Benedek Láng

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2012/2013
discipline History
Associate Professor at Budapest University of Technology and Economics

Research project

A Social History of Cryptography and Secrecy in East-Central Europe – 1400-1700


A large number of early modern enciphered sources survived from the Central European area, which are as yet unsolved, even though mathematical and statistical methods are available to decipher them. These are usually most relevant sources for the political and social history of the period. A second problem is that the secondary literature of cryptography focus exclusively on the enciphering methods, which are hardly contextualized as far as the wider social and intellectual environment is concerned. A third problem is that the use of early modern cryptography is rarely researched outside the political sphere of diplomacy, even though noblemen, medical doctors, scientists, university students, engineers, and “everyday” members of the society often used enciphering methods for their own purposes. The aim of the present research is (i) to give a systematical catalogue of Central European enciphered sources, (ii) to decipher those sources which are not yet deciphered, and by doing so, to provide other historians with new sources, and finally (iii) to integrate this kind of sources into the larger intellectual milieu of secrecy (private, medical, scientific, religious, alchemical, magical, and political secrets). I am going to offer a socially sensitive contextualizing monograph on the history of cryptography on the basis of this rich source material.



Benedek Láng is Associate Professor at Budapest University of Technology and Economics, where he teaches history of science. He did his undergraduate work at ELTE, where he studied History, and obtained a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from the Central European University in 2003. He holds a Habilitation in History of Science from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. 

Benedek Láng is also member of different organizations of Philosophy, Medieval History and Magic Studies.

Selected publications


‘Saint Christopher, the Patron of Treasure Hunters’, in O. Gecser, J. Laszlovszky, B. Nagy, M. Sebők and K. Szende (eds), Promoting the Saints. Cults and Their Contexts from Late Antiquity until the Early Modern Period, CEU Press, Budapest, 2011, pp.305-310.


‘Experience in the anti-astrological arguments of Jean Gerson’, in T. Bénatouil and I. Draelants (eds), Expertus sum. Lexpérience par les sens dans la philosophie naturelle médiévale. Actes du colloque international de Pont-à-Mousson, 5-7 février 2009, Edizioni del Galluzzo-SISMEL, Firenze, 2010, pp.299-311.


‘Why don’t we decipher an outdated cipher system? The Codex of Rohonc’, Cryptologia, vol.34, 2010, pp.115–144.


‘The Renaissance of the Middle Ages in Hungary’, Annual of Medieval Studies at CEU, vol.15, 2009, pp.247-256. 


‘The Art of memory and magic (the ars memorativa and the ars notoria)’, in R. Wójcik (ed.), Culture of Memory in East Central Europe in the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period, Bibioteka Uniwersytecka, Poznan, 2008, pp.87-93.


Unlocked Books, Manuscripts of Learned Magic in the Medieval Libraries of Central Europe, Penn State University Press, 2008.


senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Communication
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Communication
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Cultural Studies
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Philosophy