Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Question from Greg - Deciphered coded letters

I have been examining the calenders of Spanish papers and letters along with others for research for my Tudor books and have hit a snag. A number of letters are ciphered, has anyone deciphered them? If so where? Any suggestions would be appreciated

1 comment:

shtove said...

The ciphers appear in the calendars? Can't recall seeing that before.

Answer to the question: Unless the editor has deciphered, you probably have to DIY. Haven't tried it myself, and I guess it's alot of effort.

I have seen cipher keys in the original state papers, so I'd be surprised if the calendars omit those. Occasionally there's a letter in cipher to someone like Burghley or Walsingham, with the key set out by the spymaster on the back of the paper - like a jumbled alphabet, written letter for letter beneath a standard alphabet. They used number jumbles as well. Sometimes it's a bog standard nickname system, with the names of people and places rendered in pre-arranged words or symbols.

Lots of popular stuff written about tudor cryptography in the past ten years. Just leafed through Hutchinson's book on Walsingham - nothing in the index, although I'm sure he does deal with this topic.

You might start here: