Advice on what would happen if the Aztecs defeated the Spanish in 1520 and how would it happen?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Sapphire Williams, Mar 8, 2019.

  1. minifidel Well-Known Member

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    European expeditions numbered in the hundreds for decades, even after the successful conquest of Mexico; any amount of organized resistance is liable to slow down their expansion, and while they had stone age weapons, they were just as complex and advanced socially as their European counterparts, and would adapt quickly to new technology and techniques as they filter through during communication. Even extending the timeframe of Mexican conquest from OTLs decades to, as an example, North America's far more gradual, centuries-long colonization would radically alter the entire history of colonization, especially since it was the first expedition to really achieve spectacular success, and thus the mission that every Conquistador tried to emulate.
     
  2. marathag Well-Known Member

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    Which still would do them no good against disease, and armored horsemen

    They don't have Iron, and Bronze technology was very limited.

    It's similar to torturing a Grey Alien on how to make an Anti-Matter powered Warp Drive with 21stC tech. You don't even have the Tools that can make the Tools needed for that sort of creation.

    It's just doesn't do you much good in the short term. All you can reveal is that you are totally screwed. Squanto couldn't save the Wampanoag with what he learned from the Spanish and English
     
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  3. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    You can’t adopt to a new technology if you only can see the final products and have no idea how they were made. And to get that idea they’d need to have a reasonably advanced metallurgy (not to mention technology for making a gunpowder, etc.). As far as the Aztecs are involved, not sure about a comparable degree of their social advancement but their habit of sacrificing the prisoners (surely a sign of a developed society) would make a learning process rather complicated and not very productive. Well, not to mention a sad fact that for their neighbors even the Spaniards looked like an attractive alternative. BTW, Spanish conquest of Mexico (in the colonial terms) lasted for centuries but AFAIK the conquered tribes (all the way to California) did not manage to develop their own firearms.

    As for the initial success as a stimulus, only the 3rd expedition into Mexico was successful which means that the Spaniards kept trying regardless the failures.
     
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  4. Richard V Well-Known Member

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    Private expeditions numbered in the hundreds only because that’s all it took to conquer empires. Had Cortez failed the Spanish would conclude he did pretty well with what he had and next time they need a proper state sponsored mission with a real army. By then the Aztec population would be collapsing and totally unable to adapt fast enough.

    Take the example of the state sponsored Portuguese conquest of Indian coastal cities. A combined force of Gujarat, Calicut, the Mamluks, supported by Venice were crushed at the Battle of Diu in 1509. These were advanced kingdoms with muskets, warships, steel weapons and armor, cavalry and disease resistance. The plague stricken Aztecs with some horses and captured kit will amount to nothing.

    The settlement of what became the United States was slower because it was colonization not conquest. The high population of the Aztec Empire made them attractive because their people can be exploited for slave labor. The Spanish didn’t go to Mexico or Peru to farm but to live like lords on encomiendas. By the time the upstart English arrived the Spaniards had already conquered everything worth conquering so the English had to take what’s left: settler colonization which is still a damned good deal.

    The answer to this thread depends on whether you believe the Europeans would give up conquering easily subduable empires or engage in massive landgrab of vast temperate farmlands just because a small time amatuer like Cortez snatched defeat from the jaws of unimaginable victory.
     
  5. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    You can still make explosive rockets and grenades easily. "This powder blows stuff up" is an easy concept to grasp and requires only a simple tech base, so they can make little clay pots full of the stuff, light the fuse and throw, would make a decent weapon and fuck up a Spanish formation in the Andes just fine. From there, a basic rocket is a matter of getting something into a regular-ish tube, packing in the gunpowder, and setting it off.

    Making black powder is incredibly simple once you know what goes into it, it's a much more basic level of chemistry than metallurgy and such, and requires much less in the way of sophisticated machinery. For a state as organized on a large scale and with as developed of a state organization as the Tawantinsuyu (comparable to the Roman Empire, broadly speaking), developing a domestic black powder industry, recognizing the potential of the technology, and dedicating enough resources to develop further black powder technologies, is entirely possible.

    So, making grenades, which are more than sufficient to even the odds in a mountainous environment, is easy. Making rockets is a step beyond that, and making a really basic crappy arquebus a step beyond that. The arquebus requires metal in a tube, a piece of wood, and a rock or lead in a sphere. That can be done with bronze and a two-handed sort of thing with a match-carrier for every aimer. Considerably less effective than what the Spanish have, but the Tawantinsuyu have home field advantage and will likely already have grenades and rockets to go along with the basic firearms.

