10 of History's Most Torrid Love Affairs


Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

Henry VIII was instantly smitten with Anne Boleyn. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Henry VIII was instantly smitten with Anne Boleyn. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Henry VIII is famous for many things, one of which is the fact that he had six wives. And even though he had wife No. 2, Anne Boleyn, beheaded, she's said to have been his favorite. Henry had been married to Catherine of Aragon for 16 years when he caught a glimpse of Anne around 1525. Instantly smitten, he begged her to become his mistress. Despite his power, Anne refused. She wanted to be queen or nothing. If he'd marry her, she said, she'd provide him with the male heir he coveted [source: Royal Paper Dolls].

Seven years later, Anne and Henry were both still holding out. But now Anne worried Henry would eventually look elsewhere, so she had a dalliance with the king and became pregnant. In 1533, he secretly married her, declared himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England -- a new church that allowed divorce -- and divorced Catherine. The two should have lived happily ever after, but it was not to be [source: Royal Paper Dolls].

Anne delivered a baby girl, not the promised boy, then had a string of miscarriages, much to Henry's chagrin. The two began to quarrel. Henry had always been attracted to Anne because she was different than most women -- assertive, lively and smart. Now these qualities angered him. He fell in love with another woman, Jane Seymour, then manufactured a story about Anne committing adultery so that in 1536, he had grounds to have her head lopped off. Although Henry eventually did fall out of love with Anne, the hold she had had on such a powerful, headstrong man -- and for such a long time -- is considered incredible [source: Royal Paper Dolls].