At the outset, let's just say we know love can be a bit weird; people in love act oddly, and do things no one expects. On the positive side, it's not new, as you will see from these 10 shocking romance facts in history. Read on to be entertained and mildly disgusted at how our ancestors declared their love.
1. You Had To Know Your Flowers In Victorian England
Flowers spoke the language of love in Victorian England. Unfortunately, it could be a risky business: get your roses the wrong color, and you could soon be in real trouble. In classic style, red roses symbolized romantic love (just as they do to this day). Conversely, black roses symbolized death and misery - not quite paving the way to romance.
In summary, getting the color of a Valentine's Day floral offering wrong could result in a different response to the one you were hoping for!
2. You Could Be Declared A Deity
Hadrian was an Emporer in England in the year 2AD, who fell in love with a greek student called Antinous. In an ancient crime mystery, Antinous tragically drowned in an apparent accident, however, some think he was murdered (namely Hadrian).
As a result of Antinous' death, Hadrian built a city in his honor, had a star named after him, and declared him a deity. How's that for devotion?
3. You Had To Be Careful Of Those Tudors
King Henry VIII of Tudor England was famed for his romantic life. Henry had already sentenced his second wife, Anne Boleyn, to death in 1536 after only three years of marriage. Following Anne's sad demise, he had all visible references to her in his palaces destroyed.
The allegations leveled against Anne Boleyn included treason, adultery, incest, and even witchcraft - the basis of which remains highly controversial to this day. Nevertheless, Anne Boleyn would not be the first or last of Henry VIII's wives to die - all except two of Henry's six queens perished before him.
Adultery was also the cause of Henry's fifth wife, Catherine Howard's, demise. Catherine was Henry's fifth wife and was likewise executed by beheading in 1542 following an affair with Thomas Culpepper, a staff member of the Royal Household. Evidently, it's no surprise Henry struggled to find marital bliss when his loved ones tended to meet grisly ends.
5. There Were Two Types Of Love In Medieval Europe
Romance in the Middle Ages wasn't straightforward - with two types of love, it was important to know which was which. 'Married love' was the first kind, and secondly, there was 'courtly love'.
Married love consisted of (you guessed it) marriage in the Middle Ages. The trouble is, the only purpose of married love was the birthing of heirs (usually male), business deals, connections, and influence. Love in the modern sense was not a requirement and wasn't even considered desirable.
Courtly love, on the other hand, is the early relative of our modern notion of romance, more akin to wearing your heart on your sleeve. Comparable to the heart-pounding, knee-shaking version of love we know today, it still carries a 'did they, didn't they' mystery about it and sets hearts aflutter everywhere. Courtly love is concerned with the heart, not the bank balance.
In employing 'arrangements' such as these, many an aristocratic marriage survived by allowing 'business' and 'pleasure' to be kept separate.
6. People Were How Old?
This one is a shocker. Young people in Medieval times were eligible to marry upon reaching puberty - as young as 12 for girls and from around 14 for boys, a practice particularly controversial in today's society.
7. Wait Until You Hear About Bundling
We're not going to lie, "bundling" is not as romantic as it sounds. In 19th century America, some rural communities used to take dating to the extreme. The lovestruck couple got into a bed together (ok so far), with a "bundling board" slid between them down the middle of the bed, vertically.
The bundling board made sure the couple didn't 'accidentally' touch each other. After all, they didn't want to raise those levels of serotonin too much!). The theory was it would encourage the couple to get to know each other by talking, without any physical distractions getting in the way.
8. Here's A Ripe One
Women in the 19th century had a rather potent way of, shall we say, getting the message across. They would tuck a slice of apple peel into their armpit at the start of the evening, usually at a dance. If an eligible gentleman were 'lucky' enough, the lady in question would present it to him at the end of the night.
So far, so grim. If the beau concerned were happy about the stinky, shriveled offering, he would make his affection known by eating the offending item. Yummy. Maybe a box of chocolates would be better next time?
9. Watch Out For The Potions
Potions are always something to be wary of - this was also true in 17th century Mexico. Love potions there included fried or crushed worms, bodily fluids, and sometimes they even helped things along with fire. It undoubtedly raised temperatures, but not necessarily in the right way.
10. Ancient Greece Was Confusing
If you thought courtly love vs marriage was confusing, love for Ancient Greeks was mind-boggling. There were four different kinds of love.
Agape was divine love, or love of the soul - usually reserved for the gods. Secondly, there was Eros, which is passionate love, or 'passion of the body' (no further clues needed!). Our third contender was 'philia', 'love of the mind' - more about community, friends, virtue, and mutually beneficial relationships (read: marriage in Medieval Europe).
The last kind of love was storge, which stood for natural affection - parents for their offspring, siblings, and kin, for example.
Never again will we ponder the questions 'but does he really love me' in the same way ever again!