Love hurts, as the cliché goes. For all the romantic imagery inspired by movies and songs, happily ever after just isn’t an option for every couple, and every lover has known heartbreak. What happens for those people for whom love just doesn’t work out? The spurned suitors and abandoned spouses of the world, we imagine, held that love as a certainty at some point.
Well, if they lived in Victorian times, these lovelorn folks could file for damages. Reading on, we’ll come to agree that a civil proceeding seems like the more humane alternative to deal with a break-up than, say, cohabitation with a feather doll remake of one’s ex…or calling in a bomb threat to their airline. Jilted love is no excuse, but it sure can be entertaining. From medieval times to modern day, the dumped and rejected have uncovered outrageous ways to pour their broken hearts out. Blow a kiss to these 24 freaky facts about jilted lovers.
Vengeful Lovers in History Facts
In 2013, a man erected a bronze statue in his ex-wife’s honor. It featured a large hand giving a middle finger. Oh, did we mention he lived next door to said ex-wife and her new husband?
23. Recycling Is Caring
Why let your break-up be a waste? A man named Kevin Cotter found 101 ways to repurpose his ex-wife’s wedding dress. After 12 years of marriage, he got dumped and then discovered her old dress in a box. His ex-wife told him he could do whatever he wanted with it, and, boy, did he. Some highlights of his recycling adventure: he made a fishing net, a coffee table (with the box), a hunting uniform, a superhero cap, two ropes, and a Darth Vader scarecrow. His blog, titled 101 Uses for MY Ex Wife’s Wedding Dress, has it all.
22. Never Met Your Heroes
Art legend Frida Kahlo didn’t get jealous in her open relationship with Diego Rivera… that is, until Rivera made things personal by making her younger sister his lover. In revenge, Kahlo met Rivera’s own political hero, Leon Trotsky, and promptly made “sweet art” with him, taking him as a lover.
21. Never Gonna Give You up
After her forced annulment from Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon refused to be addressed as anything but “Queen of England”—even after he married Anne Boleyn and had another daughter with her.
20. Regrets, I Have a Few
File this under the lover who regretted the jilt. In 1809, Napoleon Bonaparte divorced his wife Josephine due to her infertility. But passionate affairs—which theirs had been—die hard. Case in point: both, allegedly, died with the other’s name as their last words.
19. First Isn’t Always the Worst
Before Henry VIII pursued Anne Boleyn, there was Henry Percy, the future sixth Earl of Northumberland. Although the Boleyn and Percy considered marriage, the King’s Cardinal stepped in to stop the match because it would be more advantageous for them to marry others. While some argue that Henry had already taken an interest in Anne and stopped the match himself, this remains much debated.
Percy lived in mutual misery with his wife, Anne Talbot, who would later try to divorce him on the grounds of his alleged “pre-contract” with Anne Boleyn. If this was true, his “real” wife was Boleyn, which would have jeopardized her match with the King. Nevertheless, Percy denied any marriage oath and lived out the rest of his short life estranged from his second choice.
18. Romantic Reparations
In Victorian times, jilted ladies could sue their ex-fiancés and boyfriends for “Breach of Promise,” i.e. a break-up that resulted in emotional and financial damage. In one case, a lady got £20 from her would-be-in-laws. Why? They broke off the match because she was deemed too “pock marked” to be a worthy daughter-in-law.
17. Friend Fiction With Benefits
The French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir wrote a story, She Came to Stay, in which her author-insert murders the obvious doppelganger of her partner’s crush, Olga. Did we mention that de Beauvoir dedicated the book to Olga? And slept with Olga’s future husband? No one does revenge like French nerds.
16. Buy My Silence
As a 19th century courtesan and lover, Harriette Wilson was used to large sums of money in exchange for discretion. She expected these payments to continue into retirement, a sentiment that many ex-lovers did not agree to. She showed them; in 1825, she published The Memoirs of Harriette Wilson, Written By Herself, which began with the infamous line, “I shall not say how and why I became, at the age of fifteen, the mistress of the Earl of Craven.” So much for discretion.
