• Thu. Mar 30th, 2023

Researchers Decode Secret Encrypted Letters of Mary, Queen of Scots


Feb 9, 2023

Secret encrypted letters written by Mary, Queen of Scots throughout her imprisonment in England have been decoded.

Having been arrested and charged for plotting to homicide her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, on Feb. 8, 1587 AD, Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded at Fotheringhay Citadel in England. Nevertheless, based on Marilee Hanson’s brilliantly researched 2013 ebook, The Execution & Demise Of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1587 – “The reality of her demise was not so easy.”

Mary did certainly plot to finish Elizabeth’s life; however over the 19-year course of her imprisonment, Elizabeth persistently rejected petitions to execute Mary. However by the top of the Sixteenth century, the Catholic risk had change into so nice that Elizabeth reluctantly signed the warrant for Mary’s execution. Now, the within ‘emotional’ story of those occasions have been found in a set of 57 secret letters written in a coded language by the imprisoned monarch.

Part of one of many 50 scripts, made up of graphical symbols, discovered by the code breaker group within the nationwide library of France . (Bibliotheque Nationwide de France)

Decoding A Monarch’s Screams For Assist

After Queen Elizabeth I, her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots was subsequent in line for the English throne, however in her representing Catholicism, Mary posed a major risk to Elizabeth’s protestant reign. It was primarily because of this Mary was imprisoned by Elizabeth for 19 years. The misplaced coded writings of the doomed Sixteenth-century monarch have been rediscovered by a group of codebreakers within the National Library of France archives.

Comprising 57 particular person scripts written in graphical symbols, Mary wrote and despatched these secret letters to her supporters whereas she was in captivity. A report within the Daily Mail explains that Mary was taught the key code in childhood when she was educated in France. The coded letters date again from 1578 to 1584 AD, only a few years earlier than Mary’s execution in 1587 AD and most of them have been addressed to Michel de Castelnau, the French ambassador to England, who was a loyal supporter of the imprisoned Catholic queen.

Initial decryption. (© 2022 Lasry, Biermann & Tomokiyo)

Preliminary decryption. ( © 2022 Lasry, Biermann & Tomokiyo )

Recreation Of Codes

Within the coded letters Mary usually moans in regards to the brutal circumstances of her captivity, her declining well being, and a few even element the unsuccessful negotiations together with her captor, Queen Elizabeth I . The letters additionally reveal Mary’s mistrust of Elizabeth, her spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham, and Robert Dudley , Earl of Leicester. And since Mary was satisfied that Elizabeth was not negotiating her launch in good religion, in a single letter Mary warned the French ambassador that folks in England have been towards the wedding of the Duke of Anjou, her brother-in-law, to Elizabeth.

Stepping again a number of steps, to the undeciphered code, at first, the group of code breakers had no concept in regards to the id of the author, or the recipient of the letters. Lead investigator, George Lasry, a pc scientist and a member of the DECRYPT project , informed Gizmodo that the 57 letters contained about “150,000 particular person characters” which meant the preliminary transcription of the letters took for much longer than the codebreaking. Nevertheless, step one in the direction of deciphering the code was taken when the group recognized “female French phrases,” which urged the author was a girl.

Full set of graphical symbols. (© 2022 - Lasry, Biermann & Tomokiyo)

Full set of graphical symbols. ( © 2022 – Lasry, Biermann & Tomokiyo )

Decoding Female Phrases First

How will you inform if a French noun is masculine or female? In response to Optilingo: A noun is female if it ends in “-e” or “-ion.” The exceptions to this are the endings “-age,” “-ège,” or “-isme,” and practically each different noun ending is masculine. The group of decoders seen the phrases “Ma liberte” (my liberty) and “mon fils” (my son). However it was solely after seeing the identify “Francis Walsingham” that the codebreakers knew that the mother or father in captivity was Mary, Queen of Scots.

John Man, who wrote the 2004 biography of Mary entitled “ Queen of Scots: The True Lifetime of Mary Stuart, ” informed the Every day Mail that the invention of the letters is a “literary and historic sensation” representing “an important new discover referring to Mary Queen of Scots in a century”. Man additionally stated that an important facet of the newfound insights into Mary’s life are the queen’s “interior “ideas and emotions” whereas negotiating her launch with Elizabeth.

In conclusion, the invention and decoding of those secret letters written by Mary Queen of Scots in captivity affords historians true emotional content material from an exceptionally turbulent time in European historical past.

Prime picture: Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots, element. Inset, Part of one of many 50 scripts, made up of graphical symbols, discovered by the code breaker group within the Nationwide Library of France.    Supply: Public Domain /inset; Bibliotheque Nationwide de France

By Ashley Cowie


Man, J. (2005). Queen Of Scots: The True Lifetime of Mary Stuart , Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Marilee, H. (2015). The Execution & Demise Of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1587

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