Lalli said:
On flag/coat of arms might stil contain snake eating eagle which is sitting on cactus. But I doubt that it is going to be tricolor when such flags are probably butterflied away.
Grammar Kaiser said:
The Aztecs will need a flag come the 19th century. No flag. No nation. And then the model of a modern major general will just come in and plant the British one.
If I had to pick a flag, that the Aztecs would use in the future, and being influenced by the Europeans, I would think it would be akin to this
Aztec.png


(Before you ask, Yes, I took influences from various OTL Flags and even other Aztec Flags from DeviantArt)
 
I also wonder, did Alvarado ask about the fate of his countrymen? If so is that a thorny point between the Aztecs and the Spanish? Cause I can imagine the Spanish either refusing any dealing with the Aztec so long as their countrymen are held captive (and the Aztecs also refusing to let the captives go), but I can also imagine them going “we don’t care about them, they’re renegades and rogues who abandoned their country so you can keep them”.
 
Good news, everyone! I finally finished writing that fanfic chapter I told you guys about.

Expect a new update this weekend.
Lol what’s funny is like 5 minutes before you posted this yesterday, I’d just plugged your TL in another thread, “everyone read it it’s awesome!”, I’m a god. Excited for the next update.
 
Part 5: God, King and Money
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Part 5: God, King and Money

South Pacific
December 25, 1520

Antonio Pigafetta couldn't believe his luck.

It had been at least two weeks since he last saw dry land, and all this time at sea had taken its toll not only on him, but on all the men he was with, since they weren't prepared for such a long voyage. Much of the seal meat they stocked up rotted within a few days thanks to the harsh tropical sun, rats were eating most of the biscuit and water was running out. It was ironic, really: as a member of the expedition led by Ferdinand Magellan, who the king of Spain had tasked with finding a 'backdoor' to the East Indies, Pigafetta witnessed two mutinies, countless storms and Portuguese attempts to stop the 'Spaniards' from reaching their objective, yet it seemed that he and his colleagues were doomed to suffer a slow, agonizing death at the hands of hunger, thirst and scurvy.

Which was why the island his ship's lookout saw just a few minutes ago was such a godsend. It was dotted with multiple hills, showing that this wasn't some isolated rock in the middle of nowhere but a place in which the Europeans could land and forage for supplies. As if that weren't enough, the beach they were heading to was lined up with enormous statues made of stone, more than enough evidence that this place was inhabited, and soon enough many large, double-hulled canoes, each carrying dozens of people, came into view.
640px-Hodges_easter-island.jpg

Rapa Nui and its iconic moai as it might've been seen by its first European visitors.
Pigafetta hadn't reached the Spice Islands yet - he couldn't know it, but he was still thousands of kilometers away - but he had found something just as important, a waystation where weary European travelers such as him could rest. Unfortunately, that discovery also brought about the end of the very civilization that received them, and for centuries his writings on the Rapa Nui would be regarded as a fictitious tale whose purpose was to inflate a story already full of fantastic feats (1).
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Ferdinand Magellan's expedition was a testament to the absurd amount of luck that was required for such an enterprise to succeed. He was beset by problems even before his departure, since the Spanish authorities distrusted him thanks to his foreign origins and almost nipped everything in the bud, while the voyage was even more arduous thanks to the quadruple threat of storms, mutinies, Portuguese vessels and, of course, scurvy. By the time he crossed the strait that now bears his name in the present day (on November 28, 1520, one year and two months after leaving Seville), the number of ships under his command fell from 5 to 3 - one ship, the Santiago, was wrecked by a storm in the Patagonian coast, while another, the San Antonio, deserted and returned to Spain after a successful mutiny.

