Pigeon coops, as well as the courier pigeons they housed, were a means of communication used by the Assassins to trade messages and assignments.
During the Middle Ages and the Third Crusade, coops were located within Masyaf and the local Assassin bureau of each city. Messages were often sent to the Rafiq of the Bureau to inform them of contracts, or of the arrival of certain Assassins in their city. During the Hunt for the Nine, the Mentor Al Mualim sent pigeons from his study to the cities of Damascus, Acre, and Jerusalem to inform the local Rafiqs of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad's eminent arrival in the city, and of his current target.
At the time of the Renaissance and Late Middle Ages, most of the contracts sent by pigeon were assigned by Lorenzo de' Medici, and were executed by Giovanni Auditore, and later, by his son Ezio. Mario Auditore also made use of pigeons in Monteriggioni, though mostly to collect the information gathered by spies he sent to other cities.
When the Assassins built their brotherhood in Rome, Niccolò Machiavelli managed to plant several spies in the Borgia forces. These men gathered the names of important Templar figures, which were in turn delivered to Ezio Auditore through pigeon coops around Rome. To receive more assignments, Ezio spoke with Pantasilea Baglioni, who would inform him of Machiavelli's progress and of the nature of the current set of contracts.
Through these coops, not only could Ezio accept missions, but he could also assign his apprentices their own missions, as well as improve the armor and weapons used by each apprentice. As most rooftops were restricted to civilians, allies to the Assassins were easily able to leave messages at pigeon coops, to be later picked up by members of the Order.
In Constantinople, pigeon coops were always located near the ground, in secluded areas next to bomb-crafting stations. Though they functioned similarly, they were also noticeably smaller than those found in Italy.
Golden Age of Piracy
In the early 18th century, the Assassins continued to use pigeon coops, and had several stationed on islands around the West Indies. The pirate Edward Kenway used these coops to receive contracts, the targets of which were often located on islands nearby.
- Fiora Cavazza betrayed the Templar Order and allied herself to the Assassins by waiting near a pigeon coop, and speaking with a guard she witnessed leaving a message in one.
- Francesco Vecellio sent a message to Giovanni Borgia by a carrier pigeon, though it was able to fly straight into his room, instead of a coop.