Jane Shore (c.1445 – c.1527) was the mistress of Edward IV during the last decade of his life. She was born in London as a part of the merchant class, the daughter of John and Amy Lambert. Her father was a successful business man, and Jane spent many days in her father shop, coming into contact with many upper class ladies. While she was very beautiful, she was also very intelligent and her father ensured she was well educated, a rarity for women of her class.

Her great beauty attracted many admirers including those in the King’s circle, such as William Hastings. This level of attention helped John Lambert create a great match for his daughter, marrying her to the banker and goldsmith, William Shore. Unfortunately the marriage was not a success, and Jane petitioned for annulment in 1476 on the grounds of William’s impotency, meaning Jane would not be able to have the children she desired. Pope Sixtus IV had 3 bishops decide on the case, which was decided in her favour. Later that same year she began her relationship with Edward IV. They had a loving relationship, while he had grown bored with previous mistresses Edward remained devoted to her until his death in 1483.

She had two other lovers; Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset (and stepson to Edward IV) and William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings who had admired her before her marriage to William Shore. Jane was instrumental in forging an alliance between Elizabeth Woodville and William Hastings, during the period where Richard (the future Richard III) was Lord Protector of the realm. Elizabeth was the wife of the now deceased Edward IV and the mother of Edward V, but it was young king’s uncle Richard who was in control. Jane was charged with conspiracy and had to take part in a public penitence followed by a stay in Ludgate prison.

Fortunately for Jane, her beauty captivated the King’s solicitor general, Thomas Lynom. He sent a request to Richard to be allowed to release her from prison and to marry her. Richard sent a letter to John Russell (his chancellor), telling him to try and persuade Thomas it wouldn‚Äôt be a good idea to marry Jane. However, he said that if Thomas still wanted to, to release Jane from prison and put her in the charge of her father until Richard was back and would attend the marriage.

They married and had one daughter, and it is believed that Jane lived out the rest of her days in bourgeoise comfort. While her husband lost his position after Richard’s defeat to Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth, he remained employed by the crown as a mid-level civil servant.

-Danielle Triggs
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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