What if Henry 8th and his 1st wife had had a male heir?

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 2 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #16452


    During a final exam in my Early modern English history (1500-1715) course, a question that caught my attention was What if Katherine of Aragon had given Henry a male heir? Would Henry have looked for a divorce? Would the church have split? Would England have become protestant and what side would they have fought on in the Spanish succession wars? What would have happened to the Dutch who fought against the Catholic empires with the aid of the Protestant English? I will email the Professor to ask his opinion but first I would like to hear your opinions on this so I can form a cohesive email.

  • #20391


    Always complicated to speculate, but my opinion is that Henry VIII would not have looked to divorce.  A singularly important task for an English monarch is to secure a male heir.  If they have a son that task is accomplished.Henry's religious beliefs in the beginning favor Roman Catholicism.  Early on, He wrote in defense of the faith.  I don't think the English monarchy would have stayed under the authority of the Papacy though.  England at its heart has always been radical in its politics.  l don't pretend to know enough about the Wars of Spanish succession to hazard even a guess and your historical timeline is forever altered by this hypothetical male heir of Henry and Katherine.  Hope this was not a "take home exam"

  • #20392


    England was too small and too far away to gain control or even much influence on the papacy. At least not until it became a huge empire. England was also culturally tied to north Europe which had already began to drift. As far as the Dutch, there was a symbiosis there. Arguable it was it other way around, their religious affinity was an outcome of  other extant affinities, economic, mutual dependence with Britain.As far as warfare between European states and empires, and even that within nascent states, the majority of it was between those sharing religion, so religion is merely a cover for other underlying causes and interests and I don't think one can argue convincingly that had England stayed Catholic much at all would have changed.

  • #20393


    According to the history professors I've learned from, religious reform was going to happen with or without the divorce from Catherine of Aragon. I think Henry 8 probably would not have divorced C of A if she'd had a son*. He always had lovers outside of marriage as we know, and even if Henry had eventually wanted a new wife he would have got his chance when C of A died of cancer. *surviving infancy

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