The voyage across the Pacific was, in contrast, surprisingly easy, albeit that was mostly due to luck. After spending a week in Rapa Nui (which was given the name of Christmas Island due to the date of its discovery), during which its supplies were fully replenished and cordial relations were established with the natives (although there were at least some incidents thanks to the lack of translators), the expedition continued to sail west, reaching Tahiti on January 28, 1521. However, this time the inevitable misunderstandings boiled over into open conflict, with at least five Tahitians being taken prisoner (all of whom would die long before their captors returned to Europe) and dozens of them being killed, an ugly portent of what was to come for the Polynesians and other Pacific Islanders. This oceanic game of hopscotch went on for almost three more months (during which the Europeans landed on Samoa, Nauru and Palau) before Magellan made landfall in Cebu, smack dab in the middle of the archipelago that would later be called the Caroline Islands, on April 15 (2).


There he met with Humabon, raja (king) of the island, and struck with him an alliance that, much like the Treaty of Tlatelolco three years later, brought great profits to both parties, at least at first: Humabon converted to Catholicism (taking the name Carlos after doing so) and became a 'subject' of the king of Spain. Magellan, meanwhile, promised to help fight the raja's enemies, starting with the datu (chieftain/prince) of Mactan, Lapu-Lapu, who fell under the combined might of the Cebuanos and their Spanish allies (3). Having fulfilled the promise made to Humabon, the fleet left Cebu and sailed to Tidore, where they were warmly welcomed by its ruler, sultan Al-Mansur, and at long last got the spices they were looking for. By the time they were ready to depart each ship was laden with at least twenty tons of cloves and cinnamon.
humabon batismo.gif

Humabon and other prominent Cebuanos being baptized while Magellan looks on.

Now it was time to ensure these vessels returned to Europe with their precious cargo safely, which was much easier said than done. Fully aware that the waters west of Tidore were crawling with Portuguese ships, especially now that word of his arrival was spreading throughout the East Indies like wildfire, Magellan chose to sail eastward, a decision that hedged on the assumption that the North Pacific had a gyre (much like its Atlantic counterpart) that would allow the expedition to return to the Americas. After stopping in Cebu one last time and gathering as many supplies as the crew could get its hands on, the fleet sailed north at first, reaching Japan before turning east and eventually making landfall in California. They then turned south, slowly sailing along the coast for several months until they reached Panama City, where they made some much needed repairs to their ships before the last leg of their journey.

The pompously named Armada of the Moluccas landed on Sanlúcar de Barrameda on July 17, 1522, and its exhausted sailors, whose numbers at this point had dwindled to just 136 men out of an original crew of 270 (barely enough to operate three ships), were received as heroes by the authorities (4). They voyage, though arduous, not only turned up a massive profit, but also broke the Portuguese monopoly on the spice trade and established a Spanish foothold in Asia. For Magellan himself, however, this victory had a bitter taste, since his wife and son died while he was away. His connection to Europe now weaker than ever, he soon argued in favor of a new expedition, one which would conquer the Carolines and then the Moluccas. Little did he know that this enterprise would accomplish much, much more than that.
mapa magalhães.png
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Pánfilo de Narváez's success was received with even greater jubilation than Magellan's, and its timing couldn't be more fortuitous. Charles I, king of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor (as Charles V), was locked in a struggle for supremacy over Italy with Francis I of France (a rivalry that was portrayed in more movies, books and television series than we can bother to count (5)), and he had suffered the most humiliating defeat of his career mere months before (6). He later received a message that provided him with the perfect reward to give to the man who brought the precious metals that would eventually allow him to strike back at the French: the governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, died in office, creating a power vacuum which was temporarily filled by a council. Charles' choice for a replacement was all too predictable.

Narváez arrived in Cuba on March 14, 1525, and promptly set about turning it into the jewel of the Caribbean, a task in which he was greatly aided by his newly forged connections with the Mexica. It didn't take long for the island, located right in the middle of the route connecting Seville and Veracruz (and, through it, the Triple Alliance), to become a commercial center of vital importance, a place where ships laden with goods such as cotton, precious metals, chili peppers, firearms, gunpowder and all sorts of fabrics, European and Mesoamerican, could stop and rest before carrying on with their journeys. Its economy flourished as a result, with two cities in particular, Havana and Santiago, each located on opposite ends of the colony, being the biggest beneficiaries of this growth by far.

havana.jpg

The port of Havana at the end of the 16th century.

