Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Ricardolindo, Feb 11, 2019.
Was it possible for Spain to have joined the Scramble for Africa? If so, what could they gain?
It was possible, however at the time Spain had a far more profitable overseas possession known as Cuba. Cuba was essentially an African colony but integrated and with live conditions similar to those in Europe (the first railway Spain built was in Havana). Why would Spain demand a land for the same use and less developed in that case? If we want Spain to join the scramble of Africa, the most likely option would be to lose Cuba sometime between 1840 and 1860 and for that to generate a new imperialist feeling in Spain. Also we could tweak the African War so it results in a Spanish conquest of Morocco (which would likely be counterproductive on the mid-term, but that's out of the scope of the TL). Other plausible colony was a contiguous mandate between the Niger and Ogooue rivers as it was gained by Spain in the 1772 Treaty of El Pardo. Maybe an extra colony in Madagascar, Somalia or Western African could add to the empire.
Not without some pretty radical changes to the domestic situation in Spain itself. The 19th century for Spain was a period of bleeding red ink, unstable governments, a dubiously loyal military, and next to no diplomatic clout with which to make any claims in Africa stick. While she can hold onto what she has and make minor gains, conslidating rule over any major areas is likely going to be next to impossible as they aren't going to enjoy a period of internal stability and solvency in order long enough to do so. Issues closer to home will have to be prioritized.
How could we get a more stable Spain? A better Ferdinand VII?
The fundimental problems are way deeper that that. Spain's society and elite are deeply divided, and the economy structurally unsound especially with the collapse of the captive colonial market that had formed the backbone of Spain naccisent industry and provided her the raw material and bullion that fed an economy to keep the budget balanced. Without that, she had to start eating the Church to prop up what was left, which only produced more backlash from inside...
Spain needs a controlled demolition of the New World Empire at the absolute least that avoids a long, costly attempt to subdue the rebels and destroys the commercial connections. A Colonial Cortes might pull it off, decenteraling authority,but Spain proper would never accept it.
I think a Britain winning and getting at least parts of the Philippines in 7 years war and having no American revolution might work as a POD.
O'Donnel goverment had an imperialist agenda and the Spanish empire even invaded what was the old French Conchinchina for France as the the Phillipines were a good place to launch an invasion. The same happened with the Spanish North Africa in some way or another.
We also have to remember that Fernando Poo and Equatorial Guinea were alredy part of Spain so an expansion towards Gabon or Cameroon wouldn't be far fetched if the Spanish goverment had wanted to expand the borders of its colony it wouldn't have been really hard and I doubt that either France or the UK would have minded at all that a country like Spain had a couple of strips of land in Africa. If you twitch a bit O'Donnel's foreign policy you can get a bigger Spanish presence in Africa
I think a POD 100 years before the scramble would easily butterfly it away. No American Revolution might mean no French Revolution (or at least a very different one) changing European history unrecognisable and an English North America would change colonial history unrecognisable.
O'Donnel's governments were also either out of power, bankrupt, or facing a mutiny of the officers every other week, and I doubt they'll find a big market for a new issuing of bonds that are already considered garbage for the sake of funding expeditions to try to settle the African continent in force. Such a change in polcy would require resources and a consistenancy of political effort mid-19th century Spain can't pull off unless you start with a POD basically before the Isabellist regeime.
O'Donnel invaded Morocco,part of the COnchinchina and aided the French invasion of Mexico. The war of the Conchinchina was just an excuse of getting chinese slaves,the "culis" for Cuba. If you need slaves for Cuba instead of invading the Conchinchina O'Donnel could have tried and getting more African land to send more slaves to Cuba
Spain taking control of the Congo an option?
Transatlantic Slave trade? The Royal Navy says hello. The Intervention in Mexico was meant by Spain as a small scale quick action to seize Vera Cruz and its customs revenue to insure payment of debts. To really be part of the Scramble for Africa you're going to need more than that.
60,000 "slaves" entered in Cuba even after Spain promised Britain it would stop doing it.
The only thing that changed was how the slaves entered into Cuba,once they were in Cuba they were sold as usual.
Slavery was not abolished in Cuba until 1886, 20 years after O'Donnels goverment,and the Cuban slave trade was one of the main sources of income of the Catalonian bourguoise.
