Of all the women I’ve been studying, THIS ONE should be a damn movie!! Drama, intrigue, travel, scandal, 8 languages, four husbands, a Mrs. Robinson thing… C’MON HOLLYWOOD!
Lady Jane Elizabeth Digby (1807 – 1881) did it all, so to speak.
Jane’s first husband was Edward Law, 2nd Baron of Ellenborough. They had one son who died in infancy. During this marriage, Jane had affairs with her cousin Colonel George Anson and Prince Felix Schwarzenberg. She had two children with Prince Felix (of Austria), Mathilde and Felix- who died just a few weeks after he was born. Eventually, a divorce was granted which caused considerable scandal for the times.
Jane then started an affair with Ludwig of Bavaria but ended up marrying Bavarian Baron Karl von Vennigan out of convenience (this confuses me- how is it convenient to marry someone other than your boyfriend?) Her and Vennigan had a son- Heribert and a daughter Bertha.
In 1838, she began an affair with Greek Count Spyridon Theotokis. When her second husband- Vennigan found out, he challenged the Greek Count to a duel and lost. He kept the children and remained friendly with Jane until his death in 1874. I guess that’s where the “convenient” part kicks in.
She was technically not divorced from Vennigan until 1842, but married Theotokis in 1841. Hmm. The couple had a son- Leonidas, who tragically fell off a balcony and died at the age of 6. They divorced soon after and she began seeing King Otto of Greece.
There were many other affairs, but eventually, at the age of 46, Jane fell in love with Sheik Abul Medjuel el Mezrab of Syria. He was 20 years younger than Jane. They were married and she changed her name to Jane Elizabeth Digby el Mezrab. It was a very happy marriage that lasted until her death 28 years later. She went anywhere and everywhere with her 4th husband, living a nomadic lifestyle in tents across the desert. She did build a villa in Damascus, part of that home still stands today.
Jane (who was sometimes called Jenny or Aurora) was said to be stunning, with a perfect figure and exquisite blue eyes and rose colored skin. This seemed to fuel the scandal and gossip generated by jealous women and jilted men. Books have been written, but apparently, they do not paint a flattering portrait of this woman. I think she is to be admired- she was not submissive and obedient. She was intelligent, well-traveled, and fluent in 8 languages. She did what she wanted- traveled, loved, explored, lived. I’ll be doing more reading on Mrs. Mezrab very soon.