Conference article

Was it a Sudden Shift in Professionalization? Austrian Cryptology and a Description of the Staatskanzlei Key Collection in the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv of Vienna

Benedek Láng
Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary

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Published in: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Historical Cryptology HistoCrypt 2020

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 171:12, p. 87-95

NEALT Proceedings Series 44:12, p. 87-95

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Published: 2020-05-19

ISBN: 978-91-7929-827-2

ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


Cipher keys and code tables in the archives are easy to recognize, but hard to locate. The Staatskanzlei materials preserved in the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv in Vienna include half a thousand cipher keys and code tables in large cardboard boxes. This exceptionally rich and concentrated cryptologic collection sketches beautifully the four-hundred years of Habsburg diplomacy, as it was precisely the State Chancellery (and its predecessor organizations) that controlled Austrian foreign policy. The paper provides the first detailed description of this collection which is fairly exceptional not only for its historical significance, but also because historians rarely find such a large collection of keys in one single place.


Black chamber in Austria; Habsburg diplomacy; Vienna; codebooks


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