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Posted on: December 11, 2011 7:09 pm by small image

So far six out of seven identities have been revealed for the Servants in Fate/Zero, and this time I will write a bit about the legends behind Caster and Assassin–figures in history that are a bit less known, but are still very interesting.
There will be SPOILERS for their identities, but again I will mainly just focus on some of the interesting facts about the real-life figures.

Caster – Gilles de Rais

Gilles de Rais is a figure in history I was not familiar with until now, so any information I present here is new to me. He is certainly a mysterious figure, and one we may never know the entire truth about–but according to history, it’s safe to say that Rais was a complete monster.

He grew up on a French estate in the early 15th century, and after his parents died, was raised by his politically cunning grandfather. Rais grew up to become a prominent figure in the Hundred Years War against England. He fought along with Joan of Arc in major battles, where he fought with reckless abandon and served as a major adviser and general. Once the warfare came to a close, Rais found himself in the political arena–a battlefield he fought in quite poorly, it turns out. He eventually indulged himself in an extravagant, frivolous lifestyle, blowing away much of his (extremely massive) fortune. Rais fell into a life of debauchery and decadence–there was a thrill in the bloodshed the war had provided him, and he apparently sought more of it.

And so he turned to the occult, and proceeded to (in no particular order) kidnap, rape, mutilate, torture, desecrate, and murder children. LOTS of children. Likely between eighty and a hundred, but possibly hundreds more, as there’s no way to really be certain at this point. Like Caster in Fate/Zero, accounts indicate that Rais loved the look of terror on children’s faces. He would bring in poor peasant children (boys and girls, aged 6 to 18) to his estate, give them nice clothes and a nice meal–which would be drugged–and then he had his way with them, once they woke up to find themselves in a very, very bad situation.

It looks like Rais was hoping to summon a demon named Barron, using magical books by François Prelati. (A demon would help Rais gain power, and reclaim some of that money he floundered.) Similar to Caster’s master in Fate/Zero, Rais believed he needed children’s body parts in order to summon this demon.

Things continued to grow worse and worse for Rais politically, and seeing as there was nobody on his side at this point, Rais kidnapped an important priest in order to gain some leverage. Apparently those in power were willing to ignore Rais’s penchant for torturing, sexually abusing, and murdering (peasant) children, as well as his mad obsession with alchemy and black magic–but once a priest was kidnapped, action was quickly taken to bring Rais down. He confessed his crimes (with the help of some torture devices) and was sentenced to death–he was hanged and burned, along with other co-conspirators.

Suffice to say, Caster and his master are both pretty similar to Rais, regarding their thrill in bloodshed and the occult, and in their willingness to abuse and kill children. Caster’s obsession with Joan of Arc (Jeanne) in Fate/Zero is an interesting point worth noting. Rais was there with Jeanne as she performed her miracles on the battlefield, so it is not too surprising he believed in all kinds of magic, including devil-summoning. It is difficult to say if Caster’s mad infatuation(?) with Jeanne would be accurate though, as it seems Rais didn’t try to do anything to save her. (Due to political machinations, Jeanne was deemed a heretic for several years, until her supporters eventually rose to power and instead deemed her a saintly heroine.)

I should also mention that Gilles de Rais is apparently the basis for the character Bluebeard, in a French folk tale about an aristocrat who married several times, having killed each of his past wives. There doesn’t seem to be much else Bluebeard holds in common with Rais, other than their social status and murderous behavior.

Assassin – Hassan-i Sabbah

It is very fitting that Hassan-i Sabbah is the legend behind the Assassin character(s) for Fate/Zero. As it turns out, the very word assassin comes from Hassan’s organization–which was called either Hashashin or Asasiyun. The former was a derogatory term used by Hassan’s enemies, meaning “users of hashish” (a drug). The latter means those who are faithful to Asas–or foundation of the faith. Whatever the case, Hassan formed a league now known as the Assassins, which spread terror in the Middle East (namely Persia and Syria) from the late 11th century to the mid-13th century.

Hassan grew up in Persia during a time with lots of conflicting religious thought amongst the greater Muslim community. An avid learner, Hassan mastered many sciences, and also engaged with the missionaries in the area. He eventually converted to a sect in the Shia branch of Islam known as Ismailism, and swore allegiance to the Fatmid Caliph in Cairo. He became a chief missionary in Persia, and over the years he made many friends–and enemies.

Eventually Hassan took control of the castle of Alamut, which he made the base of operations for his new community, which included the cult of Assassins. Hassan led what became a brotherhood of fearless warriors who were willing to kill any target given, and were willing to die for the cause. It is difficult to be certain what went on in the impenetrable fortress of Alamut, but some accounts claim that initiates would be brought to a prison and drugged–and once they awoke, they found themselves in a paradise set up with wine, women, and song. The initiates would eventually be put back in prison, and were promised to gain entrance into Hassan’s paradise if they were willing to zealously fulfill all his orders. They tended to agree.

The Assassins were very effective. They killed many people of political and religious significance, namely those of power in the opposing Sunni branch of the Muslim faith. And when the European Crusaders invaded the land, many of those leaders also found themselves on the wrong end of an assassin’s dagger. Everyone that upset Hassan had to go, and away they went–oftentimes in public, where hundreds of people could witness the assassinations in helpless terror.

The Hashashin lived long after Hassan’s death, and the fortress of Alamut was only captured following a three-year Mongol siege. In Fate/Zero, it turns out Assassin is composed of many people, just as Hassan utilized many men in his organization. Assassin hasn’t managed to kill anyone yet, but he/they have at least managed to give Kirei lots of valuable information on many of the competing Servants and Masters. It remains to be seen if Kirei’s servant will be as deadly as the Hashashin, which managed to kill (likely) thousands of scholars, politicians, religious figures, and powerful rulers.

I’m not sure why the Assassins in Fate/Zero are dressed the way they are, but I suppose Rule of Cool plays a role there. And I’ve noticed women and at least one child (or midget?) in their ranks, though I’m not certain if this would be accurate of the Hashashin. But it certainly is a possibility.

Next time for these Fate/Zero posts: A post on Berserker? I will have to wait until his identity is revealed, though. (BTW, no spoilers!)