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  • Columbus never returns.

    What if Christopher Columbus' expedition was wiped out? The run into a storm in the Atlantic and the ships sink. Or, they manage to get to the Americas only to have one ship remaining and it sinks on the return voyage, or the expedition gets "Roanoked." Whatever the cause, Columbus doesn't return to Europe / Spain. How would things change?

    I think the worst scenario would be the "Roanoke" one. That is some of Columbus' men survive and integrate into the native tribes they meet. They could spread some of the technology they brought with them depending on which tribes and groups they interact with. While it's unlikely, or impossible that they'd end up being in contact with the major civilizations like the Aztecs or Inca, you never know. Or, one or more is a "Small pox John" (eg., a variant of Typhoid Mary) and creates a small pox epidemic that carries through the Americas wiping out as much as 80 to 90% of the population eventually.

    The next question would be When would somebody try again and who would that somebody be?

    Word would get out in Spain and Portugal that the Columbus expedition disappeared. I doubt either nation would be willing to risk the capital on another such expedition any time soon. After all, that sort of thing is pricey, and given failure it would likely be seen as not highly likely to succeed. At the same time, Spain and Portugal do know about Africa and Asia so it's likely they'd keep their focus there for decades or even a century or more until the Columbus expedition is forgotten history.
    For the more Northern European countries the prevailing wind and current patterns would make it unlikely they'd be able to sail to the Americas without significant motivation like knowledge of their existence. It's highly doubtful anything from the Pacific side and Asia would be tried as Portugal and Spain were exploiting those areas already and sailing across the Pacific is no mean feat at the time.
    Warfare between Spain, France, England, and Portugal might significantly decrease the possibility of another expedition too. After all, wars are expensive and generally get your attention.

    So, it might well be a century or more before somebody tries again.



  • #2
    British and Portuguese fishing vessels were already operating off the North American coast (after cod) and there is evidence that they were already landing there to smoke their catch. North American inhabitants had already made contact with Scandinavian settlers in Greenland and were trading furs with them. Columbus is over rated.
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by MarkV View Post
      British and Portuguese fishing vessels were already operating off the North American coast (after cod) and there is evidence that they were already landing there to smoke their catch. North American inhabitants had already made contact with Scandinavian settlers in Greenland and were trading furs with them. Columbus is over rated.
      Interesting. What's your take on John Cabot ? (or,if you prefer, Giovanni Caboto). THe owner of Cabot's ship,The Matthew was one Richard Amerike,which raises another point of discussion.
      Last edited by BELGRAVE; 03 Sep 18, 20:12.
      "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
      Samuel Johnson.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post

        Interesting. What's your take on John Cabot ? (or,if you prefer, Giovanni Caboto). THe owner of Cabot's ship,The Matthew was one Richard Amerike,which raises another point of discussion.
        Who was looking for the same thing that Columbus was - a route to the Indies. Columbus, who had completely botched his calculations of the earth's diameter, thought that he had found it and had arrived in the Indies. Cabot clearly realised that he had not and kept looking for a way through. Spain also kept looking and so had Columbus not retuned would still have sent forth expeditions. America would still have been discovered by Cabot, Magellan or even García Jofre de Loaísa within a few years and no later than decade or so.
        Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
        Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
          What if Christopher Columbus' expedition was wiped out?
          ...
          The next question would be When would somebody try again and who would that somebody be?

          Word would get out in Spain and Portugal that the Columbus expedition disappeared. I doubt either nation would be willing to risk the capital on another such expedition any time soon. After all, that sort of thing is pricey, and given failure it would likely be seen as not highly likely to succeed. At the same time, Spain and Portugal do know about Africa and Asia so it's likely they'd keep their focus there for decades or even a century or more until the Columbus expedition is forgotten history.
          It is exactly because they knew about Asia that the Spaniards wanted to reach it through the Ocean. And the reason why they tried this way was that the Portuguese were monopolizing the attempts around Africa (Cape of Good Hope was reached by them in 1488), while the even straighter routes also were occupied (by Venetians and Muslims).
          So I wouldn't mix the Portuguese and the Spaniards in the after-Columbus-disappears WI. The Portuguese at this time were the real naval power in the Atlantic, though they stayed close to the African coast and to the Azores and Cape Verde islands; they had a treaty with Castile that granted Castile control of the Canary islands, but that stated that any further discovery would belong to Portugal. If Castile had tried to explore the African coast, that would have brought about a naval war.
          So the Spaniards had real motivation to try again for a straight route leap-frogging away from the areas under Portuguese control. Yes, it's costly, but the point is the untold riches of the Indian spice trade and other exotica. Meanwhile, the Portuguese went the other way, reaching Calicut in 1498 through the Indian Ocean so that they could cut out the Arab middlemen.
          If Columbus doesn't come back - and note he made no mystery to the Portuguese of what he had found - then it is possible the Portuguese discovery of Brazil comes later than in our timeline, but Castile is sure to send further explorers West.
          Last edited by Michele; 04 Sep 18, 11:28.
          Michele

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          • #6
            It was less Portuguese Naval power that was the factor but more the 50 odd Portuguese forts that dotted the routes to the East.With the ships of the late 15th century it was not possible to make the voyage without watering and provisioning en route and Portugal controlled all the places where this was possible..As late as 1587 when the English privateer Thomas Cavendish was returning to England on the last leg of his circumnavigation he had to use some of the valuable silks taken when he had captured the Manilla Galleon to bribe the governors of some of these forts to provide him with provisions.
            Last edited by MarkV; 04 Sep 18, 12:11.
            Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
            Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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            • #7
              One would wonder whether that sort of thing isn't part of naval power.
              Michele

