Elizabeth "Jane" Shore (c.1445 – c.1527) was one of the many mistresses of King Edward IV of England, one of three whom he described as "the merriest, the wiliest, and the holiest harlots" in his realm. She also became a concubine to other noblemen, including Edward's stepson, Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, and William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings, his close friend and adviser.
She was married to William Shore (d. 1494), a goldsmith and banker. Their marriage was annulled in March 1476 after she petitioned for the annulment of her marriage on the grounds that her husband was impotent, which prevented her from fulfilling her desire to have children. Pope Sixtus IV commissioned three bishops to decide the case, and they granted the annulment.
According to the Patent Rolls for 4 December 1476, it was during this same year that Shore began her liaison with Edward IV, after his return from France. Edward did not discard her as he did many of his mistresses, and was completely devoted to her. She had a large amount of influence over the king, but would not use it for her own personal gain. This was exemplified by her practice of bringing those out of favour before the king to help them gain pardon. Shore, according to the official records, was not showered with gifts, unlike many of Edward's previous mistresses. Their relationship lasted until Edward's death in 1483.
Shore's two other lovers were Edward IV's eldest stepson, Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, and William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings. Grey's wife was the wealthy heiress Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington, who also happened to be Hastings' stepdaughter. Shore was instrumental in bringing about the alliance between Hastings and the Woodvilles, which was formed while Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was Protector, before he took the throne as King Richard III. She was accused of carrying messages between Hastings and Edward IV's widow, Elizabeth Woodville. It was because of her role in this alliance that Shore was charged with conspiracy, along with Hastings and the Woodvilles, against the Protector's government.
Shore's punishment included open penance at Paul's Cross for her promiscuous behaviour by Richard, though this may have been motivated by the suspicion that she had harboured Grey when he was a fugitive or as a result of Richard’s antagonism towards any person who represented his older brother’s court. A clash of personalities between the lighthearted Shore and stern Richard also generated a mutual dislike between the two. Shore accordingly went in her kirtle through the streets one Sunday with a taper in her hand, attracting a lot of male attention all along the way.
After her public penitence, Shore 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. This is evinced by a letter to John Russell from Richard, where the King asked the chancellor to try to prevent the marriage, but if Lynom were determined on the marriage, to release Shore from prison and put her in the charge of her father until Richard's next arrival in London when the marriage could take place. They were married and had one daughter. It is believed that Shore lived out the remainder of her life in bourgeois respectability. Lynom lost his position as King's Solicitor when Henry VII defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485, but he was able to stay on as a mid-level bureaucrat in the new reign, becoming a gentleman who sat on the commissions in the Welsh Marches and clerk controller to Arthur, Prince of Wales, at Ludlow Castle. Thomas More, writing when she was still alive, but very old, declared that even then an attentive observer might discern in her shriveled countenance traces of her former beauty.
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