WI The Columbian Expedition was a complete failure?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Hnau, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. Hnau free radical

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    Ferdinand and Isabella really didn't expect him to return anyway.

    Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the the West Indies happens as IOTL. The Santa Maria runs aground on the northern coast of Hispaniola and later Columbus decides to leave 39 men there to found the first Spanish colony La Navidad. On the return journey of the Pinta and Nina the ships are lost in a mid-Atlantic hurricane about February 14, 1493. There are no survivors.

    As for the Spaniards left at La Navidad, they treat the native Taino pretty badly and this results in the complete destruction of their small colony.

    I don't think that the Spanish would finance a follow-up expedition. It was difficult enough for Columbus to find support for the 1492 voyage... the complete failure for the ships to return means that the Spanish will assume it is impossible to make it to the Indies by sailing the Atlantic.

    Now, let's say that butterflies are kept at a minimum until Pedro Alvares Cabral by chance sights the coastline of OTL Brazil. I'm guessing his interactions with the natives there all follow OTL... they find Porto Seguro, a natural harbor, and anchor there. They stock up on water and food, do a little trading with the natives, hold Catholic mass, build a giant wooden cross and christen the land "Ilha de Vera Cruz" or the Island of the Holy Cross. In OTL Cabral thought that he had stumbled upon an island or archipelago which would prove strategic in the connection of trade between Portugal and the East Indies. I don't think that would change here either... there would be no reason to think they'd stumbled upon China or even a new continent at that point.

    Is there any reason to butterfly away the other Portuguese expeditions to Brazil from 1501-1503? For those of you unfamiliar with this part of history, Goncalo Coelho and Gaspar de Lemos sailed for Brazil in May 1501 in order to explore the landmass Cabral had stumbled upon. This expedition in OTL included Amerigo Vespucci, but ITTL I don't think he'd be an observer, as IOTL he was invited to join the expedition because of his earlier experience in exploring the northern shoulder of Brazil under the Spanish. In November 1501 Coelho and de Lemos discovers the Baia de Todos os Santos in OTL Bahia, by January 1502 they discover Ria de Janeiro or OTL Guanabara Bay, and in February 1502 they explore the coast of OTL Sao Paulo before returning to Portugal.

    It would be evident by September 1502, when these explorers return to Lisbon, that the Portuguese have stumbled upon an entire continent rather than a couple of islands. The landmass is appropriately named the Terra de Vera Cruz or "Land of the True Cross".I'm not sure if "Veracruz" becomes the new name of the Americas ITTL, but it's very possible. Interestingly enough, because of the Papal Bull Aeterni regis which grants all territory south of the Canary Islands under Christian rule to Portugal, the Portuguese have a legal precedent to claim this entire continent for themselves. Still, I wonder what other European explorers would be inspired to make voyages of their own to the West...

    In any case, Goncalo Coelho probably returns to Brazil in November 1503 and builds a fort at Porto Seguro where he leaves 24 men, the first official settlement of the Americas.

    I'd also like to include the 1504 French discovery of Santa Catarina island by Binot Paulmier, which he said was actually Terra Australis. That might lead to the name "Australia" being used for the Americas instead! But, his ship reached South America because of a storm, and it's so long after the POD that not butterflying such things becomes implausible.

    We've done this scenario before guys, but would anyone like to get a little more creative with it? What would the Italian Wars be like with no syphilis and OTL conquistadors fighting for the Spanish? Where might Cortez and Pizarro find themselves? Balboa? Magellan?
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2012
  2. Hnau free radical

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    A little more research reveals some interesting clues as to how the Spanish might have reacted to the Portuguese discovery of the OTL Americas...

    In OTL, by the early 1500s Spanish competition with the Portuguese over trade with the East Indies was coming to a fever pitch. Vasco da Gama had reached India by 1498 and Portuguese control of the trade routes there promised lucrative profits. The Spanish crown organized the Junta de Toro conference of maritime experts in 1505 to make plans for finding a route to Asia through the Americas. Famous participants in this conference include Amerigo Vespucci and Vicente Pinzon. Now, as far as I know, really this only led to Vespucci being named the chief navigator of Spain, and led to the naming of the "Americas". But the motivation for such a conference was because the Portuguese were out-competing the Spanish.

