Deciphering Galileo: Communication and Secrecy before and after the Trial | H Marcus, P Findlen | Renaissance Quarterly

Galileo participated in exchanges of encrypted correspondence at key moments in his life. In 1610–11, following the publication of the “Sidereal Messenger,” ciphers helped Galileo to diplomatically reveal what he was observing through his telescope. After his Inquisition trial of 1633, Galileo and his closest allies relied on a substitution code (gergo) to protect the privacy of his conversations and to facilitate the removal of his library and manuscripts at Arcetri. Throughout this article, we position Galileo’s use of codes within the rich contemporary literature about communicating securely and reflect on cryptic writing as a strategy of communication and dissimulation.

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