Ah, illicit love: It sure is tantalizing but can lead to little problems like bitterness, suicide, and death by execution. As history shows, per Ozy:
- Mary Godwin and Percy Bysshe Shelley: Mary was just 16 when she met the attractive, married 21-year-old poet. That they touched with the "full ardour of love" (her words) at the grave of Mary's mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, may have been a bad omen. Outcome: Shelley's wife committed suicide by drowning, he married Godwin and then he died by drowning not long after. At least Mary Shelley wrote classic books like Frankenstein.
- Catherine the Great & Grigory Potemkin: At just 22, Potemkin proved his mettle by helping 33-year-old Catherine usurp her husband, Czar Peter III, in 1762. That they probably first made it in the Winter Palace's basement sauna is a memorable detail. And technically it wasn't adulterous because Peter was dead. Outcome: Potemkin took a back seat in Catherine's bedroom and even became her pimp, finding younger guys to satisfy one of history's most powerful female rulers.
- Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn: The details of this coupling aren't entirely clear, but it seems Henry's courtship was chaste for years before they hooked up and he annulled his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Outcome: Oh, just Henry trying to legitimize their union, which led to England's split with the Roman Catholic Church. Ultimately, Henry had Anne investigated for treason and beheaded.
See more "scandalous affairs"—including the one between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton—at Ozy
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