and he desired to help his subjects, but he had little understanding of how best to go about that. He lacked the personality to successfully navigate court politics and defy factions, and had assumed rule of a country facing debt and full of simmering resentment.
It can be said that while Louis did not actively cause most of the problems that eventually led to the Revolution in 1791, he certainly did little to effectively counter them. His natural insecurity, indecisiveness, and quite possibly clinical depression led him to avoid problems rather than deal with the unpleasantness of directly addressing them. He often sought escape in hobbies and activities, such as locksmithing and hunting. Indeed, he had only just returned from a hunting trip on July 14, when the Bastille fell.
"Is this a revolt?" he was said to have asked.
"No, sir," the Duke of Rochefoucauld-Liancourt replied. "It's a revolution".
The royal family was forcibly transferred from Versailles to Paris on October 7, 1789. Ignoring advice from his advisors, Louis first refused to abdicate, then agreed to an escape attempt. The family was again brought back to Paris. Suspicions of treason led to the capture of the royal palace. The First French Republic was proclaimed on September 21, 1792, and that November, evidence was discovered that proved suspicions of treason on Louis' part to be correct.
Charges were made against the entire family. Louis was found guilty by the National Assembly, and executed on January 21, 1793.
"Let them eat cake." - Falsely attributed to Marie Antoinette
MARIE ANTOINETTE FAST FACTS
- Born 11/2/1755; died 10/16/1793; aged 38.
- Upon her first presentation at the French capital, Marie was met by a crowd of parisians, and some 30 people were trampled to death in the excitement.
- Léonard Autié, the Queen's hairdresser, outfitted her elaborate poufs with enormous models such as a French warship to symbolize naval victory and the diorama of a club striking a snake to celebrate Louis' smallpox vaccination.
- Initially buried in an unmarked grave near the Church of the Madeline, Marie's body was later exhumed by King Louis XVIII and reburied inside the Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis.
Married at fourteen to her second cousin once removed, King Louis XVI of France Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna, better known as "Marie Antoinette," was France's final queen.
Deemed by her tutor to be "more intelligent than has been generally supposed," but also "rather lazy and extremely frivolous," the lively, outgoing Marie found marriage to the shy and rather ineffectual Louis to be unpleasant and dull. He chose to retire before midnight and rise early, whereas she enjoyed partying and gambling and slept until the afternoon. Considering they apparently were seldom awake in bed together, it is no great surprise that their first child wasn't conceived for eight years.
Marie had a private castle, the Petit Trianon, built just for her at Versailles, and in 1780 began spending more time there, almost always without Louis. Her obvious enjoyment of fashion and parties, in which she indulged extravagantly, made her an obvious target for resentment by a populace that regarded her as a foreigner. She became a symbol for the excesses of the Second Estate (the nobility). Nothing, it seemed, was beyond her in the eye of public opinion. The callous "let them eat cake" statement, supposedly a response to the fact that her poorer countrymen could not afford bread, was attributed to her without hesitation, and rumors of affairs and scandals swirled about her throughout her life. She was a popular subject of cartoons and pamphlets, and was dubbed "Madame Deficit."
Her reputation was dealt a terrible and irreparable blow by the "Affair of the Diamond Necklace" in 1785. In 1785 a Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy thief posing as the queen stole a 647-diamond necklace that had once belonged to King Louis XV and smuggled it to London, where it was sold off in pieces. It was claimed that Marie Antoinette had been involved in the theft. Although she was innocent - indeed, she had been offered the necklace by her husband and had refused it - she was never able to shake the shadow of complicity.
On October 6, 1789, a crowd ten thousand strong gathered outside the Palace at Versailles, demanding that Louis and Marie be brought to Paris. When Louis appeared to be utterly unable to act, Marie instead met with advisors and ambassadors, begging for aid from other European monarchs. It was an effort doomed to failure.
With France at war with Prussia and Austria in the summer of 1792, Maximilien de Robespierre called for the removal of the king. The monarchy itself was abolished in September of that year. In January 1793, Marie Antoinette was made a widow when King Louis was executed by guillotine. Nine months later, Marie was to follow, after a degrading and agonizing trial complete with a false charge of molesting her own son.
BASTILLE FAST FACTS
- Consisted of 8 towers over 100 feet tall and a moat 80 feet wide.
- Built during the Hundred Years' War to protect Paris and the Hôtel Saint-Pol royal palace.