    ITTL, without land, slaves and other commodities from the Caribbean, and with the Portuguese discovering a large southern continent, the Spanish will be even more desperate to organize a comeback. Perhaps in 1505 a similar conference is held, with different personalities, and it is decided the only way to beat the Portuguese to India is to try Columbus's route once more, this time with more seaworthy craft and more provisions to make the journey across the "incredibly huge" Atlantic Ocean. It seems there is a poor political climate [1] in the Spanish court for a serious endeavor in 1505, so an expedition is organized to depart in August 1507. Perhaps five ships instead of three, and with slightly larger caravels? Who would lead the expedition?
     
  3. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    Meanwhile John Cabot has returned to England with his discovery of North America...
     
  4. Thande 3...2...1...ACTIVATE! Donor

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    Why would Cabot's voyage have been launched exactly like OTL considering the discovery of South America has been delayed a few years relative to OTL? In 1497, when Cabot's mission was launched OTL, nobody yet knows about the Americas in TTL.
     
  5. Winnabago Banned

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    Hmmm...I bet the Aztec empire would have died of old age by the time Old Worlders finally did show up, meaning you wouldn’t have some kind of authority to rally natives to support your campaign against.

    Instead, you would have a group of fierce agricultural tribes, with likely (due to past imperial rule) some kind of pan-Mesoamericanism.

    That leads to a more innovative (read: desperate), more rebellious Mesoamerica, meaning very shitty control for whatever imperial power happens to get it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2012
  6. Hnau free radical

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    I'm going to have to agree with Thande. John Cabot was clearly inspired by other west-bound explorers in scratching up support for his own voyage. He's butterflied away unfortunately.
     
  7. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    AFAIK, Cabral's deviation was a consequence of the Treaty of Tordesillas. The Portuguese wanted to see if new lands were available on their side of the Raya. With this POD, Cabral probably sails much closer to the African coast like De Gama did. So, the discovery may be delayed of some years more, though not very much. I've also read something about a Portuguese expedition to Newfoundland, but I'm unsure of the details.
     
  8. Hnau free radical

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    As far as I've researched, there's no good evidence to support that Cabral was intentionally looking for land when he discovered Brazil. The reason that he was sailing so far west can be explained by his usage of the volta do mar navigational technique. It's still a point of controversy in history, and I don't think it will ever be totally resolved. Most historians support the mainstream theory that Cabral simply discovered Brazil by accident.

    If in OTL Cabral's voyage was intentional, ITTL let's butterfly it to be pure chance. It's a good enough story of discovery as any, and I don't want to write up a completely new story of a random sailor finding the Americas, even if its a couple years later.
     
  9. Thande 3...2...1...ACTIVATE! Donor

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    Well, Cabot might be employed by somebody else to pursue explorations after the later discovery by the Portuguese, or Henry VII might employ someone else to go and explore, but my point is that it's not going to happen exactly like OTL.
     
  10. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    Makes sense.
     
  11. LSCatilina Feudal Leftist Extraordinaire

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    Well...The discovery of America could be made because of fishing places. As i proposed in another thread, we could have or the French, or the England or even the Hansa exploring the "New Lands" or "Pescheries" known by atlantic fishermen in order to get a monopole of cod fish, or at least a serious advantage for it.
     
  12. Color-Copycat Banned

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    The Basques in particular, iirc, though they tried to keep that knowledge secret in order to maintain a monopoly on the cod.
     
  13. Hnau free radical

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    As for the Basques and other Atlantic fishermen, my question is If they knew about some American locations in OTL, and I think there is some evidence that they did, then why didn't any European power ever exploit their knowledge before or after the Spanish discovery of the continent? How does the failure of Columbus's voyage affect that?
     
  14. LSCatilina Feudal Leftist Extraordinaire

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    The proofs are relativly diverse :

    1)We know they follow, as portuguese, french, english, irish, scandinavan fishermen the cod banks. These are close to New-Foundland, and maybe Saint-Pierre et Miquelon.

    2)We have officials named governor of "Pescheries de Terre-Neuve" and such, we special taxes on it.

