Assassin's Creed

My take on an Assassin’s Creed game set during the Hundred Years’ War

There have been recent rumors on the setting for the next installment to the franchise, with the Hundred Years' War recently being discussed as the possible setting for the next game, so here is my take on what a game during that time could look like.

Historical Background:

Between 1150 and 1180, the Plantagenets, a family who ruled as the counts of Anjou, had begun exerting their influence in France by inheriting lands in Maine, Tourraine, and Normandy. Two key additions to the Plantagenet realm were England, which had only just emerged from a dynastic struggle, and Aquitaine; one of the largest domains in the French kingdom, the person who would inherit those lands was the highly cultured and intelligent Eleanor of Aquitaine, who would marry Henry II of England and double the Plantagenet lands in France. By 1180, the Plantagenet kings of England had control over England, nearly half of France, part of Wales, and some territories in Ireland.

Coat of Arms of the Plantagenet Dynasty

Tensions between the Plantagenets and the Capetians of France rose when Philippe II de Capet became the new French monarch, followed by Richard the Lionheart's ascension to the English throne. When the two monarchs campaigned in the Levant during the Third Crusade, Philippe abandoned the war in the aftermath of the fall of Acre, possibly in order to oversee the inheritance of Flanders upon the death of the Flemish duke during the siege. It was also during this time that Philippe attacked English lands in the north while Richard was still participating in the Third Crusade, forcing the Lionheart to make peace with Saladin in order to prevent the utter collapse of the Plantagenet realm in France. When Richard died in 1199, England fell under the care of his brother, John I, who was notoriously weak and ineffectual in the matters of war against the French. By the time of John's death in 1216, only Aquitaine remained under English control.

For the next century, tensions would remain relatively high until King Philippe IV married off his daughter, Isabella to the future King Edward II of England. However, when two of Philippe's daughters were caught having affairs with Norman knights, the scandal may have caused the French king to die from the shock of the news. Between 1314 and 1337, all of Philippe's male heirs would die, bringing the direct line of the Capetian dynasty to an utter demise. Although Philippe had a few legitimate daughters, Salic Law prohibited any woman or a matrilineal descendant to inherit either French lands or the crown itself. That left two possible candidates to the French throne; Philippe de Valois (a close relative to the Capetian dynasty) and Edward III (son of Edward II and Queen Isabella, and grandson of Philippe IV). However, because the French nobles feared their positions would be threatened if England and France united (adding to the fact that Edward III descended from the Capetians through a matrilineal line), they refused to crown Edward III, instead giving the throne to Philippe VI, the first Valois king of France.

Coat of Arms of the Valois Dynasty

Edward bided his time to press his claim until 1337, when Philippe had confiscated Plantagenet holdings in Aquitaine and Gascony. In response, Edward promptly pressed his claim to the French crown and declared war against the French kingdom, with his son raiding the south, while the main army under the king himself would attack and pillage the north. At the battles of Crecy and Poitiers, the French forces were utterly defeated, but attacks soon stalled as the French regained their ground and kept the English at bay. In 1376, Edward the Black Prince, son of the English king, would pass away from illness, followed by the king himself in 1377. The English throne was passed down to Richard II, son of the Black Prince. However, the succession had completely bypassed Edward's other surviving sons, one of whom was Henry Bolingbroke.

Henry was exiled in France after Richard promptly ended a duel between Bolingbroke and an opponent. However, Henry would press his claim to the English throne as Richard was leading a campaign in Ireland. Richard would be imprisoned and forced to relinquish the crown, and would be found dead not long after. Henry would rule as King of England until 1413, when he succumbed to chronic illness. The late king would be succeeded by his son, Henry V, a skilled commander and devout monarch. In 1415, Henry would launch an invasion into northern France, crushing the French armies at Harfleur and Agincourt. By the time of his return to France in 1418, the French were still recovering from their losses and newfound vices; the assassination of John of Fearless of Burgundy in 1419 would prompt the duchy to form an alliance with England, while crown prince Charles VII would be disinherited by his own parents after suspicions that he instigated John's murder.

