French scientists have finally decoded a cryptic letter written by one of the most powerful rulers of Renaissance Europe.
French cryptographer Cecile Pierrot learned of the document’s existence in the Stanislas Library’s basement during a dinner party in the city of Nancy three years ago, according to the BBC.
Attempts to decode the letter’s contemporary and uncracked code with modern computer technology proved unsuccessful.
The 500-year-old code was so advanced as to include fake symbols in order to confuse unintended readers, according to the BBC.
Pierrot and a team of translators ultimately succeeded in cracking the letter’s code by reviewing other documents associated with Charles V at the time — one of which included an informal translation of the Renaissance code.
“This was our Rosetta Stone,” Pierrot said of this document, comparing it to an ancient artifact used in the study of several ancient languages.
The 1547 letter written to the Emperor’s French Ambassador has been finally revealed to contain some of the monarch’s pressing political concerns.
— Holy Roman Empire Association – HREA (@HREAssociation) December 17, 2022
Charles expressed his fear that an Italian mercenary in the service of French King Francis I was plotting his assassination in the missive, urging his ambassador to maintain good relations with one of his European rivals.
Charles, a Catholic, urged peace with France in hopes of deterring English and French assistance toward Protestant rebels in Germany in the document.
The team of scholars that secured the translation are set to reveal their full findings in an academic paper, according to the BBC.
The letter was written in the midst of the Protestant Reformation — when Catholic and Protestant kings and queens were struggling for religious control over the Christian world.
Charles V was a “Roman Emperor” in a sense different than what the average modern-day person might think.
The 16th-century monarch ruled the confederation of territories known as the Holy Roman Empire, using the title originally associated with figures such as Trajan and Marcus Aurelius with the blessing of the Pope.
Charles V’s reign witnessed the Spanish colonization of the Americas under his patronage, the Reformation, and the mobilization of Christendom in warfare against the territorial aggression of the Islamic Ottoman Empire.
Charles’ fears of being assassinated never materialized. The retired monarch died peacefully in a Spanish monastery in 1558.
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