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England Beheaded

by Steve Payne



Author says, what if Pope Julius had prevented Henry VIII from marrying Catherine of Aragon?

In 1504, on this day Pope Julius II refused to grant dispensation for the thirteen year old Prince of Wales, Henry Tudor to marry Catherine of Aragon, widow of his death brother Arthur.

in which a fiendish anti-popish plot is put down

Catherine of Aragon was the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. For two years, Arthur wrote numerous letters in Latin to his bride-to-be, and she would formally reply. However, as the young couple had never met, the letters were written as instructed by their tutors and were more polite than passionate. When Arthur was fourteen, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile promised to send their daughter Catalina (later known as Catherine) to England, but it was not until after Arthur turned fifteen that Catherine and her retinue finally started their journey. The Spanish Infanta (the Spanish title for princess) finally landed in the autumn, and on 4 November 1501, the couple met at last at Dogsmersfield Palace in Hampshire. Little is known about their first impressions of each other, but Arthur did write to his parents in law that he would be 'a true and loving husband' and he later told his parents that he was immensely happy to behold the face of his lovely bride. Ten days later, on 14 November 1501, they were married at St. Paul's Cathedral. At the end of the festive day came the Bedding Ceremony, in which most of the court put the young couple to bed. This was to be one of the most controversial wedding nights in history.

The couple soon travelled to Ludlow Castle on the Welsh border, where Arthur resided in his capacity as Prince of Wales and President of The Council of Wales and Marches. He died suddenly at the young age of fifteen. The cause of his death is unknown but may have been consumption, diabetes, or the mysterious sweating sickness, which some modern theorists tie to a hantavirus. Catherine was sick too, but unlike her unfortunate husband, she survived.

Upon his death Arthur was only fifteen years old and Catherine swore that her marriage had not been consummated. Nevertheless, a dispensation from the Pope was normally required to overrule the impediment of affinity and both the English and Spanish parties sought to remove all doubt regarding the legitimacy of the marriage. Infuriated by the Pope's refusal, Henry VII lost interest in a Spanish alliance, and the younger Henry declared that his betrothal had been proposed by Queen Isabella I without his consent.

Having denied the authority of the Pope, inevitably events began to escalate as Great Britain and the Vatican became locked in a bitter power struggle. Fearful of appearing a weak vassal of Rome, Henry VII then declared himself the only Supreme Head in Earth of the Church of England and the Treasons Act 1504 made it high treason, punishable by death, to refuse to acknowledge the King as such.

Within months, the armies of Catholic Europe landed in southern england and marched on London to put down this fiendish anti-popish plot. Blaming religious intolerance, the Tudor Royal Family fled the country, carrying the seeds of their schismatic protest with them to North America. Henry VIII later founded the Kingdom of Deseret, based upon the new Mormon religion which conveniently permitted him to marry six times before his death in 1547.

Author says, please note that we have (as usual) repurposed a significant amount of content from Wikipedia.

We believe that the quarrel with Rome could of course have arrived at various points in Henry's rule and in a sense was inevitable; in this scenario we imagine that rather than grant the dispensation and then later refuse to set it aside, Julius never grants it at all. Please do not interpret any unintended aspect of religious intolerance in the tone of this story.

Steve Payne

Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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