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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    I'd really like to focus on some of the OTL Spanish explorers and conquistadors to see where they'd be at by 1503 or so...

    John Cabot doesn't get the idea to mount an Atlantic expedition, and instead focuses on the financing and managing of construction projects for various cities, as he did in Valencia and Seville in OTL. He still wants to put a lot of distance between him and his Venetian debtors, so Cabot still moves to England. I'm thinking from 1495 on he makes a living by improving harbors, building bridges, walls, and maybe even ships in English cities from Bristol to London. Tales of Portuguese discovery of islands in the South Atlantic do excite his imagination, but he's getting old and already has an established business in England, so he forgoes any plans for adventure across the sea. He dies in 1506.

    Amerigo Vespucci probably doesn't get his big break by providing the Castilian crown with vessels for the West Indies. Still, he's a successful, reputable manager of the Seville agency of the Medici family's ship-building empire. He probably goes on some Spanish voyages to maybe Africa, but its not to the Americas, and he never gets invited by King Manuel I of Portugal to go to Brazil. He has such great connections with the seagoing community in Spain, though, that he'll be the first to hear about the Portuguese discovery of a large landmass in the South Atlantic. But, as in OTL, his days for sailing are over by 1504, so its unlikely he'll be a part of it. He dies a peaceful death in 1512.

    Martin Alonso Pinzon, Francisco Martin Pinzon, and Vicente Yanez Pinzon are all dead because of Columbus's ill-fated journey. It's devastating to their family and by some is regarded as the hugest loss of the Columbian voyage, as they were highly-reputable sailors.

    Francisco de Bobadilla is an interesting case. The guy was a commander of the Calatrava, a religious-military order of crusaders and fought the wars of reconquest against the Moors. Isabella and Ferdinand trusted him so much they sent him to the Caribbean in 1500 to figure out if Columbus was doing his job, but he pulled off a coup d'etat there. In OTL he perished in a Caribbean hurricane in the summer of 1502. I'm thinking it's likely he's alive and well by 1505 ITTL when the Spanish crown starts floating the idea of a new expedition west. Could this be our guy to head the fleet? There's no info out there telling us how old he is, which matters in determining if he's young and capable enough to lead such an expedition by 1507. And, he was selected for his administrative ability and political position, not because he's a good navigator. So... he probably doesn't head out on the 1507 voyage.

    Vasco Nunez de Balboa won't ever strike out into the Americas in 1500. It's probable that he continues to work with ships and other odd jobs in Spain, and like OTL he'll probable remain impoverished for a while. Perhaps instead of seeking adventure in the Americas, he'll enlist as a soldier in the Italian Wars? I'm not sure what happens with him, but I think Balboa is quite a charismatic, brave, tenacious sort of dude, so he'll probably do well in the military campaigns there, perhaps getting enough money to start a successful business somewhere and raise a family. I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the 1507 Spanish expedition, perhaps leading the military contingent. He'd like that, taking risks on noble adventures.

    Hernan Cortes follows his OTL life until about 1501, when tales of riches in the West Indies fail to inspire him. He probably wanders around the ports of Spain as in OTL and might even catch some of the last few months of action in the latest conflict in Italy in 1504, but Cortes will return to Spain without too many stories to tell. He'll pick up where he left off, probably sign on as a sailor on some Spanish merchant ships to look for opportunity and adventure. No doubt he'll want in on the 1507 expedition, though he'll still be an inexperienced 22-year old at the time. Who knows where he goes from there?

    Nicolas de Ovando remains a commander in the military order of Alcantara. He's well-liked in the Spanish court as in OTL, but he isn't sent to be the governor of Hispaniola in 1502. He's not especially known for his navigational abilities, so he probably won't be on the 1507 expedition.

    Diego Velazquez de Cuellar probably got even more involved in the Italian Wars than in OTL and has some naval experience. Still not the guy the Spanish crown would pick to head the 1507 expedition, but he might be involved, like Balboa, in the military contingent of the expedition.

