Real Life History & Inspirations Explained

In 2016, the movie Assassin’s Creed was released, based on the concept of the hit action-adventure video game of the same name, and just like its predecessor, the film also has ties to real history and events. The first Assassin’s Creed game came out in 2007 and follows Desmond Miles, a man who uses a machine called an Animus to access the memories of his ancient ancestor in 1191. By doing this, Miles unravels a major conflict between the Order of Assassins and the Knights Templar, and as his assassin ancestor, must fight for relics called Pieces of Eden and kill nine of his enemy targets.


While the first Assassin’s Creed game was rooted in the Third Crusade, later iterations of the game explored other global conflicts. When it comes to the 2016 movie, this theme remained the same. In the film, Michael Fassbender’s Cal Lynch is kidnapped by the Abstergo company and forced to connect with his 15th-century ancestor in order to find the Apple of Eden. Set between the present day and the Granada War, Assassin’s Creed maintains the same historical roots as the video game and in fact, is based on real events. Though Assassin’s Creed 2 never happened, that film would have also done the same with a potential Cold War setting.

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4 The Real Life Assassins Who Inspired Assassin’s Creed

Ezio from Assassins' Creed Brotherhood with a group of Assassins behind him.

First and foremost, Assassin’s Creed has an array of assassin characters, all of whom connect to a specific historical time and group. Specifically, the assassins are representative of the real-life Order of Assassins, or simply. the Assassins. The Order of Assassins were a Nizari Isma’ili group, active between 1090 and 1275 CE, with the specific task of killing enemies of the Isma’ili state. Led by Hasan-i Sabbah, the order was located in fortresses throughout present day Iran and carried out a series of murders targeting major Christian and Muslim Crusader leaders. In this way, the Order of Assassins posed a significant threat to powerful authorities of the time.

Among the larger Order of Assassins, only one specific group, the fida’i, actually completed the killings ordered by Sabbah. They typically committed their murders in public to enforce a state of terrorism and often used weapons such as daggers, nerve poison, or arrows. Some Assassins were deemed so loyal that they would willingly jump to their death if ordered, paralleling Assassin’s Creed’s “leap of faith” action. Although the real Order of Assassins were wiped out during the Mongol Invasion of Persia, the video game supposes how the group would continue on throughout history if they had survived.

3 The Granada War: Assassin’s Creed Movie’s Real Life Conflict

Cal fights in the 1500s in Assassin's Creed

The Assassin’s Creed movie was filmed in Spain and revolves around Cal Lynch in the current day, and his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha in 1492. Historically, the film is based around the Granada War and Aguilar’s position within it. In particular, when Aguilar is accepted into the Assassin Brotherhood, he is given the task of protecting the prince of Granada and his family from the Templar Order. While the film includes a quest to find the fictional Apple of Eden, which is in the possession of Sultan Muhammad XII, the roots of the conflict are mostly tied to reality.

Related: Netflix’s Assassin’s Creed Must Avoid The Movie’s 1 Big Mistake

The Granada War was a ten-year conflict between Catholic Isabella and Ferdinand of Castile and the Muslim dynasty of Granada. As the last remaining Muslim state in the Iberian Peninsula, Granada was a target for its Castilian neighbors, and as the prosperous area struggled due to civil wars, Castile took its chance and began seasonal attacks on Granada for the next decade. Ultimately, Castile won this conflict, annexing Granada into itself. This war is a perfect fit for the Assassin’s Creed franchise film as the conflict has a basis in religious differences wherein the Order of Assassins and the Knights Templar each have a historically accurate side to fight for.

2 The Real Life Muhammad XII of Granada

Muhammad XII of Granada

In Assassin’s Creed, Muhammad XII of Granada is the father of Prince Ahmed, who Aguilar is ordered to protect throughout the film. Additionally, Muhammad has the Apple of Eden which modern-day Abstergo is after, and which Aguilar eventually retrieves, and later, hands off to Christopher Columbus. Although Muhammad’s role in the end of Assassin’s Creed is reliant on his possession of the Apple, in real life, he played a major role in the conflict between Castile and Granada. Overall, Muhammad XII of Granada was the last Muslim ruler of Granada and the Iberian Peninsula.

Muhammad XII first became the Sultan of the Emirate of Granada in 1482 when he succeeded his father due to overwhelming court intrigue and unrest. However, Muhammad’s reign was cut short the following year when, trying to make a name for himself, attempted to invade Castile and was captured. Later, after making a deal with the Castilian Catholics, Muhammad returned to his throne in 1487, wherein Granada was slowly taken by Castile. In 1492, Muhammad XII was forced to surrender Granada to Castile, and he was consequently exiled to Morocco.

1 The Real Life Tomás de Torquemada & What Happened To Him

Tomas Torquemada Assassins Creed

According to Assassin’s Creed, Muhammad XII’s enemy was not Isabella and Ferdinand of Castile, but Tomás de Torquemada, the first Grand Inquisitor of the Tribunal of the Holy Office, otherwise known as the Spanish Inquisition. In the film, Tomás leads the Knights Templar along with the Inquisition and kidnaps Prince Ahmed so that Muhammad XII will offer up the Apple of Eden in exchange. Although Tomás did not play a role in the real Knights Templar, or have a connection to the Order of Assassins, his villainy was certainly real, which is why he appears both in Assassin’s Creed and the 2009 game Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery.

As previously mentioned Tomás de Torquemada led the Spanish Inquisition from 1483 to 1498. The Inquisiton used all methods of torture and murder to convert Spanish citizens to Catholicism, meaning Tomás was an arbiter of painful and cruel death. In particular, he used a public ritual, the auto-da-fé, which included a procession that often ended in death by burning. Eventually, Tomás retired to a monastery and held his position as Grand Inquisitor until his death in 1498. All in all, the separates histories of Tomás de Torquemada, Muhammad XII, and the Order of Assassins all intersect to create the foundation of Assassin’s Creed.

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