I won't pretend that I've understood the complexities that attach to the life and works of the German Abbot Johannes Trithemius (1462-1516). On one reading this formidable intellect, who was advisor to the Crown and an enthusiastic library builder at the Abbey in Sponheim, was a fully fledged occultist who published works on Cabalistic Angelic Magick.
Whereas his legacy was broader than the esoteric writings he produced on steganography and cryptography and he is otherwise regarded as a devoted Christian humanist who "sought to bring all of human learning to bear on the study of sacred theology".
His most memorable work is Steganographia at once both a grimoire (book to conjure spirits) and a treatise on code writing. It was published about 1510 and it was at some time banned and Trithemius was accused of black magic, although this didn't particularly interfere with the favour he held at the royal court. All three images here are from Steganographia.
Interestingly, it has only been in the last 10 years or so that volume III, the more magick-orientated section of Steganographia, has had its code broken and it would seem that the occultist was closer to cryptographer than conjurer after all.
- 2 images from Cornell University's The Fantastic in Art and Fiction exhibit.
- 2 images from Keio University (click on 'commentary' and there are 2 links in Japanese leading to the images)
- Hill Museum and Manuscript Library extensive exhibit (concentrates on Trithemius's more Catholic writings - but with book scans and commentary)
- Steganographia in latin (it is about 8 pages long and I'm not sure if it is complete or whether the few pages of commentary afterwards are actually in reference to Steganographia or not)
- This Italian site has the complete facsimile scans of Steganographia but in pdf format - (I baulked after opening the first one because of a bit of a resources overload)
- Washington University cryptography book collection - some commentary about 2/3 of the way down the page.
- A book review of Trithemius and Magical Theology: A Chapter in the Controversy over Occult Studies in Early Modern Europe 1999 - Michigan State University.
- Cryptographic Theory and Scientific Theory in the 17th century - Stanford University.
- The solving of the 500 year old mystery.
- Wikipedia on Johannes Trithemius.
- Update (August 2008) - 'Polygraphiae Libri Sex' by Trithemius from 1518 has just been posted online by HAB.