Alternative History

Cortez and Pizarro fail in their conquests of the Americas and to this day the powerful Aztec and Incan empires exist. The Mississippian Mound-Builders remained strong, and with the support of a technologically vitalized Aztec Empire fended off the attacking western cultures. Also, the enigmatic Anasazi exist to this day...somewhere in the Southwest.

Not sure, but what exactly is your POD? IIRC the Mississippian Mound-Builders and the Anasazi were extinct before the came in contact with the Europeans, so they would not be preserved by Cortez not conquering the Aztec.

OTOH, there were a lot of inestability in Mexico when Cortez came. Removing the Spaniards and the Aztec would probably survive one or two hundreds of years... much probably not to the present... and, even if Cortez failed, smallpox was there already... not a good factor for stability. Unless there would be some European interest in preserving an Aztec government...

not still convinced

I can still see a posibility for your Timeline, but it just don't seem right how you develop the POD.

First: Cortés was not in a mission to conquer the Aztecs. He was in a mission to explore, and then he decided, against the will of his supperiors in Hispaniola, to conquer Mexico for himself.

For any reason Cortés failed... probably there was not smallpox in his crew, so after a long battle the more numerous Meshicas would overcome Cortés. Probably he failed in getting alliances in the nations that opposed the Aztecs...

The Spanish authorities in Hispaniola use Cortés failure to prevent adventurism. They take harsher measures to prevent conquistadores, and instead of dominating the American nations, they decide to found trading posts in mainland Americas.

Pizarro was inspired by Cortés, so failing Cortés we probably prevent Pizarro's attempt to conquer the Tawantinsuyu.

In this line of ideas, the Spanish use diplomatic means to grab Aztec's and Inca's gold. Think more about British conquest of India *here* than the Spanish conquest of the Americas.

So the Aztec and Inca cultures are preserved. Their institutions are preserved. Eventually the Spanish sell weapons and train local militias so these Native nations would have the means to emancipate.

Still this would not prevent the desapiring of the Anasasi or the Mississippian mount builders... unless you claim a previous POD.

--Carlos Th 11:48, 23 Mar 2005 (EST)

The whole of this POD stems from an essay on Cortes in "What If" (I think that's the name of the book).

First: Cortés was not in a mission to conquer the Aztecs. He was in a mission to explore, and then he decided, against the will of his supperiors in Hispaniola, to conquer Mexico for himself.

What if the POD happened after he'd decided that, and because of his decision and failure, it was decided that no more 'conquistadores.'

Can you explain about this 'emancipation' that you say happened? I'm fine to collaborate on this Alt-hist, btw.

Also, can you explain a bit about India? I'm not that fleshed out historically there. Louisiannan 19:27, 23 Mar 2005 (EST)

OTL there is a country called India, where most people practice Hinduism, and speak Indu or related languages. There are three/four countries in the India sub-continent (including Pakistan and Bangladesh (Nepal?)), where culturally are more akind to the cultures that inhabited those territories, than to the European rulers.
Compare with Latin America. Native cultures are minority, and barely represented in the governments of the respective countries. Majoritary language is Spanish or Portuguese. Majoritary religion is Christianism.
Compare with the USA and Canada...
While I am no expert on the history of India, IIRC, there was not a single government in that sub-continent, but after the European rule, they preserved most of their culture. The fact is that the Portuguese, the French and, mainly, the British did not conquered and settled, but rather founded trading facilities, ruled throug local princes, and even trained military forces with the natives.
Could something similar have happened in the Americas?
I guess it could have.
--Carlos Th 20:15, 23 Mar 2005 (EST)
That might also help explain why the Aztecs are still around. The Europeans propped them up as a puppet Nik 20:28, 23 Mar 2005 (EST)

Shall we all three collaborate then? I think Carlos' knowledge of the history of Central and South America is invaluable for this Althist.

Re: Anasazi The reason for the disappearance of the Anasazi OTL is not known, but it could have been raiders (Navajo?). IMO the existence of the Navajo is mutually exclusive with the existence of the Anasazi. Theophilus.

Most of the reason why the American natives collapsed was that they hads no immunity to European and Asian diseases. 21:16, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Jared Diamond presents a plausible cause for the Anasazi demise in his book "Collapse", but of more interest to this timeline is a passage in his Maya chapter which mentions Cortez. The Maya civilization had collapsed hundreds of year before the Spaniards came and the region was sparsely populated at the time of Cortez.