15. Bunkmates Make for the Worst Mates
Louise de La Vallière had the honor of being Louis XIV of France’s first chief lover. However, she also had the dishonor of sharing apartments with her own replacement—and ex-friend—Madame de Montespan. For the beginning of Louis’s affair with Montespan, he made La Vallière and his new lover share an apartment. The arrangement was to be discreet and make things less awkward, at least, for Montespan’s husband. La Vallière didn’t like it either, so she ran away to a nunnery and spent the rest of her life in religious penance.
14. Ghosts of Hook ups Past
By hooking up with Charles II while he was just an exiled prince—before he was King of England—Lucy Walter was “jilted” of the power enjoyed by his later lovers. She did, however, give birth to his eldest illegitimate child, James, Duke of Monmouth. Post-mortem allegations of a “secret marriage” between Lucy and Charles formed the basis of the civil outcry on his behalf. So Lucy got a minor revenge, at least after death.
13. You May Now Kiss the Bro
Ideally, the bride imagines herself as the one to be kissed at the wedding, but that was not to be with the young Isabella of France. When the princess arrived in Dover for her marriage to Edward II of England, she and her party had to wait until Edward stopped kissing and embracing his favorite “friend,” Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall. Only when Edward stopped “greeting” Gaveston could Isabella be acknowledged at all. Is it any wonder that Isabella would rebel years later and become “The She-Wolf of France”?
Before she was Joan, Queen of Scots, she was a princess who got left at the altar… for her mother—though as a 10-year-old, Joan probably didn’t take it personally.
In 1216, Joan and her widowed mother Isabella moved to Angoulême for the girl’s marriage to Hugh of Lusignan, Count of La Marche. As a child, Isabella herself had been engaged to Hugh… then politics happened, and she married Joan’s dad.
As the ladies landed, Hugh wondered why he had to wait for the fiancée to grow up when his ex-fiancée/future-mother-in-law was right there—still young, fertile, and rich at 30 years old? Isabella, for her part, liked the idea of running her own household again, and maybe a young lover didn’t hurt either.
Hence, Joan’s mom took her place at the altar and Joan herself went on to be her neighbor as Queen of the Scots. It all worked out.
11. Over the Hill
At least in public, Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII, was jilted by her fiancé, Charles of Castile. The reason? At 18 years old, Mary was too old. For the record, Charles himself was only 14, so he wasn’t wrong. But he was almost definitely play-acting an insult on the command of his grandfather, Emperor Maximillian.
10. Knocked Out
Not all revenge is made on equal terms. Belle Schreiber was a high-class sex worker and a favorite lover of African American heavyweight legend Jack Johnson. Heartbroken when he got married (twice), Schreiber fell into addiction… but she got her revenge. Schreiber testified against her ex, helping the government prosecute Johnson for violating The Mann Act, which banned taking women across state lines for the “purpose of prostitution or debauchery.” Johnson was exiled to Canada for seven years, effectively ending his career.
9. Never Mess With a Serpent Scorned
The indigenous Cochiti tribe of New Mexico have a scandalous folktale about jilted wives, rabbits, and snakes. According to the lore, a wife suspected her husband and younger sister of having an affair. As they went out “rabbit hunting,” the wife saw them hunting something else altogether from the reflection of a water bowl. Crying into the basket, she sang for the spirits to transform her into a serpent. In her new scaly form, she promptly gave her husband and her sister some poisonous bites, killing them. both For her last act, the wife asked the village’s medicine men to let her live her in peace in “the Girl’s Cave.” And that is why, according to myth, certain snakes have “tear-drop” marks.
8. Fooled by the Old Possum Trick
In 2011, a scorned wife hired a hitman to assassinate her husband’s lover. The hitman, Carlos Roberto de Jesus, got ready to do the job… only to discover the target was his own childhood friend, Lupita. Naturally, they had too much history for him to go through with it. Thus, Carlos warned Lupita to “play dead” and cover herself in ketchup with a knife under her armpit.
