My final Valentine’s Day, and Love Week, love list this year is about historical lovers! Here are my ten favorite historical lovers!
Number 10: Marc Antony and Cleopatra VII
~In time of ancient Egypt and Rome Cleopatra famously seduced Marc Antony. She had already fallen in love with and bore a son to Julius Caesar, but Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March. Marc Antony who was always loyal to Caesar took it upon himself to protect Cleopatra and Caesarion. Cleopatra would go on to not only love Antony, but to give birth to three children by him. By the end of the Battle of Action both of them would be dead. Cleopatra is famously said to have committed suicide by asp bite!
Number 9: Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley
~During the Tudor era, in the year 1558, Elizabeth Tudor was coronated Queen of England. Her long time friend, Robert Dudley, was made her master of the horse. She would continue to promote Dudley, eventually making him Earl of Leicester. Dudley was already married to Amy Robsart, but it was well known he was actually in love with Elizabeth! There is much speculation as to whether this love was ever consummated. One thing is for sure, Amy Robsart died from a fall down a flight of stairs, and this prevented them from ever marrying. Dudley would eventually marry Elizabeth’s cousin, Lettice Knolleys.
Number 8: Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson
~In the 1960’s Jim Morrison burst onto the L.A. music scene as frontman of the Doors! Early on in his time with the band (when they were still the house band for the London Fog) he met Pamela Courson. Pamela would go on to be his long term, live in girlfriend during the rest of his life. They actually took out several marriage licenses, but never made it down the aisle. Now this was not a monogamous relationship, especially because this was the rock and roll scene during the era of free love, but it was a real love story! Jim and Pam would be in Paris when he died in 1972. Jim is buried in Pere Lachaise cemetary in Paris, and Pam would only survive him by three years!
Number 7: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
~In 1961 Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton officially met while filming Cleopatra. Burton had mentioned they had met briefly at a Hollywood party years earlier, but this was the meeting that made the impact. Elizabeth was against ever loving Richard, as he had a reputation of bedding his female costars. Yet they had an undeniable attraction, and would end up leaving their prospective spouses to be together! This set of lovers would marry, divorce, and marry again. Elizabeth Taylor even said if Burton had not died in 1984, she believed they would have remarried a third time, this one for keeps. They truly were the loves of each others lives!
Number 6: Clark Gable and Carole Lombard
~Gable and Lombard are a Hollywood fairytale romance that began in the 1930’s. They were together for years before marrying (both having been divorced, and Gable having trouble with his latest divorce before he could marry). The couple would marry during the filming of Gone with the Wind. This love story ended tragically when Carole Lombard died in a plane crash while selling war bonds during World War II.
Number 5: Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier
~Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh met and fell in love while working on stage and in films in England. They would both go on to work in Hollywood at the same time. This is another case of actors falling in love while still married. They would both get divorces and marry one another. The marriage lasted several years, but they too would end up divorcing. This is largely due to Leigh’s struggle with Bi-Polar disorder, and the toll it took on their marriage.
Number 4: Debbie Harry and Chris Stein
~In 1970’s New York Debbie Harry and Chris Stein met and fell in love, both working as musicians together. They would become the founding members of Blondie. Even though their love story ended amicably years ago, they are remembered as lovers through their music, and the photos Chris took of Debbie during the relationship!
Number 3: Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham
~During college Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were in a band together, and when it became obvious that they were the ones that would go on to be famous, they broke with the band to form a duo. As Buckingham Nicks they released one album, and were working on another when they were noticed by Mick Fleetwood. The first Buckingham Nicks album was not well received, so joining Fleetwood Mac was a perfect solution. Originally they only needed Lindsey, but as they were a package deal they took the girl singer also! This is the most iconic lineup of Fleetwood Mac, and Stevie and Lindsey would make great contributors as song writers. After the first tour, and during the recording of Rumours, Stevie and Lindsey would break up. Their relationship (and the end of it) has fueled decades of amazing music!
Number 2: Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn
~King Henry VIII of England fell in love with his second wife Anne Boleyn, and broke with the Catholic Church in order to divorce his first wife Katherine of Aragon to marry her! The love letters Henry wrote her still exist, and are owned by the Vatican, probably because they were taken as evidence during his trial attempting to get a divorce through the church. This love would turn sour as Anne failed to give him a son, and rumors of her treason began to circulate. On May 19, 1536 Anne Boleyn would be executed by the Swordsman of Calais on Tower Green at the Tower of London. Her legacy was her daughter, who would go on to be Elizabeth I!
Number 1: Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville
~In 1464 Edward IV, the first Yorkist King of England, married Elizabeth Woodville. She was a commoner, widow, mother of two young boys, five years his senior, and a former supporter of the Lancastrian King Henry VI. She was also the most beautiful woman in England according to many. Elizabeth and Edward married in secret, with only her mother there in May of 1464. Elizabeth and Edward would have ten children together. The two sons they shared, Edward and Richard, would become the princes in the tower (who disappeared after Edward IV died). After Richard III had usurped the throne from their son Edward, he himself was killed on the battlefield, and Henry Tudor took the crown. Edward and Elizabeth’s eldest daughter would become the first Tudor Queen, Elizabeth of York!
Note: As it can plainly be seen my list of favorite historical lovers runs the gamut from royals to actors to musicians. I chose these particular people because they had an impact on history and on their respective areas of power (whether that power was sovereignty or artistic is the only difference). Of my list four of these people are still living (the music couples) but I refer to them as historical because their romantic relationships have been over for decades!
- Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
- The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir
- Furious Love by Sam Kashner & Nancy Schoenberger
- Edward IV & Elizabeth Woodville: A True Romance by Amy License
- The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives
- Rock N’ Roll Love Stories by Gill Paul
- Angels Dance and Angels Die by Patricia Butler