By 1420, Paris was under Anglo-Burgundian occupation, and King Charles VI was forced to recognize Henry has his new successor, with Henry marrying Princess Catherine and procuring a male heir (Henry VI). However, both Henry and Charles would pass away in 1422, leaving the French crown heavily contested between Charles VII and Henry VI, who was only an infant by the time of his father's death. It was due to Henry's young age that a regency council was formed by Henry V's brother, John, the Duke of Bedford.

By 1428, Charles was holding court in the fortress castle at Chinon, while the garrison at Orleans was being besieged by an English army. Around the same time, Jeanne d'Arc would meet Charles in Chinon, and convince him to let her lead the defense of Orleans. By 1429, she managed to break the siege by attacking the English troops and causing one of their commanders to drown in the Loire River. Not long after, the French would recapture Reims in time for Charles' coronation as King Charles VII of France. Jeanne then attempted to recapture the capital at Paris, but was later captured by the Burgundian defenders, who sold her off to the English in Rouen. In 1431, Jeanne would be burned at the stake on charges of heresy and for donning mens' clothing.

Even as Jeanne's ashes were dispersed in the Siene River, Charles continued the attack against the English, finally able to retake Paris and Rouen by 1450. Henry VI called for peace, and gave up all English holdings in northern France in exchange for a marriage with Margaret of Anjou. However, war would resume by 1450, and the English would finally be defeated at Castillon in 1453, ending the Hundred Years' War and England's hopes at ruling over all of France (though the English would still rule over Calais until the reign of Mary I of England.

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Game World and Gameplay:

The most likely choice for a Hundred Years' War game would be the Lancastrian Phase, which lasted from 1415 until 1453, as the last phase of the war included figures such as Jeanne d'Arc, Charles VII, Henry VI, and John the Duke of Bedford. As for the world itself, it would primarily take place in Northern France, with cities like Orleans, Paris, and Rouen being central to the map.

As for gameplay, this game would probably look back to the combat and weapon choice of Assassin's Creed Unity. With the presence of large cities like Orleans and Paris and the vast open fields of Northern France, perhaps there could be a compromise between the parkour of AC Unity in dense cities and the exploration mechanics of AC Origins – Valhalla.

As for combat and weapons, Medieval France would have had a variety of ranged and melee weapons, including swords, great swords, axes, halberds, pikes, crossbows, longbows, and daggers.

When it comes to world activities, there could be a variety of things to do, such as archery competitions, jousting, racing, chess, or sword fights. As for world interactions, there would a combination of side quests and world events, with world events being reserved for helping civilians or defending supply lines, while side quests could be reserved for assassination contracts or participation in large-scale battles/ambushes.


Plot:

Henry's Campaign into France

The game begins with a series of flashbacks from one Philippe de Carneillon, a descendant of the French assassin Thomas de Carneillon (the one who appeared in the Medieval sequence of AC Unity). The year is 1415, and Philippe is present at the Siege of Harfleur on the side of the defenders. After a grueling months-long siege of the town, the inhabitants sue for peace and compliance with the English crown, to which Henry V of England accepts. As the English troops peacefully occupy Harfleur, Philippe is entrusted by a fellow assassin with the protection of an Apple of Eden (one which had been used to sow chaos and discord among the English ranks throughout the siege.

Philippe escapes Harfluer under cover of darkness and rushes to meet up with the French army under Charles d'Albret, who was awaiting for the English advance inland from his base of operations in Rouen. Prior to his arrival in Rouen, Philippe had learned that the English had left Harfleur and headed straight for Calais. Upon reporting this to the French Constable, Charles d'Albret began marching north with his army to crush the English force under King Henry.

Charles ordered his much larger host to cut off all fords and bridges on the Somme River in order to prevent the English from advancing toward Calais. However, Henry and his army went around the entire French defense by passing by the town at Peronne and making camp near Agincourt. Upon hearing this new revelation, Philippe and Charles moved toward the castle at Agincourt, in hopes that they would cut off the English army from any reinforcements. On October 24th, 1415, the two armies finally met one another at Agincourt, ready for the inevitable battle.