    3)Why it wasn't exploited?
    First, because...It was rather uninteressant. Cod was a monopole, quite rich of the Hansa, and breaking it was a good idea. But...why focus on cod when you had clearly more interest on crossing Africa for having gold, slaves or even spices?

    And after...Who on earth would have said "Hey, why not giving up the mezoamerican gold in order to have the monopole of fish trade?". When Verazzano explored North America, the answer of Francis I was "no gold, no interest".
    In my opinion, only northern states or more plausibly northern cities would have interest to make such expeditions to make trade centers and settlement for winters (or maybe permanent settlements). Not the Mediterranean states.
     
  15. Hnau free radical

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    @LSCatalina

    Well, to me, it sounds like then there won't be a follow-up expedition to discover lands based on stories coming from cod fishermen. In other words, no formal English, German or French discovery of the Americas. Their fishermen, yes, maybe they've already discovered the continent, but it doesn't amount to much.
     
  16. LSCatilina Feudal Leftist Extraordinaire

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    Again, you don't have "only fisherman stories" we have officials (at least from Portugal and France) especially named for the gestion of such industry : taxes on the "Pescheries des Terres-Neuves", "Bacalos Island" (probably Newfoundland as well) explorated by João Vaz Corte-Real, transaction and mention of these ilses in monasteries list of goods...

    Defenitly not "fisherman story".

    In my opinion, it was only a matter of time before some explorer end by creating a winter settlement, followed by a permanant one in New Foundland.
     
  17. Hnau free radical

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    Okay, so those taxes and titles alluding towards the New World were around before 1492? Or after?
     
  18. LSCatilina Feudal Leftist Extraordinaire

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    Around 1450-1470 as first.

    EDIT of the previous thread : apparently the "expedition" to Bacalao Island was financed by danish and portuguese kings, with the participation of German sailors. As said, cods interested a lot of people.
     
  19. Cuāuhtemōc Twitter fiend

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    It was either going to collapse or centralize eventually into a more traditional empire as it was under the reign of Montezuma II which besides for his shitty handling of the Spanish conquistadors proved to be a okay Emperor). The Tlaxcallans would had likely been conquered sooner or later by the Mexica Triple Alliance. As for Montezuma's successor, he had already planned for his son in law Atlixcatzin to inherit the throne due to his marriage to his daughter Tecuichpotzin though I doubt the council of nobles, priests and warriors who were usually responsible for designating the successor would had stood for Montezuma usurping their responsibility. Cuitláhuac and Cuauhtemoc are both candidates that might stand as rivals to Atixcatzin. Matlatzincatzin is also another possibility
     
  20. Hnau free radical

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    I agree that change was on the horizon for the Aztecs, though I think collapse would have been more likely than centralization. Unfortunately, I don't think there would be much change beyond politics, people, and the balance of power for at least another generation. The Europeans that discover the Aztecs might not find the empire much different from OTL. What I think is more interesting is changing up who contacts the Aztecs and how they might go about it differently. I mentioned the Aeterni regis papal bull establishing Portuguese ownership of lands to the south of the Canary Islands, which means that the Aztec and Incan Empires would fall under Portuguese jurisdiction. What would it be like if the Portuguese are the first Europeans the Aztecs come into contact with?

    I don't think Cuauhtemoc, your namesake, would be a plausible successor, as he was more distantly related to Montezuma than Cuitlahuac and Matlatzincatzin. It seems like he really only became an option once Montezuma's family started dropping like flies. Now, here's a question I'd love to have answered: Why didn't Matlatzincatzin, the elder brother of Cuitlahuac, in OTL succeed Montezuma instead? What made the nobles choose his younger brother?

    Okay, so that's a generation or two of possible European knowledge of the Terres-Neuves before Columbian contact and colonies weren't established. We've only delayed the "official" discovery of *America by eight years. And in OTL no colonies were established near *Newfoundland... so it seems to me this butterfly will be contained ITTL. I just don't see any good reason to put European cod fishermen in the limelight when they weren't doing anything interesting in OTL.

    But wasn't John Cabot pushing it age-wise by the 1500s? *checks Wikipedia* Hmmm... born in 1450. I wonder if he would have still had some kick in him to head a English-sponsored voyage west.