- "The liberation of Roma has begun."
- ―Ezio Auditore to a new Assassin recruit, 1503.[src]
The liberation of Rome took place during the Italian Renaissance, in which the city of Rome was freed from Borgia rule by the Italian Brotherhood of Assassins, led by Ezio Auditore da Firenze, and was finally brought into the Renaissance.
Beginning of the insurrection
Rome in ruins
- "As the Borgia grow in power, they have taken desirable areas of the city for themselves."
- ―Machiavelli to Ezio on the Borgia's oppression.[src]
In 1500, following the fall of Monteriggioni, Master Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze began his journey to Rome, enraged and seeking revenge for the attack on his home and the murder of his uncle, Mario Auditore. However, he passed out half way there due to the injuries he had sustained during Cesare Borgia's attack, and was thus brought to Rome by Niccolò Machiavelli who found him there in the countryside.
Waking up, Ezio discovered a young woman, who had helped to heal his injuries, though not fully. After telling him to meet Machiavelli at the Mausoleo di Augusto and providing him with new Assassin garb, Ezio left to meet with Machiavelli. On his way, Ezio discovered Rome in ruins, with the majority of the citizens living in fear; the people were poor and starving, the guards were corrupt and ruthless, and the city was decaying under the oppression of the Borgia.
Meeting with Machiavelli, he told Ezio of the Borgia's rule as the pair walked together. Reaching some stables, Machiavelli claimed they could not use it, as the Borgia had taken certain areas of the city for themselves. However, Ezio, tired of seeing the city under despair and misery, burned down the nearby Borgia Tower, the source of their power in that district. With this, the stables were able to reopen and some of the Borgia's presence was diminished. Machiavelli subsequently showed Ezio the only Assassin stronghold in Rome.
Arriving there, Ezio and Machiavelli were greeted by Fabio Orsini, an ally wishing to overthrow the Borgia, mainly to destroy Cesare's influence. Powerless against the Borgia, Ezio asked Machiavelli of their contacts in the city, though he admitted all of the Roman underground were unable to help the Order because of their own problems. Ezio then set off to establish contact with the Roman mercenaries, courtesans, and thieves.
Revival of the Roman underground
First, Ezio was able to find the La Volpe Addormentata, the Thieves Guild's secret headquarters. Finding La Volpe there, Ezio assisted the man with some of his problems, before helping Volpe repair the run-down thieves' headquarters and have it disguised as an inn, so that the Borgia would not become suspicious. While grateful for the Assassin's help, La Volpe later told Ezio that he suspected Machiavelli of being a traitor to the Order.
Shortly after, Ezio visited Bartolomeo d'Alviano, whose wife Pantasilea Baglioni told the Assassin of Bartolomeo's troubles with the combined forces of the Borgia and the French forces of the Baron de Valois. To help solve this, Ezio killed the captain of the nearby Borgia Tower during a clash and destroyed it, before repairing the military barracks for the Mercenaries Guild.
Finally attempting to ally himself with the Courtesans' Guild, Ezio discovered that the Madame of the Rosa in Fiore – Madonna Solari – had been kidnapped by slave traders. The Assassin attempted to bargain with the slave traders in order to save the Madame, through procuring 2500 florins for her release, though they killed her nonetheless and attempted to attack him – Ezio was able to fend off his attackers and returned to the brothel. However, there Ezio found his sister Claudia and mother Maria at the brothel. In response to the news of Solari's death, Claudia volunteered to take the position of the new Madame to prevent the brothel's closure and help Ezio and his quest to liberate Rome; Ezio begrudgingly accepted her offer and used the ransom funds to renovate the Rosa in Fiore, but cut off any personal formalities to his sister as a result.
With this, Ezio was able to have all three guilds support the Assassin Order in their insurrection against the Borgia. Subsequently, Ezio, Machiavelli and the three guild leaders met at the Tiber Island stronghold to discuss how they would defeat the Borgia.
Ezio then proceeded to destroy the remaining Borgia Towers, all of which were propagating the Borgia influence across Rome. As he did, he also restored various shops and purchased famous Roman landmarks, successfully giving the people the will and initiative to think for themselves, and to fight for their own rights. As the Borgia's reach was weakened day by day, military presence in the districts became diminished, and crime rates began to drop.
To further bring down the Borgia, each of the agents under the command of Cesare Borgia were hunted down by Ezio and his Brotherhood, resulting in the Templars losing crucial power in the city. Additionally, the Followers of Romulus, who were commanded by Cesare and their Papal overlords, were also brought down by Ezio; to stop these false pagans from terrorizing the people of Rome, he infiltrated their lairs and killed their leaders.
