Leicester Cathedral and its project supporters (angels?) have done something wonderful and generous: they have digitized Richard III’s “Book of Hours” and posted it on the cathedral’s website.
What’s so wonderful and generous about that?
- When I clicked on the image of the book, it downloaded a PDF of the book. I hope this wasn’t a glitch, and that it does the same for everyone else, because the caption to the image is, “click the image to view the Book of Hours”.
- Included with the PDF is a complete interactive copy of The Hours of Richard III by Anne F Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs.
- If you open the PDF to page 1, you can either view Richard’s Book of Hours with little flags indicating where you can read Sutton and Visser-Fuchs’ material; or, you can click on The Hours of Richard III and read the original book on its own.
- The Hours of Richard III is an expensive tome to buy all by itself, and it doesn’t include all of the pages in Richard’s Book of Hours.
- An Anglican cathedral has just gifted the world with a 15th-century, Catholic king’s Book of Hours.
A Live Science article announced the digitization. Go thou and devour the beautiful tome Richard used (perhaps both before and after he was king), the Book of Hours he left behind in his tent before the Battle of Bosworth. Margaret Beaufort ended up with the book, as her husband ended up with the tent’s tapestries. Beaufort subsequently gave Richard’s book away.
Pages are missing from it — removed perhaps after the Reformation, as prayers to saints were involved. It is a miracle the book survived at all. It is a second miracle that the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Richard III Society, and the University of Leicester financially supported this project. A third miracle is that Richard’s personal prayer-book is now available to the world.