The Battle of Agincourt

A Medieval Depiction of the Battle of Agincourt

The English army under Henry V comprised of 6,000 men, with the majority being longbowmen. As for the French force under Charles and Philippe's fellow assassins, their total number was less than 12,000, mainly cavalry and infantry. The battle began as Henry fooled the French into believing that he was starting the attack, to which the French cavalry responded with a charge. However, the fields at Agincourt were turned into mud, which stampeded the French from causing a devastating attack against the English. Henry responded by ordering his archers to take out the charging knights with arrow.

Philippe was present among the cavalry, so he watched in horror as hundreds of his fellow knights and a few other assassins were killed by the raining arrows. Philippe was one of the few that survived, so he reached the frontlines and began the attack with a few surviving assassins. Charles sent the rest of the army to attack, but the muddled fields once again stampeded their push for a victory. At last, Philippe was supported by the rest of the army. However, during the battle, Philippe came into conflict with a Templar general. After a grueling battle, Philippe was knocked out, and the Apple of Eden he had in his possession was taken. King Henry was given the Apple, who then used it to sow chaos and death among the French ranks. At last, the French army was crushed, and the English continued their push for Calais.

A few hours later, Philippe awoke to a field of his fellow countrymen lying dead in the mud. Upon closer inspection, he found the bodies of several nobles, including Charles d'Albret. Realising that the Apple of Eden was missing (adding to the possibility that the English had already returned to the British Isles), Philippe found a surviving horse and made a push for the capital at Paris.

The Siege of Paris – 1418

Unrest was growing in the French capital as hundreds gathered to the street to murder any supporter of the Armagnac faction, loyalists to the French crown and the native Valois dynasty. Philippe and the last few assassins attempt to protect their few remaining allies within the capital, but to no avail. Political figures such as Henri de Marle and Count Bernard VII were brutally murdered as they remained trapped in the prisons of the capital.

On the 28th of May, the besieging Burgundians entered the city, but Paris soon descended into all-out violence as Armagnacs and Burgundians clashed in the streets. Looting had begun later, and all that Philippe could do was to evacuate his wife and 10-year-old son, Henri from the city as it was tearing itself apart. Soon, the streets were flowing with blood as Burgundian knights continued to slaughter the remaining Armagnac inhabitants of the city.

At the southern gates, Philippe and his family met up with crown prince Charles as they begun preparing for their escape to Chinon. However, a small Templar force arrived at the gates, and Philippe was forced to stay behind to allow for his family and his remaining allies to escape from the city. But as the escape was set in motion, Henri watched as his father was cut down by the Templars. At last, Charles, Philippe's family, and the last remaining Armagnac supporters fled the capital. And this is where the game's opening title scene would appear as Paris is shown, with burning homes and the cries of Parisians haunting the air.

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Suddenly, the flashbacks break down into chaos until Henri wakes up, trying to catch his breath while trying to recollect himself following the nightmare; one that he kept seeing for the past ten years since the Siege of Paris.

The Fortress Castle of Chinon – 1428

A Simple Model of Chinon Fortress – 1428

Henri de Carneillon, already a member of the French Brotherhood, goes out to continue his training, as he is not a Master Assassin yet; this sequence would primarily be a more in-depth tutorial on the gameplay mechanics of the game. After the training is concluded for the day, Henri and the assassins are called to a council hosted by Prince Charles and Yolande of Aragon, the mentor of the French Brotherhood and queen regent of the Kingdom of Aragon. The latest mission the assassins were to finish was to ambush an English supply line and to kill the Templar captain leading it; by 1428, Orleans was under siege, and the English continued sending supplies to support the attackers.

This was to be Henri's first mission, and he gladly accepted it. Henri, together with a few other assassins and a French detachment of 250 men went out of Chinon to head for the forests along the Loire River. As the sun began to settle, the French assassins launched the ambush against the English supply line, with Henri delivering the killing blow to the Templar captain. However, the French came to notice that the English were hauling prisoners as well, including a peasant girl who grabbed a concealed sword stolen from her and attempted to make a run for it. The assassins prevent her from running off, but soon notice something different about the girl from the rest of the prisoners; through eagle vision, the assassins noticed a strange aura from the girl. Believing that she was the girl Yolande tasked the assassins to find, they bring her back to Chinon as she explained that she received messages from God himself; this was Jeanne d'Arc, and the sword she attempted to run off with was actually a Sword of Eden.

