Ahhh, the notorious Jane Shore…Well, it just so happens that she incidentally shows up for two pages in Plaidy’s The Reluctant Queen; merely to introduce how Richardlll dealt with Hastings and Dorset’s treason. Who was this woman known as EdwardlV’s favourite mistress?
Born in London, Jane Shore (named Elizabeth at birth), was the eldest girl of six children. Her parents, John and Amy Lambert were very well off. John was a merchant who dealt with Mercers, one of the richest companies in London at the time. No complaints from her mother’s side either; Jane’s maternal grandfather, Robert Marshall was a very rich grocer. Jane, who was not only gorgeous, with a petite physique, fair complexion and long blonde hair; she was also educated and therefore quite literate as well. Apart from her great beauty, seemingly, it was her wit, charm, intelligence and good humor that captivated her admirers.
Probably noticing his daughter’s flourishing attributes at already a young age, John Lambert was quick to marry off his eldest daughter. And so it appears that, although there are no real records other than the writings of Sir Thomas More, Jane was married when she was still a child. Her husband, William Shore, a goldsmith was about fifteen years older than her. There hasn’t been much on their life together as a couple, but one can imagine that there were certainly difficulties since, they were later divorced on the grounds of William’s impotence. Now, to get her divorce petition granted, there were all sorts of steps to be taken; primarily permission from the Pope and Bishops. Such a difficult, long, bureaucratic process certainly entailed lots of money…leading to the question of how Jane could have possibly afforded this if her husband was just a goldsmith…hmm. Anyway their marriage was annulled some time in 1476. William, apparently never remarried after that.
Moving on to her more colorful life; Jane was, in her most important role, the mistress of EdwardlV by 1476; coincidence, coincidence. As history indicates this beloved King was known for cultivating all ‘passions’ of sorts. It appears though, that with Jane, this was a lasting affair. Jane (whose name was most probably changed due to a ‘conflict of interest’ with another so-called Elizabeth…), captured the King’s fancy in ways that persuaded or changed his mind on several fronts. This was by no means a hidden affair of sorts, since Jane was an accepted part of the King’s court. They were lovers throughout the Wars of the Roses and up until the King’s death.
Things drastically changed after that. For a while Jane favored the company of Thomas Grey, lst Marquis of Dorset, the Queen’s son, who had laid eyes on her for a while. Meanwhile, Hastings, the good friend of EdwardlV, took it upon himself to become Jane’s protector. One thing led to another, they became lovers, but this was not a lasting relationship either. Hastings, for reasons of treason against Richardlll, was executed and that was the end of his story. Jane apparently took part in the Hastings’ conspiracy by having secret messages delivered to the late Edward’s Queen Elizabeth (who was relentlessly opposed to the usurping of the crown by Richard). Well, well, it sure seemed like the two rivaling ladies had now formed some sort of allegiance. Richard didn’t take too well to this and had Jane sent to the Tower of London. Besides the reasons already mentioned, Richard also thought that Jane had aided Dorset escape from sanctuary after Hastings execution.
On the grounds of suspected sorcery and of being a woman of ‘ill-repute’, Jane was made to do public penance at St. Paul’s Cathedral. A branded woman, she was forced to walk the streets in nothing more than her underwear; an embarrassing and degrading feat to say the least. She was then sent to Ludgate prison to do her time. Adding to her crime, Richardlll had been convinced that she again had aided Dorset to, this time, escape England to follow Henry Tudor. It just never ends…
In a turn of events, it was in prison that she would meet her third husband, Thomas Lynom, a lawyer who worked for Richard. He pleaded for Jane’s pardon so that she could be put back into her father’s care. This though, was under the condition that Lynom never marry her. Jane got her pardon and Lynom, against the King’s wishes, married her anyway. Not much is written about their life together after that except that they had one daughter and that Jane continued to be the charming, witty and intelligent spark that she was sought out to be. She lived until the ripe old age of 82.
Jean Plaidy writes a remarkable novel based on Jane Shore’s life in: The Goldsmith’s Wife.
posted by Lucy