This mysterious codex from the 15th century is written in a language no reader has been able to decode. What secrets lie locked within the Voynich Manuscript, asks The Line Up:
Relics of the past reveal intriguing truths about the people that came before us.
Yet there are some artifacts that defy easy explanation. One such item is a codex dating back to the early 15th century, known as the Voynich Manuscript. Filled with mysterious illustrations and text written in an unknown language, cryptographers and historians continue to debate over exactly what it is.
The manuscript takes its name from Wilfrid Michael Voynich, a Polish revolutionary and antiquarian who purchased the tome in 1912. Wilfrid was far from the first reader to fall under the spell of the manuscript. In fact, the legacy of its ownership is a mystery onto itself.
In 1666, a Bohemian doctor named Jan Marek Marci transferred the manuscript to a Jesuit scholar in Rome named Athanasius Kircher. Tucked inside the cover was a letter that claimed the tome once belonged to Rudolf II.
Rudolf II, a lover of occult arts, was a Bohemian emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1576 to 1612. While the veracity of the letter could not be confirmed, it claimed that Rudolf paid around two kilograms of gold for the mysterious manuscript.
At some point, the emperor lent the manuscript to his personal doctor, Jakub Hořčický. Hořčický then passed it on to Georg Baresch, a Czech antique collector and alchemist.
Baresch is considered the earliest confirmed owner of the Voynich Manuscript, largely due to the paper trail he left in attempting to solve its riddle. He sent copies to Kircher, who had a knack for decoding arcane documents and became fascinated with the book. Baresch passed the manuscript to his close friend Jan Marek Marci upon his death in 1662, and Marci then transferred the artifact to Kircher in Rome in 1666.
From that point on, however, records of the Voynich cease. It’s believed that Baresch stashed the manuscript in the library of Collegio Romano, where it collected dust for 200 years…
[continues at The Line Up]