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What if Mary had been born a male....
March 8, 2011
11:51 am
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MarkM
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Been pondering some alternative histories. Mainly, what if Mary had been born a male. Thinking not just the ramifications for Tudor life, but for our own time as well. Would our world look different different? What if England never split from Rome? What if Spain and England remained united? Would France exist today or would the joint English and Spanish armies have wiped them out? Would Germany and Itally have remained unchanged? If no, would there have been a WW1 or WW2?

If no French support, would the US have been able to split from England? Would the Pilgram's have ever even bothered to sail there? Would Latin America had more of an influence from England rather then just Spain?

 

Just something to ponder… 🙂

March 9, 2011
11:33 am
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MegC
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An interesting thought to ponder.

And attempting to answer every aspect of your post would take me, personally, loads of research into other aspects of history in which I am less informed.  So, I'm going to stick with the purely Tudor stuff:

I certainly think that if Mary had been born a male instead of a female–and had survived (that was the catch…I mean, H8 and KoA had bore male children, but none of them had survived more than a couple of months) then H8 would never have even entertained the notion of leaving KoA.  That doesn't necessarily mean that he wouldn't have continued having mistresses, but AB was pretty staunchly opposed to becoming just “another” mistress, so I don't think that Anne would have even factored into the picture.

Of course, you can also look at it from this point of view:  Maybe H8's boredom with KoA had very little to do with Mary's gender.  While it certainly played a part later on in the Great Matter and became one of Henry's main points used in proving that their union was invalid, it may not have factored so much in his initial decision to leave KoA.  He may have truly been a man plagued by his passion for AB.  Let's be honest, he really wanted Anne for nothing more than a mistress until she refused–after that, things sort of got out of hand.  He may have been so blinded by lust that he might have still left KoA despite male-Mary's sex.  I don't think he ever would have declared a male heir born to KoA illegitimate, but it may not have changed the course of immediate history.  Long-term, perhaps, but not immediately.  

"We mustn't let our passions destroy our dreams…"

March 9, 2011
12:29 pm
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MarkM
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Hi MegC,

Thanks for your thoughts. Yeah.. not sure how much AB would have been in the picture. Would he have put in the extra effort just for another mistress? Sorry for all the questions in my original. Wasn't really looking for answers to them, just profiding food for thought. 🙂

~ Mark

March 9, 2011
1:32 pm
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Sharon
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Hi Mark and welcome. Oh, I'm glad to hear that because pondering WWI, WWII, and France not being France was giving me a headache.

Henry would have been so proud.  Katherine would still have to ignore Henry's mistresses.    Anne was not, nor would she ever become mistress material.  Mary would still become a mistress.  So would Elizabeth Blount.  Richmond, however, would not have been raised so high.  I think there would have been a very long line of mistresses.  (Longer than there is already.)

 However, I believe that Anne and Henry were fated to be together.  I think Henry would have moved heaven and earth to have her.  It would have meant marriage no matter how I look at it.  I think Henry and Anne would usher in religious reform. I can't picture a 'what if' scenario without these two being together.  Hopefully, if and when Henry sets Katherine aside, he would keep in mind that she gave him his son and not be cruel to her.  I don't see much difference other than Mary being a boy and remaining legitimate. Of course, Henry would treat him with more respect than he did Mary. 

March 11, 2011
2:10 am
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Impish_Impulse
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As Meg points out, the catch was whether or not Mary would have survived had she been born male. And if she had survived infancy, would she have died in her teens like H8's other two acknowledged sons (Edward and Henry Fitzroy)? And if she died in her teens, would Henry have still wanted out of his marriage to Katharine? And would Anne Boleyn have still been unmarried to catch H8's eye? If Mary had been a son who died at, say, 16 – that would have put her death in 1532. Hmm. Anne might have been safely married to someone else by then.

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March 11, 2011
2:56 pm
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Bella44
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I like to think that Henry and Anne still would've ended up together even if Mary had been born male.  I think Henry would have stayed married to Katherine but taken mistresses, perhaps even Anne even if she was married to someone else.  And when Katherine died naturally in 1536 I like to think he would've then married Anne (providing she was a widow at that point!)  I just think they were two people who were destined to be together even if it was for a short time.  Of course Elizabeth would never have been born, Mary (as a boy) would've become king and the history of not just England but the world would have been rather different….

March 11, 2011
7:34 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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Oho, I hadn't thought that maybe Anne would have been married and widowed by the time KOA died. Would there have been rumblings about marrying another widow (if Henry had still had reservations about his marriage to Katharine)? If Anne had borne healthy children by her dead husband, would that have been a point in her favor, or would he have gone for a virgin? I love all the 'what-ifs' in history!

