7. When Peter Abelard Had an Affair With His Student Heloise, Her Uncle Castrated Him
In 1115, the philosopher and teacher Peter Abelard met Heloise d’Argenteuil, the niece of one of his contemporaries, Canon Fulbert of Notre Dame. In her late teens to early twenties, Heloise was nearly twenty years younger than Abelard, with a keen intelligence that intrigued him. Convincing Fulbert to hire him as Heloise’s live-in tutor, Abelard had an affair with Heloise. When she became pregnant, the couple married in secret to protect Abelard’s career. When Fulbert announced the marriage, the couple denied it, much to the canon’s embarrassment. To protect her from Fulbert, Abelard sent Heloise to a convent.
The move convinced Fulbert that Abelard abandoned Heloise. He hired men to break into Abelard’s rooms and castrate him. Humiliated, Abelard became a monk, devoting the rest of his life to education and scripture. Persuaded by her husband to take holy orders, Heloise became a well-respected prioress. The couple did not speak for many years, and he publicly assumed responsibility for their relationship. They never saw each other again, exchanging letters that would remain relatively unknown until the seventeenth century. After his death in 1142, Heloise tended Abelard’s grave until she died in 1163.
6. Juana the Mad Refused to Bury Her Adulterous Husband Philip the Handsome
When she was sixteen years old, the Infanta of Spain, Juana, married Philip of Flanders in October 1496. The daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the beautiful and intelligent Juana fell passionately in love with her husband. Philip did not return her affections, and his infidelity threw Juana into violent, jealous rages. Juana inherited the throne of Castile when her mother died in 1504, and Philip spread exaggerated rumors of her behavior to label her mentally unfit. Claiming the throne of Castile for himself, he battled with his father-in-law over Juana’s – and his – right to rule.
The struggle over her territory – as stories of her mental state became public knowledge – earned her the nickname “Juana the Mad.” Despite their stormy relationship, Juana remained devoted to Philip. When he died of typhoid fever in 1506, she clung to his body, refusing to let anyone near him. Juana kept Philip’s coffin with her, reportedly having dinner with it as if he was still alive. In light of her behavior, Ferdinand and her son Holy Roman Emperor Charles V kept her under house arrest, ruling in her name until she died in April 1555.
5. In Her Diary, Renia Speigel Documented Her Love for Zygmunt Schwarzer Before the Nazis Executed Her
When Renia Speigel was 18 years old, the Nazis invaded Poland. For three years, she kept a diary of her experiences – living in the Polish ghetto, going into hiding, and falling in love. In April 1939, she fell in love with a fellow student, Zygmunt Schwarzer, and Renia documented their love story under Nazi occupation. The couple consummated their relationship by 1942, and Zygmunt escaped the ghetto with Renia and her sister. A Christian family offered to hide Renia’s sister, and Zygmunt placed his beloved with his parents, who were hiding in his uncle’s attic.
Zygmunt’s uncle was a Judenrat, Jews who reported other Jews in hiding and supervised the ghetto so they wouldn’t have to live there. Although no one knows whether or not Zygmunt’s uncle turned them in, the Nazis found Renia and Zygmunt’s parents and executed them on July 30, 1942. When Zygmunt arrived the following day, he discovered the fate of his loved ones. He added his own passage as the final entry to her diary, lamenting, “…My life is done. All I can hear are shots, shots… Shots! My dearest Renia, the last chapter of your diary is complete.”
4. Pedro I of Portugal’s Father Murdered His Pregnant Mistress Ines de Castro
In 1340, Prince Pedro of Portugal married Princess Constance of Castile to solidify the alliance between their two countries. Unfortunately, Pedro only had eyes for his wife’s lady-in-waiting, Ines de Castro. Pedro and Ines had a lengthy affair, which resulted in the birth of three children. The couple never hid their relationship, and it caused a scandal at the Portuguese court. Pedro’s father King Alfonso banished Ines to a monastery, but the lovestruck prince continued to see her in secret. When Constance died in 1345, Pedro made Ines the center of his life.
