Jane

A Genoese halfpenny, a corruption of Januensis or Genoensis.

“Because I could not give her many a jane.”

Spenser: Fuërie Queene, book iii. canto vii. 58.

Jane.
A most ill-starred name for rulers. To give a few examples: Lady Jane Grey, beheaded by Mary for treason; Jane Seymour; Jane or Joan Beaufort, wife or James I. of Scotland, who was infamously and savagely murdered; Jane of Burgundy, wife of Philippe le Long, who imprisoned her for adultery in 1314; Jane of Flanders, who was in ceaseless war with Jane of Penthièvre after the captivity of their husbands. This contest is known in history as “the wars of the two Janes” (fourteenth century).

Jane of France (de Valois), wife of Louis XII., who repudiated her for being ugly; Jane d' Albret, mother of Henri IV. of France. Being invited to Paris to attend the espousals of her son with Margaret de Valois, she was poisoned by Catharine de' Medicis (1572); Jane, Countess of Hainault, daughter of Baldwin, and wife of Fernand of Portugal, who was made prisoner at the battle of Bouvines in 1214. She refused to ransom him, and is thought to have poisoned her father; Jane Henriquez, wife of John II. of Navarre, stirred up war between her husband and his son Carlos by a former marriage, and ultimately made away with the young prince, a proceeding which caused a revolt of the Catalonians (1462); Jane the Imbecile of Castile, who lost her reason from grief at the neglect of her husband, Philip the Handsome, Archduke of Austria; Jane I. of Naples married Andrew of Hungary, whom she caused to be murdered, and then married the assassin. Her reign was most disastrous. La Harpe has a tragedy entitled Jeanne de Naples; Jane II. of Naples, a woman of most scandalous character, guilty of every sort of wantonness. She married James, Count of March, who put to death her lovers and imprisoned Jane for two years. At her release James fled to France, when Jane had a liaison with Caraccioli, whom she murdered. Joan, the pope, if indeed such a person ever existed. Jeanne la Pucelle [Joan of Arc] cannot be called a ruler, but her lot was not more happy; etc. etc. (See John Two.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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