Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Now Blooms the Tudor Rose

Go To

Henry VIII, the King of England, wanted nothing more than continue his family line by siring a male heir. But his wife, Catherine of Aragon, was proving very uncooperative. Their only child to survive infancy was a daughter, Mary; Henry was able to father a son with one of his mistresses, but he was illegitimate and could not inherit the throne.

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.


But, of course, anyone with the tiniest piece of knowledge of English History knows this. However, what we do not know is this: what if, instead of Elizabeth, Anne had given birth to a boy?

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:

    open/close all folders 



  • 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.
  • 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.

     Clergy and Theologians 


  • Clement VII: Still dies in 1534 from poisoning, but notably fails to excommunicate Henry VIII before then.
  • Paul III: The last Pope whose tenure is coterminous with that of our history.
  • Pius IV: In our history, Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, a candidate at the Conclave of 1550 (which instead elected Cardinal del Monte, who took the name Julius III). Ideologically, a pragmatic progressive, earning him scorn from the very vocal reactionaries within the Church Hierarchy (and it doesn't help that many of those who might have supported him have instead joined the Protestant camp). Convened the Council of Mantua, this timeline's (very different) version of the Council of Trent, and on the whole not a fan of the Inquisition.


  • Giovanni Carafa: He became Pope Paul IV in our history, and is primarily identified as a reactionary foil to the modernizing efforts of Pope Pius IV (whose every action and proclamation he identifies as heretical). The spiritual leader of the Society for Purity and Correctness in Doctrine, also known as the Cathars.
  • Charles de Guise: Cardinal of Lorraine, and Archbishop of Rheims. The highest ranking churchman in the French church, and political leader of his family on his brother's death, his evangelical Catholic stance earns him the ire of both reactionary Catholics and radical Huguenots.


  • Thomas Cranmer: Archbishop of Canterbury, and the highest authority in the Church of England after the Supreme Head (who is also the Sovereign). After the death of Henry VIII, he organizes a Convocation to define the theological beliefs of the Church, which establishes a firmly Protestant settlement.


This timeline provides examples of:

  • Adipose Rex: Henry VIII, as in Real Life.
  • Agent Peacock: Henry Cromwell, 3rd Earl of Essex is a man as deadly as he is fashionable. Very, basically.
  • The Alcoholic: Quite a few, as drinking habits during the Renaissance were generally poor. Among the most prominent...
  • The Alliance: The Schmalkaldic League hopes to be just this. It fails. Dismally.
  • Alternate History
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Arguably, Charles, son of Philip II. At least, academically speaking, if his tutors can be believed.
    • It's been speculated that he has ADHD and/or Asperger's in discussion.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Averted. Almost every character wants more power, influence, and/or glory, and it is not, in and of itself, portrayed as a bad thing.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Possessed by several characters, among them Mary Queen of Scots, in the form of her little sister Antoinette, and by rival German noblemen Ferdinand II of Austria and John Frederick II of Saxony, in the form of their respective brothers, Charles Francis of Tyrol, and John William of Saxe-Coburg. That both brothers are leading troops for their respective sides makes the situation rather more important than most.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Suleiman the Magnificent, who decides in his old age to invade the Hapsburg Dominions and take part in one last glorious war of conquest...dies on the way to Vienna, and his son immediately agrees to a peace which sees only token gains for the Ottomans.invoked
  • Appropriated Appellation: Has happened several times, most notably with the English Libertines, and the Cathars. The Catholic Princess Antoinette calls herself a Papist, but is unable to pull it off.
  • Arch-Enemy: Francis I and Charles V, as in Real Life; and indeed, the Hapsburg and Valois dynasties. The Guise and Wettin families also become archenemies.
  • Arranged Marriage: Anne Boleyn is particularly gifted at planning these for her children.
    • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: And indeed, many of her betrothals have turned out to be love matches.
      • On the Hapsburg front, Prince Charles and Elizabeth de Valois are getting along swimmingly. Also happened earlier when King Philip and Maria of Portugal quickly got over their initial apprehension.
