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Ser Scot A Ellison

Two counter factual questions: How different would history be if...

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1.  If Henry VIII decides to stay with his first wife Catherine and doesn’t leave the Roman Catholic faith is there an earlier civil war in England that sticks?

2.  If the British Parliament decides to grant direct representation to the North American colonies such that there is no American Revolution does the larger British Empire ever come into existence as we knew it in the 19th century?

Discuss.

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22 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

1.  If Henry VIII decides to stay with his first wife Catherine and doesn’t leave the Roman Catholic faith is there an earlier civil war in England that sticks?

2.  If the British Parliament decides to grant direct representation to the North American colonies such that there is no American Revolution does the larger British Empire ever come into existence as we knew it in the 19th century?

Discuss.

1.  I think this would lead to so many changes all across western Europe that it's simply unpredictable whether or not there would be such a civil war. There might have been civil unrest in England between Protestants and Catholics as there was in France, but the Protestants wouldn't necessarily have won. And an England that stayed Catholic would probably have led to Protestantism being less successful in many other places.

2.  I don't see why not. The British had already begun gaining control over actual territory in India 20 years before the American revolution. What would really be interesting to speculate on would be how the history of slavery might have been different if the American colonies remained British. And would anything west of the Mississippi be part of the British empire or would it all still be Spanish and French?

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I don't understand what you are asking in the first question., particularly which civil war, since England had them prior to Cromwell too -- one of which brought Henry VIII's father to the throne in the first place -- Henry VII was fairly hostile to the Church in policy and philosophy long before the Eighth's Matter; the Eighth had deeply imbibed so much of what his paranoid, plundering, torturing father believed and how he did things.

Are both questions intended to be considered together or separately in terms of possible change points in history as we know our history today?

If separately, then I'd answer, "perhaps" to the second question.  The British empire of the 19th century came post the defeat of Napoleon and France in that world war, which made British hegemony global as a military and mercantile power, for which the two nations had been struggling for at least two centuries already, in Asia, the Caribbean and North America. However, if there had been no 13 colonies' war for independence -- which they only achieved with the stupendous amount of financial and naval and military support of France, helping bankrupt her and creating so much turmoil and downright hostility in France to the French king and queen -- would there have been a French Revolution?  Then there's also Spain in North America and the Caribbean to consider, and what that pressure would have been upon British North America w/o the War of Independence.

Also, since with the exception of Maryland, in our own history the 13 colonies were populated by protestants, or COE, not Catholics -- would there still have been an irresistible push out of the northern colonies to break with England anyway? For one thing, even if the 8th hadn't remained in the Church, there was no separation of church and state, so before Independence, even though one had a different church and dogma, everyone was by law required to pay into the COE coffers both in one's own state and back in England.  Each community had to support a COE and priest and all the rest.  I can't see Boston putting up with that forever, or even South Carolina, whose hatred of taxes of any kind even outdid that of the Bostonians.

Then there's the pressure of slavery which worked out very differently in the Caribbean than in the southern original colonies.

In any case, the pressure of the colonies throughout the New World in the 18th century for independence from France and Spain was strong, as it was for the coastal colonies of North America -- so much of it had to do with taxation, trade, and status -- a man born in the colonies was not going to get rank in the British military, which rankled George Washington enormously, for instance.

There is so much to consider to fashion a well-informed and plausibly possible outline of what would have happened if such-and-such didn't happen -- because the causes of what creates the such-and-such that did happen are so immense and many.

 

Edited by Zorral

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47 minutes ago, Zorral said:

I don't understand what you are asking in the first question., particularly which civil war, since England had them prior to Cromwell too -- one of which brought Henry VIII's father to the throne in the first place -- Henry VII was fairly hostile to the Church in policy and philosophy long before the Eighth's Matter; the Eighth had deeply imbibed so much of what his paranoid, plundering, torturing father believed and how he did things.

Are both questions intended to be considered together or separately in terms of possible change points in history as we know our history today?

