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 Prince Henry's death - how did it affect the Stuart dynasty

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Caro
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PostSubject: Prince Henry's death - how did it affect the Stuart dynasty   Wed 07 Sep 2016, 01:37

I have begun Civil War by Peter Ackroyd, and because I own it (courtesy of a book token I was given after my stroke) I am taking forever to read it.  But I did wonder if the fate of the Stuarts would have been different if Prince Henry, James I's son, had lived.  He was apparently the epitome of a prince, having martial skills and being charming and assertive, as opposed to Charles, descibed as 'shy, silent and reserved'.  What do you think?

And I also wondered (it should be in a different category, I suppose) why England had become so strongly Protestant in such a short time.  James got into trouble trying to balance the competing claims of his Protestant son-in-law and his potential marriage partner for his son, the Spanish infanta.  The English public took against any suggestion of a Catholic alliance. Or was it just the Parliamentarians and the gentry?  It wasn't so long, it seems to me, since the English were very supportive of Henry VIII's Queen Catherine of Aragon.  Why were they, less than 100 years later, so anti the RC religion.  Ackroyd says the RC/Protestant debate was the driving force in the political discourse of the times.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Prince Henry's death - how did it affect the Stuart dynasty   Wed 07 Sep 2016, 08:43

It's amazing how often this question arises in relation to monarchical dynasties, isn't it? For those who subscribed to the notion of "divine rule" (including the monarchs themselves) it must surely have thrown up some thorny theological conundrums about just what the divine plan was in this regard when it manifested itself so frequently by lopping off the potentially better candidate and ensuring the succession of the inferior one.

Of course there could well be a more rational explanation - namely that when things got uncomfortable for the subjects during a monarch's reign it was natural to think of what might have been had the mortality rate (to which everyone was equally subject) not accounted for the removal of an older sibling or siblings. This seems to be borne out by the frequency with which the question most vocally arose under a monarch who - let's not beat about the bush - was tending to piss a lot of people off a lot of the time.

In the case of Henry the view that he would have made a "better" king than Charles is fraught with supposition based on what were rather biased political stances. The Irish nobility, for example, most definitely liked his advocacy of a conciliatory policy towards the self-exiled Gaelic leaders. The powers that be in parliamentary circles which were always forming small but influential alliances against his father also at times appeared to "groom" the son's image as an attractive alternative. When he died of typhoid fever these groups definitely publicly mourned his passing.

However this means little in prognostic terms, as is amply evidenced by such strange bed-fellows as the two power-blocs mentioned above. Had he really continued such a conciliatory policy towards the Gael as monarch, for example, this would most definitely have anchored him even more squarely in the "Catholic Apologist" camp in the eyes of the Protestant power-mongers within the land. Had he continued to be satisfied with the grooming of his image by the same people he would most definitely have had to abandon several such policies when push came to shove as head of state. These, and other character traits (there are accounts of a violent tendency exhibited on one occasion against his own father and spitefully cruel jibes against his own brother), tend to point to a monarch of a potentially volatile nature in terms of personality as well as policy. That we were not invited to adopt such a critical assessment of the dead prince was probably largely due to his personal chaplain, Daniel Price, whose published "lamentations" (sermons and prose which went way over the top in their eulogising of the late Henry, even by the standards of the day) were best sellers at the time and remain part of the historical record relating to Henry's supposed virtue. Price of course was probably lamenting just as much the demise of his assumed career path, having long been linked closely with the volatile little brat and surely confident of a trajectory that would end in Canterbury or similar.
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PostSubject: Re: Prince Henry's death - how did it affect the Stuart dynasty   Fri 02 Dec 2016, 10:11

On a rather more prosaic note, Charles perhaps wouldn't have had so many beautiful hand-me-down armours (not that I suppose any of them would have fitted). 

It would be interesting to think that Henry's succession might have averted the Civil Wars, but then the policy of Divine Right might have continued unchecked, and I've seen it suggested this might ultimately have led to something more akin to the French Revolution than the comparatively civilized Civil Wars.  (The key word is, of course, comparatively.   I realise the Wars were a brutal bloodbath with estimates of up to a quarter-of-a-million soldiers and civilians dying through various means, plus widespread material destruction and all the associated suffering, but at least there was no real equivalent of the Terror).
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