In advance of the release of Brotherhood, we look at some of the real-life figures that populate the game. Sometimes truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

History buffs love Assassin’s Creed. The chance to walk through the streets of Jerusalem or Florence as it was hundreds of years ago or meet some of history’s foundational figures is a powerful draw. But how accurate is the story of Assassin’s Creed? Where do these characters true histories collide with the fiction of the Assassin and Templar orders crafted by Ubisoft? In many cases, Ubisoft didn’t have to reach far to find remarkable events straight out of the history books. The area now known as Italy was a hotbed of conspiracy, warring city-states, murder, and family vendettas during the same period that western civilization was finding its feet through art, architecture, and science. We’ve compiled a brief look at some of the central personas of the period. There might even be some hints about what to expect in Brotherhood.

All of the following information is based on the recorded history of these individuals, and not the fictionalized account found in the games.

Pope Alexander VI

Yes, there really was an evil pope that reigned over the Catholic church from 1492 to 1503. Originally known as Rodrigo Borgia, this pope’s name became synonymous with the excesses of the church from the period, and of the papacy in particular.

While there’s nothing in Pope Alexander VI’s life that indicates a connection to the Templar order, the depredations that he inflicted on the world are well known. Nepotism was widespread, as the Pope arranged money and position for many within his family, including his illegitimate son, Cesare Borgia. He was known for the murder of political rivals. Along with Cesare, they inflicted a terrible reign over Rome that left the populace in fear. Some histories details orgiastic parties in the Papal Palace. Rich men were accused of false crimes, and their money seized. He was, all in all, a pretty bad guy.

So, why did Ezio not kill Borgia at the end of Assassin’s Creed II? Well, from a character perspective, maybe it wasn’t the right thing to do. But from a historical perspective, the man wouldn’t die for another few years. It’s worth noting that the year of his death is right in the middle of the upcoming Brotherhood game. In 1503, both he and his illegitimate son, Cesare Borgia, grew extremely ill. Cesare survived. After a painful and slow deterioration, Pope Alexander VI did not. Few attended his funeral. Fourteen years later, partially in response to excesses exemplified by Alexander VI, Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation.