WI: Columbus never reached the New World

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Iuventius Otho, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. Iuventius Otho The Anticonsul

    Sep 26, 2014
    The Noble and Ever Loyal City
    What if Columbus' fleet was sunk by a storm somewhere in the Atlantic and never reached the New World? How will the butterflies affect world history?
  2. Matteo Well-Known Member

    Oct 30, 2012
    Well, there would have been an other expedition led by someone else barely a few years later.
    Landmass Wave likes this.
  3. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2015
    One of AH´s favourite questions...

    I doubt that another "expedition" would be sent because Columbus had only sailed because of his flawed geographical calculations.
    But that doesn`t mean America doesn`t become discovered. There was Basque and probably also English whaling at the Newfoundland coast around that time, which would at some point become known to a wider audience. A Portuguese "mistake" like Cabral`s, which blew him "off course" to Brasil could have happened, too, although there are a lot of question marks around that voyage.
    Ciniad, wtw and SlyDessertFox like this.
  4. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2015
    But, of course, a few decades could change a lot. Inner trouble in Spain... different rulers of the Aztecs or Inca... the reformation...
  5. kasumigenx caked

    May 26, 2009
    The voyage could be easily butterflied...if the Europeans are distracted about crusade to the middle east.
    wtw likes this.
  6. Iuventius Otho The Anticonsul

    Sep 26, 2014
    The Noble and Ever Loyal City
  7. PhilippeO Kicked

    May 20, 2011
    There already several different thread about this. Some of them mention that American exploration through Brazil or Newfoundland would result in massively different America. Brazilwood and Cod instead of Gold and Silver would mean very delayed exploration. it could be by time someone reach Peru or Mexico, the massive empire of Aztec and Inca already disappear.
    fjihr, aegis03florin, Ciniad and 4 others like this.
  8. kasumigenx caked

    May 26, 2009
    It would be the portuguese introducing potato instead..
  9. Clandango Well-Known Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    Hmmm. Now I am wondering about if Columbus and his crew got stranded, surviving but not returning to Spain.
  10. Pentapolim Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2017
    The portuguese would eventually send expeditions to the west, once they have a safe position in india.
    fjihr, Ciniad, Historyman 14 and 4 others like this.
  11. funnyhat Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2013
    The Spanish monarchs shift their focus to North Africa and extend the reconquista there. Portugal probably ends up reaching the Americas, sometime later. Or perhaps someone follows the Viking route and reaches mainland North America through the north Atlantic.
  12. Prism Well-Known Member

    Jan 22, 2012
    The Americas will be discovered. The Basque were already fishing off the coast of Newfoundland,the Norse had a fairly long-term colony in Greenland and visited Vinland,basically Europeans knew something was out there. There were legends about fabled lands to the west like Brasil,Avalon,Atlantis,Great Ireland and tons more. Europeans have the naval capacity,there's conflict in the Middle East and the Spice Road is highly contested. There will be other explorers finding alternate routes to the Indies. May not be Spanish,might be Portuguese,Genoan,maybe even Irish,but someone will discover the Americas. Could be Amerigo Vespucci,Pedro Alvares Cabral or some other explorer,but the Americas will be discovered sometime in the 16th century. Now with a different discoverer, the treatment of the natives could turn out far different than in OTL. Maybe better,maybe worse.
  13. Griffon Well-Known Member

    May 9, 2017
    I think it'd only be the matter of a decade or two, at most, before some other established European expedition reaches the Americas. Regardless of where that new 'first' lands, other explorers (from other countries) will soon explore the rest.

    In any case, just a few changes could have significant impacts:
    1) Location -- Columbus landed on an island with initially peaceful natives. Someone else landing in an area with overtly hostile natives might be put off (at least for a while) or forced to explore to find a better place.

    2) Backing Country -- Columbus was backed by Spain, which benefited greatly from profits from the colonies. Spain also had the resources to devote to considerable further exploration. If a different country gets a sizable portion of the profits Spain got, it could change the European dynamic significantly. If, instead, the 'new Columbus' is backed by a smaller, poorer country, they may not be able to capitalize on their discoveries nearly as well, leaving more to other countries.

    3) Personality -- Columbus showed himself to be a poor administrator and rather callous as governor. Another person might perform better, building better relations with the natives and establishing a more enduring settlement.

    4) Timing -- If the colonization really got started a decade or two later than IOTL, you could see substantially different effects in dealing with the natives. Different native leaders, more/less internal strife in the native empires, etc. Cortez and the like might have had a much harder time dealing with a slightly different situation.

    Ultimately, the Americas are colonized by Europeans, but a different 'discoverer' and discovery date might lead to a substantially different 'spead' of colonies in the Americas and distribution of wealth from there. All of that might also lead to substantially different outcomes for the natives -- better OR worse.
  14. The Professor Pontif of the Guild

    Feb 22, 2006
    Republic of Beerhaven
    Seems to me that the Portuguese were heading towards a discovery of South America perhaps concurrently with France/England officially discovering North America.
    Qhapaq Inka and wtw like this.
  15. GauchoBadger Duke of Bedroom

    Feb 28, 2016
    Could a delayed or slower european penetration into the americas favour the aztecs and incas?
    Ciniad, Qhapaq Inka and kasumigenx like this.
  16. James Ricker Own your mistakes

    Oct 29, 2016
    Boston Massachusetts
    Native American is still screwed, smallpox still exists and European's rulers still love conquest and killing.
    They were doing it to each other for centuries,there was nothing racist about their treatment of native Americans they treated other Europeans the same way when given the chance.
  17. Planet of Hats Watch That Steppe Donor

    May 10, 2016
    Outlands of Toronto
    You may get a more gradual discovery, with the first real documented exposure to native American people coming through trade conducted informally by Basque and Icelandic fishermen and whalers. Someone eventually does follow the stories up, of course, but with the consequence that there are already the beginnings of trade routes in place, and contact takes place later, when you've had a few years for the post-Reconquista zeal to die down.

    Smallpox sadly still ravages North America, but hopefully the murder and genocide don't happen if the impetus for discovery comes through a mercantile or trading spirit and not Columbus.
    AnonymousSauce, wtw and GauchoBadger like this.
  18. Mitchell Hundred Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2010
    Not to get all political but that's some blatant whitewashing.

    The Europeans of that period explicitly viewed the Natives as "others" inferior to yes other Europeans.
  19. Agricola Well-Known Member

    Mar 14, 2013
    Germania Superior
    There is a theory that the portuguese already discovered Brazil a few years before Columbus, but kept it secret.
    Actually due to wind and flux, you cannot avoid to reach Brazil, if you sail regulary around Africa. It must happen.
    GauchoBadger and wtw like this.
  20. wtw Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2010
    My guess, as everyone else has pointed out that it would have happened sooner or later, the kingdoms of Europe would have been jealous of the Portugese and someone would have tried some way to by pass both the Ottomans and the Portugese, although you might see more conflict against both for a time.