Rare book signed by Richard III goes on display

Richard III's signature in the book at Longleat. Credit: Longleat

A book that was given to King Richard III as a teenager has gone on public display at Longleat for the first time since it was written 550 years ago.

The rare signed book, which was written on vellum and features tales by Chaucer as well as other popular stories of the time, is part of a new exhibition on the Yorkist king which has opened at Longleat House in Wiltshire.

The book is one of only 13 of Richard III's books that is known to still exist.

It is especially valuable as he has signed it 'R Gloucester' as he was only the Duke of Gloucester as a young man.Above his signature he also wrote the words 'Tant le desieree', which means 'So much desired'.

Dr Kate Harris, curator, said: “It is a fascinating piece of history. His handwriting is extremely competent, which shows he was highly educated.

“Within the book are tales of derring-do, as well as classical Greek and Rome. Most of the books of the time were in French and Latin, so the fact that this one is in English is also unusual."

As well as the signed book, the new exhibition ‘The King’s Body: Richard III King of England 1483-1485’ features portraits on panel of the King alongside his two predecessors on the throne his brother, Edward IV and his nephew, Edward V as well as his successor Henry VII.

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