10 of History's Worst Marriages
10 of History’s Worst Marriages

10 of History’s Worst Marriages

Khalid Elhassan - May 8, 2018

For most couples throughout history who made marriage work, it was less a fairy tale ending and more of a muddling through until parted by death. While “and they lived happily ever after” does happen in real life, it is not the norm, lying instead at an extreme end of the spectrum of marital fates. At the other end of that spectrum are catastrophic marriages that were not blessed by a fairy godmother, but cursed by a wicked witch.

Following are ten of history’s worst marriages.

Medieval Scholar Impregnates and Marries Student, and Her Family Go Medieval on Him

Romeo and Juliet might be the world’s best known star crossed lovers, but they are fictional characters, conceived in the imagination of William Shakespeare and brought to life by his quill. For real life star crossed lovers, perhaps none are more famous than Heloise and Abelard, two medieval scholars whose romance ended as painfully – especially for him – as it gets.

Peter Abelard (1079 – 1142) was born into minor French nobility in Brittany, and from an early age, he exhibited a love of learning that marked him for a life of scholarship. His father encouraged him to study the liberal arts, and by his early 20s, Abelard was famous for his debating skill, particularly in philosophy. Like some super smart people, however, he also gained a reputation for arrogance.

By 1115 Abelard was an accomplished theologian, the master of Notre Dame, and a canon in the archdiocese that included Paris. That was when he ran into Heloise d’Argenteuil (circa 1095 – 1164), who lived in the precincts of Notre Dame under the care of her uncle, a secular canon named Fulbert. A rarity in her day, Heloise had mastered Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and had gained renown for her knowledge of classical studies.

Abelard wormed his way into Fulbert’s household, claiming that he could not afford a place of his own, and offering to tutor his niece in lieu of rent. Fulbert agreed, tutor and pupil soon hit it off, and in 1115, Heloise and Abelard began an affair. It was torrid, and given their circumstance, the duo were too blinded by their passion to pay heed to the risks involved.

10 of History’s Worst Marriages
The tomb o fAbelard and Heloise. Thought Co

She lived in convent, but snuck out, or he snuck in, whenever possible. They got physical whenever and wherever they could, making love in gardens at night, in her convent cell, in the convent’s kitchens, and in her uncle and guardian’s bedroom. She eventually got pregnant, so Abelard arranged for her to visit his family in Brittany, where she gave birth to a son.

Unfortunately for the lovers, and especially for Abelard, his arrogance betrayed him: he started boasting of his conquest. Word got back to Fulbert, Heloise’s uncle and guardian, and things took a turn for the worst. To appease Fulbert, the duo got secretly married, but when her uncle disclosed the marriage, Heloise denied it in an attempt to protect her husband’s career.

Abelard sent her to a convent to protect her from her uncle, where she pretended to be a nun. Her uncle interpreted that as Abelard trying to bury the scandal by forcing Heloise to become a nun. The enraged Fulbert set out to make Abelard pay for defiling his niece. So he hired some thugs to break into Abelard’s room one night, where they beat him up, then castrated him.

After recovering from his injuries, Abelard became a monk and retired to a monastery. He cajoled Heloise, who was reluctant to become a Bride of Christ, into becoming a nun for real. Eventually, Abelard got over the trauma and resumed lecturing and writing. Heloise became prioress of her convent, and the duo spent the rest of their lives writing each other letters.

10 of History’s Worst Marriages
Augusta of Saxe-Gotha and her family in 1739. Wikimedia

Princess of Wales Starts Married Life by Vomiting on her Wedding Dress and Her Mother in Law’s Gown

Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1719 – 1772) was a German noblewoman who became Princess of Wales by marrying the Prince of Wales. Her marriage started inauspiciously, with a terrible wedding ceremony, and continued as disastrously as it had began. To cap of her marital bad luck, she was one of the only four Princesses of Wales who never got to become queen.

Augusta was born in Gotha, Germany, the second youngest of its duke’s 19 children. In 1736, at the young age of 16, and young for her age at that, she was sent to Britain, still clutching her doll, as the bride in an arranged royal wedding. She arrived in England not knowing a word of English, to marry Frederick, Prince of Wales, the son and designated successor of King George II.

To squelch rumors that the Prince of Wales was about to marry a British noblewoman, the royal family was in a rush to conduct the wedding. Almost immediately upon her arrival in England, Augusta was shoved into a wedding dress, and on May 8th, 1736, she was led up the aisle of the Royal Chapel in Saint James Palace to marry the 29 year old Frederick.