    • Unwanted Spouse: Though a few have not.
      • Again, on the Hapsburg front, Archduke Ferdinand II's marriage to his brother's betrothed, Maria of Spain, has not turned out well.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Janos Sigismund Zapolya is crowned King of Hungary in early 1565, at a lavish ceremony in Buda, by his chaplain, the Unitarian "Archbishop of Esztergozem", Ferenic David. Although his title is hotly contested in a war of succession that is, itself, part of an even larger war, he is shortly thereafter acknowledged as the sole, legitimate ruler by most of the major powers in Europe.
  • Babies Ever After: Not only for Queen Anne, but also for her children, ensuring the survival of the Tudor Dynasty.
  • Badass Beard: Henry Howard, Duke of Norfolk, possesses "incredible facial hair" which is emulated by the young Henry IX.
  • Badass Boast: Francis von Gifhorn has a medal struck when his leg is amputated with the motto "Altera Restat"—roughly translated, "I've still got the other one".
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Edward, Duke of York - a trait he inherited from his grandfather, Henry VII.
  • Badass Preacher: Daniel O'Farrell—or Donal o Fearghail—founder of the Irish Originalists, spreads his message of a nationalistic, Anabaptist Irish church with eloquence, dedication, and bands of armed followers.
  • Bad Boss: Henry VIII presently tops the list, though Ivan IV is working hard to dethrone him.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Played straight with some such as Henry IX Tudor, subverted for many others, such as Charles, Prince of the Asturias, or his cousin, Charles Francis of Tyrol.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Both Charles Stuart and his cousin Antoinette Stuart are this as regards the Scottish throne—while rather desperate to present themselves as the perfect rigid Catholic claimant to the throne, in contrast to the Protestant-friendly moderate Mary, both lack the brains and the charm to be a real threat. After Henry and Mary's marriage, Charles Stuart becomes this to the entire British monarchy, upgrading his claims, while remaining a lightweight.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Henry VIII's Nonsuch Castle, a giant white elephant that his children sell off as quickly as possible.
  • 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—and the Guelphs of Brunswick, a tangled mess of siblings and cousins whose differences on religion and inheritances have turned their duchy into a bloody battleground in the Second Schmalkaldic War.
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: Arthur Fitzroy is born at the same time his father is dying in another room.
  • Bling of War: While most nobles like this, the Wettins appear to especially make a point of it.
  • Blue Blood: Given that it's the Renaissance, they're around.
  • Butt-Monkey: Prince Vladimir of Starista frequently serves as one for his cousin, Ivan IV of Russia. One of the many less pleasant aspects of Ivan's reign.
  • The Caligula: Ivan IV is... slightly odd.
  • Call-Back: Two years after Princess Margaret Tudor pleads with her mother to "please, please let her marry the Prince of Transylvania," Princess Antoinette Stuart pleads with her older sister to "please, please let her marry Lennox." Then, years after that, Margaret pleads with her husband to "please, please, PLEASE become the King of Bohemia."
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: "Grim Ned" Tudor does have a sense of humor; it's just not that comprehensible to most.
  • 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. And the sudden deaths of his father and grandfather bring King Leander of Portugal to the throne as a toddler, as was the case with the original timeline's King Sebastian.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Friedrich von Simmern, the Elector Palatine, is happy to play both sides of the religious divide in the Holy Roman Empire against each other, in order to solidify power in the face of an interregnum for the throne. And he's also happy to turn on anybody who stands in his way, even his erstwhile allies.
  • Church Militant: Protestant Archbishop-Elector of Cologne Salentin von Isenburg got the job in the middle of a war because he was a formidable general and was annointed in full armor, resulting in his nickname, "Panzerprest". Needless to say, his reign has not been one of love, peace and understanding.
  • Civil War: Several nations are prone to them, most notably the Holy Roman Empire. So far the worst of them has been the Second Schmalkaldic War, a three-way struggle which is steadily overturning much of the old Imperial consensus, as well as setting off quite a few wars elsewhere.
  • Comforting the Widow: Done by Edward, Duke of York, of all people. The widow in question is Diane de la Marck and he's even responsible for the death of her husband.
