Happy Valentine’s Day!Today’s post is taking a trip back through history to look at some of world's most memorable couples. These 5 couples have stories everyone knows and loves to this day. These couples didn't just inspire countless movies, TV shows, and documentaries. They also played a key role in shaping the countries they lived into the ones we know today. At the end of each section, you can find biographies on each of member of these couples to learn more about about them, the impact they have on history, and even more facts about their relationships.
1. Cleopatra and Marc Antony (Egypt)Let's start this trip back into history with the oldest couple on the list. After the death of Julius Caesar, several factions started popping up over Rome over the direction the Roman empire. Two of these factions were led by Marc Antony and Octavian, Caesar's great-nephew. They had different ideas over Rome's future and most importantly who was Caesar's rightful heir.
As problems grew between these two men, Antony arranged to meet with Cleopatra to see what side she would support. Cleopatra had a romantic relationship with Caesar a few years earlier and was the mother to his son Caesarion. Antony and Cleopatra's meeting began a love affair resulting in three children and a chance to work together to achieve their own goals. Antony wanted to rule over an empire while Cleopatra saw the match as a way to expanding her own power. This meant gaining lands in the eastern empire.
Initially attempts were made by both Antony and Octavian to resolve the problems between them. One of these attempts included Antony marrying Octavian's sister Octavia. This peace was short lived and soon Antony was back in Egypt with Cleopatra. Problems intensified between Octavian and Antony, leading to military war. Antony and Cleopatra joined forces to fight Octavian's army, but they were defeated at Actium, Greece. As Octavian's forces entered Alexandria, both Antony and Cleopatra took their own lives. They were buried together as Rome made Egypt part of the Roman empire.
Biography Marc Antony
2. King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn (Britain)King Henry VIII sounds like an odd choice for this list. History knows him best as the king who had six wives during his lifetime and the fates each wife had while they were married to him. Henry felt different about each of his wives. He often shared his opinions on a few of them as they came and went from his palaces throughout his lifetime. At the end of his life, he made it clear that the love of his life was his third wife Jane Seymour. However history disagrees with him with many historians and filmmakers focusing on his relationship with his second wife Anne Boleyn.
It isn't 100% clear when Henry and Anne met. Historians estimate the couple met around mid 1520's. Anne had returned from France and was back at court as one of the ladies in waiting for Henry's wife Catherine of Aragon. Henry had been married to Catherine for several years, but the couple was still struggling to produce a male heir who could continue the Tudor dynasty. Historians believe Henry and Anne met around 1525 due to many of the surviving love letters Henry wrote Anne were written at this time. He wanted to make Anne his mistress, but she refused. Henry desired Anne so much (and was obsessed with having a male heir) that he decided to divorce Catherine by petitioning the pope to annul his marriage.
Henry thought divorcing Catherine would be easy, but it turned out to be harder than he anticipated and put Britain on the international stage. Despite his request and arguments, the pope refused to grant the divorce. When Anne did become pregnant by 1533, Henry was impatient and broke with Rome. He made himself the head of the Church of England and married Anne, making her the new queen of England. Anne would give birth a few months later to the couple's only living child Elizabeth. Although Elizabeth's birth was a disappointment, they held hope more children would follow and were happy.
That happiness didn't last long. Henry and Anne's marriage eventually fell apart ironically over the same issues that plagued Henry's marriage to Catherine. After several failed pregnancies, Henry's interest in Anne changed and he began courting Jane Seymour in secret.
Meanwhile rumors were spreading around court about Anne. The king took advantage of these rumors and had Anne arrested on a variety of charges. She was put on trial and found guilty. She was imprisoned at the Tower of London then executed a few days later just after her marriage to Henry was declared invalid. A few days after her death, Henry married Jane Seymour.
Biography King Henry VIII
Biography Anne Boleyn
3. Pocahontas and John Rolfe (United States)When history tells Pocahontas's story, most attention is put on her relationship with John Smith and the possibility of a romantic relationship between the two. Pocahontas's relationship with John Smith might get the most attention, but it is her relationship with her husband John Rolfe that had a bigger impact on US history. Historians aren't quite sure if this was a love match or not, but they make it clear this relationship help keep the peace between the English settlers and Native Americans.
John Rolfe arrived at Jamestown in 1610, a couple years after the colony was created. Before he arrived at Jamestown, his wife and child died shortly after arriving at the colony. On the way to Jamestown, Rolfe obtained tobacco seeds. Once settled at Jamestown, he began cultivating the seeds and created a brand new tobacco. The tobacco crop revitalized the Jamestown economy, reversing the fortunes of the colony.
