10 of History's Most Torrid Love Affairs

Catherine the Great and Grigory Potemkin
Catherine the Great was never the same after Potemkin died. Archive Photos/Getty Images

Time: 1762. Place: Russia. Ruling the country was Czar Peter III. At his side was his wife, Catherine the Great. Catherine was smart and ambitious. Peter wasn't sharp at all; he was incompetent and ineffectual. After her husband was in power just one year, she had him overthrown and killed so she could become empress [source: Montefiore]. While her husband was being murdered, Catherine was under the protection of one Grigory Potemkin, a soldier. Catherine immediately was smitten by Potemkin, despite the fact the he was overweight, rather pompous and missing an eye. The two became lovers [source: Boykin].

Catherine was named empress of Russia shortly after Peter was killed, and did an expert job ruling the country. Over the next few years, she rewarded Potemkin by having him declared a Russian statesman, count and commander of her armies. Although the two split in 1776 and Catherine had numerous other affairs, Potemkin was her true love. When he died, Catherine fell into a deep depression. Although she eventually recovered, historians say she was never quite the same [source: Boykin].