If O'Donnel could wage wars in places like Peru,Cambodia,Morocco and Mexico simultaniously I don't know why an expedition from Equatorial Guinea towards Gabon on Cameroon is out of the table when the people in those lands were much easier to subdue than peripherical western countries like Peru,Chile or Morocco
... and the Cubans themselves were loudly demanding the end to it and the removal of strong colonial hands on local affairs, especially propping up the local slaveowners and traders against popular opinion, those same twenty years prior and we're tying down Spainish resources in the 10 Years War which forced Spain to concede to the rebel demands in most practical ways by 75'. There's also a great deal of difference between exchanging a few shots from warships or taking a thin strench of land a couple dozen miles away that you have centuries old military cities on from a virtual failed state and establishing permenant, new, stable control over large swaths of African territory (largely either desert or pathogen ridden tropical jungles). That's also assuming O'Donnels policy won't be neglected/fall by the wayside in his various out of power periods, or hold tight following the Republican Revolution and instability of the 70's.
You can get to a Spain that's more stable,but you need an earlier POD
Actually, a potential POD is the Latin American Wars of Independence.
Taken from Wikipedia: "In the case of Spain and its colonies, in May 1808, Napoleon captured Carlos IV and King Fernando VII and installed his own brother, Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish Throne because he didn't want anyone outside of his own bloodline to rule Spain. This event disrupted the political stability of Spain and broke the link with some of the colonies which were loyal to the Bourbon Dynasty. The local elites, the creoles, took matters into their own hands organizing themselves into juntas to take "in absence of the king, Fernando VII, their sovereignty devolved temporarily back to the community." The juntas swore loyalty to the captive Fernando VII and each ruled different and diverse parts of the colony. Most of Fernando's subjects were loyal to him in 1808, but after he was restored to the Spanish crown in 1814, his policy of restoring absolute power alienated both the juntas and his subjects. He abrogated the Cadiz Constitution of 1812 and persecuted anyone who had supported it. The violence used by royalist forces and the prospect of being ruled by Fernando shifted the majority of the colonist population in favor of separation from Spain. The local elites reacted to absolutism in much the same way that The British colonial elites, Tory and Whig alike, had reacted to London's interference before 1775."
If you can find a way to have King Ferdinand die and be replaced, or be more sensible, or whatever, you can have Spain undergo something more akin to what the British Empire would eventually undergo with the advent of self-governing dominions. You could probably even have an earlier First Carlist War or something and have the Spanish colonies support the Liberals or something. Sure, you'll probably still have rebellions and perhaps a few who desire independence (for example, the Viceroyalty of Peru was Royalist until the end, but Bolivar would still likely secure the independence of Gran Colombia). Either way, you can make it work for good chunks of Latin America (say, Peru and Plata remain or something). Then, with this boost of overseas economic activity and population, Spain's fall from grace is not as hard as OTL which leaves them in a healthier state for African colonizing.
I can see the OTL Spanish possessions, albeit bigger. Spanish Sahara might be that territory plus Mauretania. Equatorial Guinea could maybe expand to be Spanish Cameroon. Spain might even end up with Morocco maybe. As for the Congo, that might be a stretch but is also possible, as is Spanish Somalia. If you can have Spain retain some of its overseas "viceroyalties" in the 1820s, then you give Spain a far better chance of contesting the other powers in Western and Southern Africa.
Another Potential POD would be preventing the famines in Luzon in the late 18th century and early 19th century which means there is another incarnation of the Maniago and Silang revolt in the early 19th century which causes the Spanish to sell Luzon to Britain and prevents the Swap of the east indies territories of Britain and Netherlands and also would possibly give the Spanish a chance to recuperate.
Well, the Spanish did come away with pieces of Morocco, the Sahel, Equatorial Guineau. So they didn't come away empty handed.
What you would need for an actual POD would be a revitalized Spain in the 19th century.
Funny you should mention that, since in 1778 Spain and Portugal did sign a treaty which among other things did allow for some demarcation of African territory. Here's one possible path (also including holdings in Algeria):
Now, if it was just fulfilling the Treaty of El Pardo, then theoretically at its maximum one could see most of what is now Nigeria, Cameroon, French Equatorial Africa (from Tchad down to northern Gabon/Congo-Brazzaville), part of French West Africa (specifically, Niger), and Spanish Guinea all at once, which would be called Spanish Congo (to distinguish from Belgian Congo, aka the DRC). That would make for Spain's contribution for African colonization. Now, if you want Spain to take over Belgian Congo as well, including the remainder of what is now Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville, that would make for an interesting TL indeed. At least Spain would be a better administrator than Belgium of that part of Central Africa, even keeping in mind the general evils of colonialism.
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