Removal of Cesare's resources
Shortly after rescuing Caterina Sforza from the Castel Sant'Angelo, Ezio realized that in order to completely remove the Borgia's influence, he would need to cut off Cesare's funds. La Volpe determined that Cesare's funds came from one known as "the Banker." Claudia Auditore confirmed this, and spoke of a senator, Egidio Troche, who owed the Banker money.
Ezio set out to find the senator, and eventually came across him being harassed by the Banker's debt collectors at the Il Campidoglio – in response, Ezio killed the collectors and led Egidio to safety. After offering to provide the money Egidio owed, Ezio followed him to the place where the money was to be collected, proving to be the Pantheon.
Once there, Ezio assassinated the guard who was counting the money and impersonated him by wearing his armor. The Assassin then delivered the money to the Banker's henchmen, who were ready to bring it to the Banker himself. Slipping away and changing back into his robes, Ezio followed the carrier into the party that the Banker was holding, and sat on a nearby bench. When the Banker walked by, proving to be Juan Borgia the Elder, Ezio pounced and assassinated him. With the first of Cesare's three generals gone, Cesare was deprived of his funds.
Skirmish with the Baron
- Main article: Skirmish in the Campagna district
- "Whatever the French may think, Cesare intends to be king."
- ―Bartolomeo discussing the Baron and Cesare.[src]
Ezio soon found out that Cesare had persuaded King Louis of France to lend him an entire army to aid in his conquests. This army, which was under the command of Octavian de Valois, was at the time engaged in close conflict with the Assassin and condottiero, Bartolomeo d'Alviano.
Ezio, with Bartolomeo's aid, planned to assassinate the general of the French forces and leave them in disarray. However, during the battle, Bartolomeo's wife, Pantasilea, was kidnapped by the Baron, who demanded Bartolomeo's unconditional surrender.
Seemingly left with no other alternative, Bartolomeo began to prepare for surrender. However, Ezio stopped him, and offered a plan which would allow them to safely rescue Pantasilea: Ezio and his mercenaries would disguise themselves as French soldiers and pretend to escort a "surrendering" Bartolomeo, before entering the French camp without arousing suspicion.
The plan was successful, and once inside, Ezio signaled for the mercenaries to begin the attack. However, the Baron retreated deeper into the camp with Pantasilea as a hostage. Ezio was nevertheless able to approach undetected and assassinate the Baron. With the second of Cesare's three generals gone, his military troops were in disarray.
The Templar assassin
- "Micheletto. The best killer in Roma. No one escapes him."
- ―La Volpe describing Micheletto.[src]
Cesare's power was sufficiently weakened with his troops and funds in shambles, thus Ezio felt that it was time to move in for the kill. However, in order to enter the heavily guarded Castel Sant'Angelo, he would need to be able to slip in undetected. For this, La Volpe suggested retrieving the key that had been given to Pietro Rossi, Lucrezia Borgia's current lover.
However, in doing so, Ezio uncovered a plot to assassinate the actor – Cesare had found out about Pietro's relationship with his sister, and so he had sent his "butcher", Micheletto Corella, to kill Pietro during his performance of the Passion Play to be held at the Colosseo.
Ezio realized that if Pietro was assassinated, he would never be able to reach Cesare, so he set forth to save Pietro's life. After acquiring and disguising himself and his recruits as actors, Ezio managed to make his way onto the stage and neutralize Micheletto, although Micheletto told Ezio that he had already poisoned the wine that Pietro had drank during the play.
As such, Ezio was forced to bring Pietro to a nearby doctor, whose medicine cured Pietro. Subsequently, Ezio demanded the key from Pietro, to which the actor eventually obliged.
While he made to leave, however, Ezio saw Paganino, one of the thieves who had been at the Villa Auditore during Cesare's attack – the man fled when confronted, and Ezio gave chase. Upon catching Paganino, Ezio discovered that he was the one who had been spying on the Assassins for the Borgia, but his discovery was cut short when the thief killed himself upon the Assassin's Hidden Blade, after proclaiming "Long live the Borgia!" as he did.
With the new information, Ezio hurriedly raced back to Tiber Island to prevent La Volpe from killing Machiavelli, who he had long suspected was the traitor. Once Ezio had managed to intervene and successfully proven Machiavelli's innocence before the attack, a meeting of the Assassins was called. Claudia Auditore was initiated into the Order, after Ezio had seen her abilities manifest themselves in her defense of the Rosa in Fiore from two Borgia guards that had followed her courtesans back from Trastevere, and Ezio was declared the Mentor of the Italian Assassins.