For ten years, Pedro and Ines lived together as husband and wife. King Alfonso refused to permit them to marry: he arranged other dynastic marriages for his son, who rejected every one. Realizing Pedro would never give up his mistress, Alfonso sent assassins to murder Ines. When they found her, they decapitated her in front of one of her children. The enraged Pedro declared war on his father, but neither Alfonso nor Pedro claimed victory. When Pedro ascended the throne in 1357, he exacted his revenge. He tried and executed Ines’ assassins by ripping their hearts from their bodies.
3. A Bomb Detonated in Civil Rights Activists’ Harry Tyson Moore and Harriette Simms Moore’s Living Room On Their 25th Wedding Anniversary
Their love story led to a life of public service, but their violent deaths made history as the first targeted assassinations of the American Civil Rights Movement. In 1925, Harry Tyson Moore and Harriette Simms Moore met when Harry was an elementary school teacher, and Harriette worked for an insurance company. Within a year, the couple married, and they had two daughters together. In 1934, the Moores joined the first chapter of the NAACP in Brevard County, Florida. In their work, they pushed for equal pay for African-American teachers.
By 1941, Harry became president of the Florida NAACP, bringing the couple’s activism to the state-wide level. He initially limited his involvement to sending letters to government officials who supported their work. When Harry started investigating crimes against the African-American population, he endured attacks by the police. On Christmas Day, 1951 – the couple’s twenty-fifth wedding anniversary – an unknown assailant threw a bomb into their bedroom as the couple slept. Harry died immediately, and Harriette lingered for nine days before she passed away. Their murders remain unsolved, but investigators suspected Ku Klux Klan involvement.
2. The Nazis Executed Edward Galinski and Mala Zimetbaum After Their Failed Escape Attempt From Auschwitz
The Holocaust doesn’t seem like the proper setting for a love story, but Edward Galinski and Mala Zimetbaum fell in love during their imprisonment at Auschwitz-Birkenau. With the help of a sympathetic guard, Edward and Mala walked out of Auschwitz together, disguised as an SS guard transporting a prisoner. Their short-lived freedom ended when a Nazi border patrol arrested them as they tried to cross into Slokavia. Instead of killing them on sight, the Germans returned the fugitives to the death camp. Throughout their torture, neither Edward nor Mala revealed who helped them escape.
The guards held the couple in different cells on the same block, and Edward communicated with Mala by whistling a love song out of his window. During his imprisonment, he carved her image on the wall, with the date they were arrested: July 6, 1944. On September 15, 1944, the Nazis condemned Edward and Mala to separate public executions – Edward in front of the men’s camp and Mala in front of the women’s camp. The defiant couple had other plans: she slit her wrists before her execution, and he kicked away the bench under his feet to hang himself.
1. 19th Century Argentinian Dictator General Juan Manuel de Rosas Executed Wealthy Socialite and Family Friend Camila O’Gorman For Eloping with a Priest
In the nineteenth century, civil war plagued Argentina, and the dictator General Juan Manuel de Rosas ruled with an iron fist. His daughter Manuelita befriended Camila O’Gorman, the descendant of Irish immigrants to the country. In 1847, Camila’s brother introduced her to his friend from seminary school, Father Ladislao Gutierrez. An outspoken critic of the dictator’s totalitarian rule, the young priest befriended Camila. The couple soon fell in love. Assuming new identities, Camila and Ladislao eloped, settling in Goya, in northeastern Argentina. To prevent further scandal, Camila’s father reported to Rosas that Ladislao raped and kidnapped Camila.
When a family friend recognized Camila, he reported her true identity to the governor of Goya. Unwilling to defy Rosas’ orders, the government deported the lovers to Santos Lugares. The pregnant Camila refused to betray Ladislao, claiming she ran away with him willingly. Ignoring the pleas of his daughter Manuelita, Rosas condemned the couple, disregarding the law that delayed death sentences for pregnant women. The dictator executed Camila and Ladislao by firing squad on August 18, 1848. The heinous murders outraged the nation, and Rosas eventually lost his hold over the country.
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