General History/Mona Lisa Theory


I have a little theory on the "Mona Lisa". It is documented that Leonardo Da Vinci had a sense of humor and a love for 'cryptology' (basically, messages written in code). He was thought to have subtle 'clues' and riddles painted into his works (ref. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown). He was also thought to be a 'Grand Master' of the "Priory Sion" - a sort of secret society. His painting, The Mona Lisa, could harbor one of his cleverist cryptographs - right in plain sight. Bear with me - it is easier to 'show' rather than explain but I'll try:

    If you take the first and last letters of each name of the "MONA" and "LISA" -  You come up with "M 'on' A" then "L 'is' A"  - then assemble the letters - (right to left with "LisA") = AL - then (left to right with "MonA") = MA. Assemble them together and you get "AL+MA" or Alma. Now do the same thing with the two middle letters and you get (right to left with "lISa") = SI -then (left to right with 'mONa')= ON - now you get "SI+ON" = Sion. You now have "Alma" and "Sion" [as in 'Priory Sion' maybe]. There are various definitions of Alma. Some innocent and some a little more 'riske'.

    The Latin definition  of ALMA is -Gentle, Loving, Bounteous One and The Spiritually Supportive One. I have also found translations in some Hebrew capacities to mean "harlot" though I don't think we should go down that road ... or should we? (That is kind of a little smirk on her face after all). Sion could be Mt.Sion or ref. Priory Sion. In the painting he used winding roads as would be found on a mountain - so I'm thinking that is a clue as well.

    Just an observation - completely in-line with Da Vinci's cryptological games. If you can follow the pattern, it's logical and it has meaning. Think about it.  I can't get anyone listen to me on this though I've had this figured out for a few years and have sent it to a few 'experts'. Maybe it's TOO obvious but I really think it's worthy of some acknowledgment


It's an interesting theory, but the big problem with it is that there is no evidence that Da Vinci every called his painting "Mona Lisa."  That name was first used by Giorgio Vasari more than 30 years after Da Vinci's death.  Here is his comment in the original Italian and an English translation:

   “Prese Lionardo a fare per Francesco del Giocondo il ritratto di Mona Lisa sua moglie; e quattro anni penatovi lo lascio imperfetto, la quale opera oggi e appresso il Re Francesco di Francia in Fontanableo.”

   “Leonardo undertook to execute, for Francesco del Giocondo, the portrait of Mona Lisa his wife, and after he had lingered over it for four years, he left it unfinished; and the work is today in the possession of King Francis of France, at Fontainebleau.”

Here Vasari indicates the name he provides is the name of the model who posed for the portrait.  If it is the name of the person, there is no reason to think the name of the painting means anything beyond that.  Further, without any evidence that Da Vinci personally named the painting, any theory that he coded anything into the name cannot stand.

- Mike  

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Michael Troy


My specialties are 17th through 19th Century history, especially in the Americas and Europe. I also have a fair knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman History, and some knowledge of Medieval European history. My expertise is focuses on Military and political history, but I`ll take a crack at anything.


I have been a guest lecturer at George Washington University. Mostly, I have just read hundreds of books about world history.


J.D. Univ. of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

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Truman Scholar

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