With Micheletto neutralized, Ezio had been given a way to enter the Castel Sant'Angelo, locate the stolen Apple of Eden, and assassinate Cesare; this final act would truly liberate Rome.
The freedom of Rome
- "Join me and I will take back Roma!"
- ―Cesare making a desperate bid for support.[src]
Ezio once again infiltrated the Castel with the help of the key to the side door he had obtained from Pietro. Once inside, he made his way towards the Papal apartments, and eventually arrived at a window that led into the Pope's chambers.
There, he then witnessed a conversation between Cesare and his father Rodrigo, in which Cesare furiously demanded where his funds and troops had gone. Rodrigo informed him that it had been the Assassins' doing, but refused to offer Cesare any monetary aid or compensation.
Cesare stated that if Rodrigo would not give him money, he would use the Apple of Eden to get what he wanted. Rodrigo then told him that he had hidden the Apple, prompting Cesare to demand its location. Their conversation was interrupted by Lucrezia, who ran into the room claiming that Rodrigo planned to poison Cesare with the apple that Cesare had just taken a bite of.
Infuriated, Cesare spat out what he had been eating and viciously rammed the remaining apple down his father's throat. Distraught, Lucrezia pleaded for him to stop by telling him that she knew where the Apple of Eden was, though Cesare immediately pinned her to the wall by the throat and demanded that she tell him.
Meanwhile, Ezio had made his way to the open window, but by the time he had gotten in, Cesare had departed in search of his objective. Lucrezia then gave the location to Ezio as well, and he raced to get to the courtyard in front of Basilica di San Pietro before Cesare.
Fortunately, Ezio arrived there in time and, locating the Apple with his Eagle Vision, reclaimed it for the Assassins. Upon his narrow escape from the Vaticano District, Ezio began to use the Apple to kill the remnants of Cesare's army, leaving him with next to nothing.
In September 1503, Cesare met with his few remaining Templar loyalists at the gates to Rome, in order to await his army that he had recalled from the battlefield to aid him. Instead, Cesare was ambushed by the Assassins, and his men were killed, though he himself safely sealed himself outside the city walls in order to escape them.
The army that arrived for him, however, was not his own, but that of Fabio Orsini, who had been warranted to arrest Cesare upon the order of the new Pope, Julius II. At this, Rome was fully liberated from the influential rule of the Borgia and the Templars.
Assassins and Templars
- "This is not your city anymore!"
- ―Ezio to Cesare after driving him out of Rome.[src]
Following Cesare's fall from power, Ezio was worried that he remained a threat despite his arrest. Leonardo da Vinci encouraged Ezio to use the Apple and see what would eventually become of Cesare. Despite his initial protests, Ezio decided that he could not risk Cesare's return, and used the Apple to see what the future held. He immediately discovered Cesare's plan to escape, and set about foiling the attempt. This would eventually lead the Mentor to Spain, seeking to prevent Cesare from emerging triumphant at the Siege of Viana.
With many of their important members dead or driven out of Rome, the Templars lost control of the city. After a new Assassin-affiliated Pope was elected, Pope Julius II, the Templars lost all hope of ever seizing control of Rome for the near future.
- "No! This is not how it ends! Chains will not hold me! I will not die by the hands of man!"
- ―Cesare's claims during his arrest, 1503.[src]
In 1504, Cesare was exiled to Spain and imprisoned at the Castillo de la Mota. However, he was in luck, as the Count of the city provided him with a rope to aid him in an escape attempt. Cesare dropped seventy feet from the prison wall, fracturing several bones, but was saved after he landed on the servant that accompanied him.
Leaving the injured servant behind, Cesare escaped the area dressed in a merchant's garb, and joined his brother-in-law, King John III of Navarre. In 1507, King John ordered Cesare to lead his force of 10,000 men to Viana to reclaim Viana Castle from the Count of Lerin. Cesare planned to win the battle to regain the support of the French, and eventually take back Rome. However, he was ultimately eliminated in the siege of Viana, thanks to Ezio's intervention.
After Rodrigo's death and Cesare's fall from power, Rome went through a massive change. All the shops had re-opened, the factions were re-established, and the citizens underwent a change from bandits and beggars, to artists and merchants. The Papal Guard were no longer corrupt, and the prosperity and light of the Renaissance had finally been brought into Rome.