But the backbone of Cuba's prosperity hinged on two products: sugar and tobacco. The Spaniards realized within a few years that the Mexica nobility had an enormous sweet tooth, one which made a crop that was already expensive even more valuable and triggered an explosion in the number of sugarcane plantations all over the Caribbean, even on relatively neglected colonies such as Jamaica (7). As for the latter product, word began to spread all over Europe of the "medicinal" effects of tobacco smoking, increasing demand for it several times over. By the time Narváez's gubernatorial tenure came to an end in 1536, Cuba was Spain's wealthiest colony, and he its richest landowner.

Ultimately, however, all that wealth was built on a foundation made out of untold amounts of suffering. The Taíno and other peoples native to the Caribbean, whose numbers were already in a steep decline thanks to warfare, European diseases and the plantations' insatiable hunger for blood, were almost completely exterminated. Once they ceased to be a viable source of enslaved people, the Spanish administrators turned to Africa, importing boatloads of human beings who would, in most cases, live for only a few months if they were "lucky" enough to survive the hellish interiors of the slave ships. Though the Cuban Revolution was still centuries away, these people resisted the brutality of their masters and overseers in many different ways, from going on strike, feigning stupidity or laziness and, finally, forming maroon communities on the most mountainous parts of their islands, communities which the authorities never managed to destroy despite their best efforts.

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Notes:

(1) It's hard to overstate how unlucky Magellan was during his Pacific crossing IOTL. If you look at the trajectory his expedition took you'll see that they could've come across multiple islands where they could've rested and resupplied (Rapa Nui, Tahiti and so on), had their path been just a little different. Here their trajectory is that little bit different, and so they reach the Philippines in much better shape ITTL. Unfortunately, this also means that the Polynesians come in contact with things like smallpox sooner, and the Rapa Nui civilization collapses a century or so earlier as a result.

(2) The Philippines, which are named after Charles V ITTL.

(3) IOTL Magellan tried to defeat Lapu-Lapu with a small landing party of just 60 men and got himself killed. Humabon betrayed the remaining Europeans days later.

(4) Only 18 (eighteen!) men survived the voyage IOTL, and given all the setbacks they suffered it's honestly a miracle they made it back home.

(5) Seriously, why isn't there at least one TV series or movie showing their rivalry IOTL? You could even shoehorn Henry VIII in there.

(6) Let's just say that the absence of the sudden influx of gold and silver will affect the outcome of the Italian Wars.

(7) IOTL Cuba and Spain's other territories in the Caribbean went into decline after the conquest of Mexico and Peru, since these colonies' silver mines were infinitely more attractive to settlers. Jamaica in particular was little more than an outpost.​
 
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Jamaica being developed can either go one of two ways: the other European powers begin sponsoring pirates or Jamaica ITTL is never taken and becomes a Hispanophone island.
 
Fantastic update! I wonder if the Aztec will look to start their own sugar plantations? Since something of a sugar craze has taken a hold of the nobility.
 
Also I can imagine some within the Aztec nobility proposing to import foreign labor to offset the population decline in their lands. You need peasants to till the fields after all and the Spanish would no doubt be happy to indulge.
 
Also I can imagine some within the Aztec nobility proposing to import foreign labor to offset the population decline in their lands. You need peasants to till the fields after all and the Spanish would no doubt be happy to indulge.
So Aztecs involve themselves in the African slave trade then? Also I shudder to think of conditions on Aztec sugarcane plantations or in cacao plantations once demand for chocolate in Europe skyrockets.

Actually I think it’d be interesting for cacao plantations to become as much of a horror show to the Aztecs’ enemies/potential African slaves as the sugar plantations were to the Caribbean.
 
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So Aztecs involve themselves in the African slave trade then? Also I shudder to think of conditions on Aztec sugarcane plantations or in cacao plantations once demand for chocolate in Europe skyrockets.

Actually I think it’d be interesting for cacao plantations to become as much of a horror show to the Aztecs’ enemies/potential African slaves as the sugar plantations were to the Caribbean.
Imagine the horror stories of the yet-to-be Christianized Aztecs purchasing slaves for the purpose of human sacrifice, even if exaggerated.
 
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