Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Ancient prayer book sheds new light on Richard III

Richard had the book with him at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Photo: ITV News Central

As Leicester gears up for the re-internment of the last Plantagenet King of England, ITV Central has been given exclusive access to Richard III's own personal prayer book.

The ancient document has been preserved at Lambeth Palace Library for the last 400 years.

Richard had it with him in his tent at the Battle of Bosworth, where he became the last English king to die in combat, to bring an end to the Wars of the Roses in 1485.

The book could show a lighter side to the monarch, who historians now say was a deeply religious individual, who was proud of his strong Christian values.

Traditional views on Richard III's reputation are changing. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

For centuries in popular culture Richard III was portrayed as a 'villain' and a 'tyrant', after rumours he masterminded the murders of his nephews in the Tower of London to secure his place on the throne.

However, some historians now say he was a misunderstood character, who had his image damaged by how he was portrayed during the reign of the Tudor Monarchs, and by William Shakespeare's play Richard III.

More contemporary writings on Richard now claim he was keen to promote fairness and justice in the legal system and worked hard to improve the lives of some of his poorest subjects.

Our reporter Rajiv Popat with the prayer book. Credit: ITV News Central

Janet Atkinson from Lambeth Palace Library has helped preserve and restore the book.

She says it offers an insight into Richard's own personal thoughts and feelings.