Thursday, August 2, 2012

Some of the Greatest Love Stories in History

by Philippa Jane Keyworth

I am rather nervous. I am sat at the end of the dining table in an empty room, my laptop staring back at me and I find I am a little reluctant to touch the keys. I was asked to write a blog for the Historical Author blog and being as I read it regularly, I know the standards and knowledge of the other contributors. With that in mind, I apologise unreservedly for anything I say which is incorrect.

I was so excited to be asked to blog and immediately thought of hundreds of things, well, okay, maybe five, which I could write about. I trawled the archives of the blog however, and found many of my potential titles had already been blogged about (and far better than I could have done I hasten to add!).

So, as I had my hands stuck in a bowl of frothy washing-up bubbles, I was surprised when I suddenly thought of what I would really like to write about. Yes, it’s true, a menial task such as washing up can really get your brain to thinking!

I want to blog about love.

I can hear the groans and whispered words of anguish already. The questions of, why would someone write about that? Again with the soppy, "Come on!"

Well, the thing is, there is a lot of really quite pants stuff going on in the world today: recession, job cuts, drug and alcohol abuse, rape, starvation, war and corruption to name a few. I expect even reading that list sent whatever small smile you had on your face firmly marching away.

The reason I want to blog about love in history is because sometimes you just need something to remind you that there is good in this world. Of course, the fact that I am hopelessly soppy and write Regency Romances has nothing to do with it. Whatsoever. At all.

ANYWAY, when thinking of love stories to recount I came up with three.

To start with, and probably quite surprisingly, I want to mention King Henry VII. He is known to most as a King suffering from immense avarice who was calculating and downright clever in his dealings with a fractious kingdom.

Most of that is true to some extent.  However, when I think of him, I still remember so clearly when I was sat in my history lesson at A-Level and learned Henry had married Elizabeth of York, a sworn enemy of his own house of Lancaster.

After being married for seventeen years Elizabeth died. Henry was recounted to have mourned her death very deeply, locking himself away and commanding no one to enter. This King, who was resented for his greed, actually gave Elizabeth a splendid funeral, sparing no expense. He was a King who had brought a kingdom reluctantly under his close control, a man who was calculating, methodical and cold, too cold you would think to love, and yet he grieved the loss of a Queen consort, a beloved wife and a true companion. I believe he really had loved her.

Next, Henrietta Maria and Charles I.

Now they are a couple which I have hitherto overlooked, but upon chatting to a friend who mentioned them, I decided to do a little research.

I found out quite a real and beautiful love story had existed between the two. Being a political match they did not exactly start married life seeing eye-to-eye and I mean that quite literally. They were married by proxy in May 1625 and then again in person in June 1625.

Yet, as with most of the love stories we cherish, the initial dislike gradually dissipated. The assassination of the King’s closest confidant, the Duke of Buckingham, did help the King’s relationship with his wife - morbid I know, but true.

The death of Buckingham paved the way for Henrietta to take Buckingham’s place. She slowly became the King’s confidant and friend and the seriousness of what they discussed was often lightened by his wife who, being a humorous woman, regularly played jokes on him.

Finally, most obviously, I want to talk about Victoria and Albert.

I have to be frank, I don’t know a great deal about the Victorians.  But what I do know is that Victoria and Albert were deeply in love. Married for 21 years to each other, they portrayed a couple with immense responsibilities who worked together throughout their lifetimes even having office desks facing each other!

Again, we saw a grieving monarch after the death of Albert. Victoria was so heart-broken at his death that she had all the railings and lampposts throughout London painted black in mourning for him. An entire city dedicated to remembering his loss, her loss, her love.

I hope reading this blog has given you a sense of hope. It can be easy, when studying history, to taint all of what has happened throughout humanity's existence with an evilness. It’s true, there have been atrocities uncountable and which should not be belittled or forgotten. Alongside those atrocities, I just wanted to point out, there was love and hope and happiness.

My wish is for this post to make others a little bit happier. I hope it worked.

'If you want to keep up with Philippa and her book 'The Widow's Redeemer' coming out later in 2012 here are her contact details:

Twitter: @PJKeyworth


  1. Great blog. Thanks for reminding us, Philippa. There are so many wonderful historical love stories.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, I know it's not as historically heavy but I thought it's light-hearted enough to put a smile on people's faces :-)

      Thanks for sharing it too Maggi.

      PJK x

  2. Replies
    1. Good - mission accomplished :-)

  3. Replies
    1. You're welcome - I enjoyed writing it!

  4. A Magnificent Obsession by Helen Rappaport is very enlightening about the obsessive nature of Victoria's love for Albert. Not an entirely flattering portrait...

    1. Sounds very interesting - I'll have to look it up - Thank you. PJK x

  5. Great article! We do need to focus on the good in this world, and love is the greatest good of all.

  6. Lovely post, and don't forget Richard II and Anne of Bohemia, those royals were sometimes monsters in politics but they were human too - sometimes!

    1. Oh, I haven't read about them, I'll have to soon, thanks for the heads-up! PJK x


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