  • The Consigliere: Duke Augustus von Wettin of Saxe-Weisenfels serves the rest of the Wettins in this fashion, balancing out his cousin, John Frederick II's Honor Before Reason philosophy with pragmatic diplomacy and common sense advice.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Ivan IV tends to spout off half-a-dozen of crazy theories of who wants to kill him whenever things don't go his way. As he's Tsar of Russia, this makes his court quite dangerous.
  • Cultured Badass: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Among others.
  • Dead Guy Junior:
    • Edward Tudor names his eldest son after his prematurely-deceased younger brother Thomas. And then he dies too.
    • John Christian's eldest daughter is named Mary, presumably after his mother.
    • Guildford Dudley's second son is named Robert, presumably after his older brother.
  • Death by Childbirth: Mary Tudor and Philippine Welser. Maria of Portugal suffers a Death by Miscarriage.
  • Defector from Decadence: Prince Henri of Valois, Duke of Orleans, by primogeniture the rightful heir to the throne of France, whose place in the line of succession becomes disputed when it becomes clear that he is a Huguenot. He flees the royal court in Paris into the bosom of his coreligionists, and is officially removed from the succession by the Estates-General in 1563. Against the advice of his more pragmatic supporters (and unlike his Real Life cousin, Henri IV) he refuses to renounce his Protestantism for a chance at the throne.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Once again, Ivan IV is... slightly odd.
  • Different World, Different Movies: Occasionally, scenes from media produced in the 20th century (with a contemporary setting - in other words, this timeline's version of costume dramas) will be depicted, to compare and contrast with the action unfolding in the updates proper. No detail has been given as to the technology used to produce this media.
    • It has been revealed that William Shakespeare's "brother", John Shaxper, will write several different plays from what Will wrote in our history.
  • The Ditherer: Henry II of France is not good with decisions.
  • The Ditz: Antoinette Stuart, completely out of her element despite being of royal blood and upbringing, and having an excellent claim to the thrones of England and Scotland. Made all the more apparent by her being in the constant presence of women who are far more competent than she is: her sister Mary, Queen of Scots; Catherine de Medici; and even her own grandmother and namesake, Antoinette, Dowager Duchess of Guise.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • A great deal of attention is devoted to the rather colourful and questionably-competent reign of Frederick II of Denmark. He dies suddenly after getting drunk and drowning in a full suit of armour.
    • After an astonishing winning streak in Hungary, with their usually-formidable adversary hamstrung by logistics, Margaret Tudor, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, dies of typhus. Her husband soon follows in an act of grief-induced recklessness.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Ivan tops his long-mistreatment of his cousin, Vladimir of Starista by ordering him and his family to drink poison for their "disloyalty". Vladimir does so—but not before demonstrating that if he was genuinely disloyal, Ivan would be a dead man.
  • Dysfunctional Family: All over the place, and typically running nations and declaring wars. The results speak for themselves...
  • El Cid Ploy: A variation is done by Sokullu Mehmet Pasha when Suleiman the Magnificent dies on the way to the front. Based on an actual historical event, no less.
  • Elective Monarchy: Several, including the Holy Roman Empire...
  • Elopement: In contrast to his siblings, Henry IX's marriage to Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots is one of these.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: A grandiose painting featuring his toddler self as Cupid is implied to become the pre-photography equivalent of this to Arthur Tudor.
  • 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.
  • Epic Fail: Numerous instances. Examples include the young Earl of Lennox's attempt to two-time the Stewart sisters, his later effort to usurp the Scottish throne, his later efforts as a pretender to both the Scottish and English thrones—well, let's just say that Lennox's career is made of this.
  • Everyone Has Standards: John Knox falls afoul of this twice. He mocks the staunchly Protestant Earl of Argyll for being upset at the gruesome deaths of Catholic women and children at the hands of Irish Originalists, whereupon the Earl punches him out. Then he completely botches his meeting with the newly-Huguenot Princess Antoinette by insulting her late mother.
