If Henry VIII Had Stayed Catholic What Would The Modern World Look Like Today?
Henry's roving eye!
Henry VIII of England was the son of Henry VII who changed the face of English Royalty in the 16th Century, by beating Richard III and bringing to the throne the famous Tudor dynasty.
Up until the reign of Henry VIII the world and England were Catholic. It had never changed throughout the royal family and the whole of Britain until Henry suddenly decided to change our religion and go up against the huge Catholic influence that was headed by Rome.
The reason? Henry had put aside his marriage to Catherine of Aragon after 24 years, and fallen deeply in love with Anne Boleyn. He had recently finished an affair with Anne's sister Mary but wanted to marry Anne and make her his Queen.
Only trouble was, the Catholic church did not approve. They stated that 'Catherine of Aragon, Queen made by God and Country' could not be dismissed like some common washer woman and Henry needs to 'Be brought to common sense and restore his faith'.
But Henry wasn't happy.
The Royal household sweeps clean.
And when Henry VIII of England wasn't happy, well then, nobody within the whole kingdom could be either!
He pursued Anne Boleyn for six years before he got the divorce then married the woman that he loved.
It was based on an annulment instead of just a divorce. Its all very complicated and long so I won't bother you to read the history here, there are many sites about Henry's life and his many wives.
The point that many people don't realize is just how different the world would be if Henry VIII had behaved, stayed married and never changed his and our religion.
Through him, and then later carried on by his daughter Elizabeth I, we experienced the Reformation. The start of the Church of England, burning of the Catholic monasteries, pulling down of hospitals run by the church and so on.
People were stealing from the church. Gold, silver and holy relics and crosses disappeared and ended up in peoples houses.
The world was turned upside down.
This huge upheaval in the English Royalty had a profound effect on our lives not just then, but all the years since.
The question is, what would our modern world be like if Henry VIII hadn't changed things?
Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots.
One of the first things to change has to be the animosity and imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots.
Mary was Elizabeth's cousin, and in reality should have reigned metaphorically along side each other. Elizabeth Queen of England, Mary Queen of Scotland.
But because of the annulment, change of religion and persecutions it wasn't quite so easy.
Mary Queen of Scots had not changed religion. She was still a staunch Catholic. Elizabeth followed the new religion, the Church of England.
When Mary was dethroned by her court and threatened with death, she escaped to England leaving her infant son on the throne of Scotland.
Here Mary was kept as a guest then a prisoner for 18 years. If she had been of the new religion Elizabeth would have fought the new court in Scotland and placed Mary back on the throne. But it wasn't to be.
What Elizabeth didn't realize was that the majority of England desperately wanted the old Catholic religion back, and they needed to remove Elizabeth and replace her with Mary as Queen.
After many years with Mary desperately trying to escape, and Elizabeth needing to keep the peace and her claim to the throne, there was only one conclusion.
Mary Queen of Scots had to die. She was killed in Fotheringay Castle Peterborough England in 1587.
Just think how different our British history would be if we had either both queens or just Mary Queen of Scots on the throne?
So the difference would be:
- As Mary Queen of Scots son James VI and I'st of England and Scotland ascended the throne joining both countries together. But it could have been very different if Elizabeth had a son! And if Elizabeth had died, we would have returned to the old faith.
So that was regarded as a near miss! Or hit, whichever way you look at it! The truth is thanks to Elizabeth holding the crown we stayed protestant. But you must never forget that the whole of England or at least most of it, wanted Mary and Catholicism back on the throne and throughout the UK.
Galileo Galilei in Italy
The real change is with our top Scientists explorers and astronomers. Back then science was in its infancy. We were looking towards the stars and wondering what was up there. And this was dangerous for the catholic church. Their hold would be broken if we proved that they were wrong in their religious assumptions.
The catholic faith took over the way we think, do, invent even talk. If we did something wrong in any way shape or form the word Heresy was yelled and before you knew it, you were thrown in jail, clapped in irons and even burned at the stake!
Oh yes, the Pope and church back then had a complete hold on the way people thought.
Take poor old Galileo. In 1616 the chief inquisitor Father Vincenzo Maculano da Firenzuola, arrested Galileo after he was told to report to the Holy See.
For holding the belief that the earth actually went around the sun and not the other way round he was told:
“We pronounce judge, and declare, that you, the said Galileo, have rendered yourself vehemently suspected by this Holy Office of heresy. That is, of having believed and held the doctrine which is false and contrary to the Holy and Divine Scriptures, that the sun is the center of the world, and that it does not move from east to west, and that the earth does move, and is not the center of the world.”
“We ordered that by a public edict the book of Dialogues of Galileo Galilei be prohibited, and We condemn thee to the prison of this Holy Office during Our will and pleasure, and as a salutary penance we enjoin on thee, that for the space of three years thou shalt recite once a week the Seven Penitential Psalms.”
Galileo swore that he would do no more wrong, and was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life! It took three hundred years for the church to, grudgingly I might add, admit they were wrong!
This is what happened in Italy purely because they were still under the hard thumb of the Catholic Church!
If he had lived and worked in England he would have gone on to be a great scientist!
- We missed out on having a great Astronomer and Scientist because of the Church back then!
Charles Darwin born 1809 - 1882.
Charles Darwin was an English naturalist biologist and geologist. Its thanks to him that we now study and know about Evolution.
