What would have happened if Henry VIII had obtained his divorce?

From The Independent:

The Big Question: What would have happened if Henry VIII had obtained his divorce?
By Paul Vallely

Why are we asking this now?

Because the Vatican has just announced that it will market 200 facsimile copies of the elaborately decorated parchment from 1530, which bore an appeal by English peers to Pope Clement VII asking for the annulment of the marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon.

The document is key, historians said, to understanding the formation of the English national character. It marks, said Professor David Starkey in Rome yesterday, the most important event in English history. “This is the moment at which England ceases to be a normal European Catholic country and goes off on this strange path,” he said, “that leads it to the Atlantic, to the New World, to Protestantism, to Euro-scepticism.”

How would things have been different if England had remained Catholic?

“My offices might be in Rome and I might be writing in Latin,” quipped Paul Handley, the editor of the Church Times, the leading Anglican newspaper, yesterday. “And what would have happened to the bolshy individualistic Englishman on which we base all our historical mythology?”

It would have been a unique Catholicism though, not fervent like the Mediterranean kind, but not separatist like the Catholism of France which is the product of a guillotine-crazed Revolution and a secularising Enlightenment. We might just be irreligious Catholics instead of irreligious Protestants. But the world may have lost something rather special.

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