WI The Columbian Expedition was a complete failure?

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

  1. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    There's a big difference between "The Aztec reacted ineffectively to Cortez, they might also screw up a response to something else" and "The Aztecs were overstretched weaklings and hated by their subject people so fiercely that its amazing they lasted long enough for Cortez to show up".

    This is getting old.

    As stated by a more knowledgable man than myself:

    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.

    And this: https://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=5779618&postcount=51

    Seriously, why are you so insistent on the idea that the Aztecs are a sickly weakling of an empire?

    Why would a victorious general automatically be disloyal to the emperor, to use one of the things you seem to be throwing out just because?
     
  2. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    I dunno, some stubborn guy keeps incessantly droning on about how weak the Aztecs are despite not knowing the first thing about them besides the stereotypes thrown all over the internet. And yeah, people have a problem with conflating Cortez and Columbus. The initial conquistadors were a bit more cautious than Cortez, and the ones who weren't cautious were very quickly dead.
     
  3. Hnau free radical

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    Hey, this thread is still getting traction after I've been gone for a few days! This makes me so happy. :D I'm going to have to sig this one.

    Alright, I think Winnebago makes some good points concerning eventual incursions by nomadic raiders and restless provinces, but while I do think the Aztecs would eventually collapse, I don't think its going to happen so quickly (basically we've given them only about a generation more than OTL). I would think the collapse would be likely during or following a particularly devastating war with either Tlaxcala or the Tarascans (perhaps both), but not solely because of nomads or internal rebellion. In any case, I'm planning on having the Aztecs around still by the time Europeans run into them. I'm not saying that many of your points are wrong, just that internal collapse is probably not going to happen in this TL (mainly because of the lack of time for such a development).

    What I think is more interesting is how European interaction with the Aztecs is changed because of different (potentially Portuguese) conquistadors who might just decide to trade instead of marching against the capital city. That sounds cool to me. :cool:

    Sacrebleu, I thought that was what you were insinuating. My apologies.

    Désolé! I thought that was what you were getting at. You were talking about Cabot and cod fishing as if Cabot was motivated by cod fisherman rather than Columbus and the Spanish explorers. Then, there's the post by Father Maryland saying that cod fishermen from Bristol (Cabot's home base) could have inspired Cabot to take a northerly route west. I sincerely apologize.

    You know, the idea of English and Portuguese (and Spanish? French?) explorers in the American northeast is growing on me. I'm not sure it will result in colonization MUCH earlier than OTL, but I'm thinking the region would most certainly get more attention. Now, because after 1507 the Spanish want to go west for the sole objective of trading with the Indies, perhaps they will dilly-dally less in the Caribbean and send explorers on the northerly route to find a northwestern passage. Perhaps in doing so they can try to claim some territory in waters the Basques have been fishing for decades. I like this idea LSCatalina. What does everyone else think about that?

    Ooh, interesting butterfly there, Cuauhtemoc. I like it. But, one question... had serious wars happened with the Aztecs and their neighbors during succession crises before? Were the Aztecs prone to internal wars when the tlatoani died? I mean, I've heard of that happening with the Incas but I can't remember reading that the same thing happened with the Aztecs.

    I wouldn't overrate them so fast. The Tarascans had a better appreciation for metal alloys, using them to make tools as much as luxury items, and it seems power was much more centralized in their empire than it was with the Aztecs. And they weren't done growing in population... they could have easily expanded territory and grown their cities. I'm not saying they were ready to devaste the Aztecs when Cortes showed up, but they had some interesting advantages over them.

    Love your nickname, man, I'm a total Lostie myself. :) Hurricanes might be rare in February nowadays, but it seems like they were normal occurrences in the 15th/16th century. Different global climate, perhaps? This is during the Little Ice Age after all. See Columbus's vow, citing part of Columbus's diary.

    I'm inclined to agree with you, the mood of initial exploration will take on a different mood since the discovery of the Americas happened as an accident rather than a lucky break that Columbus had to spin in order to make a little bit of money off the enterprise. But while I think the initial period will be a bit slower, eventually they are going to find things in the Americas worth exploiting, such as, well, arable land and inferior natives.

    Well, what I had thought is that the Spanish want to claim lands in India that would still be in their jurisdiction: northwards or at the same latitude as the Canary Islands. As for Grijalva, Montejo, Alvorado, Diaz, and the results of the 1507 expedition, I'll figure out what happens to them as soon as I get off work tomorrow.