    Once you unhorse the Spanish cavalry, they're basically sitting ducks. The Spanish will learn and turn their cavalry into glorified mounted infantry. Tawantinsuyu will have a vast maneuver advantage and once they've developed those laughably simple grenades, they can mix some rocks in with the mix and have a basic fragmentation bomb to use on the more vulnerable legs of the Spanish soldiers. Get them into a packed valley where the natives have the altitude advantage, toss some "frag" grenades, move in with melee weapons while they're on the ground, and finish the job.

    It would be rough, but plausible.

    Further, I think that your comparison of the Wampanoag, a tribal society with limited territorial control and even more limited state development, to the far larger state of the Tawantinsuyu, with its institutionalized ethnic cleansing and formalized imperial rule, is somewhat facetious. Pre-gunpowder tech isn't that hard to grasp across the various stages of its development, it's more a matter of state and society development, where the Tawantinsuyu were the clear leader in the Americas pre-colonization.
     
  6. marathag Well-Known Member

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    It's incredibly easy, if you have basic Chemistry of 800AD or so, and know the exact composition of what you are going for

    They weren't at that level.

    Now I could do BP production, if I wanted, for pounds of the stuff

    Scaling the process up to supply an Army, that's a whole different matter. It's more than getting a few tons of charcoal, birdshit and some sulfur and slamming it together at the right ratio. The processes do not scale up from job lot to industrial just by doing things bigger
     
  7. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    Oh, come on. The Incas had information recording, complex road systems, etc--state development was easily at the Roman Empire level and that is more than enough to catch up rapidly and figure out scaled-up powder production. When you have continent-spanning state-maintained trade routes like that, getting state arms manufacturing going isn't that had.

    This was a state that had figured out how to manage regular expansion and assimilation of other cultures through state-run forced population migration. That is an advanced imperial state of the kind that had only re-developed in Europe a couple hundred years before Columbus showed up and started genociding the Tainos and Caribs. There is absolutely no reason why the Tawantinsuyu can't tech up to be able to defend their core territory from Spanish invasion attempts within a decade or two. Which is also plenty of time for population to start the rebound phase.
     
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  8. Gloss Well-Known Member

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    Within a decade or 2? According to this idea there should be absolutely no difference in technology anywhere then if a state manages to adopt and implement technologies that fast ehile experiencing a population decline and recovering from a civil war.

    It took Europe between a century and one and a half to start growing to their early 14th century levep, it will take Americans centuries at least.
     
  9. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    Sorry, I should've been more clear. It shouldn't take the Incas more than 20 years after learning about gunpowder and how to make it to figure out basic shrapnel grenades, which would IMO be enough to overcome Spanish military advantages (keep in mind, Spanish tech is built for flat battlefields and primarily body shots from primitive firearms--it's not meant for protecting the legs from shrapnel in an Andean valley) on their Andean home turf.

    The Incas will take a beating, probably getting hammered back into their Peruvian core over the course of of a few decades, but IMO it's plausible for the state to survive and adapt. Metallurgy will take 1-2 centuries at least even with bribing European defectors, but if the Spanish aren't expanding as aggressively (see the discussion above about the demographic pressures in the Caribbean and the potential consequences to those demographic pressures of news filtering back about a bloody slog through Central America and many failed expeditions), it's entirely plausible IMO for the Tawantinsuyu to make it through and then start modernizing in earnest by the 17th century.
     
  10. Richard V Well-Known Member

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    Uh the Portuguese defeated Indian armies and they had muskets and bronze cannons.

    Granted it is possible for the Aztec to beat Cortez and Incas to beat Pizarro, but those guys were claim jumpers trying to get an early conquest ahead of state backed armies. Native empires have no chance against those. Spain will not sit back and pursue peaceful trading anymore than the Portuguese did in India.
     
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  11. Milites Not a sahib

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    I know that, to a certain extent, this all comes down to apples and oranges, but the Portuguese presence in India was overwhelmingly characterised by peaceful trading. There were several military confrontations between the Portuguese and various Indian states and statelets, but on the whole the Portuguese were content to sit on a few strong-points and tap into the extremely profitable Indian spice trade.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
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  12. Skraea Well-Known Member

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    The Aztec were pretty much hosed anyway. While most Mesoamerican cultures practiced human sacrifice,the Aztecs took the practice to extreme levels and so alienated their neighbors with the Flower Wars,that eventually an alliance or coalition would'v brought them down. Beyond that,there was Eurasian disease like smallpox which would and did decimate their population in OTL. The Incas who had a better infrastructure got conquered. Even if you could somehow butterfly away the conquistadors or Columbus(doubtful in the need for a new Spice Route),the Aztecs days as the dominant superpower were numbered.
     
