Scandalous Life of Jane Shore, Edward IV’s Mistress

Jane Shore, born Elizabeth Lambert, was a woman of great beauty and intelligence who lived in London in the mid-fifteenth century.

Her father was a successful merchant and it is believed that she was able to observe the behaviour of high-ranking ladies while working in his shop. Her beauty and intelligence attracted many suitors, including William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings, who would later become a close friend of King Edward IV.

However, she ended up marrying a goldsmith and banker named William Shore, which ended in annulment after she petitioned for the annulment of her marriage on the grounds that her husband was impotent.

Royal Mistress

Jane Shore’s life took a dramatic turn when she became the mistress of King Edward IV in 1476. Unlike many of his previous mistresses, Edward did not discard her and was completely devoted to her.

She had a large amount of influence over the king, but she never used it for her own personal gain. Their relationship lasted until Edward’s death in 1483.

She was also a sometime mistress of other noblemen, including Edward’s stepson, Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, and William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings.

Prison, Second Marriage, and Later Life

After Edward’s death, Jane Shore was accused of conspiracy by the future King Richard III, along with William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings, and the Woodvilles, against the Protector’s government.

She was punished with open penance at Paul’s Cross for her promiscuous behaviour by Richard. After her public penitence, she resided in Ludgate prison. While there, she captivated the King’s Solicitor General, Thomas Lynom.

After he expressed an interest in Shore to Richard, the king tried to dissuade him for his own good. They were married and had one daughter. It is believed that Shore lived the remainder of her life in bourgeois respectability.

Scandalous Life of Jane Shore, Edward IV's Mistress
Image: Francesco Bartolozzi, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Children

It is unclear how many children Jane Shore had. In John Lambert’s will of 1487, ‘Julyan Lyneham‘ is given 40 shillings.

Recently, in an old book, an inscription was discovered that sheds some light on the matter. The inscription refers to Alice, the daughter of Thomas Lynham, who married Simon Hake.

They had at least one son, Thomas (d. 1 March 1590), and he had many children, though only one surviving, William, who erected the memorial.

Conclusion

Jane Shore was a woman who lived in turbulent times, and her life was shaped by the men she was involved with. She was a woman of great intelligence and beauty who used her influence for the good of others.

While her life ended in public penance and imprisonment, she was able to find happiness with Thomas Lynom and live the remainder of her life in relative peace and respectability.

Scandalous Life of Jane Shore, Edward IV's Mistress
The Penance of Jane Shore in St Paul’s Church
Image: William Blake, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Her life continues to fascinate people today, and her story is a reminder that even in the most trying circumstances, there is always hope for a better tomorrow.

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