17th Century Female Spies Smuggled Information Through Eggs and Artichokes | Atlas Obscura

Source: 17th Century Female Spies Smuggled Information Through Eggs and Artichokes | Atlas Obscura

Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia, sent letters filled with cryptography, ciphers, codes and invisible ink while she was in exile in The Hague. (Photo: Public Domain/Wikipedia Commons)

In the 17th century, espionage was more diverse than you might think. Not only did female spies exist, they employed some of the most fascinating techniques in their information gathering.

Forthcoming research into female spies that operated in Europe and England at the time shows that they utilized an ingenious arsenal of tools, such as eggs and artichokes, to smuggle secrets.

While Dr. Nadine Akkerman of Leiden University was examining letters sent by Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia during her exile in the Hague, she discovered that some were filled with secret codes. The ones delivered through official postal channels contained either false or largely superficial information, while the letters sent via Brussels and Antwerp were filled with ciphers and even…

Source: 17th Century Female Spies Smuggled Information Through Eggs and Artichokes | Atlas Obscura

Gresham, the Great Golden Grasshopper

London Historians' Blog

gresham grasshopper The Gresham family badge: a grasshopper.

Elizabeth I’s most well-known favourites were bellicose types like Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Ralegh or Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, whose head in the end was too hot for his own impatient, impetuous shoulders. They smote the queen’s enemies and filled her coffers using fire and sword.

Far more considered and cerebral ways of benefiting the Exchequer were employed by an altogether lesser-known servant: Sir Thomas Gresham (1518/9 – 1579). From a family of Norfolk merchants, this London-born entrepreneur gave the City not one but two great institutions: the Royal Exchange and Gresham College.

Gresham achieved better results than most by more peaceful means.

His upbringing was a privileged one. He was the younger son of Sir Richard Gresham, a successful merchant and Lord Mayor of London 1537. Born at his father’s house in Milk Lane in 1518/9, Thomas’s boyhood remains obscure but he spent…

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