Somehow, this staging managed to convince the wife…until she caught Carlos and a very-alive Lupita hanging out in the market. For some reason, the wife tried to have them arrested for fraud… the charges didn’t stick, and the wife herself was charged with making death threats.
7. I’d Like to Buy an “H”
After uncovering her partner’s infidelity with her best friend, a Connecticut woman decided to trash both their cars by writing the word “WORE” onto their hoods. Both times.
6. Crash Landing Into Love
In 2011, a woman called an airline with a startling tip: her ex-lover posed a terror threat to the LAX flight he was set to embark on to Paris. Of course, it was all false. She then sent her ex a text which read, “Don’t even try to get on the plane called the fbi Sucks to be all of you hope you all have good attorneys” (sic). After, she was promptly charged with providing false and misleading information by fabricating a terrorist threat. The kicker? She was furious that he ex unfriended her on Facebook after the end of their fling… which lasted four days.
5. Hello, Dollface
When the artist Oskar Kokoschka came back from World War I, he arrived to the bummer discovery that his lover and muse, Alma Mahler, had married someone else. He then moved on like a functional adult. Just kidding: he commissioned a life-sized doll in her image. Ordering a dollmaker to build it as realistic as possible—including fake tongue, teeth, and feathery skin to simulate softness—Kokoschka would pose and paint the doll in erotic positions. Nevertheless, even this relationship went south, as he grew bored, decapitated the doll, doused it in wine, and threw it out the window. Can you believe the real Mahler dumped this catch of a man?
4. Two for the Two-Timing Lover
Anne de Balbi was the mistress who dared to cheat on her king and lover, Louis XVIII of France. During a war-related separation, Anne gave birth to twins. Unfortunately, the timeline worked out so it was highly obvious that they weren’t his. Now, Louis had imprisoned Anne’s husband in a mental institution for protesting his kingly advances towards his wife. Maybe they could call it even?
3. Two Can Play at This Game
Was Anne de Balibi’s pregnancy really the first cuckolding of Louis XVIII of France? It was deeply whispered that his consort, Marie Joséphine of Savoy, spurned him for her own lady-in-waiting, Marguerite de Gourbillon. In turn, the king accused Marguerite of “corrupting” his wife with her alcoholic partying ways. It’s theorized he only turned to Anne as a way to get “revenge” on his wife and her lover.
2. Can’t Touch This, Lover
Before she was married, Anne Boleyn had another suitor in the form of famed poet Thomas Wyatt. With barely a doubt, the executed queen is a subject of many of his poems, most notably “Whoso List to Hunt” in which she might be depicted in a deer that tells Wyatt, “Do not touch me, Caesar’s I am.” It wasn’t bad advice; Wyatt was arrested on suspected adultery charges with Anne Boleyn, although he was eventually released.
1. Dark Lover
Although it was a political marriage, the union between Joanna I of Castile and Philip “the Handsome” of Burgundy was one of passion, albeit lopsided passion. By all accounts, Philip was into Joanna, but just not enough to stay faithful. Unfortunately, Joanna was really into Philip. When Philip’s mistress had the misfortune of crossing paths with his wife, Joanna apparently snapped and hacked the other woman’s hair off with scissors. Still unsatisfied with the ‘do, Jo then stabbed her in the face.
But it gets worse. When Philip died, Joanna refused to let him go. Literally. Refusing to part with her philandering husband, she viciously clung to the body. Even when her father and the government stepped in to finally bury Philip, their separation did not last long. Joanna ordered him exhumed, leapt at his coffin, and kissed his dead feet. From that moment on, you couldn’t have Joanna if she couldn’t bring Philip. The coffin—thankfully closed most of the time—would accompany her to meals, travels, and even her bedside. Only years later did Philip return to the ground, albeit at a safe distance, i.e., buried right outside of her window. On the bright side, Joanna’s cheating husband was finally all hers!