Friday, July 26, 2013

Guest Post from Today in Alternate History: Voynich Manuscript Decoded

In 1941, quite by chance Her Majesty's Government discovered that the secret collection of occult artifacts of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II had fallen into the hands of the Nazis.

Using techniques developed by their counter-parts in Poland, expert decoders at the Bletchley Park Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) had unraveled the mysteries of the German Enigma Programme. This enabled HMG to study traffic between Nazi High Command and in particular, present the keys to victory in the Battle of the Atlantic where U-Boats were travelling in packs and threatening to starve the country in submission by sinking British shipping.

By way of entertainment, the team had attempted to decode the undecipherable Voynich Manuscript. Not only had this defeated all previous such attempts, but it was widely considered to be gibberish created by medieval forgers who sought to separate the foolish monarch Rudolf II from his money. This was mainly because there was no character repetition that would permit a one-to-one translation. Some members of GC&CS believed that the manuscript was actually legimate and that rogue characters had been introduced to obscure the translation. Perhaps, they speculated, a overlaying decoding device might be placed on top of the manuscript, blocking certain characters and thereby permitting non-gibberish translation. Or so they speculated.

In the most insidious development of the war, Military Intelligence intercepted a document sent by Heinrich Himmler to Adolf Hitler .. written in the Voynich Dialect. The implication was that Himmler must have obtained a overlaying decoding device. Or worse, because John Dee and his assistant Edward Kelley had claimed to have using a scrying glass to communicate with angels using the so-called Enochian Code. It appeared that such a device might enable the conversion Enochian Code into Voynich Dialect. Impulsive war-lead Winston Churchill demanded a series of options ranging from a commando assault on Himmler's headquarters through to the counter-forgery of a message that might expose the underlying decyphering mechanism. Accordingly, master spy Ian Fleming was recalled from Washington, and a project team quickly assembled with the orders to "expect the unexpected".  

To be continued. (originally posted on Today in Alternate History)

1 comment:

  1. We revisit the life of times of Kelley and Dee in our post July 13th, 1527 - birth of John Dee on the Today in Alternate History web site.


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