First Thoughts

Europe would be rather significantly altered. I would imagine that the Spanish would be the hardest-hit, being the first to be exposed. What effects might a massive plague have on Europe at that time?

Also, I suspect it's more plausible that the Spanish would catch Papatlaca before they had a chance to expose the Native Americans to smallpox.

One possibility is that some of the Spanish explorers would be stranded in the new world, and would become a source of knowledge about the West for the Native Americans - Nik 22:56, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

even without too many (or any), the simple fact that the mexica would have been confronted with new ideas and technology could lead to a type of renaissance (well, naissance anyway).
One major difference would be a difference in fighting style: instead of simply performing the flowered war to capture sacrifices and impressed the locals into submission, they would start to literaly conquer territory to insure their safety against an ennemy that might come back.
I doubt they would be able to completely catch up with the european tech-wise. Even with help from conquistadors, they would be lacking in some steps, i.e., a soldier might be able to explain how a gun work but not how to mix gundpowder of smelt metal to make the barrel and bullets.--Marcpasquin 00:56, 18 May 2005 (UTC)
Good points. A mutual exchange of diseases would probably work best for the Native Americans, giving them time to develop immunity by the time of the Second Contact, and possibly thereby retaining enough sovereignty to be able to do more with western learning. Maybe even a Meiji-like reform in one or more native nations? - Nik 01:24, 18 May 2005 (UTC)

Good comments, guys, as always. You are correct: it is much more likely for the Spanish to catch papatlaca in a given time period, than for the Aztecs to catch smallpox. The Aztecs, of course, would be exposed to smallpox sooner or later, but the challenge is to make that happen sooner and not later.

I was tempted to reduce the mortality rates of papatlaca to something closer to bubonic plague; then I would have a sort of historical template to use in imagining this TL. But the original intent of this TL is to have Europe exposed to something almost as bad as what it brought to the New World.

Another option would be to have papatlaca be a mutant of smallpox -- I seem to remember reading that diseases often go though a phase a rapid change when they are first exposed to a population. This would get rid of the problem of timing the exposure of the two diseases. Also if immunity to papatlaca imparts immunity to smallpox (but not visa versa) then that would prevent North America from suffering a double whamy -- but I don't know if this is even possible.

Not likely. Smallpox is a mutant strain of cowpox, which didn't evolve in Eurasia before historical periods ... and required several centuries of contact between domesticated cows and humans to occur. The only way that smallpox and papatlaca could be related is if one of the hypothesized prior-to-Spain expeditions to the New World succeeded enough to bring smallpox to the Americas a few centuries early. Hmmm ... see Possible Origins of Papatlaca below. --Josh

The history of this timeline will be dominated by the character of the disease and its spread. I should think some more about the details of what papatlaca really is. I think I'll re-read my disease books (Plagues and Peoples, and Rats, Lice and History) and perhaps buy another one. I'm going to move slowly on this one...

Also read "Guns, Germs and Steel", and "Collapse", both by Jared Diamond. --Josh

Gold is a great motivator. Contact between the Old and New Worlds would probably continue, but at a much smaller scale than OTL. Some things that the Aztecs might gain from Spaniards: wheel, simple alphabet, horses, war techniques (as mentioned above. hmm...I wonder what a real Aztec castle would look like.), religion, boat building, metal working, &c, &c. --AirshipArmada 19:38, 18 May 2005 (UTC)

In regard to the alphabet, instead of taking the latin one they might simply hit on the idea of streamlining and simpliphying what they already had (something maybe similar to hieratic or simplified chinese)
The Maya, at least, already had a syllabry alongside their logograms. I think the Aztecs may have to, but I'm not as sure about them. - Nik 01:23, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
Christian religion though might not spread much without coercion. Polytheism allow for easy absorbtion of new deities if the faithful are small in numbers. They might actualy have problem with christianity if they seem to start threatening social order (like in the roman empire *here*)
Aztec already had good knowledge of architecture so I imagine they would simply adapt their fortifications (look at reconstitution of ancient mexico and imagine a compact version).--Marcpasquin 00:58, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
Jesus, Satan and the Saints (as well as the Gods worshiped by the African slaves) may just be rolled into the existing Aztec pantheon.
Also, adoption of the wheel, horse, or ships would expand the reach of the disease in the New World.--AirshipArmada 06:17, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
Hmm ... an interesting notion. Could the Aztecs expand northward, using Papatlaca as the Europeans used smallpox in OTL? - Nik 07:23, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
Historicaly they stopped to the chichimecas (babarians) territory to the north and saw the desert like environment as the end of the world. They would probably learn from the europeans that there is something beyond it but they would probably wait for ships before going up north exploring.--Marcpasquin 01:32, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

Aztecs, Incas and Papatlaca

OTL, the Aztecs were a relatively new culture when the Spanish arrived. When the Aztecs became dominant in central Mexico was a post-POD event, this means that the event might have prevented (butterflied away) how the Aztecs became dominant, or even that they had became dominant.

