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Nothing makes one's heart flutter quite like a good love story. And by good, we mean tragic, of course.
Though Shakespeare's plays are littered with doomed lovers — unrequited passion and death makes for good reading, apparently — couples equally as star-crossed can be found in the world's history books.
These six heartbreaking historical tales from the ancient to more recent past are as sad as anything that has ever been conjured up in fiction. Read on for a trip through doomed romance history.
Cleopatra and Mark AntonySlide 2 of 13
Cleopatra and Mark Antony
It's a love story so epic that Shakespeare saw it fit to be the subject of one of his tragedies. They met in 41 B.C. at the height of turmoil in the Roman Republic; she, an Egyptian queen, seduced him, a powerful (and already married) general, into a romantic and tenuous political alliance between their territories.
The alliance would prove sour when future emperor Octavian convinced the Roman senate that Marc Antony was power-hungry and bewitched by Cleopatra, declaring war on his former partner in 31 B.C. Both Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide during the war rather than be captured.
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Heloise and AbelardSlide 4 of 13
Heloise and Abelard
British poet Alexander Pope turned their story into a piece of classic literature, but Heloise and Abelard were in fact real, ridiculously in love, and doomed to a tragic end in mid 12th century France. Abelard was the girl's live-in tutor, 20 years her senior, and the romance so enraged her disapproving uncle that he had Abelard castrated shortly after they were discovered. Distraught, the lovers entered the monastery and wrote a set of now-famous letters to each other until their death, though they never met again.
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Shah Jahan and Mumtaz MahalSlide 6 of 13
Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal
Ever heard of the Taj Mahal? The famous palace in India is actually the ultimate declaration of love, built in the 17th century by Shah Jahan as a stunning final resting place for his beloved wife. Mumtaz Mahal — or "Jewel of the Palace," as he named her — was the ruler's third wife, but he clearly favored her and was so grief-stricken when she died during childbirth that he immediately began work on the Taj Mahal. It took 23 years to complete the homage, where he joined her at his own death in 1666.Slide 7 of 13
Ines de Castro and King PedroSlide 8 of 13