Alternative History

Who says the Italians never attempted to colonize America?

Enter the little-known Thornton expedition of 1609, an attempt by Ferdinando I de' Medici and his Grand Duchy of Tuscany to initiate colonization of what is now French Guiana. Englishman Robert Thornton was in the midst of setting up a colony and preparing the transfer of the first Italian settlers to it when upon his return to Tuscany in 1609, Ferdinando had died at the age of 59, and that his successor, Cosimo II, was fully uninterested in colonies and all of that jazz. The effort hence died.

Another thing unknown to many is that the Dutch attempted unsuccessfully to rob the Portuguese Empire of their colony of Brazil, seizing the northern coast in 1630 but eventually losing it to the Portuguese in 1654, as a result of the Battle of Guararapes.

Wouldn't it be fun to imagine a radically different New World where the Italian effort to seize land succeeds and wherein the Dutch hold on to their share of Brazil? If you thought this was wacky enough, rest assured that I'm far from done from throwing nutty PoD's at you. Not only does Tuscany grow really powerful with its newfound riches, but several important conflicts go ... differently. Imagine a total Bourbon victory in the War of the Spanish Succession necessitating a partition of the Spanish Empire, and a Swedish-Ottoman victory in the Great Northern War, following the capture of Peter the Great in the Pruth Campaign ... that'd have crazy results on our timeline.

And you can be damn sure I'd love to explore such a world.

The Points of Divergence[]


Ferdinando plainly doesn't die in 1609. ... That's literally it. Sometimes, a solid PoD can be quite simple in essence and doesn't need to be particularly sophisticated.

The colony in Guiana is a great success, and it drives Ferdinando to continue pursuing his dreams of colonizing both this area and North Africa. As Tuscany grows more and more powerful as a result of its newfound riches, the Grand Duchy strives for the ultimate ambition: To unify all the Italian states and noble houses under one sovereign commonwealth, free from foreign interference. The Medici aim their cannons at the Spaniards in particular, arguably the biggest threat to Italian self-determination.


In the First Battle of Guararapes in 1648, Dutch commander Sisigmund van Schoppe doesn't make the mistake of facing the Portuguese head-on before the rest of his troops arrive. Instead, he awaits his reinforcements properly, turning the tide of the battle. The Dutch hold on to their possessions in Brazil, now renamed to Pernambuko; Brazil now refers solely to what the Portuguese retained in the south.

The Portuguese decide to invest in other colonial conquests as well to make up for the loss of northern Brazil; most notable are a revisit of North America (Following their initial claim on Newfoundland in the 16th century, which was quickly forgotten about) and campaigns to retake their holdings in Malaya and the East Indies. The success of these campaigns allows Portugal to recover.

The War of the Spanish Succession[]

What if the Bourbons won this war? Let's suppose that, among a variety of other factors that help influence this outcome, the Tuscans come to Bourbon aid, hoping to curb Hasburg power in Italy (where they already held Naples and Milan). In the peace negotiations, the Spanish Empire is partitioned to prevent France from acquiring too much power and territory; it loses the Southern Netherlands, Naples, Milan, the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdoms of León and Galicia, retaining a connection to France through the Basque Country. It's a heavy toll for the Bourbons, but they accept nonetheless.

Soon, the sovereignity of the Crown of Aragon would permit the Catalans to finally cast the remaining Spanish (Aragonese) rulers off themselves, becoming an independent state from the Kingdom of Aragon.

The Great Northern War[]

Ever heard of the Pruth River Campaign? It refers to the final part of the Great Northern War between Sweden, Russia and their respective allies, wherein the Ottomans attacked the Russians through Romania and Moldova. Little-known is the fact that the Ottomans almost captured Peter the Great, having annihilated his army. They ultimately chose not to and instead settled for a peace on light terms.

This makes it only logical for us to ponder how history would be affected if the Turks did capture Peter, humiliate Russia, and turn the tide of the war in Sweden's favour ...


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