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History’s Most Famous Cougars

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Long before Demi and Ashton ever went public, older women were on the prowl for younger lovers. Here, some notable women throughout history who had the stamina to keep up with younger men.


1. Elizabeth I (Queen of England)
The Virgin Queen? Hardly. She may have never married, thus earning her this nickname, but Her Royal Highness never lacked companionship. Various upper-class Europeans vied for her hand in marriage, but this royal seemed to be a fan of the “no strings attached” policy. Her last courtship ended in 1581, when she was forty-eight and her paramour, Francois, the Duke of Anjou, was twenty-six. It’s good to be the queen. 


2. Elizabeth Taylor (Actress)
Ms. Taylor may be known for her roles as Cleopatra and as Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, for which she won the Best Actress Oscar in 1966, but she the role she chose for herself was that of the cougar. In 1991, Taylor married her seventh husband, construction worker Larry Fortensky, at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. She was fifty-nine at the time; he was thirty-nine. The union lasted five years, only a fraction of the couple’s age difference. Better luck next time, Liz. 


3. Aphrodite (Greek goddess of love and sexuality)
Legend has it that Aphrodite was strolling through a forest when she came upon an infant sleeping beneath a tree. She and Persephone shared the responsibility of raising the baby, named Adonis. When he grew into an incredibly handsome young man, his two maternal figures fought for his affections. He chose Aphrodite because he considered her a major surrogate MILF, and the two become lovers. Talk about robbing the cradle! Many millennia later, a similar situation would arise for a neurotic, New York-based actor/director. We won’t name names, but we think it sounds a lot like Hoodie Callen.



4. Catherine the Great (Empress of Russia)

Catherine used her (ahem) diplomatic skills to attract the attention of Grigory Orlov, a man five years her junior. Orlov then led a conspiracy to dethrone and kill her husband, Czar Peter III. But when Catherine took the throne, she also took a new lover: Grigory Potemkin, a man ten years her junior. Discovering she loved fresh, young meat, the empress then moved on to Alexander Dmitriev-Mamonov. Despite a twenty-nine-year age gap, the two had a relationship that lasted three years, until 1789. Cat didn’t mourn for long, though. She began a seven-year affair with Prince Platon Zubov less than a year after the split. She had forty years on her new conquest. Catherine the Great, indeed. 


5. Titania (Queen of the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
What’s a Fairy Queen to do when fighting with a jealous husband? Go slumming with the mortals, of course! While it’s true that Titania was tricked into sleeping with a low-life (as we all have been, at one point or another), Nicholas Bottom was neither the first nor the last of her earthly lovers. She used her many, many years of experience to teach young men a thing or two during her intrigues with the humans. Long may she reign. 


6. The Wife of Bath (The Canterbury Tales)
The Wife of Bath, or Alisoun, married five different guys in her lifetime. The fifth one, Jankyn, was a younger man. Their relationship was marked by Jankyn’s desire to control her, and her unwillingness to submit. After a physical confrontation, Alisoun established her dominance, and her property was returned to her control. The two lived happily ever after until Jankyn’s untimely death. At one point, Alisoun admitted that the young man was her favorite husband. 




7. Phaedra (Wife of Theseus, classic lit’s founder/king of Athens)
You can always count on the ancient Greeks for a little scandal and, in Phaedra’s case, a little bit of cougar incest. While married to Theseus, Phaedra fell in love with Hippolytus, her husband’s son by Antiope, her sister (man, the Greeks were complex). After Hippolytus rejected her, Phaedra called rape, and Theseus totally bought it. While Hippolytus’ fate varies depending on the sources, most stories end with a curse from the gods and Hippolytus’ consequent death. Well, you know what they say about a woman scorned.


8. Mae West (Actress)
This Hollywood screen siren, who famously quipped, “Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you happy to see me?” also wrote and starred in a play called Sex back when “sex” was still a dirty word. Not surprisingly, at age sixty-seven, Ms. West hooked up with thirtysomething Chester Rybinski, a Las Vegas muscleman and former Mr. California. Rybinksi, who cared for his paramour until her death at age eighty-seven, once said, “I believe I was put on this earth to take care of Ms. West.”




9. Khadijah (Wife of the Prophet Muhammad)
Besides being famous for marrying the founder of Islam, Khadija—also known as Princess of Quraish, the “Pure One”—was well-known for the following reasons: she fed and clothed the poor, she held her own in the business world and—yup!—she was a cougar. According to tradition, Khadijah refused several marriage proposals before meeting Muhammad who—at twenty-five—was fifteen years her junior. Khadija was so impressed with Muhammad’s trading skills that she paid him twice his usual commission and renounced her earlier decision to never marry. To show her committment, Khadijah eventually proposed to Muhammad, and later became the first Muslim.


10. Eleanor of Aquitaine (Queen Consort of the English during the Middle Ages)
Eleanor, the notably beautiful mother of Kings Richard and John, was the victim of a kidnapping attempt after the annulment of her first marriage to the King of France. Long story short, as penance, thirty-year-old Eleanor demanded marriage from her kidnapper’s brother, Henry II, who was nineteen at the time. While the relationship was wrought with tumult and infidelity, it was sufficient enough to provide the couple with eight children over thirteen years. Ironically enough, this cougar’s favorite son, Richard, was also known as “the Lionheart.”


More from YourTango:

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For A Month, I Did Everything My Wife Said

Five Reasons Being A Cougar Rocks


Written by Denise Ngo and Carly Okyle of YourTango


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