[Cryptography] highlights of crypto history

John Gilmore gnu at toad.com
Tue Nov 15 02:04:00 EST 2016

> Point.  I recall the Mary Queen of Scots ciphers which were decrypted and heads rolled as a result, literally.
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babington_Plot

The Wikipedia article claims that the ciphers were actually *provided
to* the conspirators by Queen Elizabeth's spymaster Walsingham --
which would make them easy to decrypt and forge (both of which were
done).  It does not cite a source for this claim (and The Codebreakers
doesn't make this claim either).  Other sources claim that Mary made
extensive use of ciphers and that more than 100 different ones were
found in her quarters after she was arrested for this plot.  Perhaps
someone who knows the historical record can edit in a reference?

BTW, here is a page from the UK National Archives about "a page of
ciphers used by Mary Queen of Scots c. 1586":


The page contains both a code and a cipher.


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