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March 12, 2014
7:57 pm
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Joycie
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I think Henry’s love of Anne and his ambition would ha come regardless of Mary having been a male. Though it is questionable that he would have dared dethrone the mother of the heir…

March 12, 2014
8:43 pm
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Anyanka
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I doubt if Henry would have married Anne following KoA’s death simply as he would have still wanted or needed to be a European political player. Allying himself to either Spanish Empire or France would have left him in a pwerful position on the international stage. Marrying Anne regardless of how much he loved her wouldn’t have helped his ambitions to advance England.

I think Anne would have become his mistress though. The only time I could see Henry marrying Anne would be if a second royal wife died following John of Gaunt’s decision to marry Katherine Swynford.

It's always bunnies.

March 13, 2014
8:27 am
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Gill
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I don’t think Anne would have become Henry’s mistress. She was pretty adamant about that, even before marriage to Henry was on the table. It’s easy to overlook the fact she was actually very religious and it was against her beliefs, as well as having the example of her sister before her – used till Henry got bored, then cast aside with nothing but a ruined reputation. I think Henry would have pursued her for some time, but eventually he would have moved on (doubtless with very bad grace!)

If Mary had been a boy, I don’t thnk Henry would have divorced Katherine. She would still have refused to comply, and Henry couldn’t be rid of her without their child being made illegitimate. She would probably have died in the early 1530s though just the same (although Henry’s appalling treatment no doubt speeded up her end) and Henry would have remarried. I think if he was still hankering after Anne he might have married her then if she was still single (would Henry have vetoed any marriage plans do you think? Out of pique or jealousy?) Anne wouldn’t have been the hated “other woman” then either. Without the desperate need for a male heir, maybe she would have remained married to him…

March 13, 2014
1:47 pm
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Shae
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MarkM said

Would Germany and Itally have remained unchanged? If no, would there have been a WW1 or WW2?

IF Mary being a boy = no France, as your hypothetical theory dictates, then I suppose there would still be a WW1 – even if France hadn’t been around, you would still have Britain/Russia competing with Germany in the arms race and the Serbian based terrorist attack on the Austria-Hungarian royal family. Europe was a boiling pot and WW1 was inevitable – however the consequences of it, and how exactly it played out, would be hard to predict. Possibly Britain would not even join the war, but I think that, honestly, Britain would have gotten involved without being allied to France. And if Britain was involved, than the rest of the world would get involved. So WW1 was inevitable.
WW2, not so much: WW2 and the Nazi party were prompted by the depression caused by the Treaty of Versailles, and if France would not be around to push for the War Guilt to be placed entirely on Germany, than Germany would not have experienced that economic crash. Possibly WW2 might be avoided.

No Other Will But Hers

March 13, 2014
4:03 pm
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Anyanka
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MarkM said

Been pondering some alternative histories. Mainly, what if Mary had been born a male. Thinking not just the ramifications for Tudor life, but for our own time as well. Would our world look different different?

I don’t know how I managed to miss the OP….I don’tthink the world would look too much different today.

What if England never split from Rome?

THere would still have been the Reformation though it would have been on a smaller scale since the presence of an almost totally Protestant state in England was a promise held out to the more moderate Protestants of Europe. Other countries, principalities and dukedoms would still have sceeded from the Vatican though.

What if Spain and England remained united?

Only until KAtherine’s death, though even before that Henry was capable of not wanting to be a jumior partner in that allience and he had never forgiven Ferdinand for making a seperate peace with the French king. Charles V wasn’t a big fan of Henry either.

Would France exist today or would the joint English and Spanish armies have wiped them out?

France would exist since it was in the intereast of Henry to keep France and Spain separate in the same way I can’t see Charles wanting Henry to share part of France with him. A 3 way tie amongst Europe’s most powerful nations was useful to not only all 3 kings but lesser powers like the Germanic and Italian dukes, the Scottish kings, the Pope in both his secular and religious roles.

Would Germany and Itally have remained unchanged?

Since both countries were formed from at first loose political amalagams and gradually unifed under a dominant ruler, they would still have become the countries they are today. Possibly faster, possibly slower…

If no, would there have been a WW1 or WW2?

Yes, the decay of the Habsbug Empire nad the rifts exposed as well as the various treaties holding Europe stable would have eventually made a war there inevitable. Though would England have had an Empire to call out such large numbers of troops? And would events like the annexation of German South West Africa( now Namibia) have taken place.

