• The Mysterious Mistress

    The Mysterious Mistress

    The Life and Legend of Jane Shore by Margaret Crosland

    The Mysterious Mistress

    Jane Shore has been mentioned by Shakespeare in Richard III and fictionalised by Jean Plaidy. But little is known of her beyond her name and the fact that she was mistress to Edward IV. In the first complete biography of Jane Shore, acclaimed author Margaret Crosland looks at the woman behind the myth, examining how she has been transformed in legend and history. Who was she? Where did she come from? And, having been mistress to the most powerful man in the land, why did she end up in prison and poverty?

    Jane was middle class, which was very unusual for a medieval royal mistress. The daughter of a successful merchant in Cheapside, her arranged marriage to younger merchant William Shore was annulled on the grounds of his importance. With her 'pleasant behaviour' and 'proper wit' she managed to hold the interest of notorious womaniser Edward IV for twelve years. Sir Thomas More claimed that she stood out among the king's mistresses for one simple reason. 'For many he had, but her he loved ...'

    When the king died unexpectedly, Jane's social status meant that she was an easy target for Edward's successor Richard III. Richard had Jane arrested for treason, accused of sorcery twice imprisoned, and forced her to do penance for her 'sinful' life by walking barefoot and half naked through London. She was rescued by a second marriage to the King's Solicitor Thomas Lynam, which did not please Richard.

    After her death, Jane Shore became the subject and target of literature: Thomas More vindicated her; Nicholas Rowe wrote a popular drama about her and even the adolescent Jane Austen mentioned her a early writings.

    Margaret Crosland sheds new light on the woman who had an incredible rise and fall through the strict hierarchy of medieval society and whose life became the subject of art and literature through the centuries.


    The Mysterious Mistress

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