"We prohibit under anathema that murderous art of crossbowmen and archers, which is hated by God, to be employed against Christians and Catholics from now on."
— Canon 29 of the Tenth Ecumenical Council of 1139
The Orsini were a Roman noble family who had their roots in 11th century Rome. Little is known of them before 1110 AD, but what is certain is that by the 13th and 14th centuries they were a key political player in the cutthroat world of communal and ecclesiastical politics in Rome, and several members of the Orsini family even became pontiffs, holding sway over the souls of almost all Christendom during their tenure. Not all Orsini, however, were men of the cloth - some, such as Matteo Rosso the Great or Niccolò di Pitigliano distinguished themselves as proficient military men. Other members of House Orsini were also dispersed throughout Southern Italy and even exerted influence in the Iberian-dominated Kingdom of Naples.
It is thus unsurprising that as all Italian noble families are concerned, that they have had henchmen to do their bidding. The Orsini Marksmen are as ruthless as they are proficient, capable of picking off enemy units, and also being capable of being stealthy when not moving or fighting. They are not expected to stand up and fight as other units would, unlike other people who can rely on a core of feudal reserves, but their ability to lay ambushes and their skills with the crossbow mean that they are highly valued as fighters. Use Orsini Marksmen to either launch raids on your opponents or lay ambushes to take out high-prized targets, but do not expect them to avail greatly against other archer units as they have almost no armour. In a heated battle, they can often be a nasty shock, appearing out of nowhere to pepper your enemy with death from above, before running away. This can sometimes be used to great effect to confuse your opponent on where your army may actually be. Note that in the Imperial Era, Orsini Marksmen will be removed from the game and replaced with the tougher but not-so-stealthy Pavise Arbalests, so you should decide whether you want the stealthy qualities of the Orsini Marksmen, or the resilience (and reduced speed) of the Pavise Arbalests.
A different breed of crossbowmen come from the north of Italy, these being Genoese Crossbowmen. Although they are similar in appearance to the Orsini Marksmen, there are several differences: while Orsini Marksmen are meant to be silent ambush killers, the Genonese Crossbowmen are meant to be fast-training recruitable light infantry: they share the same stats as those of the Orsini Marksmen, but are much, much more vulnerable due to their lack of cloaking.
- Weak unit with slow but powerful attack, being capable of being stealthy when not moving or fighting.
- Although weak in constitution, Orsini Marksmen are prized for their ability to lay ambushes. Use them to either launch raids on your opponents or lay ambushes to take out high-prized targets, but do not place them in a situation where they will be taking heavy damage.
- The stealthy qualities of Orsini Marksmen make them useful by creating diversionary attacks during heated battles, confusing your opponent on where your army may actually be.
- By the Imperial Era, however Orsini Marksmen will be replaced with the tougher but not-so-stealthy Pavise Arbalests, so you should decide whether you want stealth (of the Orsini Marksmen), or armour and resilience (Pavise Arbalests).
- Genoese Crossbowmen - Although similar in appearance and stats to the Orsini Marksmen, Genoese Crossbowmen are trained faster, cost exclusively wealth, and are also weaker due to their lack of cloaking.