Speaking of alternative history...what if Henry VIII had had a son to succeed him?

I’m watching *The Tudors *on Showtime again (I know, not the most historically accurate, but everyone is so pretty and the clothes are so beautiful) and it occurred to me to wonder what if Elizabeth I had been born a boy? A healthy boy who grew to manhood? Would Anne Boleyn and Henry celebrated a 25th wedding anniversary? Would the young prince have been so spoiled by his besotted father that he would be an awful king? Or would Henry have turned to Anne to make sure he not only had an heir but a spare and beheaded her eventually anyway?

Edward VI. (What’s going on over in your universe, anyway? ;))

The Tudors hasn’t gotten that far yet. :o :smack:

Still, Elizabeth was born before Edward, so if she had been born a boy, would Edward have even come along? Presumably Henry would have been happy with Anne and felt no need to seek Jane.

Um, re-read the OP, not just the thread headline. :wink:
Had Elizabeth been a boy, I’m thinking Henry’s ways would not have changed. The more interesting question is what history would have been like if Mary had been a male heir, giving him no valid reason to attempt divorce from Mary in the first place. There is good reason to assert that much of the reason that England’s transition during the religious wars was relatively calm (if you can call 150 years of chopped off heads and a civil war “calm”) has to do with the fact that the monarch was in the lead early on to make the change. What if Henry had stayed a good Catholic prince, and had resolved his disputes with Rome’s efforts to control the clergy in some less-drastic way than ending Rome’s authority in England?

Well, Jane would have become an actress, and made a career portraying a woman doctor, moving feminism ahead several hundred years early. :slight_smile:

Assuming Elizabeth was male, Henry wouldn’t have been so quick to behead Anne Boleyn. She probably would have remained queen; if Henry tired of her, he would have taken on mistresses.

Whether Anne Boleyn would have had additional heirs is an interesting point. There’s some evidence that there were Rh factor issues (Elizabeth was born healthy, but Anne had several stillborns afterward – not conclusive, but a typical pattern Rh factor).

There’s also Henry FitzRoy:

But Henry was illegitimate and could never be king, right?

Right, unless he was legitimized, which would have caused all sorts of problems of its own. He died at 17, though, before Henry VIII, single and childless, so ultimately it wouldn’t have solved the problem.

I remember from Carrolly Ericson’s books that there was actually talk of marrying Henry Fitzroy to his half sister Mary, though I don’t think King Henry ever approved of it. The ‘ewww’ factor would have been high, but otoh it would have convinced him not to divorce Catherine of Aragon and half-sibling marriage is biblically precedented, so there’s a small possibility the Pope might have gone for it.

I agree with the above assessments though: I don’t think Elizabeth being a boy would have made terribly much difference since other than Anne of Cleves none of his later marriages were political. Probably the most difference it would have made is that Mary never would have been queen which means that England probably would not have become as ferociously anti-Catholic as it got for a time.

What would really have changed history though would have been if Mary and Philip II had produced a healthy heir. England and Spain united… ooh boy. For starters the Netherlands would have lost any thoughts of independence from Spain, and their tolerance of Protestants and other non-Catholics would have been significantly less (and Dutch tolerance had profound effects on world history).

Conceivably, Mary and Philip’s descendants could have ruled over an empire that included Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, England, Ireland, Wales, and bits and pieces of other Habsburg leftovers inherited by Philip II (Charles V had left most of his German/Italian possessions to his brother’s family but Philip still had some properties in Sicily and central Europe), but- the piece de resistance- they’d have also ruled the Americas from above the Canadian Shield down to Tierra del Fuego! Then there’s the Philippines, Macao, their Japanese footholds… Plus, without England to fight (which would have meant no Armada catastrophe), France could have been cowed into little more than a Habsburg-Tudor bitch state.

IF (huge if) the hypothetical little Charles-Henry Habsburg y Tudor and his heirs had been a capable monarch (instead of insane [possibly autistic] like Philip’s son Carlos) they could have damned near ruled the world within a century. Or, frittered it away as so many kings who’ve inherited incredible empires have done (King John of England, the grandsons of Charlemagne, every other Roman emperor, etc.).

What’s fascinating to speculate about a Habsburg-Tudor line though is would English or Spanish have ultimately won out in the New World. Plus, what changes would have been made to Catholicism (Mary was fiercely Catholic, but also fiercely English, and while she famously hated being head of the Church of England, had she lived longer and had friction with Philip it’s possibly she would have hated it a bit less over the years.)

I was waiting with my kids for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at Borders and parked my butt in a comfortable chair near the coffee bar. I didn’t dare move because I didn’t fancy losing my seat and having to sit on the floor for five hours, so I’m trying to while the time away while the kids are playing games and my son brought me a large tome of alternative history, everything from what if the Spartans hadn’t laid down their lives to what if Stonewall Jackson hadn’t been killed by his own men. I find the entire concept of “What if” fascinating…and it’s so hard to find people knowledgeable enough about the subject to discuss it!!