WI The Columbian Expedition was a complete failure?

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

  1. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    The Mexica state encouraged the military, exploits in war were one of two ways commoners could rise in status. They were anything but complacent. And even one thousand Aztec warriors could put down a Chichimec invasion, they're not exactly the Mongol horde. The Aztecs had strong control over their empire that was only severely weakened by plagues that killed 1/3rd of the population within months, and up to 90% over the next several years.
     
  2. Winnabago Banned

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    Exploits in war giving non-Aztecs status simply puts expansion in the hands of the provincials.

    The moment the provinces figure out that they don’t actually need you (hey, I can conquer people on my own, kthx) you’re screwed as the central government.

    A technologically weak state simply can’t pull this off.
     
  3. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    Honestly, this is starting to look like you're trying to say the Aztecs are doomed no matter what.

    As in, it doesn't even matter whether or not their weaknesses are issues, you'll just pick whatever as a reason that they're going to fall.
     
  4. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    Honestly, I have no idea where you're even going with this and I'm sure you have no idea what you're talking about. I'm not sure where you're getting these ideas from anymore. You're misconstruing every statement now just so you can keep claiming they were on the verge of defeat despite not knowing a thing about Aztec history or culture. I don't even know why you think all commoners are non-Aztecs now, that was a weird statement. I've been patient with you, but no longer.
     
  5. Winnabago Banned

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    What? No, I just figured since we were talking about the Aztec provinces and tributaries, that you were referring to those. Going off on tangents is fine, just make sure you say something first, thanks.
     
  6. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    You said the Aztecs were getting complacent and a rebellion could easily destroy them because they weren't militarized. I said they were highly militarized, and you said that's proof a rebellion could easily destroy them.
     
  7. Swan Station Under a hatch

    Just wanted to mention that hurricanes are rare in the Atlantic in February. Although I'm assuming they're not impossible, and if anything there are other storms and dangers that could still cause the POD.

    When these scenarios come up, I've always leaned towards the opinion, without Columbus announcing the equivalent of a Gold Rush and handing his "conquest" to the King and Queen of Spain, the European exploration of the Americas would be slow and gradual. It would mostly consist of fishermen and traders accidentally stumbling on places to get water, maybe food, or harbors to shelter in a storm. Useful to them, but not to anyone else. Many of them would never even be reported and thus no specific date would be set down for official "discovery".

    Stories of these places would just be seen as travelers tales to non-sailors, and places to get supplies among the rest, and maybe gather in some useful commodities to sell for a little extra cash back home. More official trade voyages might see them as interesting, but not really worth their time compared to the gold and spices they are really trying to go for. Only years later, when some useful and valuable goods are already ubiquitous in the markets of Europe, and strange people claiming to have come back with the fishermen from lands across the ocean try to gain audiences with royalty, do the powers that be start to take notice, and fund expeditions.
     
  8. Winnabago Banned

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    I said that an invasion would shatter them because increasingly, they weren’t militarized.

    Let’s assume I’m wrong. Let’s say the Aztecs would keep getting bigger. Okay. Sooner or later, it gets really hard to get troops from the capital to the front, and then you have increasingly rebellious provinces on the front. Fun.

    Let’s assume I’m wrong again. Let’s say the Aztecs centralize a whole bunch and enter a new age of sacrificing, regular flower wars, and general prosperity. You now have the problem of a fucking huge capital population. Some provincial will figure out that he would rather not support their quality of life anymore. And then all the other tributaries will figure out that, hey, neither do they.

    Let’s say I’m wrong a third time, and these are a highly warlike bunch. So warlike, that they maintain their warlikeness even as it becomes impractical to be a Tenochtitlan soldier, like it normally does with urbanized societies with relatively few rebellions. Then, sooner or later, some Aztec noble will attempt a civil war for the government.

    You might say I’m acting like there’s no way out of this, but that’s because that’s how empires work.
     
  9. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    There's a huge difference between "eventually, the Aztecs will stop being able to make this work, or will have problems that may cause collapse (but may not - a noble bidding for control of the empire doesn't necessarily end the empire, see the Byzantines changing dynasties over and over again)" and "Even without the Spanish, the Aztec Empire is on the verge of collapse and a stiff breeze would shatter it."