  • Exact Words:
    [Arthur Fitzroy] rather notoriously took a large sum of money from a Venetian ambassador on one occasion in return for a promise to give him 'vital information', then said to the poor man 'You have wasted a great deal of money'. And then Arthur tweeked the ambassador's nose.
  • Face Death with Dignity: The sons of Prince Bayezid are much better at this than their father, despite one of them being twelve.
  • Fearless Fool: Francis von Gifhorn, one of the many Guelph Dukes of Brunswick, demonstrates that his courage outweighs his sense of tactics.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: Catherine Howard
  • Feuding Families: As noted, they're all over the place—the Hapsburgs and the Valois, the Tudors and the Hapsburgs, the Tudors and the Valois, the Wettins and the Hapsburgs, the Vasas and the Oldenburgs, the Vasas and the Vasas...
  • Florence Nightingale Effect:
    • Invoked after Henri II suffers a (non-fatal) jousting accident, when one of the young women being promoted as a new mistress is sent to take care of him.
    • Prince Charles takes care of his new bride Elizabeth after she's stricken with smallpox, and she takes care of him when he falls ill himself.
  • The Fool: Janos Sigismund Zapolya, Prince of Transylvania, trusts in God and doing the right thing to get him through the world of Renaissance politics. He's doing surprisingly well.
  • Footnote Fever: To the point of having 75 footnotes in his post covering the year 1566.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Despite being deliberately vague and opaque about future events, Space Oddity has rather surprisingly revealed that Henry IX and Mary's son, Arthur, will become the first of a long line of Tudor Kings of Britain.
  • Foreshadowing: Constantly.
  • Friendly Enemy: Henry IX of England and Philip II of Spain
  • From Bad to Worse: The situation in France as the Second Schmalkaldic War rages; on matters of religion, France would much rather destroy itself from within.
  • Gambit Pileup: The many Hapsburg-Valois Italian wars tend to go like this...
  • The Gambling Addict: Catherine Howard, whose first appearance had her begging for money for things that she swore weren't gambling debts.
  • Genius Bruiser: John Frederick the Younger, Elector of Saxony, a big, burly German warlord—who is also a cultured Renaissance Prince who can quote Suetonius from memory.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Mary Stewart, Queen of the Scots, and her little sister Antoinette have one of these going on—however as they are royalty, the stakes are a bit higher than most...
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Maria of Spain, self-proclaimed "Queen of the Romans" (a title which does not exist), a domineering battle-axe who is eager to rehabilitate the reputation of the Austrian Hapsburgs by any means necessary.
  • Gold Digger: Catherine Howard, when she is not being a Femme Fatale.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In an attempt to encourage the Irish to turn Protestant, Queen Anne has the Bible and The Life of Luther translated into Gaelic and sold in Ireland. As a result, many Irish do turn Protestant — but instead of becoming Anglican, they turn to Irish Originalism, a sect that is even more strongly opposed to English rule in Ireland. (The translator of The Life of Luther was Donal o Fearghail.)
    • Similarly, Anne's daughter Elizabeth, who fancies herself The Chessmaster in the making, convinces her younger sister Margaret to marry Janos Zapolya, the Prince of Transylvania, in hopes of securing outside support for her bid to make her husband, Elector John Frederick of Saxony, the next Holy Roman Emperor. The HRE then gets embroiled in a long and complicated war of succession, which allows Janos to consolidate enough support with Hungarians to be crowned their King over the Hapsburg candidate - this means that Margaret, as Queen of Hungary, now outranks the "mere" Electress of Saxony in the customary order of precedence, and there's still no guarantee that Elizabeth will become the Empress.
  • 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.
  • Happily Married: A number of examples
  • He's Just Hiding!: Many inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire have had this reaction to the execution (by his father's orders) of the popular Prince Mustafa—to date, two pretenders to his identity have arisen to lead rebellions. invoked
  • 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 Schmalkaldic League also survives in this timeline, with John Frederick of Saxony at its head.
  • Heroic BSoD: Ferdinand of Austria has suffered several since the beginning of the Second Schmalkaldic War one at the disastrous Battle of Pilsen, another when he discovers his father's death by being locked out of Prague, and—once it seems like he's getting better—the death of his beloved mistress.