- Constantin de Renneville, a spy for the Dutch incarcerated in the Bastille in the early 1700s, wrote of finding the remains of former prisoners buried in the floor and walls.
To most, the "storming of the Bastille" represents the toppling of a vile institution due to the righteous outrage of the people, thus liberating dozens (perhaps hundreds) of innocent commoners unjustly imprisoned. The reality is much more banal.
The Bastille was a medieval fortress, built to defend the eastern approach of Paris from the English. As such, it saw its share of battles. Construction began in 1357 and continued from 1370 on. Though created to protect against the English, it was utilized in French internal conflicts as well. Declared a state prison in 1414, it continued to function as such under English occupation and then later under Louis XI in the 1460s.
The "Sun King", as Louis XIV was known, used the Bastille to imprison undesirable and inconvenient aristocrats. Under Louis XV and Louis XVI, the prison became more egalitarian in its housing of unwilling guests. Conditions were reasonably good, especially when compared to other prisons of the time. Meals were wholesome, and the Bastille provided good medical care for the inmates, including the mentally ill. While commoners were subjected to bare walls and floors, wealthy prisoners could bring in luxuries if they so chose, up to and including dogs and cats to control the vermin. One of the most famous inmates, the Marquis de Sade (transferred from the Bastille shortly before its liberation due to his habit of inciting the crowds during his walks and, later, from the confines of his cell), brought with him tapestries, perfumes, a full wardrobe, paintings, and over a hundred books.
Popular opinion was turning against the Bastille in the late 18th century as stories and autobiographies written by former prisoners condemned it. One former inmate, the writer François-Marie Arouet, known by his pen name "Voltaire", wrote about the case of the mysterious "man in the iron mask", calling the Bastille "a palace of revenge.
History reports that at the time of its "liberation" on July 14, 1789, there were a mere seven prisoners being held inside. Our research has determined there were in fact nine:
- Arno Dorian, held for charges of the murder of François de la Serre.
- Hubert de Solages, Comte de Solages, imporsoned at the request of his own family for alleged incest with his sister. It is possible that this was simply a false charge levied against him as a way for other family members to wrest money and prosperity from him.
- August Tavernier, arrested in 1757 for a plot against Louis XV and arguably insane.
- Jacques-François-Xavier de Whyte, who reports state, believed that he was Julius Caesar.
- Bernard Laroche, forger.
- Assassin Pierre Bellec.
- Jean-Antoine Pujade, forger.
- Jean Béchade, forger.
- Jean La Corrège, forger.
Of these nine, it appears that only Bellec and Arno managed to stay out of prison. All four of the forgers were recaptured and returned to prison shortly afterward. The Compte de Solage and de Whyte were likewise thrown back in jail in less than a week. Both were subsequently transferred to an asylum, as was Tavernier.
"Nothing baffles the schemes of evil people so much as the calm composure of great souls." - Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau
MIRABEAU FAST FACTS
- Born 3/9/1749; died 4/2/1791; aged 43.
- Imprisoned no less than four times to escape his debts and once tried to avoid a death sentence for the seduction and abduction of another man's wife.
- Worked as a pamphleteer for hire and as Louis XVI's secret agent.
- Attempted to win the support of his father for election into the Estates-General by dedicating a book about the Prussian monarchy to him.
- Mirabeau was born with a twisted foot, a deformed tongue, and two fully grown teeth. It is said the first words said to his father upon the presentation of his son were, "Do not be alarmed."
IMPRESSIONS OF HIM
History already regards Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau as a complex and difficult man to fathom. Surely if they had known about his role as the Mentor of the Assassin Order during the early stages of the French Revolution, historians would be even more at odds as to whether the man was a great leader who might have prevented the Reign of Terror, a demagogue, or a traitor.
Mirabeau suffered from smallpox at the age of three, which left his face disfigured. Despite this seeming disadvantage, he had a deserved reputation as ladies' man and was involved in numerous affaires de coeur, some of which were quite scandalous and landed him in prison.
During his time in prison, his writing - both erotic and political - came to the fore. He made the acquaintances of the Marquis de Sade while both were confined in the castle of Vincennes, although they later grew to heartily despise one another. Here, too, Mirabeau began to perfect his political voice, eventually turning the tables on those who had stood against him. He wrote Des Letters de Cachet et des prisons d'état, an indictment of the practice by which one could be imprisoned without benefit of trial merely by producing a letter signed by the king.
