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Alternate History Idea/Question - RonO's Ramblings

Oct. 7th, 2009 11:27 am Alternate History Idea/Question

Some time back I was thinking about Alternate History, and hit upon an idea for a point of departure that was both very simple and minor, and undoubtedly drastic in impact. That idea was, what if September 7, 1533 Anne Boleyn had given birth to a son who only differed genetically from our timeline's Elizabeth in that he had his father's Y-chromosome instead of his X. Thus, I'm presuming that he likely would have had much of Elizabeth's health and vitality (I don't think that OTL's Edward's health problems were considered linked to the Y-chromosome, but I could be wrong).

I can see some of the early impacts from Henry having a healthy son at that point. First, he probably would have been more motivated to keep Anne Boleyn around, thus eliminating OTL's Edward. Second, this new King (I would guess he'd also have ended up as Edward VI, but I'm not 100% sure, would have succeeded to the throne in 1547 and probably enjoyed a long reign.

But from there things get very difficult for me to even guess at. The Catholic's would probably have still seen Mary as the legitimate heir since they never approved of Henry's divorce. This would make the Catholic/Protestant issues both internally and internationally still an issue for this King Edward, but there would be a strong male ruler, and an earlier one, to deal with some of them.

Given the pivotal nature that the late Tudor reign has on world history -- it also being the start of the "Age of Exploration" and colonization, a major period in the European doctrinal wars, etc. -- I could easily imagine that the resulting world would, by 2009, be almost unrecognizable to someone from OTL.

But I could be completely wrong, even from my first assumption that this Edward wouldn't have health problems.

I also will not claim that this isn't a very common point of departure for alternate history fiction.

Any comments?

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Comments:

From:shsilver
Date:October 7th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
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According to a quick search of Uchronia, this hasn't been done.
From:qnofhrt
Date:October 7th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
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Finally! A subject I know well :-)

First, Henry VIII died considering himself a Catholic, despite his issues with Rome. Had Elizabeth been a male, I don't think he would have even gone as far with some of the changes to the church and England would have been much more "Catholic" for far longer.

Second, Elizabeth I was for the most part, healthy but she and her father were somewhat the exception in the family. Having read a gazillion biographies of her, I believe this good health was due in no large part to her doing exactly the opposite of what her father did in later years. Elizabeth was physically active, ate and drank sparingly and was meticulous about her personal hygiene (and forced those of her court to do likewise). Would a male offspring without the bad example of the father take such steps?

Would Henry have become the despotic ruler we've all come to know and love if he'd had a male heir? Hard to tell. And Elizabeth was so much a product of Henry's actions that it's hard to tell what she would have done without that influence.

I think there are certainly endless possibilities for stories here but changing the gender of one person who was so integral to the history of a large part of the world changes too many things all at once. IMHO that is.
From:rono_60103
Date:October 7th, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC)
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I think there are certainly endless possibilities for stories here but changing the gender of one person who was so integral to the history of a large part of the world changes too many things all at once.

I definitely agree on that -- and that was at least some of my point (at least while thinking about this, maybe not in what I wrote). Here we have what looks like a really minor change at one level, but the result would be huge.