  • Hordes from the East: Livonia and Poland face invasion from Russia. And of course, there are the Turks.
  • Hot-Blooded: Several characters, among them, Arthur Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Sommerset, and John Frederick II, Elector of Saxony.
  • Hot Consort: Possessed by both Henry IX of England and Mary, Queen of Scots. In the form of each other.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The Archduke Ferdinand's quiet domestic relationship with his mistress is largely an expression of this. At one point, King Erik of Sweden runs off to live as a peasant while insisting that his late brother Johan is the king.
  • Idle Rich: Ercole d'Este, brother of the Duke of Ferrara and nephew to The Pope, is an honest-to-goodness Rich Idiot with No Day Job. He is however getting better.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Charles Stuart, Earl of Lennox, and later pretender to the Crowns of England and Scotland, tries to be a dangerous intriguer. 'Tries to be' being the operative words.
  • Insufferable Genius: Anne Boleyn is implied to be this at times.
  • Insult Backfire: The Duke of Norfolk is happy to hear that John Calvin called him a libertine, reinterpreting it to mean a proponent of liberty. Earlier, he was also delighted to be excommunicated. "She-Wolf of England" might become this for Elizabeth Tudor.
  • It's All About Me: The standard attitude of many kings, queens, and nobles at this time, though some are worse than others. Henry VIII of England, and Henry II of France are both particularly dominated by this kind of thinking.
  • Jerkass: Quite a few monarchs qualify, though Henry VIII, Francois I, and Henry II of France probably top the bill.
  • Karmic Death: The fate of the bishop who has Wilhelm von Grumbach abducted and gruesomely killed, as he's dragged from his horse and dismembered by an angry mob during his triumphal parade.
  • King Bob the Nth: There are numbered Kings, Dukes, Princes, and even Counts aplenty, such as Count Gunther XLI von Schwarzberg.
  • 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.
  • Lady Macbeth: Electress Elizabeth Tudor has big plans for her husband, the Elector of Saxony. Something of a subversion as neither she nor her husband are villains.
  • Large and in Charge: Several examples:
    • Henry IX is well over six feet tall. His wife Mary, Queen of Scots, is six feet tall exactly.
  • Lemony Narrator: As noted, the TL's narrator takes an undeniably sarcastic view of history.
    • The narrator also makes no attempt to feign objectivity; he will always let his opinions colour his descriptions of the actions that characters take.
  • Like Father, Like Son: John Maurice Oldenburg of Holstein-Schleswig-Haderslev, the "loud, gluttonous, stinky" son of John Christian, the wholly unpalatable son of Mary Tudor (daughter of Henry VIII). Even his father acknowledges he's "odiferous".
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: As the timeline has continued, the changes have involved an ever-widening group of people.
  • Lord Error-Prone: Archduke Charles Francis of Austria has spent his military career in the Second Schmalkaldic War alienating Hapsburg allies, and making their overall situation worse.
  • Loser Son of Loser Dad: Henry Cromwell, 3rd Earl of Essex, is viewed by his fellows in Ireland as the same incompetent lightweight as his father, Gregory, a fact that his fussiness over clothes only increases. Turns out, he isn't.
  • Mad Hatter: Magnus Vasa may be crazy, but he doesn't let that hold him back.
  • Madness Mantra: "They despise me, they curse me, they spit on me."
  • The Magnificent: Quite a few royals have and nobles have such nicknames, including Ottoman Sultan Suleiman... the Magnificent.
  • Malicious Slander: Against the Cardinal of Lorraine, who is made the scapegoat in the latest round of religious squabbles taking place in France. Like Cromwell, he retires from court before a worse fate might befall him.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Anne Boleyn, once again.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Played for laughs in Protestant propaganda, which labels the stubborn and aggressive Maria of Spain the real King of the Romans.
  • May–December Romance: As in Real Life, the affair between Henry II of France and Diane de Poitiers.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The aging Suleiman the Magnificent, in the twilight of his reign, wants to get involved in the Second Schmalkaldic War as a chance to resume their stalled expansion into Europe and seek a rematch with the Hapsburgs.