Burdened, supposedly, by prison time, scandals, and a famously poor relationship with his father (who often imprisoned him), Mirabeau's reputation was less than stellar in some circles, but the public grew to admire him. His kindnesses and consideration for the lower classes appear to have been genuine, not an act. The pay his servants received was more than generous, and he apparently looked after the medical needs of his staff's children as if they were his own.
He became something of an Anglophile, visiting England after his paper on the lettres de cachet proved to be popular there, and was acquainted with Americans Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Later, he would propose a constitutional monarchy for France similar to the English model. He produced other writings that attacked everything from financial speculation to the Prussian Court, and was perfectly positioned when the king made his decision to summon the Estates-General - a gathering of all the Estates of the Realm: the First (clergy), the Second (nobles), and Third Estate (the common people). Rejected when he attempted to assist as a member of the Second Estate, Mirabeau was accepted by the Third Estate. Mirabeau took full advantage of this opportunity to shine and rose to power on his popularity and his reasoned idealism.
The Third Estate broke away to re-envision itself under the name the National Assembly, taking the so-called "Tennis Court Oath" to create a new constitution on June 20, 1789. Mirabeau was among them, and would be elected its president on January 30, 1791. He was also a member of the Jacobin Club, which would become infamous for the "Reign of Terror" under Maximilien Robespierre.
His death in April 1790 (from, we now know, decidedly unnatural causes) was greatly mourned. In his honor, the Paris Pantheon was changed from a church, the Abbey of St. Genevieve, to a mausoleum for France's great men. That sentiment did not last long, once incriminating letters were found in 1792 that proved that the beloved Mirabeau had been serving as a secret advisor to Louis XVI.
THE COUR DES MIRACLES
- By 1777, over one million people were declared beggars by the state.
- Legend says that students at Paris universities would teach the new beggars the slang of the Cour des Miracles.
- Following the Revolution, the police force demolished the slums.
- In Victor Hugo's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, the court of beggars lay beneath a trapdoor in a tavern.
- The Roi des Thunes was a vicious, twisted son of a bitch. Death was too good for him. Says something that the goddamn Marquis de Sade was a positively benevolent man in comparison.
The "Court of Miracles," as it translates from the French, was a term given to the slum districts of Paris, France during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The ironic title refers to the fact that at the time, many members of the population of France relied on begging for survival. The well-to-do were more generous with donations to those with a clear handicap—blindness, a missing limb, and so on. Therefore, several beggars feigned such afflilctions, but somehow, upon return home to the slums, were miraculously able to see and walk.
The population in these areas swelled during the reign of Louis XIV (1654–1715) and were declining but still in evidence during the French Revolution. French novelist Victor Hugo references a Cour des Miracles in both Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Often in tales about the Cour des Miracles, there figured a Roi de Thunes—the King of Beggars. The general consensus of historians is that such a title was a myth. Our own research, however, proves that, at the time preceding the French Revolution, at least, there was indeed a Beggar king, who "ruled" his domain with particular cruelty. He demanded tribute from those in his "court", a percentage of what the beggars earned from kind hearted citizens. If the Roi deemed a tribute unsatisfactory, he would instruct his men to amputate digits and limbs, or apply acid burns to faces, so that "crippled" beggars would receive more sympathy—and thus more coin.
So brutal were his practices that upon his death, the new "Roi des Thunes", the Marquis de Sade—infamous for his enjoyment of cruelty—appeared, by contrast, to be a benevolent master.
"They declaim against the passions without bothering to think that it is from their flame philosophy lights its torch." - Marquis de Sade.
MARQUIS DE SADE FAST FACTS
- Born 6/2/1740; died 12/2/1814; aged 74.
- His famous work "The 120 Days of Sodom" was originally written on parchment 39 feet long.
- He saved the lives of his father-in-law and his wife during the Reign of Terror, despite their being responsible for much of his time in prison.
- Was nearly guillotined the day before Robespierre was arrested.
- Napoleon personally oversaw the Marquis' final stay in the asylum, Charenton.
- His oldest son burned several of his manuscripts after the Marquis' death.
- A line from his will reads, "The traces of my grave [will] disappear from the face of the earth, as I flatter myself that my memory will be effaced from the mind of men."
- Once forced a prostitute to listen to his arguments in favor of atheism for an entire night. She had him arrested the following day.
- By the time he was in his twenties, brothels had been warned not to allow the Marquis to take women off the property.
