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IslandChillin OP t1_ixofot9 wrote

"Whole words are encrypted with a single symbol and the emperor replaced vowels coming after consonants with marks, she said, an inspiration probably coming from Arabic.

In another obstacle, he also used symbols that mean nothing to mislead any adversary trying to decipher the message.

The breakthrough came in June, when Pierrot managed to make out a phrase in the letter, and the team then cracked the code with the help of historian Camille Desenclos."

"It was painstaking and long work but there was really a breakthrough that happened in one day, where all of a sudden we had the right hypothesis," she said.

"Another letter from Jean de Saint-Mauris, where the receiver had doodled a form of transcription code in the margin, also helped."


Aware-Reveal7950 t1_ixpmqoj wrote

Well, what’s it say then?


[deleted] t1_ixpzg5j wrote



LJR07 t1_ixqca3l wrote

They "crack" a letter that's almost 500 years old and give us the cliff notes... brilliant.


SharksForArms t1_ixqeb4h wrote

"Well we cracked the code! But it's not very interesting or relevant and I am in the middle of decluttering, so... paper shredder noise


HeyCarpy t1_ixqrd9z wrote

I would've liked a more detailed breakdown of the phrase that broke the code as well. This article left me wanting more, and not in a good way.


recumbent_mike t1_ixql7ye wrote

Probably don't want to risk divulging classified information.


Throwaway_7451 t1_ixqmpvb wrote

"This message still contains information vital to national security, therefore we cannot release it"


[deleted] t1_ixqe54p wrote



chaosperfect t1_ixqh323 wrote

I was under the impression that that's how it normally works.


[deleted] t1_ixqhqdn wrote



chaosperfect t1_ixqifsk wrote

I'm aware of that. But don't academics, historians, archeologists, scientists, astronomers, etc traditionally give everything away for free? It'd be pretty depressing if what motivated the top minds in the world to discover and release new information and breakthroughs was just money.


subito_lucres t1_ixqj7ur wrote

You are generally correct! Of course there are exceptions. I'm not sure how that all works for historians. For science, you generally release the idea and anyone can use it for research, but also patent it so that people have to pay you if they want to make money off of it.

Source: am academic scientist.


chaosperfect t1_ixqktu0 wrote

That seems fair. I'm pleased.

Edit: Also, thank you for your service.


subito_lucres t1_ixqoqgs wrote

Hahaha, no one has ever thanked me for being a scientist. But I appreciate you appreciating it! Sometimes I actually feel guilty for asking for government grants because some of that money comes out of real people's pockets.


therealCatnuts t1_ixqrkf3 wrote

You ever try to read Middle English from 500 years ago? It’s unreadable. Probably a big issue here.


_O_G_ t1_ixqzr2f wrote

1540s would be early Modern English not Middle English, so don’t think legibility is as big an issue as you’re implying. Also this dude was the Holy Roman Emperor so it probably wasn’t even written in English


IactaEstoAlea t1_ixr7ai2 wrote

Nonsense! They were family!

> My cousin Francis and I are in perfect accord. He wants Milan and so do I.

Charles V, HRE


snkn179 t1_ixqjxvf wrote

Looks like we can date the letter to the early part of 1547 then, considering Francis died in March that year.


jon_stout t1_ixpz95m wrote

Something about rumors of the French whipping up an assassination plot against Charles.


big_duo3674 t1_ixqgb8s wrote

You make it sound like it was a casual Saturday afternoon for them. "Nah I don't got much planned today, just whipping up a quick plot to assassinate a monarch so I should be free by 2"


Kubliah t1_ixqvapi wrote

"I have my wedding to prepare, my wife to murder, and Gilder to frame for it. I'm swamped."


StinkMartini t1_ixr0vbp wrote

Get some rest - if you haven't got you health, you haven't got anything!


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Red_Khalmer t1_ixpw0h4 wrote

The article says what OP wrote above, didn't you just read it?


StingerAE t1_ixpy1hn wrote

I think they meant the letter not the article!


RoutinePost7443 t1_ixoy23w wrote

It's a rather unsatisfying write-up! Long on pats in the back and short on actual information. Interesting nevertheless.


lalalachie t1_ixojz9k wrote

Incredible! Is there a copy of the actual transcription anywhere? Would love to know what the letter said verbatim.


