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VMs: Re: Cicco Simonetta (for Jeff)...

Nick Pelling incoming@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote

> Hi Jeff,
> Cicco Simonetta is typically hailed as the father of modern cryptology
> *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
> which can be ascribed directly to him - but to say that this means he
> 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
> 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
> 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
> directly link Simonetta with any cipher at all, that would be a *huge*
> forward... but one which I haven't yet made myself (though probably not
> 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.....

Thanks for the info Nick.

To be a code breaker you first need to intensively study the current coding
methodologies. From this the code breaker would get a great insight into the
developments of new codes. It is not necessary for Simonetta to be the
actual code maker. Simply to be the mastermind of the operation. If he was
the actual code maker then this would mean he was devoting a lot of his time
to matters that would not necessarily protect his position. Keeping an eye
on developments around him would have been of paramount importance in the
political climate of his time.

Maybe as a means of gaining a stronger footing in the political heirarchy he
comissioned the VMS to contain information that may have become useful at a
time of instability. However, if this was the case it did not help him in
the end. Maybe it was even the reason for his death perhaps.


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