  13. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    Which would put them 3 centuries ahead of the Europeans: shrapnel was invented only in 1806. Primitive ceramic hand grenades appeared in Europe in the XVII century (and proved to be too inefficient to be used on a battlefield) so your Incas would be centuries ahead of the Europeans. :winkytongue:

    Of course, they'd still be in a stone age unless they are going to "figure out" an advanced metallurgy and technology necessary for making a gunpowder within a couple of decades just by looking at the Spanish arquebuses but the trifles like that would hardly matter.
     
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  14. RGB Unqueering the Academia

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    Canister is pretty old and so is scrap-shot, but both require guns which requires either some real mastery of bronze or a lot of experience with cast iron, which took the Chinese/Europeans/Muslims several centuries to get to a useful state and iirc was never adopted by anyone outside those cultural spheres even when arquebouses and muskets and even rifles were.
     
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  15. marathag Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it was hard. At the time, European chemical knowledge was pretty much still alchemy, believing that there was phlogiston content in various compounds.
    Charcoal was thought to be high in phlogiston content, since it burned well, and the saltpeter made it burn faster.

    No one could agree on the best way to get saltpeter, other than to boil soil that had urine dumped on it for over a year or the discovery of the occasional cave with it.

    It wasn't til the 1770s that Lavoisier figured out that there must be oxygen in air as well as in solid compounds that promoted combustion, and the best ratio to get the most effective gunpowder.
     
  16. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    Technology doesn't advance at a steady rate. The Chinese had gunpowder for how long before they figured out the cannon? Japan had matchlocks for centuries without figuring out flintlocks or anything like that.

    If they have a Spaniard who knows how to make gunpowder, then they can learn how to do it pretty fast. Black powder requires the kind of chemistry so primitive it was invented when people were still drinking mercury thinking it was an elixir of life. Even a flashbang grenade would be tremendously useful against cavalry, and what exactly is STOPPING primitive shrapnel bombs from being developed?
     
  17. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    I know but I was commenting to the "... figure out basic shrapnel grenades" :winkytongue:
     
  18. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    So you are saying that Chinese were few orders of magnitude dumber than the Aztecs and Incas who would presumably be able to make it from a stone age into an advanced usage of a gunpowder in couple decades? What's your point?


    In the case of Japan they did not have to "figure out" flintlocks because they were available from the foreign traders. It is just that at the time of Tokugawa Ieyasu they were not widely used in Europe and not as reliable as matchlocks and later it was an explicit policy of the Shogunate to preserve status quo as much as possible. In an absence of the foreign wars the existing weaponry was OK but this does not mean that Japanese were completely oblivious of the modern developments.

    And if they may contact with the friendly ASBs they can get the machine guns at no time. :winkytongue:

    Generally, the soldiers were not making their own gunpowder and were not specialists in metallurgy either (aka, were not making their own swords, crossbows and firearms so catching a Spanish soldier would not result in development of a modern arsenal).

    However, it took centuries before technology of making the effective "corned" gunpowder was developed.

    Why do you think the hand grenades had not been widely used in Europe until modern times? And why even in the modern times it is recommended to throw grenades from a covered position or at least to fell on a ground after throwing it? Anyway, taking into an account that the primitive hand grenades would not yet appear in Europe for at least a century, your Aztecs/Incas/<whoever> are surely much more inventive than their opponents.

    BTW, cavalry routinely represented only a fraction of the conquistador bands (in the case of Cortes expedition Bernal Diaz gave a detailed description of each horse brought to the mainland): the main job had been done by an infantry and the hand grenades would be useless both on a considerable distance (unlike the firearms and crossbows) and in a close combat (unlike swords) which was Spanish "winning formula" according to Diaz. Anyway, in the case of the Aztecs the grenades, if by some miracle obtained, would be rejected because the main idea was to capture enemy alive so that he could be sacrificed.

    Or, getting back to the Chinese, their pre-artillery gunpowder gadgets proved to be useless against the Mongolian cavalry so the claim of them being "tremendously useful against cavalry" can't be based on that precedent.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
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  19. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    I am not talking about the Aztecs, who lacked the state infrastructure to rapidly innovate; I'm saying that the Incas were considerably better-developed and stood a legitimate chance of actually beating the Spanish with advance warning and a slower Spanish advance for reasons I've detailed.

    That said, I've said my piece, and I don't think we're bringing up any new ground here.
     
  20. James Ricker Own your mistakes

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    If Cortez's shipwright had been killed, he wouldn't have been able to besiege the Aztec capital and he would have gone back to Spain for reinforcements .
    That would have just delayed the inevitable. With the stories of the Aztec's religious practices combined with Spain being best buddies with the Catholic Church, and a promised share of the spoils King Ferdinand of Spain might be able to convince the Church to declare crusade.