    Speaking as someone who sees less argument on eventual imperial collapse and more on an idea that the Aztec state is weak and vulnerable. If you're arguing the former, then why is supposed Aztec fragility (not general imperial fragility, the Aztecs being particularly vulnerable) so central to your point?

    Even when the supposed weaknesses aren't an issue.
     
  10. Winnabago Banned

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    Of course. I’m just saying that even in the unlikely best-case scenario in which the Mexica’s tributaries find newfound love to feeding the hand that bit them, the Aztecs are still screwed, largely due to the disloyalty across the empire, and general inability to respond.

    A tributary system is probably best at this period, it just has inherent probably not likely to be solved flaws.
     
  11. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    They don't need to love the Mexica, just fear them.

    And what "general inability"? See, this is where your argument is "The Aztecs were weak" treats them as if they had only a tiny force loyal to them - despite that being clearly not the case - and the vast majority of the other peoples being dedicated to ending their rule - again, not the case.
     
  12. Winnabago Banned

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    Weak? Nah. The Romans weren’t “weak”, but they were incapable of projecting force into some areas.

    Aztecs, same problem. With such an empire based on a walking populace, it’s often hard to project force well, meaning it’s increasingly difficult to enforce tribute demands.

    The provinces weren’t dedicated to ending their rule, true. That’s why I advocated some sort of disruption as a cause for the fall:
    1. Invasion, civil war, other distraction for Aztec military men.
    2. Some ambitious king of a tributary wagers himself on a victory, much like the Aztecs did at their start.
    3. He wins a little, temporarily. The Aztecs are beatable. The tributaries flake off.
    4. The Mexica struggle to survive. Technochititlan, depending on the time of the end, would end up as a major city and religious center that is plundered often, or as a fading center of authority.
     
  13. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    Weak is exactly what you've been saying. A tiny, minor invasion will somehow rally up a storm of dissenters and break the Mexica, with the idea - from somewhere - that they have only the most tenuous hold on power.

    #1: Will require a major disruption to be such a problem across the empire.

    #2: Same.

    #3 will require more than "winning a little, temporarily".

    #4? Not until and unless the Mexica are severely weakened.

    So, how are pin prick invasions of the frontier going to even be worth recording, let alone turn into something massive, again?

    You've treated every counter to your idea that the Aztecs are a fragile state as being just another problem.

    Empires do eventually fall, but this is like some anti-Eurofedian argument on how empires can't even last long enough to develop structural problems.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  14. Yelnoc Negusa Nagast

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    Let's stick with this story for Cabot. The Basque, English, and assorted other cod fishermen may make landfall in North America much earlier than OTL as LSCatilina argues, but as of now I do not see a reason why Cabot would be involved in exploration or why those fishermen's voyage would have occurred so soon after the POD. The 1540's sounds like a more reasonable date to me.

    So then, we have the Portuguese discovery of a southern continent in 1503, prompting the Spanish to organize a convention in 1505 at which it is decided that in 1507 Rodrigo de Bastidas will lead an expedition consisting of five carracks west in hopes of catching up with the Portuguese. On board the expedition are Vasco Nunez de Balboa and Diego Velazquez de Cuellar, veterans of the Italian Wars.

    As to a more northerly route, I'm not sure. Remember, the discoveries of the Americas (for which we will need to come up with a new name) occurred even farther south than OTL. At this point, do the Spanish have any proof of new land on the same latitude as Iberia outside of the tails of some cod fishermen?

    A note on the Aztec discussion: the discovery of the Americas occurs in TTL 11 years later than in OTL. Of course that completely changes the course of events, but to give us a sense of time, if European exploration of Mesoamerica is pushed back 11 years than the Aztecs would be left alone until 1528. Montezuma would have been 62 years old. I don't know how long on average Aztecs lived, but it seems to me like he might die of old age soon either before or after contact. As Cuāuhtemōc points out, there were multiple claimants to the thrown. Could we see an Aztec war of succession, or do you Amerindian experts think the succession would have gone without a hitch?

