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Uchronia

Uchronia

There are many significant figures, events, and decisions in history. These units are constant for people, who do not imagine that something could happen differently and, subsequently, cause numerous changes to the previous generation as well as to the current society. The history of the world could have developed in a different direction due to some minor changes. The analysis and demonstration of such possible changes can be defined as of “counterfactual history” or “alternate history”. The philosopher if 19th century, Charles Renouvier, used such speculations as a basis for his book Uchronia, in which he demonstrated different European history if Emperor Marcus Aurelius had been more severe in his repression against Christianity, and if the Roman Empire had continued to exist longer. There are several questions, which require specific answers. Firstly, what could have happened if Catherine of Aragon and Arthur of Wales had a son who became King of England after the death of Henry VII? Consequently, Martin Luther became pope. Secondly, how could these two interconnected facts change the current history? This paper will analyze possible changes, comparing the alternate history with the actual one.

The Alteration written by Kingsley Amis is alternate history book dated 1976, which is placed in a collateral world, where the Reformation did not appear. The Alteration is an example of classical dystopia. This novel presents Britain, which is governed by a Catholic hierarchy. Moreover, the Reformation and the Industrial Revolution had never occurred in this collateral universe. In  the past, the whole Europe existed under a specific type of papal despotism. Moreover, the typical word ‘scientist’ was considered as a synonym to ‘heretic’. This universe demonstrates females in legitimate and philosophical compliance with their male opponents. This world is different from the one that people perceive nowadays. In fact, this world could be a reality due to one serious change, namely the possibility of Catherine of Aragon and Arthur of Wales having a son who would have become King of England upon the decease of Henry VII. This could have led to the possibility of Martin Luther becoming a pope. As Martin Luther did not leave Catholic Church and Henry VIII did not change the position of Britain regarding Catholic Church, Roman Catholic became a legitimate religion practice in Europe and a major governing political force.

This parallel universe has two central differences as compared to the events of history. Firstly, after short relationship of Prince Arthur Tudor and Catherine of Aragon they had a son. He was known as Stephen II of England. In fact, during the period when Henry of York attempted to infringe the throne of his nephew, a pontifical crusade, known as the ‘War of the English Succession’, occurred. It was an objective to renovate the legitimate successor. The crusade culminated with a ‘Holy Victory’ at Coverley, which was appointed as the spiritual and ministerial capital of England. Secondly, the Protestant Reformation did not appear due to the fact that Martin Luther was appeased with the Roman Catholic Church and, consequently,  became the Pope, known as Germanian I. In fact, anti-Semitism of Martin Luther may have strongly influenced this parallel and alternate history during the period of his papacy. The reason is that the book reveals that Jews were induced to separate themselves from other people in order to proclaim their devotional and ethnological personality. The fact that Martin Luther became a pope changed numerous currently well-known facts. However, Protestantism of the alternate history is restricted to the disrupted Republic of New England, which incorporates such settlements as Cranmeria (the location is nominated after Thomas Cranmer), Hussville (the location is nominated after Jan Huss), Waldensia and Wyclif City (the location is named after John Wycliffe). Moreover, it has changed the political system. Therefore, England predominates on the British Isles. For example, Ireland is known as ‘West England’. Instead of parliamentarian democracy, the English Isles are governed by a congregation of priesthood, which is responsible to the Catholic theocracy. Furthermore, the overall regulation of the Church is unlimited and autocratic, regulated by the Holy Office. This Holy Office can be compared with KGB (special state security police) or even Gestapo (German secret police). The fact that Martin Luther became a pope demonstrates that Reformation never happened; therefore, the Anglican Church has never been founded, while Spanish Armada has never been defeated. Consequently, Europe was united under one religion with the single leader.

In order to understand the differences created in the parallel university, it is crucial to depict the genuine history of 15-16th centuries. These facts demonstrate that Arthur Tudor was  Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester and Duke of Cornwall. He was the oldest son as well as evident and obvious successor of English King Henry VII and his wife, Elizabeth of York. The birth of Arthur Tudor actually united and affixed the connection between the House of York and the House of Tudor. Therefore, Arthur was considered as the biggest prospect of the freshly founded House of Tudor because his nativity symbolized the end of the Wars of Roses. As Arthur was a very important person, different plans and projections concerning his marriage had started before he was three years old. In fact, at the age of five, Arthur was inaugurated as Prince of Wales. When he was eleven years old, he was officially engaged with Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was a daughter of authoritative Spanish Catholic Monarchs. This marriage was an attempt to establish Anglo-Spanish association against France. In fact, Arthur was educated and, despite the fact that this opinion was objected, he was healthy and sound during all his life. The Catherine and Arthur married in 1501, and soon the couple moved to Ludlow Castle situated in Shropshire (Weir, 2007). This is the place where Arthur spend a year later suffering from undetermined disease. Moreover, Catherine stated strongly that their marriage had not been consummated; therefore, it was not possible for them to have a child. Thus, one year after the death of Arthur, Henry VII regenerated his attempts of consolidating a conjugal association with Spain through engagement of Catherine and the brother of Arthur, Henry. Therefore, it becomes obvious that inopportune death of Arthur resulted in Henry's admission as Henry VIII in 1509. His forthcoming kingship incorporated the division between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.

