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The Top 7… Historical figures defamed by games

6. Girolamo Savonarola

You may know him as: A “mad monk” who seized control of Florence with the help of the stolen Apple of Eden in Assassin’s Creed II (specifically in its Bonfire of the Vanities DLC). Controlling the minds of its rulers to fit his own warped vision of morality, he declared himself a prophet and began an oppressive campaign to destroy all secular art and culture in the city, and to starve its people until they accepted him as their leader.

But in real life, he was: A notable opponent of Rodrigo Borgia, for starters, who you may also know as Pope Alexander VI… and ACII’s central villain. If anything, you’d think that’d have put Savonarola firmly in main character Ezio’s camp, but no – his fire-and-brimstone preaching about the evils of frivolity, excess and Church corruption (all of which Borgia was a prime example) made him a prime candidate for villainhood. And that’s to say nothing of his destruction of irreplaceable Renaissance artwork, or that he made sodomy punishable by death in Florence.

ACII gets some things right about Savonarola, like his drive to destroy luxury items on so-called “bonfires of the vanities,” and his eventual execution by burning. However, while ACII’s Savonarola usurped Florence’s ruling Medici family with the help of an ancient relic, the real one came to power after the Medicis surrendered to Charles VIII of France. And while game-Savonarola sought to exert absolute power over the city-state, the real one put reforms in motion that led to a more democratic Florentine government. 

Finally, while game-Savonarola was seized by an angry mob, tied to a stake and stabbed to death by Ezio before the flames could kill him, the real Savonarola’s death was far more dramatic. After pissing off Borgia by publicly calling him corrupt in his sermons, Savonarola was banned from preaching (which he did anyway) and eventually excommunicated from the Church. About a year later, he was arrested for heresy, tortured into signing a confession and, finally, burned while being hanged from a giant iron cross.


Above: That’s Savonarola at the center, dangling just above the flames 

So, kind of a dick – but not that much of a dick. And speaking of dicks…


5. General Custer

You may know him as: The jaunty fellow on the left there.


Above: And so, Custer’s Revenge worms its way onto yet another list article 

But in real life: We’re pretty sure he never forced himself on a woman tied to a cactus.

Above: A little genocide, sure, but cactus rape? Nah 

Topics

Top 7

61 comments

  • mothbanquet - November 2, 2013 5:19 a.m.

    'You French prick'... Still makes me chuckle to this day.
  • Forsvaine - September 18, 2011 8:33 p.m.

    Honestly, I can kind of see why Ford was demonized, because he was an anti-semite, right? As for Edison, I think it's only speculated.
  • Jamahl - March 19, 2011 3:33 a.m.

    Looking back at this, why was Jesus from AC2 not on this list? It basically says that he wore a peice of eden called the Shroud of Turin (as you may know from real life) and hypnotized his followers, and only when the templars took it from him was he killed.
  • psycho ninja 4 - September 16, 2011 7:16 p.m.

    Wait, Jesus was in the game? O_o
  • FFSamurai - August 20, 2010 6:31 a.m.

    Even though this has been commented on already I can't help but ask. Really, that's the version of Dante your going with? Not doing the whole "Super Metrosexual Trigger Happy Japanese" mercenary one instead? And then there's Virgil, the "Super Metrosexual, slash-happy Japanese" guy who represents the greek philosophy and guide to Dante in the divine comedy? These two are seriously less deserving of a spot than the "Master Chief"-i-fied version from a B-rated action slasher on your list? Aside from this, very nice list, especially of Nobunaga.
  • fattoler - August 19, 2010 12:13 a.m.

    Thomas Edison did not invent the lightbulb
  • RacoonHail - June 7, 2010 9:54 p.m.

    The history stuff is very well done. With all the mentions of people defamed by Assassin's Creed II (Spoiler's) I am surprised that there is no mention of Machiavelli being one of the good guys! I personally laughed my ass off when he first appeared as a member of the good guys. Read The Prince, and unless he is being sarcastic (which is actually possible) he is one bad dude.
  • SenatorPepper - June 7, 2010 2:37 p.m.

    This is a truly incredible piece of games journalology, and a perfect example of the sort of content GamesRadar offers that you can't find on those OTHER gaming website. Maybe it's just because I'm a history buff myself, but this article, for me, was a total RadarGasm. And happy belated birthday.
  • Darkwun - June 7, 2010 11:11 a.m.

    I love the fact Yasuke gets a mention, as I'm currently writing a book on him :D
  • Zeb364 - June 6, 2010 8:51 p.m.

    Great top seven. I like the touch of serious intelligent discussion, it provides a refreashing change of pace. A little variety never hurt anyone. The General Custer one was hilarious though. Never have to worry about the Gamesradar crew taking themselves too seriously.
  • BrushieTundra - June 4, 2010 4:31 a.m.

    Great article. I love history!
  • JohnnyBarnstorm - June 4, 2010 12:40 a.m.

    Oh man! Don't forget the Indian wrestler The Great Gama! He was immortalized in Shadow Hearts Covenant as a... uh... man who loved the company of other men. And to finish Joachim's side quest, you must... er... take him.
  • NightCrawler_358 - June 3, 2010 12:08 p.m.

    Dante wrote a stern poem? THE FIEND!
  • JenosIdanian - June 3, 2010 10:05 a.m.

    Wow, being burned while being hanged is not a pleasent way to go.
  • jhayen - June 2, 2010 11 p.m.

    For the people calling theemperor an idiot: Read your damn history, he didn', create the light bulb, the bulb was created long before. He just synthesized the first lasting filament. And AC is just incorporating the "what if" that has made so many religions before possible. Stop saying it's exetreme, it's fiction, like almost every other game out there.
  • Shrimpandwhitewine - June 2, 2010 7:03 a.m.

    I loved this top 7, I am quite fond of games and history. Great work Mikel.
  • InFeRnOg - June 1, 2010 4:25 p.m.

    What about Gregori Efivomich Rasputin? Does Shadow Hearts: Covenant, ring any bells? Or how about the film Hellboy?
  • JaptainAmerica - June 1, 2010 3:29 p.m.

    I've been Japanawikiparazed. Great stuff.
  • philipshaw - June 1, 2010 11:08 a.m.

    This was a very informative article

Showing 1-20 of 61 comments

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