King Richard III noted his own birthday in a prayer book


You can now take a look through King Richard III’s personal prayer book from the comfort of your own home.

Researchers have digitised the fascinating text, which includes a note by the English King likely written as a reminder of his birthday. 

The note, found on the page for October, reads: ‘On this day was born Richard III King of England A.D. 1452.’ 

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Historians found a note handwritten by Richard III in the King's personal prayer book. The Latin translation (circled) translates to: 'On this day was born Richard III King of England A.D. 1452'

Historians found a note handwritten by Richard III in the King’s personal prayer book. The Latin translation (circled) translates to: ‘On this day was born Richard III King of England A.D. 1452’

WHAT DOES THE BOOK CONTAIN? 

  • A note of the King’s birthday, handwritten by Richard III
  • Two personal prayers, including a long litany called ‘The prayer of Richard III’, asking for God’s mercy and protection
  • A private calendar including events of personal significance, such as the untimely death of someone named Thomas Howard on March 28  

The digital copy of the full manuscript is now available on the Leicester Cathedral website.

‘We are delighted to make available to all this digital version of the Richard III’s Book of Hours, his personal prayer-book,’  Revd David Monteith said.

‘The original manuscript rests in Lambeth Palace Library with restricted access due to its fragile condition, and we thank them for making it possible for us to share it in this way.’ 

The prayer book, which is under the ownership of the Richard III and Yorkist History Trust, was digitised by the Leicestershire-based publishing company Scripti.

Richard III, the last monarch of the Plantagenet family, ruled for only two years before dying in battle in 1485 when he was 32.

It marked the end of the Wars of the Roses and the victory of Henry Tudor, the first of the new dynasty.

Researchers made the discovery while creating a digital copy of the prayer book, which now available on the Leicester Cathedral website

Researchers made the discovery while creating a digital copy of the prayer book, which now available on the Leicester Cathedral website

The original manuscript is too frail for public display and is currently being preserved at the Lambeth Palace Library in south London

'We are delighted to make available to all this digital version of the Richard III’s Book of Hours, his personal prayer-book,' The Very Revd David Monteith of Leicester Cathedral said

The original manuscript is too frail for public display and is currently being preserved at the Lambeth Palace Library in south London

Under the new regime, Richard was portrayed as a hunchback and a power-mad child-killer said to have slaughtered his two young nephews to seize the throne. 

But the revisited prayer book shows a softer side to the infamous monarch. 

Richard had his calendar edited to include events of personal significance, such as the untimely death of someone named Thomas Howard on March 28.

The ancient book also features a number of unique prayer additions, likely to have been made at the King's request

The ancient book also features a number of unique prayer additions, likely to have been made at the King’s request

The first addition was a prayer called the Collect of St. Ninian, a missionary who converted England's Southern Picts to Christianity

The first addition was a prayer called the Collect of St. Ninian, a missionary who converted England’s Southern Picts to Christianity

Richard III, the last monarch of the Plantagenet family, ruled for only two years before dying in battle in 1485

Richard III, the last monarch of the Plantagenet family, ruled for only two years before dying in battle in 1485

And on October 2, the monarch added a note in his own sprawling handwriting. 

The Latin inscription reads: ‘Hac die natus erat Ricardus Rex Anglie tertius Apud Foderingay Anno domini mlccccliio.’

This translates to: ‘On this day was born Richard III King of England A.D. 1452.’

The book also features a number of unique prayer additions, likely to have been made at the King’s request, according to Anne Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs, who studied the prayer book in 1996.

The first addition was a prayer called the Collect of St. Ninian, a missionary who converted England’s Southern Picts to Christianity. 

Richard was particularly fond of St. Ninian and declared a feast day in his honour at his college at Middleham, according to the authors. 

Another addition, called ‘The prayer of Richard III’, is a long litany asking for God’s mercy and protection. 

Another addition to the book, called 'The prayer of Richard III', is a long litany asking for God's mercy and protection

The book shows a different side of Richard, who was portrayed as a hunchback and a power-mad child-killer by his successors

Another addition to the book, called ‘The prayer of Richard III’, is a long litany asking for God’s mercy and protection

The prayer book contains a private calendar including events of personal significance, such as the untimely death of someone named Thomas Howard on March 28

The prayer book contains a private calendar including events of personal significance, such as the untimely death of someone named Thomas Howard on March 28



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