Finding herself in an entirely new environment, and taking part in a ceremony conducted in a language she did not understand, Augusta grew increasingly nervous. As the groom’s mother, Queen Caroline, translated from English into German and whispered it into Augusta’s ear, the bride suddenly vomited all over her wedding gown. As her mother in law lent a hand to wipe the mess off Augusta’s dress, the nervous bride had a second bout of the heaves, and vomited all over the queen.

Married life was just as awkward. The new Princess of Wales continued playing with her dolls, until her relatives finally forced her to stop. Her husband, taking advantage of his wife’s naivety, got Augusta to employ his mistress as her lady of the bedchamber, after convincing the gullible princess that rumors of the affair were fake news.

The Prince of Wales and his parents had a lot of family drama going on, and an unwilling Augusta was frequently dragged into the middle of the mess, taking fire from both sides. She nonetheless performed her expected role in the royal marriage, and gave birth to nine children. However, she never got the hoped for payout of becoming queen consort: her husband died before her father in law, and upon the latter’s death, the crown went to her son, George III.

10 of History’s Worst Marriages
Margaret of Valois and Henry of Navarre. Tatler

A Marriage That Started With a Massacre, and Ended in Annulment

Margaret of Valois (1553 – 1615) was a French queen known both for her licentiousness, and for being the first woman in history to pen her memoirs – a vivid depiction of the turbulent France of her lifetime. She was made even more famous, or perhaps infamous, by Alexander Dumas’ portrayal of her in his historical novel, Queen Margot.

She was born to king Henry II of France and his formidable wife, Catherine di Medici. Growing up, Margaret was quite close to her brother Henry – the future king Henry III, last of the Valois kings. So close as to give rise to rumors that the siblings had an incestuous relationship. Closeness turned into lifelong hatred, however, when she was discovered having an affair with an aristocrat, Henry of Guise. It ended in 1570 with Margaret’s mother and her brother, King Charles IX, beating up Guise and banishing him from court.

There were serious religious tensions at the time between Catholics and Protestants. To ease them in France, Catherine di Medici sought to bring the Catholic Valois closer to their Bourbon relatives, a Protestant branch of the French royal family. Accordingly, Catherine arranged for Margaret to marry her Bourbon relative, the Protestant Henry of Navarre.

The wedding was held at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on August 19th, 1572. Things went wrong from the start when the Protestant groom refused – or was not allowed – to set foot in the Catholic cathedral. So he spent the wedding day outside Notre Dame. Things got worse for religious reconciliation five days later, when the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre began on August 24th. Thousands of Protestants who had travelled to Paris for the wedding were murdered by Catholic mobs. Tens of thousands more Protestants were massacred throughout France in the following days.

Henry of Navarre only survived by promising to convert to Catholicism. He was forced to live in the French court, but managed to escape in 1576. Margaret had nothing to do with the killings, and had done much to save her husband’s life. However, after the massacre and 4 years of captivity, Henry of Navarre was not fond of Catholics, including his wife, by the time he escaped.

Once free, he renounced Catholicism and joined the Protestant military forces. When Margaret’s brother Henry succeeded their brother Charles IX to became king Henry III, her husband became next in the line for the throne, as Henry III had no male heirs. His being a Protestant, however, complicated matters. Soon a 3-way struggle, known as the War of the Three Henrys, erupted between Margaret’s brother king Henry III, her husband, Henry of Navarre, and her former lover, Henry of Guise.

In 1588, king Henry III had Henry of Guise assassinated, along with a brother who was a cardinal. That horrified the public, and led to a collapse of the king’s authority throughout most of France. Henry III was assassinated by a monk in 1589, and Margaret’s husband, Henry of Navarre became king Henry IV of France. The Parisians barred him from the city, however, so to secure the throne, he converted to Catholicism, this time willingly, remarking cynically that “Paris is well worth a Mass“. One of his first acts as king was to arrange an annulment of his marriage to Margaret of Valois.

10 of History’s Worst Marriages
Mary, Queen of Scots, and James Darnley. Unofficial Royalty

A Marriage That Featured a Murder in the First Year, and Ended in a Gunpowder Explosion in the Second

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (1545 – 1567) was the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and king consort of Scotland from 1565 until his death two years later. Darnley had accomplished little of note in his brief life before his violent death at age 22. His single legacy was to impregnate his wife with the future King James VI of Scotland and James I of England, thus giving rise to the Stuart Dynasty.