    • The Second Schmalkaldic War itself shifts from being a war between the Emperor and the Elector of Saxony and a war between three different factions within the Empire relatively early in the fight.
  • The Mistress: Quite a few monarchs, rulers, and men of note have them. Most notably, Henry II of France leans heavily on both his first mistress, Diane de Poitiers, and his second, Francoise de Enghien, while Ferdinand II of Austria practically views Philippine Welser as a second wife.
    • But averted by the man who in our reality is known as one of the famous philanderers in England, Henry VIII, once he finally weds Anne Boleyn. He tries to hook up with Jane Seymour as he did in our history, but Anne puts the kibosh on that and, as she is the mother of his son and heir, the King reluctantly accedes.
    • Also averted by Henry IX, who is often described as far less experienced with women than he lets on, and never has any serious dalliances during his bachelorhood, to the point that he might even still be a virgin by the time he finally marries Mary, Queen of Scots, at the age of 26 (giving him something in common with his historical sister). This is actually in keeping with the men of his dynasty, apart from his father.
  • Momma's Boy: Prince Henri Valois is described as his mother Catherine de' Medici's favorite. His father's interference in his life makes things worse whereas IOTL Catherine managed.
    • Charles, Earl of Lennox, loses the respect of his rebel leaders when a brief conversation with his mother convinces him to flee.
    • Anne Boleyn can cow her sons well into adulthood. Henry IX rebels against her influence as a teen and an adult, but he's uncomfortable when she calls him out on his elopement. Anne also convinces Edward to fulfill his betrothal to Madeline of Navarre.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: The wedding of John Frederick the Younger and Princess Elizabeth Tudor is "the joining of [the evangelical Protestant world's] two great dynasties—sorry, Denmark."
  • 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. invoked
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Charles Emmanuel de Savoie, heir to the Duchy of Savoy and Doge of Genoa is called "Testa di Sangue", which means "the Head of Blood", and is often rendered "Bloodyhead" in translation. He's earned that nickname.
  • Nasty Party: "Mughal Emperor" Akbar is the recipient of one by his host Shah Tahmasp, though it ends in his arrest, rather than his murder. That comes when he reaches the court of his rival, Islam Shah Suri.
  • Never Live It Down: Philip of Hesse's bigamous marriage regularly undermines his position in the Schmalkaldic League. invoked
  • Never My Fault: Played up in an in-universe dramatization—after his cousin Prince Vladimir dies dramatically proving his innocence, Ivan IV is grief-stricken and repentant for all of two minutes before blaming the rest of his court for leading him astray and starting another round of executions.
  • Noodle Implements: The incident that got Ercole of Ferrara kicked out of the church involved "a brothel, an almoner, a barrel of wine and a mule".
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Charles von Hapsburg, Prince of the Asturias strikes a French ambassador sent to see him as a pliable weak-willed young man, thus making him the ideal prospect for marriage to a French princess who might be able to... get him to see thing's France's way. Which is exactly what Charles wanted him to think.
  • Omniglot: Charles von Hapsburg, Prince of the Asturias speaks Castilian Spanish, Catalan, French, Portuguese and several Italian tongues fluently, as well as being literate in Latin and Greek.
  • One Steve Limit: As is standard among royals, especially in this era, strongly averted.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Francis von Gifhorn reacts this way to taking a bolt to the leg. This does not go well for him.
  • Only Sane Man: There seems to be one for every new angry mob, conspiracy, and coup d'etat.
  • Perilous Old Fool: Suleiman the Magnificent, eager for a rematch with Austria, to the clear horror of most of his relatives and courtiers.
  • 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).
  • Poor Communication Kills: In the Second Schmalkaldic War, Archduke Charles Francis winds up attacking the holdings of some of his own Protestant allies, causing them to attack him, thus scuppering the entire alliance.
  • 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.
    • The Kirk: Henry, Prince of Wales. Later King Henry IX.
    • The Spock: Edward, Duke of York.