    Cool stuff guys. I'll write more later. :)
     
  4. Winnabago Banned

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    Well, THAT’s not accurate. Try again kthx.
    Just “eliminate” the Tlaxcallans? Even if this was somehow pulled off, the onset of stability would leave the Aztecs totally unprepared for invasion, unless they started launching campaigns against each other.
    Because everybody wants to be emperor, first of all. It’s the AZTECS who are destined to be successful, not the Aztec emperor.
     
  5. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    What's not accurate? You've been pretty consistently arguing that the Aztecs are overstretched weaklings - nevermind arguments on how they weren't in danger of being overstretched or how powerful they were relative to their subjects.

    Not more than stability leaves any other country "totally unprepared for invasion". Stability does not mean "abandoning all ability to defend one's self".

    Not everyone. And even those who might find the idea appealing may still be loyal.

    And even if not, what basis do they have for taking the throne? Do the Aztecs have a Roman style system?

    You seem to think so, but your impression of the Aztecs seems based on the idea that there's no possible way for them to hold anything together for any length of time, no matter what is raised against that, so I'm not inclined to support that unless confirmed by those who know more on the Aztecs than I do or than you appear to.
     
  6. Winnabago Banned

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    However, there’s no miracle involved as to why they lasted up to the invasion. They just failed at reacting to it so horribly that it’s difficult for me to see how they had it together at that point.
    It does if no one gets military experience, and people quickly start to turn away from military jobs. The cities grow, and become more ripe for plundering.
    Some of their kings were elected, according to Wikipedia, and there was no dynastic succession.

    It looks like “showing up and intimidating the hell out of everybody to get elected” would actually be a perfectly legitimate act.
    ANY length of time? Didn’t say that either.
     
  7. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    Strangely, no one else has that problem.

    Because we all know that peace means the military ceases to exist.

    Based on...what? Cynicism?

    Just been arguing that for all intents and purposes. You're not arguing that the Aztecs could screw up as they did OTL, you're arguing basically that their system sucked so badly that they couldn't come up with an effective response - nevermind what everyone has pointed out to you about how the empire worked. At least, that's how it is coming off.

    So if that's not your point, why do you seem intent on emphasizing that they're doomed more than any other powers?
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  8. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend Gone Fishin'

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    They were rare but they did happen once in a while, more during the early years of the history of the Triple Alliance. A part of the reason the Mexica Triple Alliance was formed was due totaking advantage of a succession crisis with the Tepanecs between the late Great Speaker's heir Tayahauh whom the Aztecs supported and the man's brother Maxtla who succeeded in usurping the throne and assassinated the then Aztec ruler Chimalpopoca and declared war on the city-states. It took a coalition of several cities to bring down the Tepanecs.

    Succession crises in Tenochtitlan, I'm not aware of and it would be a first but it doesn't mean that it could not happen. Under Montezuma II, the nobles were losing their role as an advisory body that also picked the heir to the current Great Speaker and they would not enjoy the idea of Tenochtitlan being transformed into a full on hereditary monarchy. To my knowledge, they weren't crazy about Atlixcatzin but I suppose I don't know enough about him to say whether he would reverse or continue his would-be predecessor's centralization of power onto his office. Then again, it doesn't take much for Atlixcatzin to suffer an unfortunate accident and for the council of nobles to marry off
    Montezuma's daughter to someone whom they're more favorable of.

    Look up the Senorio of Cuzcatlan, it is pretty much what the Aztec Empire would had evolved to had they lasted a bit longer to centralize. It's an interesting state of its own too. :)

    I already suggested the other alternatives as have you, Hnau.

    Now if the Aztecs do collapse on their own in a generation or so, the Mixtecs and the Zapotecs would be quick to regain their independence in the southern portions of the Alliance's territories. The Totonacs in the coast might also win independence though they'll remain very fragmented between an assortment of rivaling city-states.
     
  9. Yelnoc Negusa Nagast

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    I suppose the most important thing we need to decide is whether European contact with the Aztecs takes place before or after Montezuma's death, and which country makes contact first. Hnau, I too like the idea of the Portuguese being the first ones to make contact. We probably should think of more Portuguese explorers now that are involved early on in a big way.

