Abelard, Elizabeth Browning, Eloise, Famous couple, history, King Edward VIII, Love, Mumtaz Mahal, Napoleon Bonaparte, Pierre and Marie Curie, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria, Robert Browning, Shah Jahan, Valentine Day 2014, Wallis Simposon
The true love story of Antony and Cleopatra is one of the most memorable, intriguing and moving of all times. The relationship between Antony and Cleopatra was a test of true love. They fell in love at first sight, the passion was uncontrollable, yet the political repercussions were bigger than the couple themselves. The relationship between these two powerful people put the country of Egypt in a powerful position and Romans were wary of the growing powers of the North African country. The story does not end well as it is said that while fighting a battle against Romans, Antony got false news of Cleopatra’s death and fell on his sword. When Cleopatra learned about Antony’s death she took her own life.
The love letters between this monk and a nun are today legendary and a true testament of love. Around 1100, Peter Abelard went to Paris to study at the school of Notre Dame. He gained a reputation as an outstanding philosopher. Fulbert, the canon of Notre Dame, hired Abelard to tutor his niece, Heloise. Abelard and the scholarly Heloise fell deeply in love, conceived a child, and were secretly married. Fulbert was furious, so Abelard sent Heloise to safety in a convent. Thinking that he intended to abandon Heloise, Fulbert had his servants castrate Abelard while he slept. Abelard became a monk and devoted his life to learning. The two lovers’ lives were thus shattered and both took on their religious duty with zeal. Their love never subsided and exchanged letters for the duration of their loves.
Perhaps one of the most famous muses of all time, Beatrice inspired Dante’s greatest work, The Divine Comedy. Beatrice and Dante met as children and he fell in love with her at first sight. Upon the second meeting between the two, 9 years later, he composed the Vita Nuova, one of the most perfect love poems ever written. Beatrice married another man, while Dante married too. Beatrice died at the age of 24 and upon hearing these news Dante began The Divine Comedy. While this is a platonic love, or at least a romantic love that was never consummated, Dante’s and Beatrice’s story is truly inspiring.
In 1612, a teenage girl, Arjumand Banu, married 15-year-old Shah Jahan, ruler of the Mughal Empire. Renamed Mumtaz Mahal, she bore Shah Jahan 14 children and became his favourite wife. After Mumtaz died in 1629, the grieving emperor resolved to create a fitting monument. It took 20,000 workers and 1,000 elephants nearly 20 years to complete this monument – the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan was never able to complete a black marble mausoleum he planned for himself. Deposed by his son, Shah Jahan was imprisoned in the Red Fort of Agra, he was eventually buried beside her in the Taj Mahal.
What was only a marriage of convenience, at age 26 Napoleon took fell deeply in love with Josephine, an older, prominent, and most importantly wealthy woman. While the love between the two was strong, there are many well documented instances of adultery, yet their mutual respect and love was what kept the two together . Sadly Napoleon had to separate from Josephine as she was unable to give him an heir. Their love however endured until the end of their lives.
This love story is about English royalty who mourned her husband’s death for 40 years. Victoria ascended the throne of England in 1837 after the death of her uncle, King William IV. In 1840, she married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. While at first Prince Albert was unpopular in some circles because he was German, he came to be admired for his honesty, diligence, and his devotion to his family. The couple had nine children. Victoria loved her husband deeply. She relied on his advice in matters of state, especially in diplomacy. When Albert died in 1861, Victoria was devastated. She did not appear in public for three years. Though she did eventually resume public appearances, Victoria never stopped mourning her beloved prince, wearing black until her death in 1901.
Elizabeth Barrett came from a prominent and wealthy family and was already a well established poet before she met fellow poet Robert Browning. She lived as a semi-invalid in her father’s house, under his domineering hand, and had become a bit of recluse. Robert had been an admirer of Elizabeth’s work for some time, and with the help of a friend, John Kenyon, met Elizabeth in 1845. The two quickly fell in love and thus, began one of the most famous courtships in literature. Her father disapproved of Robert so in 1846, the couple eloped. Elizabeth was disowned choosing to stand by her husband, and shortly after their wedding, they fled to Italy. Later, she published her best-known work, Sonnets from the Portuguese, which consisted of a collection of sonnets chronicling the couple’s courtship and marriage.
This is a story about partners in love and science. Unable to continue her studies in Poland because universities did not admit women, Maria Sklodowska Curie traveled to Paris in 1891 to attend the Sorbonne, where she spent every spare hour reading in the library or in the laboratory. The industrious student caught the eye of Pierre Curie, director one of the laboratories where Marie worked. Curie ardently wooed Marie and made several marriage proposals. They were finally married in 1895 and began their famous partnership. In 1898 they discovered polonium and radium. The Curies and scientist Henri Becquerel won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 for discovering radioactivity. When Curie died in 1904, Marie pledged to carry on their work. She took his place at the Sorbonne, becoming the school’s first female teacher. In 1911 she became the first person to win a second Nobel Prize, this time for chemistry. She continued to experiment and lecture until her death of leukemia in 1934, driven by the memory of the man she loved.
Though nameless, and faceless, without a story, this couple is a fitting bonus in this list. In the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, the skeletal remains of a Roman-era have been found and revealed the most romantic discovery. Buried at the same time between the 5th and 6th century, the couple, her wearing a bronze ring, have been holding hands for 1,500 years.
Much can be learned from history, and why not be inspired by 10 great love stories from ages past? Forget fictional romances of the likes of Romeo and Juliet, Lancelot and Guinevere and Renzo and Lucia and look towards history for some real life romance.
With he holiday of lovers coming up on February 14th it is not unusual to be harbouring romantic desires at this time. In a time of internet dating, speed dating and complicated interpersonal affairs lets look back in history at 10 couples who knew love, knew romance and weren’t afraid to show it.
Materials by Swide