If separately, then I'd answer, "perhaps" to the second question.  The British empire of the 19th century came post the defeat of Napoleon and France in that world war, which made British hegemony global as a military and mercantile power, for which the two nations had been struggling for at least two centuries already, in Asia, the Caribbean and North America. However, if there had been no 13 colonies' war for independence -- which they only achieved with the stupendous amount of financial and naval and military support of France, helping bankrupt her and creating so much turmoil and downright hostility in France to the French king and queen -- would there have been a French Revolution?  Then there's also Spain in North America and the Caribbean to consider, and what that pressure would have been upon British North America w/o the War of Independence.

Also, since with the exception of Maryland, in our own history the 13 colonies were populated by protestants, or COE, not Catholics -- would there still have been an irresistible push out of the northern colonies to break with England anyway? For one thing, even if the 8th hadn't remained in the Church, there was no separation of church and state, so before Independence, even though one had a different church and dogma, everyone was by law required to pay into the COE coffers both in one's own state and back in England.  Each community had to support a COE and priest and all the rest.  I can't see Boston putting up with that forever, or even South Carolina, whose hatred of taxes of any kind even outdid that of the Bostonians.

Then there's the pressure of slavery which worked out very differently in the Caribbean than in the southern original colonies.

In any case, the pressure of the colonies throughout the New World in the 18th century for independence from France and Spain was strong, as it was for the coastal colonies of North America -- so much of it had to do with taxation, trade, and status -- a man born in the colonies was not going to get rank in the British military, which rankled George Washington enormously, for instance.

There is so much to consider to fashion a well-informed and plausibly possible outline of what would have happened if such-and-such didn't happen -- because the causes of what creates the such-and-such that did happen are so immense and many.

 

That’s why counter-factuals are difficult and simultaneously interesting.

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2 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

1.  If Henry VIII decides to stay with his first wife Catherine and doesn’t leave the Roman Catholic faith is there an earlier civil war in England that sticks?

Are you assuming hat they have another child that lives and inherits the throne, other than Mary?

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Just now, A wilding said:

Are you assuming hat they have another child that lives and inherits the throne, other than Mary?

Nope.  I’m assuming Mary inherits.

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Which means that Mary Queen of Scots inherits after Mary dies in 1558, at a time when she was still married to Francis II of France ...

Edit: though I suppose that, without Edward VI, Mary I might have married Phillip II of Spain earlier than she actually did, and might have had an child by him ...

Edited by A wilding

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1 hour ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

That’s why counter-factuals are difficult and simultaneously interesting.

That's why I find them mostly pointless and dull, and never convincing. This is surely due to training in the methods of historiography, in which counter factuals are prohibited.

However, in my life of reading, not a single alternate history I've read has even remotely worked, though Kim Stanley Robinson's Days of Rice and Salt came closest.

Perhaps an exception will be Empire of Lies (The Ottoman Secret, which is a much more appropriate and interesting title, in the UK; 2019) by Raymond Khoury.  But immediately there were so many unaddressed issues -- plus it's enabled by that counter factual darling, the deus ex machina, i.e. time travel, which is a big cheat right there.

BTW -- whether Catherine's Mary inherits or not, she's still going to die very early.  Also it has been pretty much determined by contemporary physicians that Henry was incapable of fathering a son that would live due to several genetic factors, at least so They Say in some books.

What if Henry VII had married Katherine of Aragon's older sister, who became queen of Castile, Juana -- which he certainly considered ... or if Elizabeth the queen of the 7th hadn't died when she did, mitigating the monstrous tendencies that were unrestrained after her death, or or or or or or or or or until house of mirrors infinity.

 

 

Edited by Zorral

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3 hours ago, Zorral said:

That's why I find them mostly pointless and dull, and never convincing. This is surely due to training in the methods of historiography, in which counter factuals are prohibited.

However, in my life of reading, not a single alternate history I've read has even remotely worked, though Kim Stanley Robinson's Days of Rice and Salt came closest.

