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One of my characters is an assassin and mercenary. He's killed plenty of nobles and participated in a couple wars all across the continent. For the story to work, I need other criminals to know who he is (not what he looks like, just his name). So assuming the continent is more or less like Europe, would he be "famous" enough for most criminals to recognize his name? There a few things in the world that they wouldn't have in medieval times, such as spells for long distance communication and steamships, but those are super rare, and only available to really wealthy.

EDIT: More info. Most countries in the continent would have their own language, and he has killed the king of a small nation. There's also a large bounty on his head.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this is kind of impossible because people in the middle ages were not good at names, especially since every strip of land had its own language more or less. He might be known, but regionally under different names, I doubt one would immediately recognize him by whatever name they call him there. Also it's very likely that people will attribute his deeds to other people, maybe regional people, you know, like it has happened multiple times - a well known example would be Jesus Christ. (I do not intend to offend anyone, but this is even an accepted fact by my local church) $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Aug 1 '17 at 11:43
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    $\begingroup$ I feel that as it stands, the question is too vague. A large number of factors affect whether or not stories like that spread, and where they spread (and where not). One important obstacle is different languages and distance is always a factor. So if I were you, I would describe the situation more specifically so we can work out whether it makes sense for the information to spread in that case, yes or no. $\endgroup$ – Falc Aug 1 '17 at 11:44
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    $\begingroup$ "Most countries in the continent would have their own language": In the real Middle Ages most countries had several languages, and administration and justice were done in the common language of administration and justice, such as Latin or Church Slavonic or Mandarin. For example, the French language wasn't made official in France until the end of the 16th century; at that time, about 1/3 of the subjects of the French king spoke French. Moreover, in the Middle Ages political and linguistic boundaries rarely coincided. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 1 '17 at 15:14
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Without looking, can you name all current members still at large on the FBI's Top 10 most wanted list? No googling.

The reason why the list works is because it brings awareness to the fugitive, who may be hiding out in a small town that wouldn't have thought otherwise about their loner neighbor. You wouldn't believe the number of cases America's Most Wanted solved by having some little old lady say "I know him... he mows my lawn for a little extra cash?" or similar.

That said, it really depends on how important was the guy(s) you killed. Presumably if you have long distance communication, the police/military/city guards would have better access to that system, so a reliable source of information could get out. As the joke goes, "How Important do you have to be to go from being a victim of murder to a victim of assassination?" As a general rule, your victims aren't nobodies and if you'd do it enough, you'd be manhunted to hell and back.

I think a more likely scenario is that you're assassin runs afoul of local law enforcement, who are giving him trouble, only to have the local thieves guild show up to help you on the logic of "Enemy of my enemy is an excuse to hurt my enemy. Potential ally is just gravy." After making the get away, probably open the conversation to "What did you do to draw their attention... Want to avoid that when I'm on a job?" and upon learning that he murdered the feudal lord the next town over, all sorts of fun dialog can happen ("Really? The posters said you were 10 feet tall!" "He can't have murdered that lord... they caught that guy... heard he was a dairy farmer." "If he's been caught, then why hang the wanted posters?"). Especially fun if you hear it in the voice of the two pirates or two soldiers from Pirates of the Caribbean.

One final thing: Unless this is a guy so out of his depth in the criminal underworld, he gave himself his own outlaw name ("I'm Starlord" "Who?" "I'm Starlord, man... the famous outlaw?") or was given his name because no one knows who he is beyond a telling clue to his identity or method to his murdering (The Beltway Snipers did have an outlaw name they wanted to be called, but the police and media dubbed them the Beltway Snipers after the pattern of attacks with proximity to the D.C. Beltway and their method of attack emerged. Most famous serial killers are don't operate too far from homes, so they get a rep for a specific location.). To my mind, Jack the Ripper is the only famous criminal who's press name was self given and recognizable. Assassins and serial killers and most other kinds of criminals don't invest much into brand recognition because, well, the most common people to recognize their brands are crooks.

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Over the hills and far away.
But there would be "I'm Spartacus" effect. If people know his name and not his face (which would require someone to personally know him) then there would be a lot of impostors. Which in turn would create a lot of witnesses that the assassin is tall short bald blonde with both blue eyes and only one eye with an alabaster skin of ebony color.

Also I think that the "good smuggler" credo apply here. You are not very good assassin if a lot of people know who you are.

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If your world has fairs, he is the stuff of legends. The Middle Ages were boring because people saw most of their lives the same people. So because he is interesting news, someone has made a song about him (easier to remember) and fairs brought people together from all around. Merchants were the main travelers in Medieval Europe and they will extend it.

Because you said "several languages" the song/poem will take a bit longer unless you have a language used even for people that doesn't understand it fully like it happened with Occitan and French.

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If there is a large bounty on his head, then information would spread quickly I think. People really liked money, even in the medival times and I think they would be willing to spread the news in exchange for bounties. A good example of this The Red Knight, called the "Lion's heart" News can spread really quickly if people are offered an incentive. I bet if you named him something cool like "MurderMan" people would be more likely to spread it too. In conclusion they would definitely want to spread it and word of mouth is good unless theres like a newspaper

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