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If I asked the question, “Who are some of the greatest couples in history?,” I would get a variety of answers ranging from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to Romeo and Juliet. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a self-professed hopeless romantic and believe fully in the concept of “love at first sight”; but if asked if I think Bella Swan and Edward Cullen are classic examples of eternal and “undying” love (in their case, literally), I’d shake my head, grab my oversized box of chocolates and give you the following list of historically famous couples.
1. John and Abigail Adams
Mr. and Mrs. Adams, who were married for 54 years, were arguably the first power couple to ever grace this fine country of ours. John Adams became the second president of the United States and while Abigail acted as First Lady she was an avid supporter of African-American and women’s rights. Throughout their courtship and marriage, over 1,100 love letters were exchanged between them, filled with both intellectual conversation and casual flirting. You’ve got to keep the marriage interesting somehow, right?
2. Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal
If you’re like many people who spent their history classes sleeping and creating enough saliva to cause a school-wide flood, you probably don’t know that Shah Jahan was the Indian emperor who ordered the construction of the Taj Mahal in India. Jahan’s favorite wife (out of three) died giving birth to their 14th child. Distraught after the loss of his beloved, the Indian emperor commissioned the construction of the Taj Mahal as a tomb for his wife. You think that giving your significant other a stuffed bear on Valentine’s Day proves your eternal love? Try building an international monument.
3. Major Sullivan and Sarah Ballou
WARNING: This one is a real tear-jerker. Major Sullivan Ballou was a soldier fighting for the Union Army during the Civil War. Soon after the war began, he was preparing to move to Virginia when he decided to write a letter to his wife. Not that penning a letter back then was uncommon (no cellphones or social media unfortunately), however, this note is unique in that it contains some of the most beautiful yet heart-breaking language of all time. Here is a small example: “…never forget how much I love you, nor that, when my last breath escapes me on the battle-field, it will whisper your name.” Major Ballou died in the Battle of Manassas one week after writing the letter. Do I need to continue?
4. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
Before Will and Kate there was Vicky and Bert. Queen Victoria’s cleverly arranged, but passionate, marriage with her foreign husband, Prince Albert, is one that the history books love to remember. Here’s a twist: Victoria actually proposed to her future hubby because according to British law at the time, Albert was incapable of proposing to her because she was queen. Nevertheless, Victoria knew a good thing when she saw it and proposed to Albert five days after meeting him at Windsor Palace. After Prince Albert died, Victoria stayed in mourning for the rest of her long reign, refusing to wear anything but black.
5. Horace Greasley and Rosa Rauchbach
You think that driving 20 miles to see your sweetheart is a trek? Try breaking out of a Nazi prison camp during World War II, which is exactly what Horace Greasley, a British soldier captured and imprisoned in 1940, did. Greasley met his lady love, Rosa Rauchbach, while in prison where she worked as a translator. After Horace was transferred to a new camp, he began breaking out of prison up to four times a week, walking the distance of 40 miles just to see her. Both survived the war and attempted to stay in contact, but Rosa tragically died in childbirth shortly after the war ended.
6. Johnny Cash and June Carter
Here’s a local, but equally famous love story for y’all. Johnny and June were both country stars and had both been married to other people when they met. After working working on a few songs together, the chemistry and attraction between the two was undeniable. A year after initially meeting, Cash and Carter were married in 1968. Though Cash struggled for years with substance and drug abuse, June stayed by his side, offering constant support and care. Johnny and June’s love affair is still to this day one of country music’s most beloved and admired.