The Voynich Manuscript – Could You Solve This 600 Year Old Secret Code


Want to talk about a really weird book? Well, do we have a book for you! The Voynich Manuscript is the definition of an enigma. Named after the book salesman who found it, the Voynich Manuscript is an almost unbelievable document full of odd doodles and writings in some unknown language. This strange book very well could be a secret code that reveals unknown truths about our universe. The whole thing is available to read here.

Other scholars think it may be a medical journal from a previously unknown civilization. Another theory points to aliens as the original authors. Of course, it aliens, it’s always aliens. Skeptics have also spoken up to ruin everyone’s fun, calling the manuscript an elaborate hoax. No matter what the truth may be, this book is quite possibly the most interesting book written by humans in the last thousand years. Unless you think aliens wrote it. In that case, it is quite possibly the most interesting book written by aliens in the last thousand years.

The secret code of the Voynich Manuscript along with strange botanical drawings
By Unknown author – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University ([1])., Public Domain,
Secret Code or Weird Dude’s Journal

Before, we tell the story of the Voynich Manuscript we need to understand this book a little better. The book itself is made up of about 240 vellum pages. It’s a couple of inches thick and about the size of any novel today. The content of the Voynich Manuscript was penned with a traditional pen and ink and some drawings were colored with paint. The leather-bound book garnered much attention from the code-breaking community when people theorized it must contain some sort of secret code. What’s crazy, this book has been in circulation for hundreds of years and has been studied by some of the most intelligent minds in recent history. Yet, no one has been able to translate it or explain its purpose.

It’s Time For Some Theories

Now, for the reason you’re here: the theories, conspiracy theories. The Voynich Manuscript has been around for a while, so there’s a wide array of ideas on its origins. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Ok, let’s get the boring one out of the way first. Obviously, some think that the book salesman faked the whole thing as some sort of elaborate hoax. Blah, Blah, Blah I’M BORED!

Now that we got that out of the way let’s look at some more interesting theories. There is a pretty solid historical record that points to Rudolph II, the Holy Roman Emperor in the late 16th century, as a one-time owner of the book. Rudolph appears to have purchased it from John Dee, a mathematician among other things. This lead Voynich down a rabbit trail of ownership to two possible authors: Roger Bacon or Albertus Magnus. Bacon was a scholar in the 13th century. Albertus Magnus was a friar active around the same time as a Bacon. Both authors have writings that are similar in form and handwriting that coincide with the Voynich Manuscript. Likewise, their areas of interest seem to overlap that of the mystery book. However, without solving the secret code within, it is near impossible to know the actual subject matter of the book.

This chain also has prompted a separate theory of authorship to a colleague of John Dee: Edward Kelley. The self-declared Spirit Medium weaseled his way into Rudolph II’s courts by claiming he could turn anything into gold. When asked to prove it he retreated into an empty room, locked the door, and emerged with a small gold fragment. Somehow the emperor didn’t see through this and brought Edward Kelley into his inner courts. However, the immense length and cost of materials of the Voynich Manuscript suggest that it must have been written by someone who had significant funding and time. Although Kelley had a seat with the royalty of the day, many scholars doubt he had enough access to either time or money.

Secret Codes Need Secret Authors

Now it’s time for some of the theories that have little evidence, but lots of hype. You know the kind of theories that sell. 14th-century engineer, Giovanni Fontana, had written many other documents that bore similar illustrations. He was even known to formulate codes to use in his works to avoid having his inventions stolen. All evidence pointing to Fontana, however, is entirely based on the similarities between his artwork and that of the Voynich Manuscript. While that can be convincing it is not enough to say with certainty that he was the author.

Raphael Mnishovsky was a writer and lawyer during the time of Rudolph II. He widely claimed to have created a cryptograph, or secret code, that was undecipherable. One theory says that he had created the Voynich Manuscript to showcase his work. He even went so far as to sell it to the Holy Roman Emperor. Mnishovsky would not likely have access to the materials to write such a document. It’s also unlikely that he would go to such lengths to showcase his cipher. If he wanted to showcase his impressive code, he would most likely write a single-page document, not a 240-page book.

Of course, there are many other fantastical theories to the authorship of the Voynich Manuscript. One interesting theory is that it is an early journal of the famous Leonardo Da Vinci on the basis of he was an artist and a genius. So yeah, literally no real proof here. Also, the drawings in the manuscript are far worse than anything Da Vinci would ever create even as a child.

It could have also been created by a long-extinct and long-forgotten civilization. The lack of discernable language prompts some researchers to believe it’s a secret code. Others have pointed to the potential that it is an actual language it’s just a language we know nothing about. There are also theories that it was written by you guessed it, aliens. Which is our favorite theory, as always.


Some call the Voynich Manuscript the most mysterious book ever written. Researchers have not been able to explain what the purpose of writing was. Many think it may be a cipher or sort of secret code. Others think it is an extinct language that we know nothing about. There is always the possibility that it is a complete hoax or just a child’s doodle book. In any sense, the book is very interesting and deserves your time. Watch or listen to this week’s episode to learn more about the theories of these authors, the attempts to solve the cipher, and what is inside the book itself.

For more info on the Voynich Manuscript we recommend the documentary The Voynich Code on Curiosity Stream. Get access to thousands of documentaries for only $12 a year with our special link: Sign up today!

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