- I liked him. Sick bastard that he was, he always treated me well. At the heart of his debauchery, there was a search for something pure, I think.
Donatien Alphonse François, the Marquis de Sade, has come to so epitomize sexual cruelty that his very name was the basis of the term "sadism". His father was a diplomat and a libertine, his mother a lady-in-waiting to the queen who seldom saw her son. De Sade was born to a cultured and coddled life, where even from childhood his every whim was gratified - and his proclivities became apparent.
Even by the age of four, de Sade was spoiled, arrogant, and a bully, tormenting the young French prince so badly that he was often beaten severely and was eventually sent to stay with his uncle, a church abbot, who was as debauched as any of de Sade's own infamous clergy characters, and introduced de Sade to some of his "interests" when the boy was no older than six.
De Sade was fascinated by violence, prostitutes, and pushing at seemingly every aspect of authority, rule, or standard. He was in the position to gratify whatever desire struck his fantasy, and it is not inconceivable that he attempted them all.
He was marginalized by society after an incident involving a chambermaid, cuts, and hot wax, and was sent into exile in Italy after multiple acts of sodomy with several men and women.
Tricked into going to Paris to visit his mother whom he was led to believe was ill (in fact, she had already died), he was arrested and imprisoned in the Chateau de Vincennes. He appealed his death sentence in 1778 and won, but remained imprisoned.
When Vincennes was closed in 1784, de Sade was transferred to the Bastille. He was a nuisance, carrying on with the public on his walks and, when that was forbidden to him, shouting from his cell that the guards were killing the prisoners. He was transferred on July 4 to the insane asylum at Charenton, and thus missed being liberated by the storming of the Bastille ten days later. He had been working on a manuscript, The 120 Days of Sodom, and believed it was lost in the transfer.
De Sade was released from Charenton in 1790. Calling himself "Citizen de Sade", he supported the Republic for a time, even managing to get elected to the National Convention where, unsurprisingly, he represented the far left. For an indeterminate period of time, he assumed the position of the Roi de Thunes - the King of Beggars - in the unsavory Cour des Miracles. Such a place doubtless provided de Sade with many "subjects" all too willing to satisfy his debauchery in order to ensure their survival and well-being. Even so, there little doubt that as cruel as he was, de Sade was likely a better "king" than the original Roi de Thunes.
He found the Reign of Terror appalling, and became openly critical of Maximilien de Robespierre. In a twist that is almost humorous, the man who gave his name to the word "sadism" was accused of "moderatism", arrested on December 5, 1793, and imprisoned for nearly a year.
Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the arrest of the anonymous author of the violent erotic works Justine and Juliette. De Sade was arrested at his publisher's office and imprisoned without trial. He was declared insane in 1803 and transferred, again, to the asylum at Charenton. He died there in 1814, having somehow managed to conduct a four-year affair with Madeleine LeClerc, the fourteen-year-old daughter of a Charenton employee.
There is no question that even by today's jaded standards, the writings and behavior of de Sade are disturbing and extreme.
- Germain was famous for his elaborate Rococo style, in which he made everything from church altar vessels to silver rattles for infants.
- Germain is known to have been in possession of a Sword of Eden, which would contribute to his death at the hands of the Assassin Arno Dorian.
- How can someone so evil make things of such beauty, and then use them for so awful a purpose?
Despite the beautiful works he created, and his lineage as the son of the celebrated silversmith, François-Thomas Germain is know only of interest to antique dealers. History tells us that despite his heritage and talent, and his favored position among the French royalty, Germain somehow found himself bankrupt and was eventually expelled from the goldsmith's guild. He "died in obscurity" in 1791.
But if the silversmith died in disgrace, the Grand Master of the Templar lived and thrived. After de la Serre dismissed him from the Order for his seemingly insane rhetoric revolving around Jacques de Molay, Germain found his way back to power after assassinating the former Grand Master. He operated from the shadows for some time, a mysterious figure, leading those who would hunt him on a merry chase. He had many contacts among the French nobility and used them to influence events and provide information for the Order.
His previous life was evoked by his crafting of silver pins, sporting the symbol of the Knights Templar, which were prized badges of office. It was an ease itself to turn the sharp point of a simple pin into an instrument to eliminate those who would stand against him.
Germain was as much a master puppeteer as he had been a silversmith, even bringing the famous (and later infamous) Robespierre into place as a tool for the Templar Order.
"A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets." - Napoleon Bonaparte.