If no French support, would the US have been able to split from England?

Probably..since there was assisstance from the Netherlands and Spain as well as France..However, had the Napoleonic Wars then not taken place, England( or would it be Great Britain by then, would there have been the joint crowns of Englan and Scotland?)* would may had plenty of troops for when the fledging USA tried to invade Canada in 1812….USA may have been retaken …

Would the Pilgram’s have ever even bothered to sail there? Would Latin America had more of an influence from England rather then just Spain?

Almost certainly, the Pilgrims would have gone as would anyone else who had the money to make the journey. LAtin America probably still would ahve been divided between Spain and Portugal with those few pesky English and French counties in the north of Latin America and in Central America.

* Would England and Scotlan be one or two countries? An adult king of England could possibly have be seen as a better suitor for the young Mary of Scotland than an underaged French Dauphin. ..Could England have totally conquered Scotland and not neeeded a Scottish bride?

It's always bunnies.

March 13, 2014
4:58 pm
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Boleyn
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I certainly feel that if Mary had been male, he wouldn’t have so vehmently pursued Anne as he did. I’m not saying he wouldn’t have wanted her because I think he would, but he wouldn’t move heaven and hell for her like he did. Anne would have kept saying “No” and eventually he would have just got fed up and found someone else to share his bed, and to be honest although he did love Anne (Whatever Lard arses’s interpretation of love is) I think he started to fall out of love with her when she finally slept with him, it was after Elizabeth’s birth that it became obvious to everyone else that perhaps things were not right between them.
His whole courtship/marriage to Anne was to get one up on K.O.A and as Anyanka points out relations between Spain, France and England were at an all time low. Charles had nothing to gain by being pally pally with England, and to me at least his betraying (loosely worded) his marriage contract with Mary shows that he didn’t give 2 straws about England, Lard Arse, his aunt or Mary.
France had always been at loggerheads, with Lard Arse and Francois though it was all down again to one upmanship, Lard arse was jealous of Francois and vice versa. However Francois could rub it in a lot with Lard Arse concerning Lard Arse’s lack of male heirs when he (Francois) himself had got 3 healthy sons..
Charles V also had a healthy Son.
In fact nearly everyone of importance had a son save Lard Arse. His sister Margaret had a son, and I suppose in a way it could have been argued that as the older sibling if Lard Arse died without a son of his own body the throne could have gone theretically to her son and equally even more bizzarrely there could have been a marriage treaty to cement the deal between Mary and James V. Now that would have certainly put the cat well among the pigeons. But I think Jimbo 5 might have been accepted (well sort of) because of Margaret who was after all and English Princess.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

March 13, 2014
8:26 pm
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Anyanka
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Mary’s greatest tragedy was that due to Henry, she was both too valuble and too valueless to marry when she was of an age to have healthy children.

It's always bunnies.

March 13, 2014
9:23 pm
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Boleyn
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Very true Anyanka. I really don’t understand why Lard Arse didn’t marry her off to some English noble and at least guarentee his blood line continued via a grandson. It was as if he was punishing her for K.O.A’s stubborn refusal to agree to the divorce.
In some ways by Anne saying (somewhat spitefully perhaps) “Marry her to some private gentleman” in fact she actually had a great idea there.
But I also feel that the statement brought home just how important it was to get a son, equally so it hammered the point home to Anne too that she had better come up with a son next time around.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

March 13, 2014
11:36 pm
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Anyanka
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That was where Mary was a valuble bride. The last thing Henry needed in England was a too big for his boots English noble trying to use Mary to gain extra power and influence over Henry( not that it would have happened!)..

Any English, Welsh or Irish noble interested in marrying Mary instantly was suspect. However I can’t see Henry palming off his daughter on some no-body from Nowheresville either.

Henry Fitzroy had marrried the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. I doubt if Henry would have let Mary marry below that kind of noble station given the fact she was of royal blood on both sides.

It's always bunnies.

March 14, 2014
10:23 am
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Boleyn
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Anyanka said

That was where Mary was a valuble bride. The last thing Henry needed in England was a too big for his boots English noble trying to use Mary to gain extra power and influence over Henry( not that it would have happened!)..

Any English, Welsh or Irish noble interested in marrying Mary instantly was suspect. However I can’t see Henry palming off his daughter on some no-body from Nowheresville either.

Henry Fitzroy had marrried the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. I doubt if Henry would have let Mary marry below that kind of noble station given the fact she was of royal blood on both sides.

