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Eventually, a clever, charming, and manipulative young courtier named Anne Boleyn caught his eye. Henry had already bedded her older sister, but Anne was more prudish; she would not sleep with him unless and until they were married. For that to happen, Henry would have to end his marriage to Catherine. Thus began what history remembers as his "Great Matter".
For various reasons, The Pope would not grant Henry an annulment from his wife, so he decided to separate from the Church and declare himself Supreme Head in order to do so. Anyone who stood in the way was summarily dealt with, and Henry married Anne and made her his Queen. All along, she had promised that she would give him the son he desperately wanted.
In 1533, Anne gave birth to a girl.
This was the beginning of the end for Anne; the profound stress of failing to live up to the demands of one of the most petulant and impatient men in history resulted in all of her subsequent pregnancies ending in miscarriage. Henry quickly tired of her, and she, too, was executed just three years after they were married. Henry, of course, went on to remarry four more times, having a grand total of one son. Their daughter eventually became Queen and went on to reign over a Golden Age.
This is the question that "Now Blooms The Tudor Rose", written by Space Oddity (also known as troper "Rhialto"), attempts to answer. Among the highlights? Henry and Anne have five children (including three sons), all but one of whom live to adulthood; Queen Anne takes a very active role in the English government; and the religious and political balance of Europe is already driven way off-course by mid-century.
There's a lot of heavy material (the 16th century was certainly no picnic in Real Life either), but the tone is kept fairly light and breezy thanks to the Deadpan Snarker narration and the strong focus on Character Development and interaction.
Historical characters who appear or are referenced in the timeline:
- Henry VIII, King of England: Pretty much every bit the man he was in our history, as aptly described by the Dickens quote on his own page. He is viewed better in that he only had two wives, and didn't kill either of them. Is injured and incapacitated, then dies, earlier in his reign than in reality, resulting in his son taking the throne as a minor.
- Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort later Dowager of England: A very learned and cunning woman, a committed Protestant, a devoted mother, and a dangerous opponent.
- Mary Tudor: Daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, viewed by Catholics as the legitimate Heir to the throne. Reconciles with her father after the death of her mother, and is married off to a Protestant prince. Dies in childbirth.
- Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor: Competent and well-meaning but overburdened, as in our history. With ardent Francophile Anne remaining Queen of England, and no Catholic Restoration, the Empire remains England's greatest foe through Henry VIII's reign. Abdicates ahead of schedule.
- Ferdinand, Holy Roman Emperor: Charles' younger brother, and heir to his Austrian holdings, as well as the Imperial dignity which all come his way a few years ahead of schedule.
- Philip II, King of Spain: Charles' only legitimate son, and heir to his Spanish holdings. As with Henry VIII, is essentially the same person as in our history.
- Francis I, King of France: On-again/off-again "ally" of England and arch-nemesis of Charles V. In keeping with our history, dies the same year as Henry VIII, which is to say, a couple of years early.
- Henry II, King of France: Francis' son; accedes to the throne on his father's death. Is remembered far differently than in our history.
- James V, King of Scots: Nephew of Henry VIII, and a firm believer in the Auld Alliance - or, barring that, just about any anti-English alliance. Becomes senior Catholic claimant to the throne upon Mary Tudor's marriage to a Protestant; dies in his attempt to incite unrest in England, leaving the throne to his two-year-old daughter Mary.
- Marie of Guise, Queen Consort (later Dowager) of Scots: A member of the powerful Guise family. Becomes Regent upon the death of her husband. Is shot by the insane Earl of Arran and eventually succumbs to her wounds.
Aristocrats and Courtiers
- Thomas Cromwell: Number Two to the King at the point of divergence; as the marriage to Anne of Cleves does not happen, he also does not lose his head. Though he does still fall from grace, he also manages to stage a surprising recovery.