NAPOLEON FAST FACTS
- Born 8/15/1769; died 5/5/1821; aged 52.
- Napoleon was put under house arrest in 1794 for his association with Maximilien Robespierre.
- Napoleon's tendency to pose for portraits with his hand inside his vest led to rumors that he suffered from chronic stomach pain and ultimately died from stomach cancer.
- Focused on himself, certainly, but hardly the narcissist history portrays him as. Liked him a great deal.
One of the world's greatest military leaders and the emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte was born August 15, 1769, on Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean Sea. At the time of Napoleon's birth, Corsica was occupied by the French, and there was a strong resistance movement. Carlo Buonaparte, Napoleon's father, had at first supported the nationalist leader, Pasquale Paoli. Bonaparte eventually switched his allegiance after Paoli was forced to flee Corsica.
It was a wise decision, as Bonaparte was rewarded with a coveted position that enabled him to enroll his two sons, Joseph and Napoleon, in France's Collége d'Autun. Napoleon ended up at the military college of Brienne, studying there for five years before attending the military academy in Paris. Upon his father's death, Napoleon graduated early from the military academy and returned to Corsica as second lieutenant of artillery.
As his father had done, Napoleon became involved with the Corsican resistance, even siding with Pasquale Paoli. The alliance did not last. Civil war began in Corsica in April 1793, and - know Paoli's enemy - Napoleon adopted the French version of his name, "Bonaparte", and relocated to France.
He rejoined his regiment at Nice in June 1793, and gave his support to the radical Jacobin Club. By this time, France had been declared a republic, and King Louis XVI would have seven months to live. Napoleon and Robespierre had a falling out, but unlike many who did so, Napoleon managed to keep his head, in both senses of the word. The National Convention was dissolved, to be replaced by the Directory, a body of five directors who held executive power. After saving the government from counterrevolutionary forces in 1795, Napoleon was very popular with the Directory, and was named commander of the Army of the Interior. He also advised the Directory on military issues.
In 1796, Napoleon was placed at the head of the Army of Italy. Under his firm hand, a group of a mere 30,000 men won several key victories against the Austrians, helping to expand the French empire and elevate Napoleon's reputation. That year, he also married Joséphine de Beauharnais, the widow of General Alexandre de Beauharnais, who was executed during the Reign of Terror. Their relationship was passionate, but tempestuous.
Napoleon helped defeat an internal royalist threat and traveled to the Middle East with the goal of undermining Britain's empire. His good luck turned sour on August 1, 1798, when he suffered a sound defeat at the hands of Admiral Horatio Nelson's fleet. In the wake of the battle, Britain, Austria, Russia and Turkey formed a new coalition against France.
The year 1799 saw defeats for the French in Italy, and France was not without troubles at home. The Jacobins took control of the Directory in 1799. Napoleon returned to France in October, and worked with one of the new Directors toward a second coup that would usher in a new government called the Consulate - which was essentially a dictatorship, with Napoleon himself as first consul. He initiated well-received reforms to France's education, economy and legal system, and reinstated Roman Catholicism as the state religion. His Napoleonic Code permitted freedom of religion, forbade privileges based solely on birth, and ensured that government jobs go to the most qualified. He was elected consul for life in 1802, and proclaimed emperor of France in 1804.
France again saw itself at war with Britain, then Russia and Austria, in 1803. Napoleon once again confronted Horatio Nelson's fleet in 1805, and the British won a decisive victory at Trafalgar. Napoleon turned his intentions to Austria and Russia. Victory after victory followed, and the French Empire flourished and grew over the next five years. In 1810, however, France began to suffer defeats and losses as significant as previous victories. The invasion of Russia in 1812 was a disaster; out of approximately 600,000 men in the Grand Army, a mere 10,000 remained who were fit for battle.
The defeats energized Napoleon's enemies. There was an attempted coup and the British began to press in on various French territories. Napoleon surrendered to allied forces on March 30, 1814, and was exiled to the island of Elba - but not for long. France did not function well without him, and in March 1815, Napoleon escaped and returned to power.
Three months later, Napoleon defeated the Prussians on June 16. It was to be his final victory, and he was only able to savor it for two days. On June 17, at Waterloo, the British, reinforced by the Prussians, dealt him his legendary defeat. He would not rally again. He abdicated on June 22.