    • The McCoy: Arthur Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset.
  • Principles Zealot: The neo-Cathars are an entire society of these.
  • Psycho for Hire: Margrave Albert von Hohenzollern fights with a brutal disregard of others—and for money.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: To reiterate, Ivan IV of Russia is... slightly odd.
  • Puppet King: While he does actually hold power, Henry II of France's highly suggestible nature frequently turns him into one for his advisors.
  • Rags to Royalty: Erik Vasa's wife and queen, Karin Mannsdotter is a former peasant. Many of his subjects consider Erik's marriage to her to be a sign of mental instability.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: The numerous hobbies of the Prince of Asturias include joining his wife in playing with her doll collection.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Happens to Dom Antonio, Prior of Crato when he meddles in a Portuguese regency dispute; he's dispatched to the colony of Malacca.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Dispatched by his father to suppress rebellion in the Low Countries, Prince Charles rides right into Brussels alone and says hello.
  • Reluctant Psycho: Erik XIV genuinely suffers from his mental illness, which increases the tensions of being King of Sweden, and renders him incapable of ruling during one of his spells.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Archduke Ferdinand of Austria finds himself forced to take the place of his elder brother Maximillian when the latter is killed in a war, right down to the latter's previously planned marriage.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder:
    Ercole d'Este: Cowards! Worthless cowards! Dirty worthless cowards! Do you want to live forever?
    Fleeing soldier: No, sir, no, sir, I do not. But I also don't wish to die for a lost cause at the price of a quarter-ducat.
  • Rightful King Returns: Invoked in universe by Janos Zapolya, Prince of Transylvania, when he makes a bid for the Hungarian throne. And it works.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: All over the place. In some cases, it would be better if they stopped...
  • Ruling Couple: Several, but the most notable would be King Henry IX of England and Mary, Queen of Scots, Protestantism's version of Ferdinand and Isabella.
  • Schmuck Bait: At the Battle of Pilsen, John Frederick II arranges one flank to appear weaker, to invite an attack—that will bring the attacking forces into the range of his artillery.
  • Serious Business:
    • The "Dispute of the Hymnals", fought between the "Libertine" and "Puritan" factions of the Church of England over... how to sing in church.
    • The escalating argument between the young kings of Sweden and Denmark over the number of symbolic crowns on their national coats of arms, leading to, quote, "YET ANOTHER WAR SCARE."
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Count Gunther XLI von Schwarzberg, Archduke Ferdinand's brother-in-law, considers himself an invaluable expert on war. This shows little evidence of being the case.
  • Smug Snake: Cardinal Charles de Bourbon fancies himself a masterful manipulator, and yet his scheming hasn't helped him that much...
  • Spare to the Throne: Quite a few, some of whom have gotten bumped up in the line of succession.
  • 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. Oddly, this is presented as Mary changing her name to snub the French, whereas OTL it was her counterpart who first started using the 'u' spelling.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Margaret Tudor is the baby of the family and the family beauty, but her most notable character trait is her piety, which takes the form of promoting religious tolerance, believing that her husband is destined to be king of Bohemia and Hungary, and quoting the Bible in letters.
  • Standard Royal Court: Pretty much all the kingdoms have these. Some, like France, are a bit nastier than others...
  • The Starscream: Frederick von Simmern, Elector-Palatinate spends much of his time in the Schmalkaldic League trying to form his own breakaway, Calvinist version of it. And he succeeds, though said group proves extremely chaotic and difficult to control.
  • State Sec: Ivan the Terrible's Oprichniki serve as a Renaissance equivalent to this. Among other things...
  • Statuesque Stunner: Mary of Scotland
  • Stealth Pun: For perfectly legitimate reasons, the two half-French princesses of Scotland are named Marie (Mary) and Antoinette.
  • 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".
  • Streisand Effect: In the midst of religious controversy in France, one of Henri II's young sons (his namesake, at that) decides he's a Huguenot; his father's harsh overreaction makes him even more devoted to what might have been a passing phase otherwise (which happened historically when his mother handled it). invoked
    • Similarly, Philip II bans a satirical pamphlet lampooning Spain's absurdly isolationist foreign policy... which results in it being the most read work in Spain after The Bible.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Catherine Howard isn't going to use money sent to her to pay off gambling debts, honestly...
