Prayer Book That May Have Belonged to Henry VIII Set to Be Auctioned

Among the 50 full-page illustrations, the royal connections of the book are clear in one showing Henry VI as a saint. Photograph: Sotheby's
Among the 50 full-page illustrations, the royal connections of the book are clear in one showing Henry VI as a saint. Photograph: Sotheby’s

The Bute Hours, to be auctioned at Sotheby’s, is particularly rare because few such books survived Reformation

A dazzling, extravagantly decorated 16th-century English prayer book, which some experts believe may have belonged to the young Henry VIII, is to be auctioned at Sotheby’s with a £2.5m estimate – 156 years after the same auction house sold it for £84.

Few such English books survived the Reformation, and this one is particularly rare because it contains an image of Thomas Becket, which survived the widespread destruction of his image after Henry VIII outlawed the cult of the saint and martyr. The experts believe another image of Becket was removed from the book, but the censors missed this one.

Among the 50 full-page illustrations, the royal connections of the book are clear in one showing Henry VI as a saint – with a little figure of the owner of the book kneeling before him. He was never formally canonised, but was venerated by both Henry VII and his great nephew Henry VIII. Scholarly and highly religious, Henry was also mentally unstable, and was taken prisoner and then deposed by his cousin who became Edward IV. He died mysteriously in the Tower of London in 1471, possibly murdered on Edward’s orders.

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SOURCE: The Guardian