Its taught in schools all over the world, and has lead our modern scientists to discover and log newly found species, check how and when they evolved and so on.
The Catholic church back then were actually quite forward in the field of study. Not just biology etc, but by all science. But there was a problem. It was a very fine line to tread with the church watching every single step of the scientist in question. In other words it was fine as long as it didn't oppose church teachings. If it did then you were accused of heresy and thrown in jail.
The church was always right. According to the Pope. If that said no, then it was no.
- In the case of Darwin, he would have probably been allowed to study, but just the idea of Evolution would have given the Pope a stroke! I don't think he would have lasted very long do you?
John Dalton was an English physicist meteorologist and chemist. 1766 -1844.
Even though very early on in the study of atomic physics John Dalton was well known for his pioneering work in the field of atomic theory. He also wrote a very famous paper about color blindness and why people suffered from it. This was based on the fact that both he and his brother were color blind.
He soon went on to study various types of gases and steam.
But his main study was atoms.
- At this point we can see that if the country was still under the Popes laws he would have been arrested for heresy!
Edward Jenner 1749 - 1843.
Edward Jenner was at the forefront of medicine by the time he was a young man. He is so well known around the world. In fact if it wasn't for him I doubt many of us would be safe from smallpox, and other deadly diseases.
His pioneering work into the world of vaccinations is legendary. It was said of him:
"He saved more lives than the work of any other human"
The difference between immunization and vaccination was that originally, to try to cure smallpox they would add a little of the germ to the person hoping their immunity would kick in, but of course it actually killed a few volunteers!
Jenner on the other hand noticed that with smallpox dairy maids seemed to be immune. On a closer look it was obvious to him that the reason why they were safe was because of a small blister on their skin from the cowpox.
He suddenly realized that it was the immune system of the maids that would cure the disease in others as long as it was taken from a person who had already been infected before!
He had cracked the secret! And millions of people were saved because of him.
So what would the Catholic Church have said about him if they had succeeded to stay in power?
- The Roman Catholic Church stated that medicine was steeped in superstition and so they effectively dominated everything to do with the medical world.
If anybody argued with them then it would be heresy. Their argument was that all illnesses came from God and were punishments from God, if you argue against this then its heresy and you are sinners!
Electricity light bulbs and modern life
The most influential thing ever to be discovered is electricity. We never really discovered it, we harnessed the power of electricity. We have always known the power of lighting.
There are so many discoveries associated with it along with many different scientists who experimented with the energy flow to see how and what it could be used for. These are just a few:
- William Gilbert 1544 - 1603 born in England discovered the science of magnetism and coined the phrase electricity when talking about static electricity.
- Benjamin Franklin 1706 - 1790 American. Famous for 'bottling' electricity in a jar after flying a kite attached to a silk ribbon and a key! He also electrocuted himself in 1746 while experimenting with electricity on objects found around the house!
- Michael Faraday 1791 - 1867 English. Electromagnetism and electrochemistry. He invented the first electric motor but he was most famous for the Faraday Cage. (see sources)
Obviously there isn't a reaction from the Holy Roman Catholic Church from around the time of Henry VIII because we didn't know the power of electricity then. But if you take strange science as a whole aka alchemy which was the birth place of modern science, then we can just imagine what would be said by the church back then.
This is the Church's take on Alchemy:
- There were many men of the church who were allowed to practice alchemy. Mainly because their greed got the better of them as alchemy's first rule is turning base metal into gold!
But the majority of the church believed it was Demon's work and totally banned it. I am sure producing electricity out of nothing would have had the same result.
For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost;
and for want of a horse the rider was lost;
being overtaken and slain by the enemy,
all for want of care about a horse-shoe nail.
For want of a Queen a Religion was lost.....— Various
Pass the matches!
As you can see from the quote above, with my added quote, it only takes a small thing to change the whole world.There are so many ifs and buts throughout history that for the turn of a hand, a smile, love, hate or just jealousy the civilized world would be totally different.
Okay I hear you say, but what about those things invented by Catholics?
Well that's a fair question. But you have to remember that the Catholic church of today is a hell of a lot different from back then. After the reformation the Holy See kept its hold on as many countries and peoples as possible.
Over the last couple of centuries it has eased up but it still likes to dictate on certain things, but never as bad as it was before.
And knowing that you couldn't practice medicine, science and so on, those amazing scientists that changed our world would have given up trying to harness electricity, make vaccines and so on. Scary thought eh? Of course the scientists that I have mentioned here are just the tip of the iceberg. There were hundreds more whose lives would have been very different if we had retained the Catholic faith.
And what I can see by researching this is that if Henry VIII had never met Anne Boleyn, and stayed a steady King of England I doubt very much that I would be writing on something called the Internet!
I would light a candle to go to bed, listen to mass in Latin, look at the stars and wonder what is up there and last but not least, watch people die from diseases that could easily have been cured these days.
Pretty scary thought eh?
The world changed when the lights came on. Electricity has changed the world. In work and business, at home with cooking and washing, and of course TV radio and the Internet we have all joined together and the world is much smaller. No more do we have to sail around the world to find new countries and people. We just click a switch and press a button. Amazing.
So thank you Henry VIII for your inadvertent lust for Anne Boleyn! Your love changed the world!
Can you think of someone who literally changed the world? If so, answers in the comment box below, and thanks!
Do you think Henry VIII is the most influential man in History? If not, who?
Various wikipedia sources and personal books
© 2017 Nell Rose