    Hnau, that makes sense. Let's say the Spanish expedition sets sail in 1507 from one of the northern ports, headed due west. If they follow that course, they would end up in the area of Nova Scotia. Before the first contact, the population of northeastern NA was a lot larger than most people realize. According to one account, the natives of some tribe in Massachusetts lined up on a long stretch of coast, shoulder to shoulder, cramming together to get a glimpse of that first ship. I'm not sure how the Spanish will view the voyage, as they would come back with no treasure, but the knowledge of a new land covered in thick forest occupied by "primitives."
     
  10. Winnabago Banned

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    Perhaps they are wrong.
    If the military did stick around at the same size, it would be inexperienced and unpopular.
    Let’s run this step by step.
    1. The Mexica elected at least some of their leaders (unknown whether this was full democracy or simply nobles picking their favorite guy).
    2. The Mexica did not have a dynastic system.
    3. No family has an inherent claim to the throne.
    4. Getting people to vote for you thus makes you emperor.
    5. It is possible to intimidate someone into voting for you if you have an army and they do not.
    6. It is possible to intimidate your way into the emperorship.
    Please don’t try to read into things anymore, you’re not getting accurate results.
    They were doomed. They just weren’t about to die from the start.

    Beyond the reasons already given for their doomed-ness (the fickleness of tributaries, the expanding capital, the lack of much of the tech that makes it easy to centralize) there was the problem that all the tribute money had a heavy, unchanging bias towards Tenochtitlan’s interests, with others’ benefit being side effects (the roads being a good example).

    That sort of pisses people off. They don’t really need the Aztecs, and when the tributaries don’t need the Aztecs, and the Aztecs increasingly need the tributaries to help feed the populace, that’s a recipe for disaster, now isn’t it?
     
  11. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    I'm not trying to read into anything, I'm looking at what you're arguing. The Aztecs have a strong military? That's bad. The Aztecs have a good system of communications? That's bad. The Aztecs are secure? That's bad. You're deliberately taking everything raised against the idea that Aztecs are fragile as if it was just another weakness, and then coming up with yet more weaknesses whether those are real issues the Aztecs had to face or not.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  12. Winnabago Banned

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    A lot of those things, for sustained periods, actually are bad.

    Balance is good. The ability to react to lots of different things means you can adapt to new situations. If a society is to remember how to react to things, different things must happen a lot, or else metaphorical muscles will atrophy.
     
  13. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    I wonder when "unchanging' became part of a description of Aztec society. I must have missed that.
     
  14. Winnabago Banned

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    If the Aztecs manage to conquer those few remaining besieged kingdoms, and can simply shrug off any outside native invasion, what else would you expect to happen?
     
  15. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    That the Aztecs would develop some sort of response to the new situation, which may be effective or ineffective, but would not be any more doomed than say, France.
     
  16. Jurgen Wullenwever Well-Known Member

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    From the first post:
    What have these 39 men in La Navidad been doing since 1492? Are they all dead without children, or do they marry local women and create a fishing village?

    Could they have spread European diseases to parts of the continent?
     
  17. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

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    That's OTL. When Columbus returned in his second voyage he found the fort burned down and deserted and no trace of the people there.
     
  18. Winnabago Banned

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    France was consistently threatened, and a majority of France was not waiting for the government to be distracted so that they could revolt.

    In the Aztec Empire, it’s massively in a tributary’s best interest to do this.
     
  19. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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    Which doesn't mean France inevitably survives and the Aztecs inevitably don't.

    France was picked as a country that had and has problems, yet has managed to deal with them - there's no reason why West Francia would inevitably not dissolve as royal authority became meaningless, for instance.

    I think, given who has most of the warriors, "most" of the Aztec state longing for revolt - even considering the worst case scenario - is not the right way to put it.
     
  20. Winnabago Banned

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    As far as I know, France fell several times. However, as a nation-state, it continued to exist, because the French nationality continued to exist. The Aztecs, with a large number of tributaries, were an empire, not a nation-state.

    It’s a bit like expecting Napoleon’s empire to survive, for a better comparison.
    France is and was by no means totally an empire: it was an ethnic group that controlled itself (and sometimes controlled others, or was controlled by others).

    What makes you think the Aztecs had most of the warriors? In economically poor ancient states, generally noblemen are able to afford very good weapons for themselves, and that’s about it. In the richer Aztec society, noblemen could hold bureaucratic jobs or work as priests in some of the large number of well-staffed temples.

    So why assume that a larger population gives one more soldiers?