Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet may be the most tragic love story that you can think of when it comes to historic romances, but these real-life tales of love and despair may cause you to rethink your opinion on the tale of the two star-crossed lovers. Falling in love is the easy part, maintaining the relationship can be a little more difficult and it is even harder to stay in love when the entire world seems to be against you. Here is a look at what several couples from the past had to face many years ago.
Robert Digby and Claire Dessenne
In August of 1914, Robert Digby and several other British and Irish soldiers were separated from their unit and found themselves behind enemy lines. The soldiers were badly wounded and all alone. So they decided to take refuge in the French village of Villeret. That is where Robert Digby met and fell in love with a farmer’s daughter named Claire Dessenne.
The villagers hid the soldiers from the Germans and brought them food, disguised them as locals and taught them French. They accepted the British and Irish soldiers as their very own. Three of the soldiers managed to escape to England. Digby was one of the four who stayed behind.
There is very little know about exactly what happened, but the remaining soldiers were likely betrayed by one of the villagers, who may have been afraid of being executed for providing shelter to the Brits. The four soldiers were eventually captured and executed by a firing squad. Robert and Claire’s daughter, Helene, was only six months old at the time.
Johann Struensee and Caroline Mathilde
It was in 1771 when a fake Danish kroner wore a design that looked suspiciously like a part of the female anatomy. It is a tale good enough for a Game of Thrones storyline. His clothing of choice was in reference to Queen Caroline Mathilde and her lover, Johann Friedrich Struensee, who was the king’s physician. With King Christian VII gone completely mad, the queen had replaced him as acting ruler of Denmark, and in the bedroom, she had replaced him with Struensee.
As rulers of Denmark, Queen Caroline and Struensee made more than 2,200 new laws between the years of 1769 and 1772. In the meantime, Caroline gave birth to Struensee’s daughter.
In 1772, the angry nobility conspired with Queen Dowager Juliane Marie and dissolved Caroline’s marriage to the king on grounds of infidelity. Struensee was later found guilty of treason and executed. Caroline signed a confession to the affair and died of scarlet fever in 1775.
John Burke and Benjamin Loveday
During the 18th century, The British had strict laws against Homosexual relationships and saw fit to punish such behavior the same as they would someone convicted of rape or polygamy. The law even claimed that it was a sin that was brought to England from Italy.
In September of 1781, John Burke and Benjamin Loveday were convicted of sodomy and sentenced to be hanged. They were the last homosexual couple to be executed in Bristol and we don’t know very much about their past.
According to Bristol newspapers, Loveday was first sent to Newgate in July 1781. He and Burke were convicted of their crimes in September and the papers reported that the evidence was too graphic to print. Others had described the two men as being decent, solemn and declaring their innocence as they made their way to the hanging tree.
Ann Beddingfield and Richard Ringe
When farmer John Beddingfield hired a young 19-year-old Richard Ringe to help out on his farm, he had no idea what trouble it would case. John’s wife Ann started an affair with the young man. She made the mistake of telling her servants that she would soon be in need of some mourning clothes. And that remark came back to haunt her.
It wasn’t long before Ringe told the same servants and asked them to mix the poison he had purchased into the master’s morning rum When none of the servants went along with the plan, Ringe eventually strangled John Beddingfield in the middle of the night while Ann slept in another room.
Strangely enough, the death was first ruled as a natural cause. A few weeks later, being paid her wages, a servant girl who had been in the middle of all the drama from the very beginning decided to go to the authorities and turn in Ann and Richard.
Ann Beddingfield and Richard Ringe were executed on April 8, 1763.