Home > European History > 3 of History’s Bad Boy Breakups

Personally, I’ve never understood women who are attracted to the “bad boys.” You know the ones I’m talking about. Handsome and confident, they often come with killer charm and a smile that weakens your knees. Couple that with money or power and you are destined for a nasty breakup and a terrible broken heart.

While these notorious bad boy breakups might not rise to level of  the epic Brangelina split of 2016, they know doubt caused more than a little upheaval in their day.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII

King Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn  Ah, the classic love triangle. You know from the start this won’t end well for someone. Perhaps the poster boy for bad breakups, Henry became king of England in 1509 and shortly thereafter married Catherine of Aragon, the widow of his older brother, Arthur. Although Catherine had born him a daughter, Mary, Henry grew unhappy that Catherine hadn’t provided him with a male heir. His fancy turned toward the younger sister of one his mistresses, Anne Boleyn. Determined to marry Boleyn, Henry asked Pope Clement VII for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Despite the Pope’s refusal, Henry divorced Catherine and married Anne in 1533. Anne gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, later that year. Eventually she, too, fell out of favor with the king as she was unable to produce a son from their union. In 1536, Anne was found guilty on fabricated charges of treason and beheaded. Henry’s quest for a son didn’t end there as he married four more times: Jane Seymour, who died shortly after giving birth to a son, Edward VI; Anne of Cleves, whose marriage to Henry was annulled so he could wed again; Catherine Howard, who was beheaded on bogus charges of treason and adultery; and Catherine Parr, who avoided the fate of her predecessors and managed to stay married to the king until his death in 1547.

Lord Bryon and Lady Caroline Lamb

Lord Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb  In 1812, famed poet Goerge Gordon Byron, skyrocketed to celebrity status among England’s aristocratic class with the success of his poem, “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.” That same year he began a tumultuous affair with Lady Caroline Lamb, the wife of Britain’s future prime minister, William Lamb. Eventually Bryon broke off the scandalous relationship with the woman he once referred to as “the cleverest, most agreeable, absurd, amiable, perplexing, dangerous, fascinating little being that lives.” However, Lady Lamb didn’t disappear quietly. Desperate for Byron’s attention, she stabbed herself  hoping to convince the poet she would rather die than live without him. Unable to convince Lord Byron to reignite their affair, she publicly burned Byron in effigy and spread vicious rumors that he was having an affair with his half-sister, Augusta. Bryon’s reputation as a love ’em and leave ’em bad boy only worsened when Augusta gave birth to a child in 1814 that all of British aristocracy believed Bryon had fathered. In order to repair his reputation and restore his failing financial accounts, he married William Lamb’s cousin, Annabella Milbanke. The marriage was brief and by all accounts disastrous as Bryon’s roving eye did not settle down following his nuptials. Bryon eventually left England permanently. As for Lady Lamb, she published a novel, Glenarvon, which was loosely based on her tempestuous, scandal-laced relationship with Byron whom she described as “mad, bad and dangerous to know.”

The Divorce of Napoleon and Josephine

Napoleon and Josephine  In 1796, a young French army officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, married Josephine de Beauharnais, a widow and mother of two who was six years his elder. At first, Bonaparte wrote impassioned love letters to Josephine while away on military campaigns but eventually the two grew distant and both had numerous affairs. They managed to put their difference aside and in 1804, Napoleon and Josephine became the original power couple when Napoleon was crowned Emperor of France. However in 1809, Napoleon informed his Empress that he was divorcing her because she had failed to produce a male heir. According to witnesses, Josephine responded with blood-curdling screams. This had no effect on Bonaparte who had the marriage annulled and later married an Austrian archduchess. Apparently his former wife was never far from his thoughts. Upon Napoleon’s death in 1821 his final word was said to be, “Josephine.”

History’s casanova’s prove to me that I made the right choice pursuing a man with an honorable heart and a steady eye. Yet many women can’t help the pull toward the untamable bad boy they hope to reform.

How about you? Have you ever been attracted to a bad boy?