So charming and gay,
Only right royal Dick could
Not stand against her.
(And by ‘stand’, I mean ‘erection’.)
Today on Royal Mistress Week, we’ve got Jane Shore, the most famous of Edward IV’s many, many, many mistresses. (Actually, her name was Elizabeth, but people just forgot her given name for several decades, during which time a playwright dubbed her ‘Jane’ for convenience’s sake. And so shall I!)
Jane was born in London to the merchant couple, John and Amy Lambert, anywhere between 1445 and 1450. A sharp girl, she saw how more upper class ladies conducted themselves when they patronized the family business and took mental health notes. That, and the fact that she was really, really cute and just had a gosh-darned nice personality, made her really popular with the men.
One of these men was William Hastings, best bud of the strapping young Edward IV, to which Jane’s dad responded by marrying her off to the goldsmith William Shore. Although he was a catch on paper, Jane wasn’t keen on him and managed to get an annulment in 1476 on the grounds of his impotency. (Difficult, but not impossible to do in those days, as one of the rights of women was to be able to get knocked up within the bounds of matrimony.)
And by SHEER COINCIDENCE, that was the year she officially hooked up with King Edward. And as with pretty much every other dude, he liked her a lot. As for why, the nice personality comes into play. Jane knew she had a massive amount of influence with him, but she only used it to help out folk who’d fallen out of favor with the king for one reason or another, and not as a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. (What Eddy’s wife Elizabeth thought about all this, we can only speculate.)
But 1483 happens. Edward IV dies. Official cause of death: too much partying. What’s Jane to do? Hook up with Lord Hastings again, along with her dead paramour’s grown-up stepson, Thomas Grey. Then she kind of stuck her foot in it.
Lord Hastings was originally Team ‘Richard Duke of Gloucester’ for the role of Protector. (Edward IV’s son, Edward V, only being twelve years old.) At some point, he switched to Team Woodville. (The Woodvilles being the family of Edward IV’s widow.) The chief enabler of this was Jane, the messenger girl between Hastings and the Woodvilles.
Richard, pissed, chopped off Hastings’ head. Jane had to do public penance, marching through the streets dressed in only a kirtle. (If you’re wondering if this inspired a certain scene from Game of Thrones, yes, it did. Except the people on the street felt sorry for Jane.)
After that, she got thrown in the clink, where Thomas Lynom, Richard’s Solicitor General, promptly became smitten with her and really wanted to marry her. The then-King Richard III kept trying to dissuade him, citing her easy virtue. (He was much more of a prog than his big brother, but then, most people were.)
Said Lynom: “Look, I don’t give a damn. She’s hot AND nice. Come on. Let me marry her. Please, please, please.”
And so wedding bells rang and Mr and Mrs Lynom lived happily ever after, even through a change in dynasties, having one daughter together and enjoying a moderate amount of wealth, hurrah. Jane died in 1527. Good on you, Jane.