His wife, Mary Queen of Scots (1542 – 1587) was also his first cousin. Sole surviving child of Scotland’s king James V, Mary’s father died when she was six days old, and she inherited the throne as an infant. She was raised in France while Scotland was ruled by regents, and in 1558, she was married to Dauphin – the French crown prince – who became king Francis II in 1559, only to die within a year.

The widowed Mary returned to Scotland, and in 1565 met her first cousin, Lord Darnley, a handsome and well proportioned young man who captivated her. In addition to the attraction, a marriage made dynastic sense, as it would unite two branches of the Stuart line, and thus strengthen the Scottish royal family. A marriage was swiftly arranged, and Darnley ascended the throne as king consort.

Soon after the wedding, however, Mary discovered that her second husband had been raised a spoiled brat, with an excessive sense of entitlement. Darnley grew enraged when Mary refused to grant him the Crown Matrimonial, which would have allowed him to continue ruling after her death. When his wife got pregnant, instead of being pleased, he fretted that any heir would push him that much further from the throne.

He grew even more displeased soon thereafter, when Mary took the currency with his head on it out of circulation. Darnley eventually focused his rage on Mary’s French secretary, David Rizzio, whom he accused of turning the queen against him, and of being her lover. In March of 1566, Darnley and some sidekicks burst into the queen’s dining room, and stabbed Rizzio to death in the presence of his horrified, pregnant wife.

It was an attempt to shock Mary into miscarrying, and also bend her to his will. She did not miscarry, and gave birth to the future king James in June of 1566. However, she was intimidated into pardoning Rizzio’s murderers. Darnley did not get away with it for long, however. Mary connived in an assassination plot that set off explosives beneath Darnley’s bedroom on February 19th, 1567. He survived the blast, but upon staggering out of the wreckage, he was seized and strangled to death. Mary married his murderer, the Earl of Bothwell, three months later.

10 of History’s Worst Marriages
Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Naomi Clifford

Ellen Turner and the Founder of New Zealand

Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796 – 1862) was a British politician who played a key role in the colonization of Australasia, and is considered by many to be the founder of New Zealand. Before that, however, Wakefield had earned a footnote in history as the criminal defendant in a scandalous case involving the abduction and marriage of a 15 year old wealthy heiress.

Wakefield had been a diplomatic courier at the tail end of the Napoleonic Wars, before eloping with a 17 year-old wealthy heiress in 1816. It netted him a marriage settlement from her father worth about U$7 million in 2018 dollars. However, his wife died soon after childbirth in 1820, and although now wealthy, Wakefield wanted more money to launch a political career. That quest eventually led him in 1827 to Ellen Turner, the only child of a wealthy textile manufacturer.

However, Ellen was 15, and there was zero chance of her father consenting to the marriage. Undaunted, Wakefield hatched a plot with his brother to elope with Ellen, expecting that her parents would eventually relent and respond as his first wife’s parents had. Accordingly, Wakefield sent a carriage to Ellen’s boarding school in Liverpool, with a message to the headmistress stating that Ellen’s mother was dying, and wished to see her daughter immediately.

Ellen was then taken to a hotel in Manchester, where Wakefield told her that her father’s business empire had collapsed, and that Mr. Turner was now a fugitive, on the run from his creditors. He then convinced Ellen that his banker uncle had agreed to release some funds that would save her father, but only on condition that she wed Wakefield, and that her fugitive father had consented to the marriage.

Ellen agreed, so Wakefield took her across the border to Scotland, whose marriage laws were less strict, and they were married by a blacksmith. Eventually Ellen asked to see her father, and Wakefield promised to make it happen, but the meetings always fell through. Eventually, he convinced her that her father had gone to France, and wanted his daughter and her husband to follow him.

In the meantime, Wakefield had written Ellen’s father, informing him of the wedding. He was disappointed in his expectation that Mr. Turner would react as his first wife’s father. Instead, Ellen’s father, who also happened to be High Sheriff of Cheshire, called in favors from the British Foreign Office, who sent a lawyer and a policeman to France, where they found Turner and Ellen in a Calais hotel. Ellen was returned to her father, and Wakefield and his brother were eventually arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. The marriage was eventually annulled by Parliament.

10 of History’s Worst Marriages
The execution of Camila O`Gorman. Revisionistas

Camila O`Gorman and Father Ladislao Gutierrez

Camila O’Gorman (1828 – 1848) was a wealthy nineteenth century Argentinean socialite, and one of the most famous romantic – and tragic- heroines of that country. She carried on a romantic relationship and marriage with a Roman Catholic priest, Father Ladislao Gutierrez, that scandalized the country and ended in tragedy for the lovers.

