For I have dipped my hands in muddied waters, and, withdrawing them, find 'tis better to be a commander than a common man!
~ Bartholomew Roberts to his crew, before his first voyage as a pirate, 1719.

Bartholomew Roberts (1682 – 1722), born John Roberts, was a Welsh pirate, a Sage, who raided ships in the Caribbean and on the West African coast between 1719 and 1722, and the two main antagonists along with Laureano de Torres y Ayala of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.


Imprisonment by Templars

The Templar Order located Roberts sometime in 1715, in Spanish lands in South America, and subsequently took him to Havana. The Assassins Mentor, Ah Tabai caught wind of the capture and sent his finest student, Duncan Walpole, to free Roberts and bring him to the Assassin city of Tulum. However, Walpole had secretly betrayed the Brotherhood and abandoned his mission. 

Roberts eventually arrived in Havana, where he was imprisoned in the estate of the Governor Laureano Torres de Ayala. Torres, his fellow Templars Woodes Rogers and Julien du Casse, along with Edward Kenway – who had killed Walpole and taken his identity – met Roberts at the Havana docks before taking him to the prison.

In transit, he managed to break free when the Templars were attacked by Assassins sent by Ah Tabai, but was chased down by Kenway and escorted to Torres' estate. He was moved later that same day, but escaped soon after and took to the sea.

Slaving in Kingston and Príncipe

In 1717, the Templars learned that Roberts had been recaptured by a Kingston-based slaver named Laurens Prins. Prins had indeed encountered Roberts, but had actually employed him, allowing him to stay in his Kingston estate while planning to sell him out to the Templars.

Kenway, acting on information given by his fellow pirates, confronted Torres and devised a plan to have the Templar Grand Master meet with Prins in Kingston, leading Kenway to Roberts. However, Prins detected Kenway and the Assassin Mary Read and managed to flee back to his mansion.

When Kenway killed Prins in his gardens, Roberts appeared, declaring that Prins had been his employer instead of his jailer. Shooting an alarm bell to alert guards to Kenway's presence, Roberts escaped once more. He eventually began working on board the Princess; this ship made regular trips between Kingston and the African nation of Príncipe roughly every eight weeks. Roberts eventually went into hiding in the Príncipe jungle after the ship was captured by Templars in late 1718.


When Kenway found Roberts hiding in the African jungle in 1719, he struck a deal with the Sage to free his imprisoned crew in exchange for Roberts leading him to the First Civilization site known as the Observatory. Kenway killed the Templars in Príncipe, freed the crew, and recaptured the Princess. Roberts gave a speech to his crew declaring his intentions to sail as a pirate, and the two captains returned to the West Indies.

In the following months, Roberts made a name for himself by taking ships and making a fortune. He called himself "Black Bart" and kept his crew to high standards with an eleven-part creed; it discouraged gambling on the ship, required the men to keep their equipment in good working order, and provided that pirates should live their lives as fully as possible and die before they became weak and old, vulnerable to having their power stripped from them: a philosophy he summed up with the words "a merry life and a short one."

Roberts and Kenway met again off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, where they infiltrated within a Portuguese fleet to steal First Civilization crystal vials that had been imbued with the blood of both pirates and Templars alike. After completing the heist and commandeering the Portuguese flagship, Nosso Senhor da Compreensão, Roberts renamed her to the Royal Fortune. Kenway killed Benjamin Hornigold to ensure the pirates were not followed before meeting Roberts again at Long Bay, on the northern shore of Jamaica. The two went ashore with four of Roberts's crew in search of the Observatory.

The Observatory

Edward cleared the jungle of the protective Guardians while Roberts and his crew followed until they reached the Observatory's door. Upon opening it with an incantation, Roberts suddenly shot his four crewmen dead, telling Kenway he did it to save them from the insanity that was sure to follow if they entered the building. However, he believed that Edward could handle the secrets stored within, and instructed him to take up the case of blood vials before they made their way inside.

Roberts informed Kenway of his past as a Sage and his new life as a pirate, including his pirate's creed, as they made their way deeper into the Observatory. He commented on the complex being in much worse condition than what it had been when he last saw it 80,000 years ago, although he still knew how to deactivate the building's security measures once inside.

In the Observatory's antechamber, Roberts showed Kenway exactly what its purpose was, using the blood vials they had taken from the Portuguese and inserting them into a Crystal Skull set into the centerpiece of a golden armillary sphere. Soon, the machine began to operate, projecting the vision and hearing of the individual whose blood was in the vial - a near perfect method of spying on anyone in the world; this was demonstrated as both Roberts and Kenway surveyed through the eyes and ears of Jack Rackham and Woodes Rogers.

Although Kenway agreed with Roberts that the Observatory would be too powerful for the Templars to have control of, Roberts had a different plan on how to stop them - by removing the skull, rendering the Observatory inoperable. He then kicked Edward over a ledge and into the water below, remarking that there was no part of his creed that forbade betrayal.

Roberts returned to the shore, but was surprised to see a severely wounded Kenway struggling across the beach. After a brief fight, Kenway collapsed; the Sage commented that it would be more profitable to claim the bounty on Kenway's head than to kill him, and turned him over to the British authorities.


Over the next two years Roberts captured hundreds of ships, earning the attention of both the British and Spanish navies as well as the Templars; he was forced to retreat to Príncipe, where he was found by Kenway. Roberts attempted to flee aboard the Royal Fortune, keeping the at bay with mortar fire and fire barrels, before moving into open waters where Spanish and British forces engaged him. Eventually the Royal Fortune was disabled by the Jackdaw and boarded; there, Bartholomew Roberts and Edward Kenway – the last of the pirate captains – fought one another, with Kenway emerging the eventual victor, having impaled Roberts with a rope dart.

Roberts first noted the aptness of his motto: "A merry life and a short one" before remarking that he may have misjudged Kenway and perhaps he was indeed the one 'she' had sought. Roberts expressed regret that he had not had the time to open the door to the Temple, confusing Edward, who demanded he make some sense. Roberts requested that Edward destroy his body in order to prevent the Templars' from gaining anything from it, and passed away. Edward then complied with his final request.


  • Roberts could be seen wearing a portrait necklace, depicting a visage of a woman, identical to the one worn by John, one of Aita's later incarnations.
  • Roberts acquired his outfit from Howell Davis, the Princess' former captain, after the latter's death at Príncipe.
  • Bartholomew Roberts is the First Knight of Cerebus that is listened on TV Tropes of Assassins Creed Series