I think at one point Humpty Dumpty had been tinkering with the idea of marrying Mary to Henry Fitzroy? A big no no there.
But surely if Humpty picked someone he could control, he would have nothing to fear, about them trying to seize power?

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

April 4, 2015
7:18 pm
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Alexandria
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MegC said

An interesting thought to ponder.

And attempting to answer every aspect of your post would take me, personally, loads of research into other aspects of history in which I am less informed.  So, I’m going to stick with the purely Tudor stuff:

I certainly think that if Mary had been born a male instead of a female–and had survived (that was the catch…I mean, H8 and KoA had bore male children, but none of them had survived more than a couple of months) then H8 would never have even entertained the notion of leaving KoA.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that he wouldn’t have continued having mistresses, but AB was pretty staunchly opposed to becoming just “another” mistress, so I don’t think that Anne would have even factored into the picture.

Of course, you can also look at it from this point of view:  Maybe H8’s boredom with KoA had very little to do with Mary’s gender.  While it certainly played a part later on in the Great Matter and became one of Henry’s main points used in proving that their union was invalid, it may not have factored so much in his initial decision to leave KoA.  He may have truly been a man plagued by his passion for AB.  Let’s be honest, he really wanted Anne for nothing more than a mistress until she refused–after that, things sort of got out of hand.  He may have been so blinded by lust that he might have still left KoA despite male-Mary’s sex.  I don’t think he ever would have declared a male heir born to KoA illegitimate, but it may not have changed the course of immediate history.  Long-term, perhaps, but not immediately.  

I believe that Henry had begun to question the validity of his marriage to KoA at a date too early for Anne to have been involved in his thinking. (See Henry VIII and the English Reformation by Richard Rex for a lot of detail on Henry’s religious ideas from an early date in his life). Had Henry and KoA had a surviving healthy son he would have been unable and unwilling to annul their marriage (making the son a bastard?) and the idea would not I think have occurred to anyone, including Anne, that he might. He would presumably not have truly lived with KoA (in fact think he had stopped treating her as his wife in private long before), but she would have had the honourable position at Court as Queen for the rest of her life and would have had to put up with Anne, as she put up with Bessie Blount and Mary Boleyn. Anne’s choice would have been to be Maitresse en Titre, having Elizabeth as an illegitimate daughter, and perhaps others (after all she would not have been under the stress that she was, and thus may have brought one of her miscarriages to a live birth). I assume she would have been under pressure from her family to yield, given that no one was going to marry her while Henry was on the scene, and they were so dependent on Henry. She might then later have married someone else (as Mary Boleyn and Bessie Blount did). Alternatively she could have refused until he gave up and found someone more pliant, in which case she might have been married off by her family, unless by that point she was regarded as unmarriageably old. Once KoA died (and if she did die of some sort of cancer then one has to assume she would have died at about the same time as she eventually did) Henry would have been in the market for a new wife, who is unlikely to have been Anne. A foreign princess would have been perfectly possible, plus perhaps more legitimate children. I think some sort of Reformation would still have occurred in Henry’s time, albeit a mild one, and Prince “Mary” (Henry IX?) might not have been so obdurate a Catholic if “she” had not had to watch her mother suffer so for her principles, and clung hard to the Church as her one consolation. Who would this imaginary Prince have married? He would probably have had children, given that what we know about Mary’s gynaecological condition appears to be hormonal and would not have affected a male. Who knows?
I did play some time back with the idea of what might have happened if Henry had died as a result of his jousting accident. I assume this has been discusse dhere, and I found several males suitable for a victorious Princess Mary to marry. But I didn’t look at Princesses for a male Mary to marry. Aren’t what-ifs fun?

April 4, 2015
8:19 pm
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Hannele
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MarkM said Mainly, what if Mary had been born a male.

I don’t understand the question. Do you think that a child’s sex could be altered during pregnancy?

Or do mean that Henry had f.ex. come to Katherine’s bed a bit earlier or later in the same evening, and the result would have been that Mary would have not been born but a male baby?

April 6, 2015
3:13 am
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Anyanka
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Hannele said

MarkM said Mainly, what if Mary had been born a male.

I don’t understand the question. Do you think that a child’s sex could be altered during pregnancy?

Or do mean that Henry had f.ex. come to Katherine’s bed a bit earlier or later in the same evening, and the result would have been that Mary would have not been born but a male baby?

It’s a “What if”/alternative universe thought question…how do general you think English/world history would have changed had the 5th pregnancty of KoA resulted in a male child rather than the female Mary.

It's always bunnies.

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