History Shows the Dark Side of Love

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Cleopatra and Marc Antony were like the nonfiction version of Romeo and Juliet.

Jesten Richardson, Assistant Editor

Love is oftentimes portrayed as a beautiful, pure thing. Love is what gives blossom to new life. Love is what gets people through hardships. Love is what saves people from themselves. But, although there are many instances that show love in a good light, history also provides examples of a darker side to love. Many historical figures were, in fact, destroyed by their love for someone. People may be more familiar with these true-life tragedies and the events that caused them than they would think, and it may be beneficial for those people to learn from them.
1. Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas- Wilde is known mostly for his classic novel “The Picture of Dorian Grey” and his literary merits. What not everyone knows is that, though Wilde had a wife and two sons, he had an affair with a much younger person. Men having affairs has never been, and probably will never be that surprising, yet there was a great surprise in the fact that the object of Wilde’s attentions was Lord Alfred Douglas (“Bosie”), a person that was of higher social standing, more than a decade his junior and a man. The relationship was a close-guarded secret, yet there were several instances of blackmail and matters were made no better by Bosie who, as described by prodigious author Laura Lee, “has tantrums, he flatters, he is vain and easily hurt, he begs to be loved and appreciated as much as he appreciates his own worth.” (Story and Self). It is suggested by some that Bosie’s attitude was the reason that Wilde was forced to spend several years in prison under the charge of “gross indecency”, yet the fact is that the charge occurred only after Wilde attempted to sue his lover’s father on charges of libel concerning his sexual orientation. It is unclear who was to blame for the pair’s misery, but neither seems to have had a happy ending as a result of their love.
For further information on this story: history.com; biography.com; http://flavorwire.com/415737/5-of-the-most-scandalous-affairs-in-literary-history; https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/07/15/oscar-wilde-love-letters-bosie/

2. Ines de Castro and King Peter “Pedro” I- This historic Portuguese love story centers around a prince and one of his wife’s ladies-in-waiting. Prince Pedro had never loved Princess Constanca (Constance), but he had very strong feelings for her cousin, a noblewoman that he was not permitted to be with. Their affair was met by deep scrutiny, and the King had her exiled so as to avoid any major trouble; however, the King’s plan did not work, as the Prince was still madly in love with her. The King’s feeling about killing Ines change with the retelling of the story, yet all sources are certain that he had her killed. When the prince discovered his father’s actions, he immediately flew into a fury that could only be reconciled by a war and his mother’s reasoning. When Pedro ascended the throne, he hunted down the killers of his lover and had their hearts ripped out of their bodies. He also is said to have declared Ines his rightful queen, and to have made his court bow before her and kiss her probably decomposing hand.
For further information on this story: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Ines-de-Castro; http://www.theroyalarticles.com/articles/71/1/Ines-de-Castro-The-Queen-Who-Was-Crowned-After-Death/Page1.html

3. Heloise and Abelard- Heloise and her lover, Peter Abelard, were an unlikely and scandalous pair in 12th century France, yet they were both things on their own as well. Heloise was a very intelligent woman that would not allow herself to be chained down by her sex, while Abelard was a philosopher and teacher that challenged the views of his time. It was because of her quest for knowledge that Heloise found her Abelard.  This man, whom was 20 years her senior, became her tutor and lover all in one. It is said that the pair was not discovered until Heloise became pregnant with her son and fled with Abelard to his hometown. Quite a while after after they were discovered, and married with the permission of her uncle, for a reason that conflicts in most accounts, her uncle/caretaker became so enraged that he had men castrate Abelard. The lovers’ lives after the castration were a downward spiral, as both gave up their child and devoted their lives to the church in hope of securing safety. Correspondence was kept up, but misery was the companion of the pair more often than happiness.
For further information on this story: abelardandheloise.com; http://www.gd-frontiers.net/spip.php?article31

4. Prince Rudolf and Mary Vetsera- Baroness Mary Vetsera was a teen that happened to fall helplessly in love with the crown prince of Austria, despite him already being married to a princess of Belgium. The Prince was certainly no unwilling person, and it has been said that he took advantage of her youth and lack of experience with the world by stroking her ego and shooting her loving smiles. What Mary did not know, and one of the sole facts that history can agree on, was that she was not the sole mistress that he kept on a string: Rupolf was also in a relationship with a woman named Mitzi Caspar. Many sources agree that it was in fact Mitzi that first heard of his suicide pact for himself and whichever lover would agree, and that turned it down in horror. Unfortunately for Mary, her youth and her love, among other things, aided Prince Rudolf in convincing her that the only way they could truly be together was in death. Though there are those that still try to argue the happenings of The Mayerling Incident, as it would soon come to be called, and the innocence of Prince Rudolf , it is fact that the prince and Mary’s bodies were found at the prince’s hunting lodge in Mayerling, Austria, and the circumstances surrounding the clean-up were odd. The motives and the whole story of Mayerling may never be known, but the elaborate, rushed cover up of the royal family, seems to show a real possibility that the responsibility for the tragedy belongs to Rudolf.
For more information on this story: http://www.habsburger.net/en/chapter/csi-mayerling-how-did-crown-prince-really-die; http://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1153&context=constructing;
http://www.heritage-history.com/?c=read&author=upton&book=elizabeth&story=death; http://www.britannica.com/biography/Rudolf-Archduke-and-Crown-Prince-of-Austria

5. Cleopatra and Marc Antony- Cleopatra was a pharaoh noted for her beauty, power and attraction to scandal. This combination of traits often lead men to have an attraction to her, so there is little surprise to be found in the fact she fell into a relationship with a Roman (Marc Antony) fairly quickly after her relationship ended with another (Julius Caesar). The pair was seemingly unstoppable for a time, but the powerful Octavion was a formidable opponent, and the ensuing battle was a hard one. In some stories Cleopatra sent word that she was dead to the battlefield so as to protect her and their children, and Marc Antony, not knowing this information was meant for the other side, was taken to grief and committed suicide. In other stories, the suicide was because he knew that he could not defeat Octavian’s forces. Either way, it is known that he committed suicide. It is said that Cleopatra’s suicide by snake poison came promptly after, though it is unclear whether that is a fact.
For more information on this story: http://www.biography.com/people/groups/mark-antony-and-cleopatra; http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/cleopatra.htm; http://www.ancient.eu/article/197/