4 Breakups That Changed History

Weird to say it, but breakups are our thing. And as it turns out, we're not the only ones fascinated with them. From ancient Greek mythology to modern day celebs, big breakups have fascinated us mere mortals for centuries. Discover our favorite historical dramas and revel in the fact that your breakup didn't start a war (or several).

Helen of Troy and Various Suitors

Though not strictly breakups, (Runaways? Kidnappings?) the mythology surrounding Helen's shenanigans are famous. Helen was a) gorgeous and b) a daughter of Zeus. Theseus, another child of the gods, felt he deserved only the best. Isn't that how it always starts? His solution was to kidnap Helen and leave her with his mom. Theseus went off to help his buddy kidnap Persephone, wife of Hades. That obviously didn't go well. Hades trapped them, and Helen's brothers, Castor and Pollux, brought her home to Sparta. But that's only round one of Helen's woes!

Round two included a TON of royal suitors who competed for Helen's hand in marriage. Helen, of course, had no say in the matter: the decision was up to her stepfather, Tyndareus. Menelaus becomes Helen's husband. They rule Sparta together and have some kids.

That's it, right? Nope. Helen either finally makes a choice of her own or is, once again, kidnapped. I'd prefer elopement. The new man is Paris, a Trojan prince. Paris and Helen meet. One way or another, they leave Sparta together. And that was the start of the Trojan War. The story gets even wilder here, with lots of debate about which came first and what Helen wanted and what actually happened with extremely different accounts. You can study and decide for yourself.

Henry VIII and 5 out of 6 Wives

No one has (and hopefully no one ever will) beat Henry VIII for the most dramatic breakups. His first breakup was with Catherine of Aragon - and the Catholic church itself! Henry's divorce resulted in the creation of the Church of England.

His later wives met the same fate as Catherine - or worse. The most famous is Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded when Henry decided he was done with her. Yikes. The next three: died, divorced, and executed. Henry finally kicked the bucket before he could do anything to his last wife. Karma.

Marilyn Monroe: An Unholy Trinity

Eternal icon Marilyn Monroe experienced several trysts and divorces. Three's usually a charm, but Marilyn's three marriages (James Dougherty, baseball player Joe DiMaggio, and playwright Arthur Miller) ended in divorce. It's also rumored that she had a relationship with President John F. Kennedy, as well as a few other rumors - mostly claimed by the subjects of the rumors themselves, so it's easy to question their validity.

In any case, Marilyn lived a tempestuous life. We might not ever know the truth about her relationships. Everyone likes to claim that they were her true love, her best friend. At the very least, we do know that DiMaggio left red roses on her grave for 20 years every week after her death. That's some kind of devotion.

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston

The Bennifer-Brangelina debacle sparked the popularity of celebrity couple name mashups. These relationship name portmanteaus have spread into fan communities (along with "ship," as coined by The X Files fandom). You might even refer to your friends' relationships as a single unit. After all, it's cute, quick, and easy - three qualities our culture values highly. Though the drama that spurred the term might not have been cute, in the long run, this celebrity breakup created a cultural phenomenon. And that's the moral of the story: Revered historical figures were the celebrities of their time, and their whims resulted in major changes for all of us who came later. Remember this if you're at a low point in your relationships: your actions certainly have effects. But if you're not in the limelight, the only war your breakup will start will consist of your friends arguing about the jerkiest moves your ex made.