- Thomas Cranmer: Architect of the Protestant Reformation in England, and a key ally of Queen Anne. Establishes a firmly Protestant Settlement after the death of Henry VIII.
- Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey later 4th Duke of Norfolk: A pioneer in the field of Modern English poetry. Also a general and statesman. Becomes Duke of Norfolk - and a staunch anti-Catholic - upon the assassination of his father.
- William Paulet: A long-standing member of the Privy Council whose primary distinction is his lengthy tenure. That and the fact that, like Captain Renault, he blows with the wind - which always keeps him on the Royal Family's good side.
- Catherine Howard: In Real Life, the fifth wife of Henry VIII (and the second to be executed). Here, she is a minor lady-in-waiting (and distant relative) to the Queen. Is tangled up in a scandalous murder that forces her out of the court--she later runs off with a Scottish Earl; after his mysterious death, finds herself at the heart of intrigues throughout Europe.
- Diane de Poitiers: Henry II's mistress, a woman two decades his senior. Also serves as a maternal figure and a mentor for him, for better or (mostly) for worse.
- Francis, Duke of Guise: Head of the most powerful family in France other than the ruling House of Valois. A staunch Catholic and noted enemy of the Protestants. Is killed in battle by John Frederick II, Duke and Elector of Saxony, resulting in a Guise-Wettin feud that is said to last for generations.
- Claude, Duke of Aumale: Younger brother to Francis, dispatched to Scotland to aid his sister and strengthen French influence during the tumultuous Regency of his niece, Mary. After the assassination of his sister, becomes de facto Regent himself, leading the pro-French and Catholic factions in a bloody civil war.
Holy Roman Empire
- Eustace Chapuys: Imperial ambassador to England. The ultimate Gossipy Hen.
- Reginald Pole: Chosen by Charles V as a figurehead Catholic claimant to the throne of England. Though there's no love lost between Pole and the present monarch, he has no interest in the job. Charles V won't hear of it, and places him under house arrest to prevent him from doing otherwise.
- Adipose Rex: Henry VIII, as in Real Life.
- The Alliance: The Schmalkaldic League hopes to be just this.
- Alternate History
- Ambiguous Disorder: Arguably, Charles, son of Philip II. At least, academically speaking, if his tutors can be believed.
- Arch Enemy: Francis I and Charles V, as in Real Life; and indeed, the Habsburg and Valois dynasties. The Guise and Wettin families also become archenemies.
- Arranged Marriage: Anne Boleyn is particularly gifted at planning these for her children.
- Babies Ever After: Not only for Queen Anne, but also for her children, ensuring the survival of the Tudor Dynasty.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: While most Royal and nobles qualify, the trope exemplifiers are quickly turning out to be the Vasas of Sweden--a group of eccentric brothers who all hate each other.
- Bling of War: While most nobles like this, the Wettins appear to especially make a point of it.
- The Chains of Commanding: As Charles V and Ferdinand I could tell you, it's not fun being Holy Roman Emperor.
- The Chessmaster: Above all, Anne Boleyn.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: James V, King of Scots, once again leaves his daughter to reign as Queen of Scots. Here she's slightly older than six days, however. Also, Henry VIII dies in 1545, leaving behind his eleven-year-old son to take the throne as Henry IX, with Anne Boleyn serving as Regent.
- Cultured Badass: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Among others.
- The Ditherer: Henry II of France is not good with decisions.
- Emo Teen: Edward, Duke of York, is about as close to this trope as a sixteenth-century prince possibly could be. He spends his spare time writing odes to dead friends and relatives! This doesn't go unnoticed by the English court, who give him the fitting nickname of "Grim Ned".
- The Empire: Initially, the combined Holy Roman Empire, and Kingdom of Spain, ruled over by Charles V. After his abdication, both the Empire and Spain could fit the bill. The Ottoman Empire is another great example.
- Foreshadowing: Constantly.
- Gambit Pileup: The many Habsburg-Valois Italian wars tend to go like this...
