What do you think would have happened if Anne Boleyn had succumbed to the sweating sickness and died? Would Henry have gone back to Katherine? I'd be interested in opinions..
[Ed. note - the sweating sickness outbreak that caused Anne to be quarantined at Hever was in the summer of 1528]
That is a very interesting question. There is no question he would have been dumbfounded for a time. But I think he might still have proceeded against Katherine to free himself for marriage to a foreign princess should a suitable one have popped up on the marriage market. But it would probably have been done at a more sedate pace, not with the frantic urgency that was involved in freeing himself for Anne Boleyn. I think he would have bided his time for a while, but I don't think he would have gone back to Katherine. She probably would have taken him back with open arms and a forgiving heart, but once henry started wanting out of his marriage, I think he would have continued to find a way out, but at a more steady pace while waiting to find a suitable bride. That's my best guess.
I agree with Elizabeth M. Once the idea was planted in his mind, I don't think Henry would have been able to go back to Katherine. I think he had convinced himself that he needed a divorce, he just wouldn't have an idea for a new bride yet.
I think it might have make the divorce proceedings a little more acceptable, since the presence of Anne Boleyn aroused more ill-feeling and created sympathy for Katherine. If there was no wife-to-be hanging around, it could be seen as an actual concern over the validity of the marriage.
Of course Anne Boleyn was a catalyst of sorts that started the whole "Secret Matter" but I think that once Henry put his mind to something, nothing would stop him. If Anne had died, then I think that he would have found someone else to give him a son.
And it goes to show how the course of history was changed by what happened to one fragile life. How different things would have been had the New Year's Boy of 1511 had not died. Henry would have probably cherished Katherine as the mother of his heir until her death in 1536. Anne Boleyn may have just become a flighting fancy, along with his other extramarital paramours.
Perhaps Kathy One wouldn't have died in 1536, if she had been cherished and cared for. She could also have given birth to another boy, and then England would never have had Elizabeth!
IF this had been the case, I don't believe Anne would have given herself to Henry. If he had noticed her, then she might have had felt 'her power' and probably would have gone after a different match in the court.
All the 'what ifs' in history...a perfect fertile field for 'hys'terical novelists :)
Thanks for your opinions. For what it's worth, I agree that Henry would have continued with his annulment plans. I do wonder how easy he would have found it to aquire another foreign bride- presumably, even with Anne out of the way, the difficulties with the pope and the emporer wouldn't have been so very different and he'd have still ended up in the position of being bigamously married in the eyes of a good chunk of Europe. Ah, the might have beens of history...
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