From Collapse:

"When Cortez and his Spanish army passed through the Central Peten in 1524 and 1525, they nearly starved because they encountered so few villages from which to acquire corn. Cortez passed within a few miles of the ruins of the Classic cities of Tikal and Palenque, but he heard or saw nothing of them because they were covered by jungle and almost nobody was living in the vicinity."

If Cortez was killed and the Aztecs are ravaged by small pox then subsequent conquistadors would have a very rough time. They could not rely on natives for food supply or for information. They would also have a harder time trying to play one tribe against another. And they would have far fewer natives to try to bully into giving them gold or to use as cheep labor. Even if the Aztec empire were to fall, the Spanish conquest of the region would be greatly slowed.

1920's Battle of Mecca

Any reason you chose the 1920's or suggested the 1920's?

Slow gold

The timeline does not explicitly state when Cortes dies but I assume it is in 1519 when Cortes first arrives at Tenochtitlán. With a POD this late I think the Aztecs are still doomed.

- Cortes has already slaughtered tens of thousands of Aztecs (30,000 in Cholula alone).

- The Spanish in general have now seen ample evidence of the vast amounts of Aztec gold.

- Cortes has coerced the Tlaxcalteca and others against Tenochtitlán, so an ongoing Aztec civil war is very likely.

- In OTL the Aztec small pox epidemic was started in 1520 by Spanish who were to meet up with Cortes. In this timeline the outbreak would be somewhat later and would start more towards the coast, but it would ultimately have the same effect.

The lesson the Spanish would learn from Cortes' failure is that Cortes had overextended himself; not that Cortes was "wrong".

So what about the Inca? Pizzaro (or some Pizzaro-like person) would be later. The Inca would still be ravaged by small pox but perhaps their civil wars would be resolved before Pizzaro arrives. If the Inca get organized they could offer a much better defense than in OTL but they would still undoubtedly be ultimately defeated.

So the Aztec and Inca empires still fall, only slightly later. The Spanish still get big heaps of gold, only at a bit slower rate. Will the slightly slower rate of gold accumulation have a great effect on the Spanish Empire back home?

Cortes not unique

Just a rant on the non-significance of a dead Cotes (assuming a dead Cortes is the POD).

So . . . Cortes acted far beyond his orders, he was super-aggressive and super-ambitious. Only after he had taken irreversible actions did Spanish/Castilian authority and lawfulness enter the area. Hey - this is the same pattern used to conquer the Incas and the Pueblos later on. This is the same pattern they used to conquer the Canaries and to re-conquer the Iberian Peninsula long before Cortes. This was THE way they operated! If Cortes is removed from the equation there are a score of other Castilians ready to step up and become Cortes II.

So . . . in this timeline Montezuma listens to different advisors and kills Cortes. Cool. But . . .

  • Montezuma is still a weak, Chamberlain-like, leader.
  • The leadership of the second largest Aztec city, Cholula, has still been slain by Cortes along with thousands of other natives between Tenochtitlan and the coast.
  • Lots of Spaniards with cannon, armor, horse, and guns are still in mesoamerica or in the American Indies - all eager to make a name for themselves.
  • Smallpox will still devastate the entire New World one way or another.
  • The Aztecs are still in a "civil" war against the Tlaxcalan.

So . . . what has changed, really.

  • The Spaniards can no longer topple the entire empire with a handful of soldiers - they will need a more determined military effort.
  • The myth of "Cortes = Quetzalcoatl" has been shattered.
  • The flow of gold to Spain and the Hapsburgs is reduced.
  • A full scale Aztec-Castilian war has probably irreversibly been set into action. This war would be longer than in OTL; possibly much longer -- it took the Spanish over a century to pacify the New Maya. Is this war more, or less, devastating to the Aztecs? Could the ultimate defeat of the Aztecs ever really be in doubt?

Cortes was a fascinating, influential, and terrible person. But he was not unique; he was a product of his times. Trends larger than any single individual would prevent Montezuma's revenge from being long lasting or sweet. --AirshipArmada 05:28, 6 Jul 2005 (UTC)

I don't want to "pile on" by joining the other skeptics, but there is a book on the 100 most influential people in history, that rated Pizarro higher than Cortes. The author's logic was that Mexico was simply too close to the secure Spanish base in Cuba to hold out forever, so the defeat of Cortes probably would have only delayed the conquest. The Incas, however, being on the "Pacific" side of South America, were much less accessible to European incursions, and arguably could have held out in their mountainous terrain as a sort of Andean Afghanistan or Ethiopia. Thus, he considered Pizarro's achievement more influential. --Groggy Dice 17:41, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

It's actually "Moctezuma"