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However, it is important to understand the role of Martin Luther for the previous world. Theologian Martin Luther altered forever Christianity, as it was when he started the Protestant Reformation in Europe in 16th century (Hildebrant, 2009). Moreover, Martin Luther inquired a number of the fundamental dogmas of Roman Catholicism. He demonstrated that redemption and subsequent immortality in heaven is not obtained through good actions, but is a present of God’s unction via credit in Jesus Christ as rescuer from sin and subsequent immortality in Hell. It is obvious that such theology summoned the ascendance of the Pope by demonstrating that the Bible is the single principle of divinely disclosed cognizance from God. Moreover, this theocracy and objected sacerdotal standards view all baptized Christians as a saint clergy. In addition, martin Luther translated the Bible into the vernacular language, which obviously made it more approachable. This action had an enormous influence on the church as well as the overall German culture. In fact, it stimulated the evolvement of a classical and typical variant of the German language, appended a number of dogmas to the translation art and affected the writing of an English translation, meaning the Tyndale Bible. Moreover, Henry VIII opposed to Martin Luther’s doctrines and wrote monograph against Luther’s opinions and dogmas known as “Defence of the Seven Sacraments”. The Church was thankful for the English endurance, accepted and made Henry VIII a ‘Defender of the Faith’ (the Faith meaning Catholicism as such).

Thus, the historical facts are different, but in addition to the change of the key figures’ roles, such alteration caused the difference in the scientific world. In the genuine history, the period of these two turning historical events is called Scientific Renaissance. Thus, this period was the first stage of Scientific Revolution, causing the appearance of the contemporary science. The world saw a number of researches, investigations, and inventions in a sphere of medicine, physic, alchemy, chemistry, astrology, and geography (Hildebrant, 2009). On the other hand, parallel universe, namely The Alteration , presented a different reality caused by the change of turning historical points. Thus, The Alteration demonstrates that “science” is a bad word while “invention” does not have negative meaning. The amount of various inventors is seriously restricted. In fact, electricity was forbidden. Thus, diesel, which operates without a glisten, is a single mode of inner combustion engine allowed. Therefore, it is obvious that the progress has been terminated for several centuries. Nevertheless, the novel amuses the readers by extraordinary intercontinental travels by steam train, which are quite common in the world of The Alteration. The world is connected with Rome and depends on it. Thus, this interdependence provoked the slight progress in a form of a stream train invention. However, there is no actual development of technology or science. The only transportation means are trains and air balloons. These are the latest developments of technology in 1976 (Kingsley, 2013). The ordinary people ride mules, and the contemporary person might consider this fact as strange. Moreover, the medical system is also undeveloped due to the absence of Reformation and Scientific Revolution. Therefore, Europe is suffering from plague and tuberculosis. It is apparent that church is in a strict opposition to any actual scientific progress. The power of church is absolute and corrupted. The priests are allowed to do everything they want, including murders, international spread of disease as depopulation measure. Since there was no Reformation and no Scientific Revolution, the world faced less progress, including materialism, individualism, democracy, and emulation. Therefore, it was a world, where clerical and intellectual ascendance pertained and related only to the church. It is very close to people, the same as current British citizens are connected to the Anglican Church. The absence of Reformation could transform Europe into a different place. As the novel is dated 1976, the contemporary people cannot imagine life without electricity and that all scientists are not acceptable. In fact, Europe seems to be technologically regressed and facing severe religious control. However, Protestant Reformation helped people to transform their theological and political viewpoints. As they separated from the dogmatic ruling of the Catholic Church, they received the possibility to intellectual progress. This Protestant Reformation revealed numerous Roman Catholic outdated doctrines and provided people with strength to oppose. Therefore, the whole atmosphere allowed people to develop intellectually and equip the possibility to improve the science.

The alternate history demonstrates what could have happened if some facts had been changed. Thus, the Alteration demonstrated that the changes could have been serious if Catherine and Arthur had had a son who became King of England after the death of Henry VII, while Martin Luther became pope. Thus, the readers obtain an intriguing opinion on alternate history and a wide accusation of the manners, in which religious scholasticism can affect people in individual and a society-broad manner. The alternative history demonstrated that the absence of Protestant Reformation could have had solid and harsh outcomes, including the regress of technology, the presence of serious diseases and the unlimited control of church, which could have been used for any potential purpose. Thus, the paper demonstrated that the slight change in the history might have serious influences, which make the world extremely different.