Born in Buenos Aires, Camila’s cultivated manners, ladylike education, suave beauty, and kindly disposition were at odds with the Argentina of her day, and belonged in a land of peace and beauty. Unfortunately, she lived in a brutalized country, whose dictator, an army general named Juan Manuel de Rosas, spiked town squares with the heads of political opponents.

A pillar of polite society, Camila was a friend of the dictator’s daughter, when she was introduced to a Jesuit priest, Ladislao Guiterrez. Something clicked between socialite and priest, and in 1847, the two began an affair. They eventually fled to a small provincial town, where they posed as a married couple, living as husband and wife, and launching the town’s first school.

The scandal soon took on political tones, when the dictator’s opponents used it as an example of the moral decay under Rosas – a notorious womanizer. Camila and Ladislao were eventually tracked down, kidnapped, and returned to Buenos Aires. Rosas’ daughter pleaded for clemency for her friend, but the dictator replied that the case warranted “a show of my undisputed power, as the moral values and sacred religious norms of a whole society are at stake“.

The dictator himself signed a decree for the execution of the lovers. Accordingly, on August 18th, 1848, Camila O’Gorman and Father Ladislao Gutierrez were executed by a firing squad in a prison town near Buenos Aires. She was twenty years old, and 8 months pregnant. As a last gesture of Christian charity, she was given holy water to drink, so her baby would go to heaven.

10 of History’s Worst Marriages
Andrew Robinson Stoney, appearing before the King`s Bench. All That is Interesting

The Unhappy Countess and England`s Worst Husband

Andrew Robinson Stoney (1747 – 1810) was an Anglo-Irish rake and adventurer – a conman who gained infamy by tricking an unsuspecting noblewoman into a horrific marriage. That marriage, to Mary Bowes, Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne (1749 – 1800), an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II who became known as “The Unhappy Countess” as a result, scandalized England and ended in a riveting divorce case.

Mary was born in London to a wealthy coal baron who died when she was 11, and left her a fortune of about £ million pounds – Paris Hilton type money in those days. It made Mary the wealthiest heiress in Europe, and one of Britain’s most desirable women. Aristocrats wooed her, and she enjoyed and encouraged the attentions, before finally marrying the Earl of Strathmore and Kingmore on her 18th birthday.

The couple had five children, but when the Earl caught tuberculosis, Mary grew frustrated with his increasing debility and lack of sex drive. She started cheating on her husband with a series of lovers, and earned a reputation for licentiousness in the process. When the Earl finally succumbed in 1776, the widowed Mary resumed control of her fortune, and took up with a lover, George Gray. He got her pregnant four times within a year, with Mary aborting each one.

She finally resigned herself to marry Gray after the fourth pregnancy, when she met and was seduced by Andrew Robinson Stoney, a British Army lieutenant who styled himself a “Captain”. In 1777, Stoney wrote scurrilous articles about Mary, and arranged to have them published in a newspaper. He then feigned outrage over the insult to Mary’s honor, and challenged the newspaper’s editor, who was in on the scam, to a duel. In the ensuing fake fight, Stoney pretended to have been “mortally injured”, and appealing to Mary’s romantic side, begged her to grant him his dying wish: her hand in marriage.

Moved, and figuring that the marriage would only last a few hours, Mary agreed to wed Captain Stoney, who was carried down the aisle on a stretcher. Soon after the vows were exchanged and the ceremony concluded, Stoney made a miraculous recovery. In those days, husbands had the right to control their wives’ finances, but Stoney discovered that a prenuptial agreement stood in the way. Undaunted, he forced Mary to revoke the prenuptial and hand control of her fortune over to him.

Stoney then began squandering Mary’s wealth like a drunken sailor on shore leave, and kept her a prisoner in their home. Over the next 8 years, he made his captive wife’s life a living hell, abusing her physically and emotionally, while raping and impregnating her maids. He also brought prostitutes home, carried on numerous consensual affairs, and fathered a brood of illegitimate children in the process.

Mary finally escaped in 1785 and filed for divorce, but Stoney was loathe to give up on his meal ticket. So he tracked Mary down and kidnapped her. He took her to northern England, where he tortured her, and threatened to rape and kill her. He also forced her to ride around the countryside on horseback during an extremely cold winter, hoping she would sicken and die.

