Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Folger Exhibitions
• Past Exhibitions

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

Secret Letters

In times of political and military unrest, letters were especially vulnerable to interception despite the lengths to which their bearers would go to hide them. Given the often delicate nature of the correspondence, some letters were written in cipher.


This letter, lacking both an address and a seal, was written during the Civil War on behalf of king Charles I, then trapped at Oxford. The writer, George Digby, earl of Bristol, writes to an unidentified party, either Prince Rupert or Prince Maurice, advising that as a result of Oliver Cromwell’s recent incursions, Rupert needs to march on Oxford in order to prevent the city being besieged. Owing to its acute political sensitivity, the letter has been written partially in cipher—or rather a combination of ciphers. Several major players are denoted by numbers: King Charles is 241, Prince Rupert 354, the Marquis of Hertford 223, and so on.

George Digby. Autograph letter ... on behalf of Charles I to Prince Rupert or Maurice. Manuscript, 27 April 1645

Bookmark and Share   
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623