    Here is a list of other characters
    -Juan de Grijalva; 18 at the time of the 1507 expedition
    -Francisco de Montejo; 28 at the time of the 1507 expedition
    -Pedro de Alvaroda; 12 or 22 at the time of the 1507 expedition
    -Juan Diaz: 27 at the time of the 1507 expedition
     
  15. Winnabago Banned

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    Sure, but that doesn’t make them weak. It makes them overextended.
    #1: It would simply have to be enough that the Aztecs would have to send an army. There are plenty of places to send armies. Not remotely surprising for something like that to happen.
    #2: The smaller the king, the better it looks to the other tributaries, actually. If some king can pull off getting out of tribute, why can’t I?
    #3: Temporarily is all it takes to inspire others.
    #4: Or they simply collapse under their own weight as tribute runs dry. Same as if Rome stopped getting food imports from Africa and Egypt.

    That’s sort of the problem with the Aztecs being in their position: everything is a problem. The way they’ve set themselves up has inherent structural problems.
     
  16. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

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    Which is what happened IOTL. The conquest rush followed Cortes', not Columbus, who made shore 30 years before him and found nothing really valuable. Yet people seem strangely prone to conflate the two for some reason (why is half of this thread devoted to a discussion over the militarization of the Aztec Empire anyway?).
     
  17. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    Except that there's no sign of it being an issue except in whatever you've conjured up.

    Which will not, in any way whatsoever, mean that they can't keep control of things. Oh no, we have a war. Whatever will we do.

    Except, again, that he'll be stomped flat. So much for looking good.

    No, it isn't. Otherwise no empire would last past the first rebellion.

    Or not, because they can keep it from running dry, so that never comes up. And even if it does, they became powerful enough to be the hegemons for a reason.

    The way you've imagined them being, with no acknowledgement of how strong they were, has everything as a problem. The reality is far less likely to be swept away in a stiff breeze the way you're positing.

    Tocomocho: Because for some reason someone decided that the Aztecs were ripe for collapse, because...we're not sure why, he seems to think they were because they were just that incompetent/fragile.
     
  18. Winnabago Banned

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    Yes. I only have the actions of pretty much every tributary ever to back me up. That’s what tributaries DO. They give money until the authority is no longer threatening, and then they stop. This is obvious from the Cortes invasion.
    It does if the tributaries want freedom from the Aztecs.
    Oh, what a wonderful world, where all rebellions get stomped flat. Stomping flat a rebellion is another opportunity for revolt somewhere else. Let’s say that gets stomped flat. Well, that creates the same problem all over. Now, what if some general stomps all the rebellions flat? Well shit, you just made yourself a Caesar.
    That’s often true if much of the populace of the empire wants to rebel.
    You can see from history that people lose their original toughness after awhile. Not all empires can simply be magicked back.
    They were certainly strong, at least for a while. They became hegemons for a reason, as you said.
     
  19. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    And the authority being no longer threatening is going to take a lot more than a minor invasion on the frontier or something otherwise inconsequential.

    As stated by others better than I can, the tributaries aren't panting for the chance to rebel.

    As for making yourself a Caesar:
    No, you haven't. This isn't Rome, where successful general today means new emperor tomorrow.

    And it being an opportunity for revolt somewhere else is only true if the army is stretched thin - which is not the case here.

    And we don't need to worry about the empire being magicked back, because the empire is in a strong position as of this point, and is not showing any sign of suddenly losing that.

    And that reason is still going strong as of the 16th century. Will they have trouble at some point? Yes. But again, there's a huge difference between how no empire lasts forever, and the Aztecs being this sickly weakling you've been misrepresenting them as for the past three pages.
     
  20. Winnabago Banned

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    You do realize that, if reacted to correctly, that’s exactly what Cortes’ invasion would be? Simply kill them the moment they show up, and no one even gets a chance to get smallpox.
    So why did such a huge number join up with Cortes? Did they love the Aztecs so much that they wished to hug them with their spears and clubs?

    A victorious general has popular support, and he’s likely taken all the men in the valley who want to go with him, leaving relatively few willing to fight back if he decides to take control of the government. Seriously, what’s to stop him?

    The Aztecs only have so many soldiers, and they have a hell of a lot of places to put them. If course it would stretch them thin to fight a war.

    And we don't need to worry about the empire being magicked back, because
    So why were so many willing to march on and destroy the capital?
    Which explains perfectly as to why they reacted to the Spanish invasion in such a failtastic way.