During the twelfth century there roamed over the face of the civilized
world the most odious class of beings - we cannot call them men- that
have ever appeared in human form. these creatures, known by the name
FEDAVEES, were at once hated and feared in every country, as well by
the sovereign on the throne as by the meanest peasant.
from one end of the earth to the other we read that every nation and
every people, dreaded the secret and unerring stroke of the fedavee
..it was their business to carry out what may be called the foreign
policy of the old man of the mountains.
..a fedavee might be dispatched in the cases ...ceases to advance a
tax or evading payments
-these misguided creatures, often stolen or purchased when young, were
early trained in the belief that their master was omnipotent, and even
to attempt to disobey his most repulsive commands was a crime. at home
they wore a white uniform with red bonnets, and carried sharp daggers
in their girdles. when sent on a mission, however, they assumed
whatever disguises might seem best adapted to elude suspicion.
they would insinuate themselves into courts in the guise of
minstrels, and beguile the laden hours with wild and weird melody; or
perhaps as stranger-pilgrims they would accept the hospitality which
the weary step and travel- stained garb prompted the generous
proffer. then in the dead of night, clutching the dagger that has
been so carefully concealed, the fedavee, remembering nothing but the
mandate of his master, would stealthily seek his victim, plunge the
steal into his heart, and disappear. it mattered not how long the
fedavee had to wait for his oppurtunity; his patience never gave way.
he knew that if he failed to fulfill his mission his own life would
soon be taken.
another powerful stimulus urging the fedavee at all hazards to
complete his murderous enterprise was the strange and repulsive
process whereby he was fortified before setting out on a mission. he
chewed the hashish (hemp-plant), from which he was sometimes named
'hashishim- a word that became in europe 'assassin' -this plant threw
him into a stupor, and while he was in this state of unconsciousness
he was borne to the garden of alamoot, where, on awakening, according
to marco polo, everything that could cause him pleasure and everything
he could desire were administered to him. these pleasures, he was
further taught to believe, were only a foretaste of the future bliss
designed to the faithful. the future bliss would be his if he fell in
seeking to obey his master, while he would lose it if he sought to
shrink from yielding a submissive obedience. relying upon such a
faith, he set forth, cared not what difficulties he might have to
confront, and firmly resolved 'to do or die'
the power of the awful society was broken by the mogul conqueror,
holagou khan, in the year 1258; "and not a vestige is left of the
enemies of mankind except the word assassin, which in the most odious
sense, has been adopted in the languages of europe"
fit termination to such a fiendish band.
source: 'The Wonders of the Universe' Cassell & Company Limited © 1885 O.M. Dunham