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VMs: Cicco Simonetta (for Jeff)...

Hi Jeff,

At 23:37 04/11/2003 +0000, Jeff wrote:
New ideas always evolve better through the process of brainstorming. Any
idea no matter how obsurd is thrown into the mix. Then at a tangent someone
comes up with the bright idea. To stop people throwing their strange
thoughts into the debate is to narrow the possibility of solution.

We're not short of possible explanations here - and coming up with new ones is always a fun game to play. However... perhaps it might pay to be just a little bit analytical about why some of them are less likely than others?

Keeping your mind perpetually open can get a bit draughty after a while, wouldn't you say? :-9

BTW Nick do you have any information or web links for the encryption methods
of Cicco Simonetta?

Cicco Simonetta is typically hailed as the father of modern cryptology (ie, *code-breaking*), rather than cryptography (ie, *code-making*) - but this is perhaps only because he (famously) wrote about the former (and not the latter).

AFAIK, there are no ciphers in the Milanese cipher ledger(s) (or elsewhere) which can be ascribed directly to him - but to say that this means he never designed any ciphers himself would seem highly unlikely... absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence (etc).

I suspect that Tristano Sforza's cipher (which appears near the start of the ledger) would have predated the Sforza's takeover of Milan (ie before Simonetta set up the Chancery) - and that the only person Sforza family insiders would have trusted to compose a cipher for them back then was Cicco Simonetta himself. This relatively simple cipher also has the ligatured "4o" character we've come to love so much in the VMs. :-)

Similarly, when Simonetta brought in Orfeo da Rycavo (from Florence, controversially) to head up his Milanese secret police, my guess is that he also constructed a code for him - this too has the ligatured "4o" character. My guess, then, is that "4o" is Simonetta's cipher "signature".

D'Imperio mentions that "4" was used in Italy in the 14th Century (though, frustratingly, without saying what it was used for - I wish someone would ask her!) Perhaps it represented something pronounced like "sec" - in which case, "4o" might well prove to be a pun on "Cecco" (one of the numerous alternative spellings of "Cicco"). If true, what a turn-up that would be! :-)

All the same, that's just my opinion - make of it what you will. If you can directly link Simonetta with any cipher at all, that would be a *huge* step forward... but one which I haven't yet made myself (though probably not for lack of trying). Currently, the best I can do is this kind of suggestive argument given above... which falls short of a "smoking gun" proof. :-o

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

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