A 600-year-old manuscript which sheds light on York’s relationship with Richard III has gone on public display for the first time in living memory.
The 15th century House Book reveals how York prepared for the king’s visits, wrestled with rumours of treason and what the city leaders felt about his death in 1485.
It is being loaned to the Yorkshire Museum by York’s civic archive, and is one of a unique series of House books, dating from 1476, documenting York’s civic jurisdiction.
Natalie McCaul, curator of archaeology, said the first-hand written account offered a unique insight into the relationship between York and Richard.
“It talks of the pomp and circumstance of his visit to the city – where people were made to clean the paths in front of their doors and put up banners from their windows. It describes his murder being a ‘grete hevynesse of this citie’ and how Henry VII’s messenger was afraid to visit after Richard’s death.
“But it also shows that even then the city wasn’t united in their support for Richard – rumour and reality were still deeply intertwined.”
Coun Sonja Crisp, City of York Council’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, said: “This House Book survived floods at the Guildhall in 1892 and is arguably one of the most important late medieval documents in the country.”
The book is on show in the Medieval Gallery. Until December, it will be open at the pages detailing Richard’s visit to York. From January until April 27, it will be open on pages relating to Richard’s death.