Much probably a culture would arrise in Central Mexico, but that culture might not be OTL Aztecs.

Annother relatively new empire was the Inca Empire, the Tawantisuyu. An any desease that had affected Central Mexico is probable to affect Peru also, as there was an active commerce between these two centers. Actually OTL desease came from Mexico before Pizarro.

So, in this timeline, we might not have Aztecs or Incas, but at the time the Europeans came in the 16th century Papatlaca was spread in the Sierra Madre and the Andes, and probably even the praires. An you can also have *Aztecs and *Incas... just not exactly the ones we know.

--Carlos Th (talk) 15:04, 19 May 2005 (UTC)

There is no suck thing as the Mayan Empire Violently Calm (talk) 03:44, May 8, 2013 (UTC)

Separation and New Kings

How long would the Old World and New World stay separate, if at all?

Europe was familiar with smallpox, it was familiar with a disease which a person only catches once in his lifetime. In a few years Europe would realize that papatlaca is similar to smallpox in this way. Europeans who had survived papatlaca would no longer fear the disease, so they may be willing to travel to the New World (to get gold, good timber, etc). The question then is: what are the conditions like in the Old World?

Many Old World resources would be depleted (fewer soldiers, labor, shipbuilders, etc); so there would be a reduced ability to travel west. Some governments would fall or be at war; so they would not be able to expand to the New World. Also, any person who is an opportunist may now find lots of opportunities at home and therefore not feel the need to travel west.

In the New World, the governmental power of Spain would be reduced to about zero for several years, at least. What are the odds that some conquistador tries to set himself up as a king somewhere on the mainland? If so; any candidates?

--AirshipArmada 18:59, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

Gold is a strong atractor for Europeans (unless they had related gold with desease). On the other hand, an underpopulated Europe would represent opportunities enough for adventurous Europeans, so no need to go to the Americas.
More thoughts later.
Carlos Th

Assistance on Timeline?

Asking for help on a few of things. First, does anyone know where I can find information on the population of Europeans in the New World circa 1520? Are we talking about 5000 people??? I don't know.

Second, anyone have any cool suggestions for Juan Ponce de Leon? He was the boss of the New World for a while, but when Diego Columbus was placed in charge, Ponce de Leon seems to have gotten a bit grumpy and spent his time exploring Florida. In OTL he was wounded by a native arrow which eventually killed him. But in *this* timeline he would not have gone on that last trip to Florida because of the papatlaca epidemic. I could have him die of the disease to keep things simple, but surly there is something more interesting he could do in the timeline. Any ideas?

One possibility is always having Juan Ponce de Leon leading a rebellion against Diego Columbus - Nik 19:58, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Lastly, I am ignorant of European history circa 1520+. Can anyone suggest good books on the era? --AirshipArmada 18:40, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Ottoman America?

While the Ottoman would be affected by the Spanish Scourage, thwere is likely that the Spanish would be affected more and the Austrians would not be better than the Ottomans... and would lack Spanish gold.

The Ottomans would probably not invade Europe, they would, however, get a large portion of southeastern Europe and migth attempt to control the Gibraltar strait, succeeding.

If the Ottomans get control of the Mediterranean and the Europeans are reluctant to go to the Americas, the Ottoman might attempt to go, and there are chances they get there.

Carlos Th

The Ottomans suffer from the Spanish Scourge too -- say they "only" lose 25-30% of their population -- that's still a big hit and should slow down any expansion on their part. Suleiman (if he lives) makes his move into Bulgrade and Rhodes as in OTL. He would continue in Eastern Europe for a time before turning attention to Spain.
All armies involved would be smaller than in OTL
- does that mean the outcomes of battles are less predictable?
- does it mean *this* history would favor the defenders more?
- does it mean campaigns are more mobile?
Regardless, the Ottomans can easily take over a depopulated Spain (and Portugal?). How long does that take? How long does it take to consolidate their gains? When do they become interested in crossing the Atlantic? They would not be as motivated to sail west because they would not be as interested in finding trade routs to China in that direction, but enough gold, silver, and other goods had made it back to the Old World that they may think the West Indies are worth the trip. I'm just pulling a number from the air here ,but how does 1550 sound for the year the Ottomans first sail West?
Also: what happens to Catholicism? Spain is conquered by "infidels", Rome is conquered or threatened, Northern Europe is going through a Reformation -- looks like Catholicism itself is in trouble...
--AirshipArmada 05:31, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Possible Origins of Papatlaca

Possibility 1: Erik The Red In 1003, the Greenland settlement of the Norsemen was hit hard by an unidentified epidemic. Had this occurred at a more coincidental time, the expedition of Leifur Erikson to N. America might have been infected with the disease. Imagine a ship, landing further south with a sick crew and stranded on the mainland ... where they infect the N. American population who helps them ashore.