- Gossipy Hens: The English court loves nothing more than discussing the latest intrigues. Many ambassadors to England love nothing more than sharing them with their sovereign masters.
- The Heretic: All the Protestants, of course. With staunchly Protestant Anne Boleyn remaining Queen, this includes England which, unlike in our reality, does not (briefly) relapse into Catholicism. The Schmalkadic League also survives in this timeline, with John Frederick of Saxony at its head.
- The House of Tudor: As the title suggests, their family is at the heart of this epic tale.
- King on His Deathbed: Happens to Henry VIII.
- Knight Templar: The Society for Purity and Correctness in Doctrine, aka the Cathars, a bunch of dedicated Catholics so reactionary, they think The Pope has it wrong. Part of what they are protesting is said Pope's approach to people who think he has it wrong.
- Manipulative Bastard: Anne Boleyn, once again.
- Mata Hari: Catherine Howard
- May-December Romance: As in Real Life, the affair between Henry II of France and Diane de Poitiers.
- Name's the Same: A few historical figures have "siblings" in this timeline with the same names, but who are different people. This includes Elizabeth Tudor (here said to be a brunette who strongly resembles her mother); Charles, first son of Philip II; Mary, Queen of Scots; and most of Henri II's children.
- Old Shame: Philip of Hesse's bigamous marriage regularly undermines his position in the Schmalkaldic League.
- One Steve Limit: As is standard among royals, especially in this era, strongly averted.
- Only Sane Man: There seems to be one for every new angry mob, conspiracy, and coup d'etat.
- Pet the Dog: Henry VIII gets exactly one of these moments when he comforts his wife, Queen Anne, after she has a miscarriage. (After all, she did provide him with the son he always wanted).
- The Pope: Thanks to the Butterfly Effect, Ippolito d'Este is elected Pope in the Conclave of 1550, and takes the name Pius IV; he becomes a central character. His strong modernizing tendencies make him a lot of enemies among the hardliners - including, most notably, the man who would in Real Life go on to become Pope Paul IV.
- Powder Keg Crowd: The Pilgrimages of the Faithful, Catholic protests of the Tudors' Protestant policies tend to veer between this state and a more excitable one. That is, when they aren't out and out rebellions.
- Power Trio: Two of Henry VIII's sons: Henry and Edward, along with his grandson, Arthur Fitzroy.
- Puppet King: While's he does actually hold power, Henry II of France's highly suggestible nature frequently turns him into one for his advisors.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Happens to Don Antonio, Prior of Crato when he meddles in a Portuguese regency dispute.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: All over the place. In some cases, it would be better if they stopped...
- Spell My Name with an "S": The House of Stewart (Protestant/Anglophile) vs. the House of Stuart (Catholic/Francophile). For example, the two daughters of James V, who find themselves more or less on opposite sides of the debate: Mary Stewart vs. Antoinette Stuart.
- The Sound of Martial Music: The House of Habsburg plays a bit of a role...
- Standard Royal Court: Pretty much all the kingdoms have these. Some, like France, are a bit nastier than others...
- The Stoic: Edward, Duke of York, whenever he's not being an Emo Teen. This resulted in him picking up another nickname: "The Man of Marble".
- Tangled Family Tree: The Hapsburgs have an extra-tangled one. The results have not been pretty.
- Team Mom: Anne Boleyn, naturally, to her children as well as her husband; she's the only one who can talk him out of one of his many, many bad ideas.
- Violent Glaswegian: The Scots, as always, don't take too kindly to outside interference.
- Warrior Prince: Quite a few, actually.
- We ARE Struggling Together!: The Schmalkaldic League spends about as much time quarrelling over Protestant theological disputes and old dynastic feuds as it does making sure that the Catholic Habsburgs don't crush them out of existence.
- The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Anne has a touch of this.
- Wretched Hive: The Barbary States are not fun places to hang out.