[deleted] t1_ixoocey wrote



BrokenEye3 t1_ixp1l6w wrote

Or instructions on how to use the code


ComCypher t1_ixpt5a1 wrote

I'm most curious to know how one cracks a word-based substitution without knowing the key.


rockdog85 t1_ixpuunu wrote


One of the senders scribbled part of the code in the margins, which helped to find more similarities


JRCIII t1_ixr7ps5 wrote

Usually its based on symbol patterns in the letter. If they can decode one or two common phrases the rest kinda falls into place over time.

Things they look for are double consonants or where two symbols are paired together.

i.e if you have a letter where the words "Space and "Race" are used then in theory the "-ace" portion of both words should use the same symbols. So plug that in everywhere you see the corresponding symbols, then work fill in as many of those as possible using other repeating patterns and guess and check.


konichiwaaaaaa t1_ixr8b3o wrote

They made out one sentence. That’s often the flaw of encryption methods. It can be like Sudoku, where if you know some symbols you can find others.


Fyodor_Dostoyevskeet t1_ixphkoj wrote

Seems the only info released so far is this press release from Agence France-Presse.


phasefournow t1_ixp0okp wrote

I know historians say most of the archived and untranslated or un-decoded documents sitting in museum and university storage rooms are dull invoices, agricultural and trade documents but no doubt there are also many gems such as this, just waiting to be revealed someday by a tenacious researcher willing to do the work needed to uncover the contents.


mastovacek t1_ixpexzo wrote

> dull invoices, agricultural and trade documents

Those I would personally like even more! They would allow for a better picture of the economic reality of the time and serve to inform on the impacts of various events.


lukasx98 t1_ixqpfp4 wrote

Definitely, the state of trade and agriculture could make or break a war or an alliance for example. I could see it giving valuable context to decisions made by rulers during the time the document was written.


StingerAE t1_ixpy5og wrote

Invoices might be untranslated but unlikely to have been in code. Maybe shorthand.


ConsitutionalHistory t1_ixohysm wrote many truly brilliant people in the world.


In_shpurrs t1_ixqb4sm wrote

Yes, there are. All you need to do is watch out for the trap of being the most brilliant; much like trying to be the most beautiful: there's always someone more beautiful. Want to be the funniest? There's always someone funnier. Think you're the most brilliant? You'll hit a wall when you mest someone smarter. So it goes.


SmilingAtTheSun t1_ixqve55 wrote

This is so true. I would tweak what you said slightly…what you need to watch out for is “trying” to be the most brilliant, beautiful, funny etc. It’s a recipe for perpetual unhappiness.


cmaniak t1_ixpmd6v wrote

Dan Brown salivating rn


Drevil335 t1_ixpioal wrote

That is really, really cool. It's honestly quite fascinating how we're somehow still uncovering new material about a man who's been dead for nearly 500 years. I wonder how many other ciphered letters, both for Charles V and other past rulers as well, are still sitting around, waiting to be deciphered.


Currywurst_Is_Life t1_ixqc9ba wrote

"We've been trying to contact you regarding your royal coach's extended warranty."


cambalaxo t1_ixqbf12 wrote

If you like this kind of content I highly recommend The Code Book from Simon Singh. A history of criptography, I am not into mathematics and I loved it.


ResearchWarrior t1_ixr9y01 wrote

“Another letter from Jean de Saint-Mauris, where the receiver had doodled a form of transcription code in the margin, also helped.” Soooooo… they cracked the code by reading this guy’s answer key?


Duff-Zilla t1_ixqsxli wrote

Turns out is says “I love big anime tiddys!”


Snoo_73835 t1_ixpf3gr wrote

So exciting! I can’t wait until they do a book about it!!


ButterUtters t1_ixq72x8 wrote

I'm not sure what for, but that photo is meme material for sure.


Elluminated t1_ixpzfpm wrote

Lets hold a 596 year old document wiyh our bare hands


BenMottram2016 t1_ixr1hm8 wrote

Why not?

Clean hands are the safest way to handle documents like this...

The classic white gloves are well out of favour these days because they snag on page edges, leave fibres everywhere and make the wearer considerably more clumsy.

Edit: one of many