The coalition refused to accept his son, Napoleon II, as emperor, and the British exiled him to the remote island of St. Helena in the southern Atlantic. He was allowed a great deal of freedom and leisure, but such a life was not for him. He began to decline in 1817 and by 1821 was confined to bed. He died on May 5, 1821.
- Joseph-Michel Montgolfier: Born 8/26/1740; died 6/26/1810; age 70.
- Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier: Born 1/6/1745; died 8/2/1799; age 55.
- The brothers' previous attempts to get paper bags to float using steam or hydrogen gas had ended in failure.
The Montgolfiers made their first public demonstration using a balloon made of silk lined with paper and held together with buttons.
- Hard today, when flight is so commonplace, to appreciate the impact of this invention. The first time you left the earth behind, siliently, in the arms of one you love...
Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, numbers 12 and 15 respectively out of 16 children, turned a moment of pondering observation into history.
In 1777, Joseph noticed that laundry dried over a fire formed billowing air pockets. In later years, he would recount that one evening in 1782, he was thinking about the recent attempted Siege of Gibraltar. No attack, from either sea or land, had proved successful. While watching sparks drift upward from the fire and wondering what created the effect, Joseph wondered if that force could be harnessed to enable future troops to attack targets by air.
Upon such daydreaming is history made. Although the Montgolfier brothers misunderstood what actiallly made the sparks rise (Joseph assumed that burning created a special gas he dubbed "Montgolfier gas", not realizing it was simply the fact that the air was heated that caused it to become lighter), they were on the right track. Joseph built a box-like chamber out of thin wood and covered it with taffeta. When he burned paper beneath the device, it quickly rose to the ceiling.
He wrote to his brother Etienne the previously quoted note, and they built a second fabric-covered craft, scaled up by three. When they tested it on December 14, 1782, so powerful was the lifting force that the brothers lost control of the vessel, which floated over a mile before landing, to, sadly, be be destroyed by passerby.
The first public demonstration of their hot-air balloon was held on June 4, 1783, in Annonay in front of a group of dignitaries. The balloon's flight lasted ten minutes, reached an altitude of approximately 6,000 feet, and covered 1.2 miles. After this success, the businessman Etienne represented the brothers in Paris while Joseph, the epitome of the shy and frumpy inventor, remained behind in Annonay.
Further demonstrations were held. One was conducted in Versailles in which a sheep, a duck and a rooster were sent aloft in order that the effect of flight upon living creatures might be studied; King Louis and Marie Antoinette were in attendance. The first human in "flight" was Etienne Montgolfier, in October 1783. On November 21 of that year, the first free flight be humans was conducted, and in June 1784, Elizabeth Thible made history by being the first woman to fly.
These early flights were wildly popular. Commemorative engravings, chairs, mantel clocks, crockery, and so on were created to capitalize on the romantic, exciting excursion.
"The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant." - Maximilien de Robespierre.
ROBESPIERRE FAST FACTS
- Born 5/6/1758; died 7/28/1794; aged 37.
- Spoke over 5000 times in the National Assembly, giving articulate arguments against the royal veto and religious discrimination and often advocating for the rights of the common people.
- Mirabeau once said of him, "He will go far. He believes everything he says."
- Following the death of his mother and abandonment by his father, Robespierre took on the responsibility of raising his siblings until he left for France's most respected university at the age of 11.
- I just can't fathom this man. What the hell happened? So much blood...
With such a quote to his name, one might think that Maximilien de Robespierre would have been a supporter of the Assassins, but he would have had great difficulty with the first tenet - "Stay your blade from the flesh of the innocent". Forever linked with the excesses of the zealot, Robespierre was responsible, directly or indirectly, for the arrest of an estimated 300,000 people in less than a single year, of whom nearly 40,000 were executed - 17,000 by guillotine, the "national razor".
Maximilien Robespierre, a lawyer, was catapulted out of obscurity into the public eye by the French Revolution. Like Mirabeau, Robespierre was elected to the Estates General, where he attacked the monarchy and called for reform.
In April 1789, Robespierre became president of the Jacobite Club, and when Paris rose up against King Louis XVI three years later, Robespierre led the Paris delectation to the new National Convention. He continued to whip up the crowds to rise against their aristocratic oppressors, and pressed for the king's execution.
The National Convention formed the Committee of Public Safety in March 1793. Its stated goals were to protect the newly formed republic from threat - both international and internal. The committee underwent restructuring in July, at which time Robespierre was elected. The Reign of Terror began on September 5th, 1793 and continued through the summer of 1794.