Perhaps an exception will be Empire of Lies (The Ottoman Secret, which is a much more appropriate and interesting title, in the UK; 2019) by Raymond Khoury.  But immediately there were so many unaddressed issues -- plus it's enabled by that counter factual darling, the deus ex machina, i.e. time travel, which is a big cheat right there.

BTW -- whether Catherine's Mary inherits or not, she's still going to die very early.  Also it has been pretty much determined by contemporary physicians that Henry was incapable of fathering a son that would live due to several genetic factors, at least so They Say in some books.

What if Henry VII had married Katherine of Aragon's older sister, who became queen of Castile, Juana -- which he certainly considered ... or if Elizabeth the queen of the 7th hadn't died when she did, mitigating the monstrous tendencies that were unrestrained after her death, or or or or or or or or or until house of mirrors infinity.

 

 

So why enter a thread specifically titled “Two counterfactual questions?” if you find them pointless?

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6 hours ago, Zorral said:

That's why I find them mostly pointless and dull, and never convincing. This is surely due to training in the methods of historiography, in which counter factuals are prohibited.

However, in my life of reading, not a single alternate history I've read has even remotely worked, though Kim Stanley Robinson's Days of Rice and Salt came closest.

Perhaps an exception will be Empire of Lies (The Ottoman Secret, which is a much more appropriate and interesting title, in the UK; 2019) by Raymond Khoury.  But immediately there were so many unaddressed issues -- plus it's enabled by that counter factual darling, the deus ex machina, i.e. time travel, which is a big cheat right there.

BTW -- whether Catherine's Mary inherits or not, she's still going to die very early.  Also it has been pretty much determined by contemporary physicians that Henry was incapable of fathering a son that would live due to several genetic factors, at least so They Say in some books.

What if Henry VII had married Katherine of Aragon's older sister, who became queen of Castile, Juana -- which he certainly considered ... or if Elizabeth the queen of the 7th hadn't died when she did, mitigating the monstrous tendencies that were unrestrained after her death, or or or or or or or or or until house of mirrors infinity.

 

 

For the record I’ve had Historiography training.  I understand why many dislike counter-factuals.  I still find them interesting, always have, probably always will.

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On 10/26/2019 at 1:32 PM, Zorral said:

 

BTW -- whether Catherine's Mary inherits or not, she's still going to die very early.  Also it has been pretty much determined by contemporary physicians that Henry was incapable of fathering a son that would live due to several genetic factors, at least so They Say in some books.

 

And which books are those? That certainly doesn't seem to be a generally accepted idea. Edward VI probably had tuberculosis which led him to die of pneumonia:

https://thefreelancehistorywriter.com/2015/06/05/the-illnesses-and-death-of-king-edward-vi/

Henry VIII's illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, is also usually thought to have died of tuberculosis, though unlike Edward, he was thought to be healthy and robust during most of his childhood. 

https://www.tudorsociety.com/henry-fitzroy-1st-duke-of-richmond-and-somerset/

The person who seems to have come up with the idea that Edward VI and Henry Fitzroy, along with their uncle Prince Arthur, died of some genetic weakness seems to be Julian Litten. He is a historian whose expertise is in the history of funeral practices and as far as I can tell has no medical training or expertise in genetics. Genetic diseases which affect only males are generally passed through mothers, not fathers. 

So I don't find the idea that Henry VIII was medically incapable of fathering a son who lived past age 17 (the age Fitzroy died) to be at all credible myself. 

 

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On 10/27/2019 at 7:32 AM, Zorral said:

That's why I find them mostly pointless and dull, and never convincing. This is surely due to training in the methods of historiography, in which counter factuals are prohibited.

Remind me again where it is prohibited for historians to have fun?

In terms of actual historiography, it is indeed bad form to go off on counter-factual tangents (though it's not uncommon to note that such-and-such event could have ended differently). But I fail to see how alternate history - a branch of speculative fiction - is off-limits, any more than science-fiction is off-limits to scientists.

(Published alternate history is a story first, and history second. Of course they take liberties. It's why science-fiction - even hard science-fiction - doesn't meet the rigour of scientific papers). 

