venerdì 10 dicembre 2010
William Blake. The Penance of Jane Shore in St Paul's Church, c1793.
JANE SHORE, (Elizabeth Shore), mistress of the English King Edward IV, is said to have been the daughter of Thomas Wainstead, a prosperous London mercer. She was well brought up, and married young to William Shore, a goldsmith.
She attracted the notice of Edward IV, and soon after 1470, leaving her husband, she became the king's mistress. Edward called her the merriest of his concubines, and she exercised great influence; but, says Sir Thomas More, "never abused it to any man's hurt, but to many a man's comfort and relief." After Edward's death she was mistress to Thomas Grey, marquess of Dorset, son of Elizabeth Woodville by her first husband. She also had relations with William Hastings, and may perhaps have been the intermediary between him and the Woodvilles.
At all events she had political importance enough to incur the hostility of Richard of Gloucester, afterwards King Richard III, who accused her of having practised sorcery against him in collusion with the Queen and Hastings. Richard had her put to public penance, but the people pitied her for her loveliness and womanly patience; her husband was dead, and now in poverty and disgrace she became a prisoner in London. There Thomas Lynom, the king's solicitor, was smitten with her, and wished to make her his wife, but was apparently dissuaded.
Jane Shore survived till 1527; in her last days she had to "beg a living of many that had begged if she had not been." Sir Thomas More, who knew her in old age when she was "lean, withered and dried up," says, in his History of King Richard III, that in youth she was "proper and fair, nothing in her body that you would have changed, but if you would have wished her somewhat higher." Her greatest charm was, however, her pleasant behaviour; for she was "merry in company, ready and quick of answer."
She figured much in 16th-century literature, notably in the Mirrour for Magistrates, and in Thomas Heywood's Edward IV.