Although the country no longer faced foreign enemies, Robespierre continued to urge more purges and executions. Some colleagues in government began to wonder at his true motives as the bloodbaths continued unabated.
Seemingly not content with merely utterly reversing his stance on the death penalty, in the last two months of his life, Robespierre introduced a philosophy that he called the Cult of the Supreme Being. Like everything else he advocated, its ultimate purpose was to winnow out and eliminate dissenters. A rejection of the Cult of Reason that sprang up after the Revolution, the Cult of the Supreme Being was not Catholicism, but a type of deism.
It was too much for the French people to accept. To see Robespierre on a man-made mountain in a toga was to see the truth of a man who touted equality, but was in reality on the verge of becoming a Caesar himself. His peculiar behavior on that day gave credence to rumors that he was insane.
On July 27, 1794, Robespierre and many of his allies were arrested and taken to prison. Robespierre shouted his defiance as he was led off, warning that he had "powerful friends". Indeed, "friends" engineered an escape. Robespierre hid in the Hôtel de Ville, the city hall, in Paris. Robespierre began to make a new sort of list - this time not of supposed enemies of the Republic, but of his own personal adversaries.
When he received word that the National Convention had declared him an outlaw, according to history, Robespierre panicked and, terrified of the guillotine to which he had sent so many, attempted suicide. Strangely, the gunshot broke only his jaw.
We now have evidence that Assassin Arno Dorian and Élise de la Serre, daughter of the former Templar Grand Master, were involved in many of these incidents, from the theft of the various documents to the false "suicide attempt" evidence of a shattered jaw, that Robespierre might suffer the fate to which he condemned so many: execution by guillotine.
History has recorded that Jacques de Molay, 1244–1314, was the 23rd and final Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar. What is true is that he was the last to publicly be recognized as such.
Born in 1244, he lead the Order from April 1292 until its dissolution by Pope Clement V's order in 1307. Both de Molay's death as a heretic and the apparant destruction of the Order were the result of conspiracy and treachery.
In 1305, Pope Clement V asked the leaders of the various military orders for their opinions on a new crusade and the merging of the orders. De Molay was against a merger. Philip, severely in debt to the Templars, was in favor of one—specifically, merging forces under his own command.
Philip's ultimate goal was to disband the Templar, and and claim their wealth as his own. The Templar Order was already weakened by the Assassin Brotherhood and their allies. Philip was unwittingly serving the Assassin cause when he trumped up charges of heresy against the Templar in 1307. With suspicion being levied against the Order and an inquiry pending, in September Philip sent out a secret order to implement a mass arrest. As dawn on October 13 sixty Templars, including de Molay, were arrested.
False charges, including heresy, were levied against them. What ensued was seven years if imprisonment, torture, forced admissions, recanting, and trials.
De Molay had resolved that the best thing that he could do for the order as Grand Master of the Templar would be to destroy it—or at least, appear that he had. And in order to establish the utter secrecy with which the Templar would need to act in order to survive, he, too, would need to die. He selected nine of his most values men and entrusted them with the survival of the Order. They were to take their dearly bought knowledge of the Order, the First Civilization, and their enemy, the Assassins, and disappear from the minds of humanity.
Philip used the previous "confessions" to condemn the burning of fifty-four Templars at the stake May 10–12, 1310. Almost two years later, on March 22, 1312, the Order of the Knights Templar was abolished by papal decree.
On March 18, 1314, however, there came a twist in de Molay's plans. Instead of sentencing de Molay and the other Templar to death, the cardinals who were to render the verdict had opted for a lifetime imprisonment. Realizing that he needed to fan the flames, de Molay rose and announced that he and the others had been guilty not of the charges that had been levied against them—but of betraying their Order to save their lives. The charges were lies, the confessions false. Flustered, the cardinals retired to debate this new twist, but—as de Molay had known he would—Philip was enraged. Goaded to act quickly, Philip consulted his own council, came to the conclusion that a relapsed heretic was to be burned without a hearing, and he did not need to wait to hear what the cardinals ruled.
By sunset the same day, Jacques de Molay was slowly burned to death, with his last breath pronouncing curses upon Clement and Philip, having willingly and courageously chosen martyrdom to save his beloved Templar Order.
We now believe that de Molay was one of the reincarnations of Juno's mate, Aita, known as a Sage. As such, any relics that might have survived the flames of his martyrdom could bear traces of Precursor DNA.