Upon returning to Chinon, Jeanne presented herself before the royal court. After much deliberation between Prince Charles and the assassins, Jeanne was allowed to lead the defense of Orleans against the English, with funds given by Yolande herself. However, Jeanne's arrival at Orleans wouldn't come until February of 1429

The Siege of Orleans – 1428-1429

Orleans by the time of the Siege between 1428 and 1429

After sneaking past the enemy forces, Henri entered the city with specific orders; to assassinate the Earl of Salisbury, who was leading the attack against Orleans. During an attack at the gatehouse, the Earl of Salisbury was injured after a cannonball struck one of the towers. Henri failed to assassinate the earl in time after he was taken away from the battle and toward the estate at Meung-sur-Loire. On the 3rd of November, the English earl was recovering from his wounds when the guards were alerted to the presence of an assassin. Thomas Montagu (the earl's actual name) was preparing to leave the estate, when Henri jumped from the roof of the hall and into the courtyard, dealing the killing blow.

Henri escaped into the forests of the Loire, and made haste for Orleans following the assassination. Finally in February of 1429, Jeanne arrived at the city, bringing reinforcements and much needed supplies. After a successful attack against the English-controlled gatehouse, the English broke off the siege as another Templar commander drowned in the Loire River.

Celebrations soon followed, and the assassins saw Jeanne's full potential come into action, bringing hope that the victory at Orleans may eventually liberate France from the Anglo-Burgundian Templars.

The Battle of Patay – 1429

Upon the victory at Orleans, the French pursued the retreating English army under John Talbot, but Henri failed to assassinate any of the other Templar commanders who were retreating into the north.

The March for Reims – 1429

Despite the victories at Orleans and Patay, Prince Charles refused to immediately travel to Reims for his coronation, primarily due to the dangers of marching deep into Anglo-Burgundian territory and the assassination attempt against Charles by the Templars as Henri and Jeanne were aiding Orleans. Despite this, Henri and Jeanne tried to convince Charles to go to Reims for the coronation, as it would make his claims to the French throne more legitimate and be seen as a miracle. And so, the March for Reims had begun.

After capturing Gien, Troyes, and other occupied towns, Charles had finally arrived at Reims, where he was crowned on the 17th of July as Charles VII, King of France. Henri and Jeanne were in attendance as the present crowds cheered.

Discord in the Templar Faction – 1429-1431

Upon hearing of the news of Charles' coronation as King of France, it seemed as though Paris was under threat from siege. Henry VI, still only a child at the time, favored the Templar faction who supported peace with the French. John of Lancaster, the regent of France, was dismayed at the news, and so hurried to increase the influence of the war party within the Templar Order.

In 1431, Henry VI was crowned Henri II of France in Notre Dame de Paris, as a response to Charles' coronation in Reims two years prior. This had only made peace far less likely, greatly diminishing the influence of the peace party.

Jeanne's Capture – 1430

Following the failed attempt at retaking Paris in 1429, Jeanne eventually recovered from her injuries and oversaw the defense of Compiègne. However, after the Burgundians were forced to withdraw, the Mayor of Compiègne, Guillaume de Flavy betrayed Jeanne by shutting the gates to her. She was promptly captured by the Burgundians and later sold to the English.

Upon hearing of the betrayal, Henri hunted down and assassinated Guillaume, whose affiliations to the Templar Order were made well known by his act of betrayal.

Jeanne's Escape and Her Staged Death

While Jeanne was being held captive by the Burgundians, she managed to contact the French Brotherhood, who sent an assassin by the name of Fleur to take her place. During the escape, Fleur waited down below by a cart of hay. Jeanne, who was locked up in a tower, promptly performed a Leap of Faith and greeted Fleur down below. Once Jeanne hid behind a wall, Fleur let out a cry, faking an injury from a supposed attempt at an escape. The guards then took her back into the castle, and Jeanne resumed her escape.

By 1431, Fleur (who was still posing as Jeanne d'Arc) was sold to the English and taken to Bedford's base of operations in Rouen. Upon being interrogated and charged for heresy and donning male clothing, Fleur was set to be burned at the stake, but was narrowly saved by her fellow assassins, who replaced her with a clone conjured by a Piece of Eden (one which had been reclaimed following the assassination of the Earl of Salisbury.

