The curious letter contained three paragraphs of text that was readable, as well as portions that were made up of peculiar letters and symbols. This code could only be understood by the king’s inner circle.
The message was sent centuries ago to a French ambassador, and it ended up in the Stanislas Library located in Nancy, France. Ironically, the interesting note wasn’t found until two years ago when a group of researchers discovered it while they were looking for something else. The code caught their attention and sparked their curiosity.
Last month, the team of three cryptographers and one historian held a press conference to announce their findings.
They explained that it was difficult to decipher the king’s message because the symbols represented entire words rather than just letters, and these were interspersed with marks that had no purpose other than to render the text unreadable.
However, by using tough computer algorithms as well as aletter that had already been decoded from the same ambassador duringthat time, the team was able to finally decipher the message afterhardworking for six months.
Charles V’s letter gives insight into what he was thinking at the time, rather than revealing any juicy secrets. To be specific, he reflects on his country’s tensions with France and England while also fretting over unsubstantiated rumors of an assassination attempt.
Reflecting on the uniqueness of their accomplishment in deciphering the coded letter after it had remained secret for so long, team member Camille Desenclos marveled that “it’s rare as a historian to manage to read a letter that no one had managed to read for five centuries.”