Shore, Jane (c. 1445–c. 1527)

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Shore, Jane (c. 1445–c. 1527)

Legendary mistress of Edward IV, king of England. Born Jane Wainstead around 1445; died around 1527; daughter of Thomas Wainstead (a London mercer); married William Shore (a goldsmith); mistress of the marquis of Dorset, Lord Hastings, and Edward IV.

Born around 1445, Jane Wainstead married while still a girl. As the wife of a prosperous goldsmith in Lombard Street, she and her husband William Shore were often at court on business. There, she met King Edward IV and was his mistress by the mid-1470s. Shore used her influence with the king to petition the pope for an annulment of her marriage on the grounds of impotence. The outcome has not been recorded. "For many he had, but her he loved," wrote Sir Thomas More. More claimed that she had a ready wit, was of a friendly nature, and used her considerable influence with the king for the common good.

Edward's brother, Richard III, had a different view. On the death of Edward IV in 1483, Richard (who had sired seven illegitimate children himself), accused Shore of witchcraft and had her hauled before the bishop of London's court for harlotry. Her penance was to forfeit all her material possessions (to Richard, of course) and to walk the streets of London barefoot, wearing a white sheet and carrying a lighted candle. Jane Shore died around 1527, probably in her early 80s, "lean, withered, and dried up, nothing left but shrivelled skin and bone," noted one chronicler. The agonizing details of her death in a ditch by starvation have not been verified, though the old ballad of "Jane Shore" gives precise details of the circumstances.

related media:

Richard III (film), starring Laurence Olivier and directed by Olivier; the non-speaking role of Jane Shore was played by Pamela Brown , 1955.