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And so, everyone believed that Jeanne d'Arc was dead, and the ashes of the clone were dispersed into the Seine River. During this time, the actual Jeanne managed to reunite with Henri and the other assassins, who decided that it was best if the whole populace were convinced that she was dead, believing that it may cause discontent among the towns and cities of Northern France against English rule.

The Beginning of the End – 1431-1446

Upon Jeanne's reunion with Henri and the French Brotherhood, they set out for the Duchy of Burgundy, to end Templar control in the duchy and to prompt Philippe the Good to switch sides in the war.

Upon meeting Duke Philippe, relations were not well between the duke and the assassins, for he was still convinced that the assassins were involved in his father's murder back in 1419.

Henri and Jeanne eventually managed to find the true culprits behind John's assassination; several Burgundian nobles and administrators who funded Templar assassins to instigate the murder.

Upon receiving the evidence of his father's murder, Philippe sided with the Assassins and began negotiations with Charles VII, formalizing a peace and switching sides in the war against the Templars.

In the following Treaty of Arras, Philippe broke his alliance with England and recognized Charles as the legitimate King of France.

Back in Rouen, Bedford was shocked by the sudden shift of power in France, and faked his death in 1435 to avoid the humiliation and to work from the shadows instead.

That same year, the citizens of Paris finally opened the gates to Charles' forces, bringing the crown jewel of France back into Valois control.

In 1437, a campaign into Flanders resulted in the death of Jean de Villiers, a Templar who served as Marshall of France under Henry VI.

By 1442, the peace party within the Templar Order convinced Henry VI to negotiate a peace deal; they saw that their endeavors in France were fruitless, so Henry offered the territory to Maine to the Valois in exchange for marriage with Margaret of Anjou. The Treaty of Tours in 1444 was signed, and Henry and Margaret would be married back in London. Templar control in England had only weakened in 1446 when the existence of the Treaty of Tours was leaked by the assassins toward the English populace, who saw Templars like the Earl of Suffolk being responsible for England's humiliation in its campaigns against France.

The Battle of Castillon and the End of the War

Around this time, war between England and France was resumed, and both Jeanne and Henri managed to take Rouen and then the entire Duchy of Normandy by 1450. Charles then focused his armies in Aquitaine, while Philippe the Good promptly attacked English lands around Calais. In 1453, Henri and Jeanne managed to kill John Talbot at the Battle of Castillon, but were surprised that he explained that John Bedford was still alive and was leading a small force into an Isu Temple below the battlefield during a confession.

Henri and Jeanne entered the temple through a passageway underneath a monastery, and fought their way through small English detachments, when Bedford triggered a violent collapse of the walls and hallways of the temple. Jeanne and Henri managed to survive, and saw Bedford with Jeanne's Sword of Eden and the Apple stolen from Henri's father during the Battle of Agincourt. Bedford combined the two Pieces of Eden to create a destructive weapon that caused much of the temple to begin falling apart. After a long battle, Bedford was finally slain, and he expressed remorse and shame in a following confession; back in 1422, he poisoned Henry V in order to obtain the Apple of Eden, and he could only feel shame for ruining the image of his country during the war.

Upon Bedford's death, Henri and Jeanne chose to hide the Pieces of Eden, with the sword taken back to the capital at Paris, while the apple remained within the temple at Castillon. Following the battle, Bordeaux had fallen to French forces, bringing an end to the Hundred Years' War.

Aftermath

In the aftermath, the assassins moved their base of operations back to Paris and rebuilt their diminished numbers. Henri would become a Master Assassin and a mentor of the French Brotherhood following the death of Yolande of Aragon in 1442. With England's defeat in the war, factionalism grew between the Houses of York and Lancaster, who would bring the country into a period of civil conflict known as the Wars of the Roses, in which the assassins would aid Henry Tudor in emerging as the new King of England. The war saw France preserve its independence, and the country would spend the next few centuries expanding her borders and becoming a world power. Aside from the crisis during the French Revolution, the Templars would continue yearning for power and influence up until the rise of Abstergo in the 20th century.

This is just an exploration into a possible Assassin's Creed game set during the Lancastrian Phase of the Hundred Years' War. What are your thoughts?

Source: reddit.com

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