From the private chancellery of the Sforza: a testimony to political intrigue and espionage in the Middle Ages

Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatic Secret Documents

Milan (Italy) — Around 1475

Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatic Secret Documents

Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatic Secret Documents

Milan (Italy) — Around 1475

  1. This collection of cryptography gives an inside look into the world of medieval espionage

  2. It contains hundreds of cyphers and "keys" used in the private chancellery of the Sforzas in Milan

  3. A testimony to political intrigue in the Middle Ages, which was not much less sophisticated than it is today

Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatic Secret Documents

Alternative Titles:
  • Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatische Geheimschriften
Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatic Secret Documents – Cod. Vindob. 2398 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Political intrigue was not much less sophisticated in the Middle Ages than it is today, and the security of information was no less important. Protecting one's secret communications while trying to intercept those of one's enemies was just as important for political leaders then as it is today. This late-medieval collection of cryptography gives the modern codebreaker an inside look into a 500-year-old world of political intrigue and espionage: Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatic Secret Documents.

Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatic Secret Documents

Codex Vindobonensis 2398 is the work of Francesco Tranchedino, who served as secretary in the Sforza Chancellery from ca. 1470 to 1500. The manuscript contains the minutes of the correspondence used in the Sforza Chancellery in correspondence between foreign rulers, agents, and their own foreign ambassadors during the period 1450–1496. The codex was probably made as an aide ca. 1475 on the basis of existing material and was used from then on as a real protocol for occasions requiring cipher – not only by Tranchedino, but for correspondence with each respective secretary.

Espionage and Intrigue

The ca. 300 cipher keys listed above provide an excellent overview of the already fully developed and exemplary Milanese cipher system, in which no increase can be ascertained for this period. However, the Codex Vindobonensis 2398 is not only an excellent example of the purely specialized field of cryptology, but is also an extremely valuable resource in many other respects. Thus, the often rich nomenclature provides exhaustive insight into the circle of those persons who were in any way affected by Sforza policy. The addressees who communicated in the given cipher, in addition to the dates and nomenclature, will undoubtedly be of interest any expert. Finally, conclusions can be drawn about the significance of the respective correspondence according to their nature and the cipher’s degree of difficulty.

The History of Cryptography

Although the Codex Vindobonensis 2398 has always been known and mentioned by Wattenbach’s Guide to Latin Paleography and also in Aloys Meister's still unsurpassed treatise The Beginnings of Modern Diplomatic Cryptography, it remained unworked. However, this does not change its importance as a source of cryptography and for the history of the Sforza in Milan during the second half of the 15th century. It is a source that beautifully documents what Franz Stix demanded: cipher science as an ancillary science.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatische Geheimschriften
Size / Format
338 pages / 26.5 x 19.0 cm
Date
Around 1475
Language
Artist / School
Previous Owners

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatic Secret Documents“

Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatische Geheimschriften
Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatic Secret Documents – Cod. Vindob. 2398 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
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Francesco Tranchedino: Diplomatische Geheimschriften

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1970
Binding
Half leather
Commentary
1 volume (46 pages) by W. Höflechner
Language: German
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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