Voynich Manuscript

MS 408 - Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (New Haven, USA)

Alternate Titles:

Voynich-Manuskript, Voynich Manuskript, Manuscrito Voynich, Manoscritto Voynich

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Voynich-Manuskript
Voynich Manuskript
Manuscrito Voynich
Manoscritto Voynich

Type

Manuscript on parchment

Extent / Format

204 pages / 22.5 x 16.0 cm

Origin

France, Italy or Spain (Central Europe)

Date
End of 15th century or during the 16th century
Style

Others

Genre

Medicine / Botany / Science
Treatises / Secular Books
Mythology / Prophecies
Astronomy / Astrology

Content

Scientific or magical text in an unidentified language, in cipher

Language

Others

Artist / School

Maybe Roger Bacon

Illustrations

Nearly every pages of the manuscript contains scientific or botanic drawing, partly with human figures. Written and drawn in ink and various colors (red, green, blue, yellow).

Former owners

Emperor Rudolph II of Germany (1576-1612)
John Dee (English astrologer, 1527-1608)
Jacobus Horcicky de Tepenecz (d. 1622)
Johannes Marcus Marci of Cronland (1595-1667)
Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680)
Wilfred M. Voynich (1865-1930)
H. P. Kraus

Short description

The document that has become known as the Voynich Manuscript of Yale University is without question the most mysterious and enigmatic manuscript in the history of illumination. It is a work of the 15th or early 16th century and collects wonderfully figurative and floral illustrations with text recorded in cryptic cypher on its 204 pages. Numerous famous names are associated with the history of the Voynich Manuscript, and the riddle and the deciphering of the mysterious text – simultaneously its own science – occupies numerous researchers and enthusiasts to this day. The pharmaceutical, botanical, cosmographic, astrological, or otherwise-oriented Voynich Manuscript is one of the greatest historical mysteries of all time.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Voynich Manuscript

The document that has become known as the Voynich Manuscript of Yale University is without question the most mysterious and enigmatic manuscript in the history of illumination. It is a work of the early 15th or early 16th century and collects wonderfully figurative and floral illustrations with text recorded in cryptic cypher on its 204 pages. Numerous famous names are associated with the history of the Voynich Manuscript, and the riddle and the deciphering of the mysterious text – simultaneously its own science – occupies numerous researchers and enthusiasts to this day. The pharmaceutical, botanical, cosmographic, astrological, or otherwise-oriented Voynich Manuscript is one of the greatest historical mysteries of all time!

To the Scholars Via the Emperor

The manuscript, which was presumably made in the 15th or beginning of the 16th century in central Europe (probably in France, Spain, or Italy), and boasts a diverse provenance. The Voynich Manuscript was in the possession of Kaiser Rudolph II von Habsburg (1576-1612), who had his (Bohemian) court pharmacist Jacobus Horcicky de Tepenecz (d. 1622) research it. The name of the English astrologer John Dee (1527-1608) is also associated with the manuscript. The mysterious manuscript reached came into the collection of Johannes Marcus Marci von Landskron (1595-1667) und Georg Baresch. The latter finally gathered the council of the famous Renaissance Man Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680), who is supposed to have occupied himself with the decryption of the mystery. After Kircher, the Voynich Manuscript presumably reached various libraries in Rome and Italy over the course of two centuries, and was rediscovered by Wilfred M. Voynich (1865-1930) in the year 1912 at the Villa Mondragone in Frascati. Voynich endowed the manuscript, which is named after him today, to Yale University in 1969.

Mysterious Scenes and Large-Format Botanical Depictions

All of these historical personalities were fascinated by an exceptional manuscript from the 15th or 16th century. This dating is the result of the classification of the script and of the material according to the C-14 method. Magnificently colored, large-format drawings illustrate all of the pages of the manuscript. These present depictions of plants, from their roots in the soil up to their flowers and fruits, but also enigmatic, figurative representations and mysterious diagrams. The illustrations have a fantastical-botanical appearance. So is this manuscript a botanical work? A work of minerology or astrology? Of pharmacy or cosmology? Of the esoteric and magical? Or is it something completely different?

What Secrets Hide between the Book’s Covers?

The text, which is artfully draped about the drawings, could give information about the placement of the scientific treatise, which is artfully draped about the drawings. However, this is recorded in an enigmatic language, in cryptic cypher. Are we admiring the work of a universal genius? Presumably, several clever heads were involved with the manuscript. A letter written by Johannes Marcus Marci to Athanasius Kircher in 1665 or 1666 speculates that Roger Bacon, the important 13th century English philosopher and academic, is the author of the manuscript, and Voynich shared this hypothesis.
In any case, the decryption of the riddle has occupied and fascinated countless researchers and enthusiasts over the years and centuries. Numerous (conspiracy) theories wind themselves around this unique manuscript. It has been continuously asserted that the mystery will be decoded. Yet is that really the case? The riddle remains unsolved to this day…

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