    Alonso de Ojeda doesn't go on Columbus's second voyage, obviously, though through the patronage of Archbishop Rodriguez de Fonseca he probably finds himself involved as a commander of some sort in the Italian Wars. I'd imagine he'd have some naval experience as well. He'd be well-placed to be trusted by the Spanish crown in some venture, but I'm not sure if there are more qualified people available for the 1507 expedition.

    Juan de la Cosa died along with Columbus on the 1492 voyages. Pity, he was a skilled navigator.

    Rodrigo de Bastidas might just be the guy we are looking for to head the 1507 expedition. He doesn't go on Columbus's second voyage ITTL, instead he probably pursues other enterprises in the merchant fleets. He'd be friends with Amerigo Vespucci, for sure, and in OTL he was 65 when he was still crossing the sea to plant colonies in the New World, so here he'd definitely be capable to lead an expedition. If we can't find another more qualified guy, Bastidas will be the leader of the 1507 Spanish expedition. This would be a good thing, as he was called in OTL The Noblest Conquistador because of his policy of respect and friendship towards the Amerindians.

    Hmmm... what do you guys think?

    ---

    EDIT: By the way, I really like the idea of the 1507 Spanish expedition taking a more northerly route and exploring the eastern seaboard and the *Chesapeake Bay before returning to Spain... what do you think?
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  2. LSCatilina Feudal Leftist Extraordinaire

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    Again, why do you think danish, portuguese and germans financed expeditions for such aeras? Because cod's market was prosperous, critically when Baltic Sea was closed by the Hansa.
    Cod was probably THE fish of Middle-Ages, and if you want to have an analogy, try to think of a medieval "tuna". Treaties were passed in order to precise which peoples had the right to fish in which places, as such market was lucrative, at the point we already had mercantile war because of this.

    One of the first things Cabot did when being at New Foundland was to claim the island for England, and he didn't did that for giggles.

    EDIT : And for European-Amerindian relations, i found back a wikipedia page about the Algonquin-Basc pidgin.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  3. Winnabago Banned

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    Simply looking at the strange willingness for thousands of locals to join Cortes, and how the Aztecs would constantly want more sacrifices, I really can’t see a surviving Aztec Empire. They had all the problems of an overconsuming capital, added to the problems of tribes just waiting for revolt.
     
  4. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend

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    You mean doing something that practically every other people in Mesoamerica was doing? The only reason they rebelled because they weren't the ones doing it to the Aztecs. Considering the amount of years this gives the Aztec Empire to not worry about the white man in giant "wooden mountain" and using giant beasts of war for several decades, it gives the Aztecs a lot of time to eliminate the Tlaxcallans, their main nemesis besides the Purepecha, and to further centralize their empire. Then again, collapse is also a possibility but I wouldn't say it's guaranteed no matter what.

    @ Hnau: Matlatzincatzin resigned after his younger brother died, that's why. He held the position of Cihuacoatl which is very prominent in the Aztec position but given that they won't have to worry about smallpox among the other factors, he could be the candidate of the nobles against Atixcatzin. I say Cuauhtemoc out of bias :)p( and because he was considered a very popular and competent general amongst the nobility who might feel their power being diverted to a much more powerful Emperor.
     
  5. Hnau free radical

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    @ LSCatalina

    All I'm saying is that if the Europeans didn't establish colonies in the Newfoundland area by the year 1500 in our timeline, then there's no reason for them to establish colonies by the year 1500 in this timeline. Now, if you really think that in our timeline John Cabot was motivated more by the cod fishing industry to make his expedition to North America than by the Spanish explorations underway, then fine. Let's have John Cabot still make landfall at Newfoundland in 1497. Let's have Joao Fernandes Lavrador also sail to Labrador in 1498. Also, Gaspar Corte-Real and Miguel Corte-Real sail to Greenland in 1500 and then to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1501. All as in OTL.