The problem with this idea is that there was very little trade across the desert of the Southwest, so it would have been difficult for an epidemic disease to cross to Mesoamerica and still have centuries for the disease to mutate and the population to recover.

The attractiveness of it is that if the disease was a virulent descendant of a European disease it might strengthen the Mesoamericans' immune systems against one of the diseases brought by the Spanish. However, it would likely also make the immunity rates in Europe higher.

Possibility 2: Mesoamerican Oxen Most major epidemic diseases of the Old World actually originated with domesticated animals. Smallpox from cowpox, measles from pigs, influenza from fowl. In addition to population and continent size, the reason that the Europeans had more virulent diseases than the Americans was their millenia of animal domestication.

This suggests that had there been a major domesticable animal in Mesoamerica from prehistoric times it might have created a disease unique to the Americas. It would also have enabled significant technological advances relative to OTL for the Mayans and Toltecs.

What kind of animal, though? A sheep? Some kind of relative of the sloth? A deviant descendant of eohippus? It's hard to hypothesize what animal would have escaped the paleolithic slaughter but still been domesticable.

This would result in dramatic changes in the Americas even before the development of the disease. - Nik 06:18, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)
A posibility: Llamas. Some Llama disease mutates to attact humans as well, probably in a mild form of what would be called Papatlaca. Through commerce, this Llama flu reach Messoamerica where it mutates again into the most severe forms of Papatlaca. Just a thought.
Carlos Th (talk) 13:31, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)
It is not required for the Maya to have any new domesticated animals in order to encounter this new disease. AIDS is thought to come from wild monkeys, Ebola-Zaire may have come from bats and, of course, the Bubonic Plague was carried by rats. SARS is famous for being carried in domesticated chickens but is also found in wild birds. The Maya did have contact with monkeys and bats and a large number of ducks and other birds.
I don't want papatlaca to be dependant on flees (did the New World have flees?) or mosquitoes. Some sort of blood contact might be a means of spread but a flu-like spread via coughing seemed to me to be a way to make the disease very hard to contain. --AirshipArmada 16:35, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Yes, I definitely agree. Historically, diseases spread by parasites haven't had the mortality rate or spread that you want for Papatlaca. --Josh

Possibility 3: Yellow Fever This is the most mundane possibility. If yellow fever somehow mutated into a form which was more easily transmissable (i.e. without mosquitos) it would fulfill most of your criteria. Yellow fever had tremendous fatality rates among the first Europeans to dwell in Panama and Haiti.

The difficulty with this is biology; yellow fever is a retrovirus and as such completely unable to survive outside its breeding environment (blood). It would somehow have to mutate into a coronavirus (really, be a coronavirus instead as your POD) to be transmissable via sneezes and coughs. On the convenient side, the best known coronavirus (SARS) has about the incubation period and the mortality rate you want.


An interesting idea. - Nik 06:18, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)
The bubonic plague was sometimes spread by coughing. If there were bloody sores in the throat then a cough could spray blood into the air. Unpleasant thought. --AirshipArmada 16:38, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Effect on Inca

1527: Smallpox reaches the Inca, 750% of population die (within OTL range)

750% Should this be 50%? 75%? -- Nik 05:27, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Thanks. Should now be 75% (OTL was a range of 60 - 90%)

Featured in November

This TL will be featured on the main page in November. Mitro 16:44, October 22, 2010 (UTC)

Improve Readability


These pages are, I assume, meant to be available worldwide, therefore I would suggest that acronyms and abbreviation be explained at least once in any article. Acronyms such as POD and OTL are not universally understood and so should be explained. Headings should never be acronyms or abbreviations unless explained in a sub heading.

This is quite an intriguing alternative explanation of the demise of a number of tribal people of the Americas but does need more corroborative evidence and cross-referencing to support it. 07:52, September 4, 2012 (UTC)

...And if you'd bother to look at the rest of the front page of the wiki, you'd have found something that explains that entirely. It is also standard alternate history terms.

Lordganon (talk) 08:11, September 4, 2012 (UTC)

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