She was eventually rescued when a hue and cry was raised, and Stoney was tracked down and arrested. The divorce case, along with the criminal charges against Stoney, resumed, captivating Britain for years. Stoney and his accomplices were eventually convicted of abduction and sentenced to three years imprisonment, and Mary finally got her divorce in 1789.

10 of History’s Worst Marriages
Sada Abe in police custody. Murderpedia

Backing Off a Promise to Marry a Crazy Geisha Costs a Man Dearly

Marriage might end badly, but sometimes refusing to wed could also end in catastrophe. That is what Kichizo Ishida (1894 – 1936), a Japanese businessman and restaurateur with a reputation as a womanizer, discovered. The owner of one of Tokyo’s most successful restaurants, Ishida left the management of his business affairs to his wife, and dedicated himself to skirt-chasing.

In 1936, he began an affair with a recently hired employee, Sada Abe (1905 – 1971), a former Geisha and prostitute. It did not take long after she started her new job before her boss made advances, which she welcomed. The two became infatuated with each other, spending days in marathon sex sessions at hotels, not stopping even when maids came in to tidy up and clean the rooms. At some point, Ishida mentioned something about leaving his wife and marrying Sada, and she took it seriously.

She grew jealous whenever he returned home, and when he failed to follow through on divorcing his wife, Sada started thinking of killing him as a means of keeping him to herself forever. She brandished a knife during a tryst, but he thought it was roleplay and got turned on, which threw Sada off. Later, she again tried to murder him, this time by strangling him with a Geisha belt during sex. That turned him on even more, and he begged her to continue, which again threw her off.

When Ishida finally fell asleep, Sada steeled herself, and strangled him to death with her Geisha belt. She then castrated him, carved her name on his arms, and used the blood to write on his leg “Sada and Ishida Kichizo are alone“, and “Sada and Kichizo together” on the bed sheets, before fleeing. When news of the murder and mutilation broke, and that a “sexually and criminally dangerous woman was on the loose“, Japanese men were gripped with what became known as “Sada Abe Panic”.

Police eventually arrested Sada, at which point they discovered Ishida’s genitals in her purse. When questioned why she was running around with his penis and testicles, Sada replied “Because I couldn’t take his head or body with me. I wanted to take the part of him that brought back to me the most vivid memories“. She was tried and convicted, and served 5 years in prison before being released. She went on to write an autobiography, and lived until 1971.

10 of History’s Worst Marriages
Jerry Lee Lewis and his child bride. Today I Found Out

Showbiz`s Most Disastrous Marriage

Few marriages in the history of Showbiz have been as catastrophic as that of Jerry Lee Lewis (1935 – ) and Myra Gale Brown. Born and raised in Louisiana, Lewis was an early pioneer of rock and roll, who began recording in 1956. The following year, he became world famous for his hit There’s a Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. Soon thereafter came his signature song, the insta-classic Great Balls of Fire, one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Songs.

By then, Lewis had already gone through two failed marriages. He divorced his second wife to wed for a third time, after falling head over heels in love with Myra Gale Brown. One hiccup was that she was his cousin, although once removed. A bigger hiccup is that she was 13 year old. She still believed in Santa Claus on her wedding night.

Marrying one’s cousin, or a 13 year old girl, was not commonplace in Louisiana back then, but nor was it considered extreme. So given his upbringing, Lewis did not think Myra’s age, or her blood relation, was a big deal. To the extent he was worried about scandal, it had more to with the timing of the wedding: his third marriage had been performed before finalizing the divorce from his second wife.

Lewis was warned not to take his child bride with him on his first European tour, but he ignored the warning. He should have listened. Arriving in Britain in May of 1958, he introduced Myra to reporters as his wife, but claimed she was 15 – still shockingly young. Myra made it worse by remarking that 15 was not too young to marry, because where she came from: “You can marry at 10, if you can find a husband“.

Once the press on both sides of the Atlantic discovered Myra’s true age, the backlash was fierce. The British press was particularly vicious, labeling Lewis a “baby snatcher” and “cradle robber”, urging a boycott of his concerts, and calling for his deportation as a child molester. Tour dates were cancelled, and Lewis and Myra were forced to flee back to the US.

When their plane landed in New York, the US press was no kinder than the British. Lewis had experienced a meteoric rise, and at the peak of his career, he rivaled Elvis. It crashed and burned spectacularly, and his personal appearance fees dropped from the then princely sum of $10,000 a night, to $250. He reinvented himself a decade later as a country singer, performing for audiences less offended by performers wedding child brides who also happened to be blood relatives.