While the tobacco crop saved Jamestown, tensions were only increasing between the colonists and the natives. Soon war broke out resulting in the colonists capturing Chief Powhatan's daughter Pocahontas in order to get her father to give into some of their demands. As she remained in captivity, Pocahontas began learning more about English customs. She learned English and was baptized as Rebecca.
Historians aren't sure when Pocahontas met John Rolfe, but the two were married in 1614. Rolfe obtained permission from the military governor of Virginia and Chief Powhatan before the couple married. Rolfe did express his love for her, but he also felt their marriage would help save her soul. There is little to no records on how Pocahontas felt about Rolfe. Their marriage began the "Peace of Pocahontas" period between the colonists and the natives. A year later, the couple's only child Thomas was born.
In 1616, the family made the trip from Virginia to England for the Virginia Company. The couple met with King James I. Pocahontas even reunited with John Smith during the course of the visit. As the couple was about to set sail for Virginia, Pocahontas became very sick. She was taken ashore at Gravesend where she died. After her death, Rolfe returned to Virginia alone where he remarried to another colonist. He died in 1622, but historians aren't sure if this was due other circumstances or a major assault between the colonists and the natives.
Biography John Rolfe
4. Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais (France)Napoleon is known for his victories on the battlefield and the role he played during the French Revolution. However Napoleon was also part of one of history's greatest love stories with his first wife Josephine. Napoleon and Josephine had a sizzling relationship with intense highs and lows.
Napoleon was just a major-general in the French army when he met Josephine. Napoleon needed a rich, influential wife while Josephine needed a benefactor and protector. Before she met Napoleon, Josephine was married to Viscount Alexandre de Beauharnais, had two children, and barely escaped the Reign of Terror. Historians aren't exactly sure when and how this couple met, but the surviving love letters Napoleon wrote made it clear they were together by 1795.
The couple married in 1796 where they made several changes to the marriage license from changing their ages to even their names. The next day, Napoleon left for Italy while Josephine remained behind in France. While Napoleon was away, Josephine began having affairs with other men. These rumors eventually got back to Napoleon and changed his feelings about Josephine completely. He began having his own affairs. Historians aren't quite sure if Josephine did have any affairs, but they do know many of Napoleon's letters about Josephine were intercepted by the British and were published in British papers.
Despite the affairs, the two remained married even when the couple became emperor and empress of France. However Napoleon needed a male heir in order to continue his dynasty he was building and it becoming clear Josephine was unable to have more children. In 1809, they announced their plans to divorce so Napoleon could have a male heir. Napoleon married Marie-Louise of Austria and had a long desired son Napoleon II. Meanwhile Josephine retired to Malmaison and focused on caring for the estate especially the gardens. Although they were no longer together, Napoleon and Josephine remained close until he was exiled to Elba.
Josephine became ill in 1814 and died a few days later. News reached Napoleon on Elba and reportedly locked himself in his room for two days, refusing to speak with anyone. When he escaped Elba and returned to France, he visited her estate Malmaison for a short time until he was exiled on St. Helena. Napoleon died in 1821 and one of his last words was about his beloved Josephine.
Biography Napoleon Bonaparte
Biography Josephine de Beauharnais
5. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (Britain)The last couple on this list is none other than Victoria and Albert. The couple was married for 21 years and were the ultimate power couple during the Victorian era. Think of this couple as the original influencers for their time period since many of the things they did soon became fashionable. Many of the traditions we do today were popularized by this couple from white wedding dresses to Christmas trees.
Victoria and Albert met when she was only 16 years old. Although she wasn't queen, attention was already been put onto who she would marry. Several people closest to Victoria had their own ideas who she should marry and Albert was her uncle Leopold's suggestion. However Victoria wasn't interested in getting married. While she was impressed by Albert, she valued her independence and wasn't ready to settle down.
Fast forward to 1839. Victoria is much older and has been on the throne for a couple of years. Despite the changes, the question of who Victoria will marry remained. At this time, she invited Albert back to Britain for another visit. During this visit, the two got much closer and by the end of the visit, Victoria formally proposed marriage to Albert. The public was hesitant about the match due to Albert's German roots. Despite the public feelings, the two married in 1840.
Albert was a huge influence on Victoria and ended up being her closest advisor. She often found herself turning to him for advice on many issues. Throughout their marriage, they championed several causes from social welfare to the arts. At the time of their reign, Britain was in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. Victoria and Albert help Britain navigate through these changes and began to shape the British monarchy into the one the world knows today.
In 1861, Albert became ill with typhoid fever and died. His death devastated Victoria and she spent the next 40 years in mourning. Victoria would reign for another 40 years until her death in 1901.
Biography Queen Victoria
Biography Prince Albert