Date & time (UTC/GMT):
October 17, 2021 5:00 PM
The Voynich Manuscript is a 15th century illustrated manuscript with more than 200 pages of text in an unknown script. It has resisted 100 years of cryptographic attacks. Every year, several new tentative solutions are presented, only to be rejected very quickly. The present talk will not follow this doomed path, but look at a remarkable, and largely unknown part of the history of this manuscript, namely its supposed discovery by Wilfrid Voynich in the Villa Mondragone near Frascati, Italy. Voynich was very secretive about this, and essentially all we know from him was his statement in 1921 that he discovered it in some forgotten chest in a castle in Southern Europe. The later owner of the manuscript, Hans P. Kraus, proclaimed in the 1960’s that this was Villa Mondragone. What really happened has only been unraveled in recent years, based on independent sources about these events. It involves confiscations of major monastic libraries, books hidden in cellars, fights between the Italian State, the Vatican and the society of Jesus, and Hungarian attempts to recover the treasures of the lost library of Matthias Corvinus. We will see that Voynich did not discover anything, but got involved in a very good deal due to his personal character. In this deal, the Voynich Manuscript was just one of approximately 30 books, and not even one of the most important ones. We will also see that there are several compelling reasons why Voynich could not talk about any of this. A few mysteries still remain, but there are still important resources that have hardly been explored. The presentation of these events will be illustrated profusely with pictures of the people, the places and the documents involved.