  • Tangled Family Tree: The Hapsburgs have an extra-tangled one. The results have not been pretty.note 
  • 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.
    • Her daughter-in-law, Mary, Queen of Scots (and Queen Consort of England), seems to be following in her footsteps.
  • Those Two Guys: Edward and Thomas Seymour show up whenever a kangaroo court needs witnesses until they inform on each other
  • Too Dumb to Live: Prince Charles of Orleans, shot by an offended defender while riding around the walls of Luxembourg without any clothes on.
    Author's Note: You just can't butterfly away massive stupidity.
  • Took a Level in Badass: John Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslav has grown from an obnoxious, tight-fisted, horny teenager to a Deadpan Snarker financial wizard who's also Tycho Brahe's pen pal and ahead of his time in his treatment of Danish commoners.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Prince Charles von Hapsburg thinks of his marriage to Elizabeth de Valois as this, starting off with greeting his future wife as an angel; Elizabeth is gratified after spending a childhood with a much prettier younger sister.
  • Unusual Euphemism
    • Regarding Mary Tudor's son John Christian:
      The young Danish nobleman cuts his classes at Wittenberg to meet the young Anna, who he then wins over by a burning revelation of his passion to her in a small secluded forest. He follows this up by a burning revelation of his passion to her in her dressing chamber, then in her bedroom, and then he manages a quick one in her uncle's bedroom.
    • Regarding John Frederick II's younger brother:
      John William, like his brother, married a Princess—in his case, Anne of Denmark. And while his brother has been galavanting all over the Empire, John William has been staying at home, galavanting all over her.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: It's been mentioned in passing that "Mughal Emperor" Akbar is a pretender to a nonexistant empire who's been a long-time guest of the Persian Shah. This major alteration to the original timeline is viewed as a fairly minor matter by the timeline's inhabitants.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Thomas Trilby, Bishop of Westminster, "assists" Edmund Grindal, Bishop of London, with a minor dispute in such a way as to turn the entire thing into a national controversy over the proper forms of worship.invoked
  • Violent Glaswegian: The Scots, as always, don't take too kindly to outside interference.
  • War Is Hell/War Is Glorious: Both tropes are on display during the Second Schmalkaldic War which features both daring battles and acts of brutal savagery.
  • 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 Hapsburgs don't crush them out of existence.
    • Similarly, the participants in the first Pilgrimage of the Faithful can't seem to agree on anything. One infamous incident occurs in Linconshire, where a group of "Marians" (supporters of Princess Mary) are assaulted by their fellow Pilgrims, who call them "rebels" and "traitors".
  • Wham Episode: The timeline is very liberally sprinkled with them.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: The Duke of Alba is very good at killing people, even when he really shouldn't.
    Author commentary: When you are one of the best damn hammerers in the world, able to hammer things in and have other people say 'Damn! Look at that guy hammering!' the temptation is there to WANT to see every problem as a nail.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist:
    • Janos Sigismund Zapolya, the Prince of Transylvania, advocates religious pluralism... in the sixteenth century. He's backed up by his wife, Margaret Tudor.
    • Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria. Unsurprisingly, European political intrigues chew him up and spit him out.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Anne has a touch of this.
  • Wretched Hive: The Barbary States are not fun places to hang out.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: Regarding the belief that Magnus Vasa is so Royally Screwed Up he thinks he's Jesus Christ:
    The rumors are completely wrong. Magnus merely believes he's the prophesized First Horseman of the Apocolypse who rides a white horse and comes conquering and to conquer. He is deeply—DEEPLY—offended when people get it mixed-up.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Charles, the Prince of Asturias, proves enough of a threat to his father's rule over Spain that he is eventually sent to the Low Countries - which is what he wanted all along.
  • You Have Failed Me: A popular response from the more tyrannical rulers for any percieved failings. Henry VIII and Ivan IV are both fans of it...


Example of: