Geek Trivia: Cryptographic Evaluation Signifies The Man In The Iron Masks Was?


Old lithographic print of The Man in the Iron Mask
Unites States Library of Congress/Wikimedia

Reply: A Disloyal Navy Officer

For hundreds of years, individuals have been intrigued by the story of the Man within the Iron Masks. Imprisoned by King Louis XIV within the late 17th century, a mysterious prisoner positioned on the fortress at Pignerol brought about fairly a stir in his day (and has remained a subject of debate and debate ever since). The prisoner’s id was saved secret on the time of his imprisonment, and he was occasionally seen on the battlements carrying an iron masks that hid his face. His id was by no means revealed and, to today, stays unconfirmed.

Though we can not say with absolute certainty who the Man within the Iron Masks was, we do have very robust proof in favor of the person being a disloyal navy officer. Within the 19th century, French navy cryptanalyst Etienne Bazeries undertook the duty of decoding Louis XIV’s “Nice Cipher,” a cryptographic code the king used that was composed of round 600 distinctive numbers. Regardless of the quantity far exceeding the variety of letters within the French alphabet, Bazeries was capable of nearly fully crack the cipher by decoding it towards letter pairings (of which there are 676 doable pairs within the French alphabet).

In doing so, he opened up a trove of details about the king and the nation on the time, together with a letter written from the king discussing the destiny of 1 French navy officer, Vivien de Bulonde. Bulonde had been in command of a skirmish on the Italian border however, upon listening to that his place was about to be compromised, fled (leaving his wounded males and provides behind). King Louis was livid over the occasion and ordered Bulonde imprisoned on the fortress at Pignerol the place he could be saved below lock and key, guarded, and permitted solely to stroll the battlements throughout the day with one thing.

That one thing stays unknown as a result of the quantity pair indicating what precisely Bulonde was permitted to stroll the battlements with is described by a quantity pairing that happens solely as soon as in your entire physique of the king’s correspondence and, with no comparative occasion out there, will doubtless by no means be decoded. Provided that the Man within the Iron Masks appeared on the time of Bulonde’s cowardly desertion, nevertheless, Bazeries cryptographic work offers us with the strongest proof thus far concerning the id of the iron-clad man.

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