    What would happen because of this early exploration of the Newfoundland area? My guess is that the English and Portuguese will have a good claim to this territory later on when founding a colony becomes possible and profitable.
     
  6. corourke Member Donor

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    Without the new world to distract the Spanish, they're gonna be more desperate for a piece of that Indies trade...
     
  7. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

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  8. Winnabago Banned

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    You can centralize all you like, but it won’t matter as long as you’re limited to travel on foot, and as long as the capital is a ridiculously huge consumer.
     
  9. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend

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    It wasn't a problem for OTL. They had groups of runners who could travel a total of 400 km per day. They didn't need horses. :confused:
     
  10. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    Tenochtitlan wasn't the first big empire in Mesoamerica and Teotihuacan didn't fall because they had to walk places.
     
  11. Father Maryland Enemy of Neo Secesh Everywhere

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    Because Bristol merchants had been going west searching for new lands and fishing waters for years by this point?

    There's a little evidence to suggest the Bristolmen were already exploiting the great banks at this point.
     
  12. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend

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    Agreed. What are your thoughts on the changes on the Maya?
     
  13. Winnabago Banned

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    That just makes it easier for rebels to kill you. Seriously, what sort of Aztecification have you read about?
     
  14. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend

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    What the heck are you talking about?
     
  15. Winnabago Banned

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    Sigh.

    A road is a relatively cheap land development that allows people to move faster between points of interest than they could without a road.

    Now. Imagine there was a road going from X city to Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. Imagine that Tenochtitlan is rich and has a ridiculously huge number of people, while also happening to be centrally located.

    Imagine that there is a tendency for the people of Tenochtitlan to massacre people for sacrifices in the past. You sacrifice too, but when you do it, it’s different.

    Now there’s a king on the throne who isn’t a warrior with a bunch of loyal veterans like the last one, and you aren’t reeling from being invaded like you were last generation.

    It doesn’t take a genius to do the math here. Every second this trend continues is an increased likelihood that the Aztecs will weaken and the provincials will notice.

    Now, my question to you: What acts of Aztecification (i.e., making someone as an Aztec and oriented towards you and loyal to you) has occurred to prevent this?

    Also take into account that the Aztecs were just the latest in a series of northern invaders of Mesoamerica, and that it didn’t take much to make the provincials rise up in revolt OTL.
     
  16. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend

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    Those were prisoners of war captured in campaigns who were usually willing to sacrifice themselves. Again, it wasn't just the Aztecs who practiced it but all the other Mesoamerican peoples. The only difference is that the Aztecs increased the scale of the people that were sacrificed to the Gods.

    The Empire wasn't a traditional empire that imposed its culture onto the population. A good portion of the population already spoke the same language, practiced more or less the same customs, and worshipped the same Gods (at least in the extent of the Nahuas) so there wasn't much need for imposing a culture that was already dominant centuries before the Aztecs arrived in the Valley of Mexico. The Otomis and other non-Nahuas had a prominent role in the Empire as artisans and prestigious soldiers.
     
  17. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    Sounds like - very loosely - Ireland (with a working "High Kingship"), in the sense of the "Aztecs" happening to be the top dog clans of the time, but every clan being part of the same "people".

    So instead of tribes in the sense of the Lakota and the Cherokee, we're really just looking at cities(city-states?)/regions.

    As a shitty but hopefully at least vaguely appropriate comparison.
     
  18. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend

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    You're actually right on the mark. Of course Tlacaelel, the architect of the Mexica Triple Alliance, had instilled into the Aztec leadership the thought that they were a distinct, chosen people, the sons and daughters of the Left Handed Hummingbird, and that by this, they had the right to dominance over people who weren't that much different from them.
     
  19. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    Hard to say, the initial contacts were simply too full of randomness to get a good grasp of other contact possibilities. What happens to them I suppose counts on who exactly goes there first, what path they take, what other colonies they have before going, all that stuff.
     
  20. LSCatilina Feudal Leftist Extraordinaire

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