10 of History’s Worst Marriages
Kauko Higa. Imgur

Marrying `The Queen Bee of Anatahan` Was Deadly

Kazuko Higa, whom the Japan Times described as “a diminutive, lantern-jawed woman who could have charitably been called handsome“, did not look anything like Hollywood’s image of a femme fatale. Yet, fate and the vagaries of WW2 cast her into that role in real life, and forced her into a series of marriages that always ended up catastrophically – especially for the husband.

It began in June of 1944, when American airplanes sank a small Japanese convoy off Anatahan, a remote Marianas island 75 miles from Saipan. 36 sailors and soldiers swam to Anatahan. There, they encountered the island’s sole occupants, a plantation owner named Kikuchiro Higa, and his wife Kazuko. The demographics of 37 men to 1 woman would spell trouble.

While the survivors got settled in, assisted by the Higas, the war went on. Later in 1944, the US invaded the Marianas, seizing the main islands and bypassing the smaller ones such as Anatahan. The castaways on that island, cut off from communications with their government and chain of command, were isolated from the outside world.

Life was no picnic for the Japanese in the resources-poor Anatahan, and the castaways were forced to survive on coconuts, lizards, bats, insects, taro, wild sugar cane, and whatever else they could find. Their lot was improved when a B-29 bomber crashed on the island, and the castaways scavenged the wreckage to fashion the plane’s metal into useful items, such as knives, pots, and roofs for their huts.

However, competition for the favors of the island’s sole female soon led to a Lord of the Flies dynamics. The first victim was Kazuko’s husband, Kikuchiro Higa, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances soon after the castaways arrived. So she married one of the castaways for protection from the others. However, one of the other castaways shot and killed her new husband, so Kazuko married him, only for the murderous groom to have his own throat slit soon thereafter by another aspiring beau.

Kazuko became a full blown femme fatale, transferring her affections between a series of husbands, each of whom ended up violently chased off, or murdered, by some of the other frustrated men. Things got worse when the castaways discovered how to ferment coconut wine, then spent days on end drinking themselves into a stupor or into alcoholic rages. By 1951, as the castaways fought over Kazuko, there had been 12 murders, and too many fights to count. One aspirant had been stabbed on thirteen separate occasions by jealous rivals, yet resumed wooing Kazuko soon as he healed from each attempted murder.

In the outside world, the war had ended in 1945. When somebody remembered reports of the Japanese castaways, American authorities airdropped leaflets on Anatahan, informing its Japanese that the war was over. The castaways viewed the leaflets as fake news, however, and refused to believe that Japan could have surrendered. As they were isolated and posed no threat, it was not worth the trouble to root them out. So American authorities coninued dropping leaflets every now and then, repeating that the war was over and directing the Japanese to surrender. The castaways continued to dismiss that as fake news.

Finally, in 1950, Kazuko spotted and flagged down a passing US vessel, and asked to be taken off the island. That was when US authorities discovered that the castaways did not believe that the war was over. So the holdouts’ families were contacted, and they wrote letters to their relatives, letting them know that the war had, indeed, ended years earlier. That an official message from the Japanese government finally did the trick.

The castaways surrendered in 1951, and returned to Japan, where their story became a sensation. Kazuko Higa was nicknamed “The Queen Bee of Anatahan” by the Japanese press, and found temporary fame selling her story to newspapers and recounting it to packed theaters. When her fifteen minutes were over, however, and the public lost interest, she fell into prostitution and abject poverty. She died at age 51, while working as a garbage collector.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Sources & Further Reading

All That is Interesting – Andrew Robinson Stoney May Have Been England’s Worst Husband, Ever

Biography – Jerry Lee Lewis

Encyclopedia Britannica – Margaret of Valois, Queen Consort of Navarre

Headstuff – Abe Sada, Victim and Killer

History Ireland – Camila O’Gorman, a Rose Among the Thorns

Japan Times, May 3rd, 2014 – A Homage to the ‘Queen of Anatahan’

New York Times, February 13th, 2005 – Heloise & Abelard: Love Hurts

Ranker – The 10 Cruelest, Most Unfair Weddings in the History of Western Culture

Tatler, February 14th, 2017 – The 7 Worst Weddings in History and Literature

Telegraph, The, March 1st, 2010 – Letter Surfaces Telling How Queen’s Ancestor Escaped the Marriage From Hell

Unofficial Royalty – Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, Princess of Wales

Wikipedia – Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

Wikipedia – Shrigley Abduction

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