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If Henry stayed married to Catherine then we need to look at whether he would eventually have a son and heir. If yes then the whole line of succession changes if the son marries and has kids. The Reformation would still go on and England would be affected still but without Anglicism being in the mix. As for civil war, how strong was anti-Catholic feeling in England at that time? I suspect it was as fertile there as anywhere else in Europe so the broad strokes of history would remain unchanged. 

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On 10/26/2019 at 12:00 PM, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

1.  If Henry VIII decides to stay with his first wife Catherine and doesn’t leave the Roman Catholic faith is there an earlier civil war in England that sticks?

I don't think it would have changed much, in the long run.  The schisms that shaped the evolution of European society from the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution were not based on a single monarchy, let alone a monarch.  I think the underlying assumption of this query has the direction of causality backwards.  Social forces cause watershed moments, not the other way around.

On 10/26/2019 at 12:00 PM, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

2.  If the British Parliament decides to grant direct representation to the North American colonies such that there is no American Revolution does the larger British Empire ever come into existence as we knew it in the 19th century?

This one is a bit more in my wheelhouse, but the above still stands.  If the British granted the colonies parliamentary representation, the latter just would have been obstinate until they found another pretext for war.  Let's be frank here, the American Revolution was fought because a bunch of rich white dudes did not want to kneel to their ancestral rich white dudes across the sea.  As has been mentioned, the most interesting part of this counterfactual is how it affects the French Revolution.  It's doubtful it would occur - at that time - in such a case, but I kind of agree with @Zorral here that trying to game out how that will eventually happen is a rather fruitless and pointless endeavor.

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3 hours ago, maarsen said:

If Henry stayed married to Catherine then we need to look at whether he would eventually have a son and heir. If yes then the whole line of succession changes if the son marries and has kids. The Reformation would still go on and England would be affected still but without Anglicism being in the mix. As for civil war, how strong was anti-Catholic feeling in England at that time? I suspect it was as fertile there as anywhere else in Europe so the broad strokes of history would remain unchanged. 

Hence my question.  I have to wonder if a Roman Catholic monarchy is eliminated by Protestant reformers and the commonwealth sticks.  Would they have any desire to push into North America?

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2 hours ago, DMC said:

I don't think it would have changed much, in the long run.  The schisms that shaped the evolution of European society from the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution were not based on a single monarchy, let alone a monarch.  I think the underlying assumption of this query has the direction of causality backwards.  Social forces cause watershed moments, not the other way around.

This one is a bit more in my wheelhouse, but the above still stands.  If the British granted the colonies parliamentary representation, the latter just would have been obstinate until they found another pretext for war.  Let's be frank here, the American Revolution was fought because a bunch of rich white dudes did not want to kneel to their ancestral rich white dudes across the sea.  As has been mentioned, the most interesting part of this counterfactual is how it affects the French Revolution.  It's doubtful it would occur - at that time - in such a case, but I kind of agree with @Zorral here that trying to game out how that will eventually happen is a rather fruitless and pointless endeavor.

Long term.  Looking at events relatively close in time to the point of change can be interesting though.  

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59 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Hence my question.  I have to wonder if a Roman Catholic monarchy is eliminated by Protestant reformers and the commonwealth sticks.  Would they have any desire to push into North America?

Look at the rest of Europe and how they have coped with the aftermath of the Reformation. My parents grew up in The Netherlands and my father would talk about small villages with the Protestants never saying a word to the Catholics even though they lived side by side. Britain would be a much more divided state comparable to the Holy Roman Empire. I doubt Scotland would be joined to England and the same with Ireland. The most extreme Protestants would have continued to move to the Americas. If England was nominally Catholic most of North America would be still under French control and not available to English settlers. That would constrain colony growth and propably leave them subservient to English rule for much longer. The French were much more inclined to keep the indigenous people as a nation to be dealt with as equals and converted to Catholicism than they were in expansion. 

As such the United States in such a scenario would be a small rump state of southern slave holding states along the Easter Seaboard. 

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