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Blaise de Vigenère

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Blaise de Vigenère

Blaise de Vigenère
Born (1523-04-05)5 April 1523
Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule
Died 19 February 1596(1596-02-19) (aged 72)
Paris
Nationality French
Occupation diplomat, cryptographer, alchemist

Blaise de Vigenère (5 April 1523 – 19 February 1596) (French pronunciation: ​) was a French diplomat, cryptographer, translator and alchemist.

Biography

Vigenère was born into a noble family in the village of Saint-Pourçain. His father, Jean, arranged for him to have a classical education in Paris. Blaise de Vigenère studied Greek and Hebrew under Adrianus Turnebus and Jean Dorat.

At age 17 he entered the diplomatic service and remained there for 30 years, retiring in 1570. Five years into his career he accompanied the French envoy Louis Adhémar de Grignan to the Diet of Worms as a junior secretary. At age 24, he entered the service of the Duke of Nevers as his secretary, a position he held until the deaths of the Duke and his son in 1562. He also served as a secretary to Henry III.

In 1549 he visited Rome on a two-year diplomatic mission, and again in 1566. On both trips, he read books about cryptography and came in contact with cryptologists. When Vigenère retired aged 47, he donated his 1,000 livres a year income to the poor in Paris. He married a Marie Varé. He died of throat cancer in 1596 and is buried in the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church.

Vigenère cipher

The method of encryption known as the "Vigenère cipher" was misattributed to Blaise de Vigenère in the 19th century and was in fact first described by Giovan Battista Bellaso in his 1553 book La cifra del. Sig. Giovan Battista Bellaso.(published in 1553 Vigenère created a different, stronger autokey cipher in (1586). It differs from Bellasco's in several ways:

  • Bellaso used a "reciprocal table" of five alphabets; Vigenère used ten;
  • Bellaso's cipher was based on the first letter of the word; Vigenère used a letter agreed upon before communication.

Works

After his retirement, Vigenère composed and translated over twenty books, including:

  • Les Chroniques et annales de Poloigne. Paris: Jean Richer, 1573. Available on Gallica]].
  • La somptueuse et magnifique entrée du roi Henri III en la cité de Mantoue. Paris: Nicolas Chesneau, 1576. (Includes a description of contemporary Mantua.)
  • Les Commentaires de César, des guerres de la Gaule. Mis en françois par Blaise de Vigenère, Secretaire de la Chambre du Roy. Avec quelques annotations dessus. 1582.
  • Les Décades qui se trouvent de Tite-Live, mises en langue francoise avec des annotations & figures pour l'intelligence de l'antiquité romaine, plus une description particulière des lieux : & une chronologie generale des principaux potentats de la terre. Paris: Abel L'Angelier, 1583 and 1606.
  • Les commentaires de Cesar, des Guerres de la Gaule. Mise en francois par Blaise de Vigenere. Bourbonnois : revues et corrigez par luy-mesme en cette derniere edition. Avec quelques annotations dessus. 1584.
  • Traicté des Chiffres ou Secrètes Manières d'Escrire. 1586. Available on Gallica.
  • Le psaultier de David torne en prose mesuree, ou vers libres. Par Blaise de Vigenère, Bourbonnois. Paris: Abel L'Angelier, 1588.
    • Le psaultier de David: torné en prose mesurée ou vers libres, de Le psaultier de David: torne en prose mesurée ou vers libres, édition de 1588, Pascale Blum-Cuny, ed., Le Miroir volant, 1991.
  • Les images, ou Tableaux de platte peinture de Philostrate Lemnien ,... mis en françois par Blaise de Vigénère,... avec des arguments et annotations sur chacun d'iceux... Edition nouvelle reveue corrigee et augmentee de beaucoup par le traslateur. Paris: Abel Langelier, 1597; Tournon: Claude Michel, 1611. Translation of a work by Philostratus of Lemnos; available on Gallica.
  • Traicté du Feu et du Sel. Excellent et rare opuscule du sieur Blaise de Vigenère Bourbonnois, trouvé parmy ses papiers après son decés. First ed., 1608. Paris: Abel Langelier, 1618. Rouen: Jacques Calloué, 1642. A book on alchemy; available on Gallica.
  • Traicté de Cometes

See also

References

  • Ernst Bouchard. Notice biographique sur Blaise de Vigenère […], 1868, 212 p.
  • Marc Fumaroli (editor). Blaise de Vigenère poète & mythographe au temps de Henri III, Cahiers V.L. Saulnier, no. 11, Paris: Éditions Rue d'Ulm, 1994
  • Métral, Denyse. Blaise de Vigenère archéologue et critique d'art, Paris: E. Droz, 1939
  • Maurice Sarazin. Blaise de Vigenère, Bourbonnais 1523-1596. Introduction à la vie et à l'œuvre d'un écrivain de la Renaissance, preface by Marc Fumaroli, Éditions des Cahiers bourbonnais, 1997
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