Alternate History: What If Mary I Had a Child?

by AlexandriaIngham

If Mary I had a child, all of history could have changed. Here's a new alternate history post to play "what if."

There are so many what ifs in history, and I’m continuing my alternate history series after a long break. I’m focusing on Mary I today, with a look at how history could have changed if one of those phantom pregnancies turned out to be real. Just what would it have meant for England, the UK as a whole and Elizabeth I?

I just want to point out that this is only based on my thoughts through research. I enjoy making up stories, and I love looking into alternate history universes.

The Child Would Have Become King/Queen

Mary would have certainly named her child heir to the throne.

Mary I would have named her child heir if she had one.One thing for certain is that if Mary I had a child, he or she would become king or queen. It would have been a more stable ruling if the child was a boy, but Mary had proven that females could rule. I want to point out right now that the term Bloody Mary was coined long after Mary and Elizabeth’s reigns. Many of the English people supported her as queen. Yes, there was a small group of Protestants against her, but then there were Catholics plotting against Edward VI and even Henry VIII!

A child between Mary and Phillip would have been viewed as the rightful heir to the English throne. Not only that, but it would have been viewed as the rightful heir to Phillip’s throne, too. That would have come later, but it would have still eventually happened.

Elizabeth I May Not Have Become Queen of England

Elizabeth I would have been pushed further from the throne if she had a niece or nephew.

With a child between Mary and Philip, there would have been no reason for the crown to pass onto Elizabeth. The only need would have been if the child died without an heir.

There are very high chances that Mary and Philip would have only had one child together. That would have meant no siblings for the crown to pass onto after the child’s death. Therefore, it would have gone to the next person in line. Mary never officially removed her half-sister from the line of succession, and even with a child I don’t think she would have. She would have put all hope in that child going on to live and have children of his or her own.

ElizabeHowever, had the child died without an heir, it is possible that Elizabeth would have become queen. It’s now a big “if.” You see, the child would have been raised as a Catholic and would have wanted to avoid the country moving back into a Protestant country. Elizabeth would have threatened that, so the child may have changed the line of succession—or the regent for the child (likely Philip II of Spain).

There are a few options for a predecessor if Elizabeth was out of the running. Mary, Queen of Scots, remained a Catholic despite her country turning Protestant. While she abdicated from her Scottish throne, there is a chance she would have found safety with Mary’s child as a ruling monarch and that may have led to her becoming next in line for the English throne. Other options would have come from Spain.

The Country Would Have Become a Catholic One

Mary's child would have been raised with Catholic views.

There is no doubt that a child between Mary and Philip would have been raised as a Catholic. Mary was devout in her faith, and Philip was a strict Catholic ruling over a Catholic country. It would make sense for them to hire Catholic teachers, the way that Katherine Parr hired Protestant teachers for both Elizabeth and Edward while married to Henry VIII.

Would the country have continued with the burning of the Protestants? It would depend on the position of the council and just how devout the child was raised. There may have been uprisings as the reformed faith pushed through, so the executions may have been necessary for the child to try and keep order.

Would the country have eventually reformed? It’s not something I’m really that sure about. The Stuart period was full of religious issues throughout England, and that could have taken place with Mary’s child. The difference is that the monarch would be Catholic, meaning there would be more pressure to keep the country a Catholic one unless enough people rose up against the idea.

Who Would the Child Have Married?

What marriage would have taken place if Mary had a child?

The answer to this heavily depends on whether Mary had a boy or girl, of course. I often wonder whether Mary, Queen of Scots would have had better luck if Mary had a boy. While there would have been a large age gap, there is the possibility that Mary’s second marriage would have actually been to Mary’s son. The age gap wouldn’t have been too ridiculous to consider in the 1560s. Mary would have been in her late teens when the child was born. She may have been in her early teens if Mary and Philip’s first phantom pregnancy was successful.

If the child was a girl, though, it would have highly depending on relationships with other countries. Mary and Philip would have certainly wanted a marriage with a Spaniard. However, the French court was still strictly Catholic and would have made a powerful match at the time. Francis’ death in 1560, meant that his younger brother Charles became king. It is possible that a girl would have been married into the French court for that alliance, especially against the Scots.

More Alternate History Posts on Wizzley

What if Edward VI didn't die in 1553? Could that have changed much for the English throne?
There are many what ifs in history. One of those surrounds Lady Jane Grey. What if Mary I never deposed her on July 19, 1553?
If Catherine of Aragon had accepted her divorce from Henry VIII would it have changed much? So much resided on that decision to fight.
Anne of Cleves was put aside after just six months of unconsummated marriage. But what if it was consummated? And what if Anne of Cleves had a child with Henry VIII?

What do you think would have happened with this alternate history? It is fun to guess the what ifs, judging by things that have been confirmed to have happened through various literature. If Mary had a child, history could have dramatically changed, especially if that child lived long enough to have at least one heir.

Updated: 01/26/2015, AlexandriaIngham
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