Assassin’s Creed II: The Real History of Florence | Ubisoft [NA]


[MUSIC PLAYING] YOUSSEF MAGUID: In
“Assassin’s Creed II,” you play as Ezio Auditore
da Firenze, a young member of the Florentine aristocracy. While Ezio’s family are
fictional, the people you meet, places you visit, and cities
you explore in “Assassin’s Creed II” are grounded in the reality
of the 15th century Italian Renaissance. At the center of all of this
was the city of Florence. It’s here, caught up in
the beauty, grandeur, and greed of the Renaissance,
that “Assassin’s Creed II” begins. Join us as we explore and learn
about the most important people and sites throughout the city. And remember, if you’re
looking to visit or revisit Ezio’s Florence, you can sign
up for Uplay+ and get access to “Assassin’s Creed II”
along with more than 100 other Ubisoft titles. Our first stop along
our tour of Florence is the city’s massive Cathedral
of Santa Maria del Fiore. The building is commonly
referred to as the Duomo, which means cathedral. Florence’s cathedral
set the standard in terms of sheer
size and engineering innovation of its time. The project was begun in 1296
by an architect named Arnolfo di Cambio and wasn’t finished
until 1436, 140 years later. The Duomo was overseen by more
than 10 different architects, two of which, Giotto di
Bondone and Francesco Talenti, constructed
the nearby campanile. Talenti, who overtook the
project after the Black Death halted
construction in 1348, expanded the size
of the cathedral with the sole
purpose of ensuring that Florence’s cathedral
would be larger than those of rival cities Pisa and Siena. As it turns out, size and
pettiness were pretty important during the Renaissance. The building was
almost too ambitious. While a majority
of the cathedral had been finished by the
beginning of the 15th century, the dome had yet to
even begin construction, because the cathedral was so
big that no one could figure out how to build the damn thing. Eventually, an architectural
design competition was held to find someone
capable of executing the dome. A man named Filippo Brunelleschi
won the competition in 1420. He invented a self-supporting
double-shell structure and wrapped the supports
in chains to brace them. In 1436, construction
was complete on what was at the time the
world’s largest dome. While you’re taking
in the cathedral, be sure to appreciate
the facade, because Ezio never
would have been able to. Despite its long construction
time, hosts of architects, and importance as the
city’s major cathedral, Florence’s Duomo was left
without its signature facade until the late 19th century
when Florence became the capital of the
Kingdom of Italy more than 400 years after the
cathedral was consecrated. While the dome of the Duomo may
have been Brunelleschi’s most famous contribution
to Florence’s skyline, it’s hardly the only
mark he left on the city. He also designed the
Church of San Lorenzo, the patron church of the
Medici, the most powerful family in Florence and arguably all
of Italy in the 15th century. The Medici rose to
power in Florence as a wealthy banking family
in the early 15th century. During Ezio’s time,
the head of the family was a man named
Lorenzo de’ Medici. As the de facto
leader of Florence, Lorenzo employed some of
the era’s greatest artists and helped elevate
Florence to one of the most culturally
influential cities of the Renaissance. While history remembers
the Medici kindly, their influence and power
was seen as a threat by other Florentine nobles. During Easter Sunday services
at the Duomo on April 26, 1478– [INAUDIBLE] YOUSSEF MAGUID: –the
rival Pazzi family attempted to assassinate Lorenzo
and his brother Giuliano. [GRUNTING] Lorenzo managed to
survive the attack, but Giuliano was stabbed
to death in front of an audience of thousands. The unsuccessful coup made
martyrs of the Medici brothers, turning the city against the
rival Pazzi conspirators. Francesco? [YELLING] YOUSSEF MAGUID: While
the Duomo was the city’s religious center,
its civic center was the Palazzo Vecchio,
originally referred to as the Palazzo della Signoria. Despite its traditionally
rough medieval appearance, the building was actually
begun after the Duomo and even had the same original
architect, Arnolfo di Cambio. The off-center
tower was the result of di Cambio incorporating
a pre-existing tower into the new building’s facade. As they say, if it ain’t broke,
don’t tear it down and build it again. Unlike the Duomo,
which was designed after the delicate,
light Gothic style, the Palazzo Vecchio
is intended to portray a heavy, solid
medieval structure. Florence was frequently
at odds with rival cities and even the Vatican itself. And the Palazzo
Vecchio was constructed to illustrate the strength
of the Florentine Republic, with its rough,
rusticated facade and crenelated battlements. Underneath the arches are
a series of nine painted coat of arms meant to represent
the Florentine Republic. Ezio, I think I figured
out how to make a man fly. YOUSSEF MAGUID: Of
course, you can’t talk about the
Italian Renaissance without discussing the
epitome of a Renaissance man– Leonardo da Vinci. While “Assassin’s Creed
II” players know Leonardo as Ezio’s gadget-making,
codex-decoding friend, in reality, Leonardo
was many things, including a painter, sculptor,
architect, scientist, engineer, and much more. He was far ahead of his time
in a wide variety of fields. It’s not so much [INAUDIBLE]. YOUSSEF MAGUID: But
because of his wide range of intellectual
pursuits, Leonardo wasn’t especially
prolific in many fields. While only a few of
his paintings remain– All done. YOUSSEF MAGUID:
–what we have left are some of the world’s most
iconic, including the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. While his drawing
of the Vitruvian Man is one of the most recognizable
sketches in history and represents what
Leonardo believed to be ideal human
proportions, in real life, hospitals in Florence,
Rome, and Milan allowed him to dissect
and study human corpses. That likely means that having
a friend with as high of a body count as Ezio would
certainly have been beneficial to Leonardo’s
studies of human anatomy. I filled your blade with a
bit of poison to start with. Should you run out,
just visit a doctor. Poison from a doctor? In high enough doses,
that which cures can kill. YOUSSEF MAGUID:
Elsewhere in Florence, be sure not to miss the Church
of Santa Maria Novella, which contains Masaccio’s Holy Trinity
fresco, one of the earliest examples of Renaissance linear
perspective in painting, signaling the unity
of art and science. It’s also the site of the first
religious attacks on Galileo, whose scientific discoveries
were viewed as a threat to the church. Across the city
lies the Basilica of Santa Croce, another addition
to the Florentine skyline by our friends di
Cambio and Brunelleschi. As the principal Franciscan
church in Florence, Santa Croce was the
burial site of some of the world’s most
famous Italians, including Michelangelo, Galileo,
and Machiavelli. We’ve only just
scratched the surface of the history of Florence. And thanks to the
in-game database, you can discover more about
the city for yourself, not to mention the game’s
other major locations, like San Gimignano and Venice. “Assassin’s Creed II”
is available on Uplay+. So if you’d like to
learn more, sign up and explore the Renaissance. For more videos like this,
subscribe to our channel and visit us at
news.ubisoft.com.

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