Published 5 Sept 2019 via Atlas Obscura.
Author Christopher DeCou explores how a cabal of early cryptographers helped the Venetian government keep secrets and spy on enemies.
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"In 1516, in the locked back rooms of the Venetian governor’s palace, the city’s first professional cryptanalyst, Giovanni Soro, was hard at work trying to decipher an intercepted letter. Venice and its allies were winning the War of the League of Cambrai, just one among the drawn-out Italian Wars that embroiled almost all European monarchs., But the Venetians were unsure of the status of their rivals. The encrypted letter had been sent on April 3 from the enemy Captain Marcoantonio Colonna to an ally, the German Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian. In the letter, he begged Maximilian for financial assistance. “If the money is not sent within eight days, the Swiss soldiers will leave,” Marcantonio wrote. Soro struggled to uncover the contents for several days, and on April 8, he finally cracked the code. Within the year, Venice would be victorious......" READ MORE