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              • #8
                In 1500 a Portuguese fleet on the way to India was blown off course and landed on the coast of South America. A colony was established shortly thereafter. So if Columbus had not returned to Spain, eight years later almost all of the Americas south of the Rio Grande would be speaking Portuguese and that small country on the west coast of Europe would have a far different history as would be the Western Hemisphere. On a nearer in time note a couple of years ago my Church sent a missionary group to Brazil, a request was made for anyone who could teach Spanish to the group come forward. I was the only one in the Church (500 members, including a University President) to inform the missionaries that the population of Brazil spoke another language.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by LtCol View Post
                  In 1500 a Portuguese fleet on the way to India was blown off course and landed on the coast of South America. A colony was established shortly thereafter. So if Columbus had not returned to Spain, eight years later almost all of the Americas south of the Rio Grande would be speaking Portuguese and that small country on the west coast of Europe would have a far different history as would be the Western Hemisphere. On a nearer in time note a couple of years ago my Church sent a missionary group to Brazil, a request was made for anyone who could teach Spanish to the group come forward. I was the only one in the Church (500 members, including a University President) to inform the missionaries that the population of Brazil spoke another language.
                  I think that overstates what the Portuguese would do. Instead, I see them establishing a small number of ports and bases but not really exploiting what they found. They certainly didn't conqueror Africa in the manner the Spanish did the New World. I can't see them investing the time and money in what they'd likely see as simply a harder way to get to Asia.

                  So, while the Americas would become known in that case, I'd think it was far more likely that Spain and then other European nations would be in a scramble to colonize rather than Portugal. However, it might well be that England and France are able to do more of a land grab than they historically did given a later start by Spain.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LtCol View Post
                    In 1500 a Portuguese fleet on the way to India was blown off course and landed on the coast of South America. A colony was established shortly thereafter. So if Columbus had not returned to Spain, eight years later almost all of the Americas south of the Rio Grande would be speaking Portuguese and that small country on the west coast of Europe would have a far different history as would be the Western Hemisphere. On a nearer in time note a couple of years ago my Church sent a missionary group to Brazil, a request was made for anyone who could teach Spanish to the group come forward. I was the only one in the Church (500 members, including a University President) to inform the missionaries that the population of Brazil spoke another language.
                    As mentioned, Castile would send another explorer on Columbus's tail. Pinzón, de Ojeda or someone else.
                    If however the Portuguese land in Porto Seguro before the Spaniards have had any success in reaching the Caribbean seas, the Spaniards have all the more reason to push for exploration in that direction and to achieve a settlement with Portugal more or less to the tune of the Treaty of Tordesillas.
                    If the Portuguese turns such an agreement down, wanting to keep the African way to the Indias and all of the Western Indies to themselves, then it's war, and it's pretty bad news for Portugal at this time. The Castilians have completed the Reconquista, on land in the peninsula they are definitely stronger, and they, especially the junior sons of noble families, are chomping at the bit.

                    What might happen is that the Tordesillas line is a bit farther West in this scenario, i.e. that "Brazil" is a bit bigger in the end, at the expense of Spanish-speaking settlements in South America, but even that seems optimistic.
                    Michele

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                      I think that overstates what the Portuguese would do. Instead, I see them establishing a small number of ports and bases but not really exploiting what they found. They certainly didn't conqueror Africa in the manner the Spanish did the New World. I can't see them investing the time and money in what they'd likely see as simply a harder way to get to Asia.
                      The Portuguese did not conquer Africa in the way the Spaniards conquered Mexico - but why is that the comparison and not Brazil?
                      Conquering the interior of Angola was a damn hassle for the gains that that might allow. The point of it all was reaching India - because that's where big profits were. Now, suppose the Portuguese get an early foothold somewhere in central America... and hear rumours about cities of gold.

                      Michele

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Michele View Post

                        The Portuguese did not conquer Africa in the way the Spaniards conquered Mexico - but why is that the comparison and not Brazil?
                        Conquering the interior of Angola was a damn hassle for the gains that that might allow. The point of it all was reaching India - because that's where big profits were. Now, suppose the Portuguese get an early foothold somewhere in central America... and hear rumours about cities of gold.
                        They'd have done nothing. There were similar rumours in old world places where they had footholds (King Solomon's Mines for example) and they didn't go off on wild goose chases
                        Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                        Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Michele View Post

                          The Portuguese did not conquer Africa in the way the Spaniards conquered Mexico - but why is that the comparison and not Brazil?
                          Conquering the interior of Angola was a damn hassle for the gains that that might allow. The point of it all was reaching India - because that's where big profits were. Now, suppose the Portuguese get an early foothold somewhere in central America... and hear rumours about cities of gold.
                          They would have taken the coast and that'd be about it. The interior would have been hard to take in any case as there were hundreds of thousands of indigenous people living in the Amazon basin, the major means to move inland. These peoples were generally noted to be hostile to outsiders in the few accounts that are contemporary with these societies before small pox and other disease found them.

                          https://www.ancient-code.com/a-previ...in-the-amazon/

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                            They'd have done nothing. There were similar rumours in old world places where they had footholds (King Solomon's Mines for example) and they didn't go off on wild goose chases
                            You should look up the Brazilian bandeirantes and the Brazilian gold rush.
                            I'll give you they were not "wild goose" chases, but the point is that they did go into the interior of the coastlines they controlled if it was worth it.
                            Last edited by Michele; 07 Sep 18, 12:13.
                            Michele

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                              They would have taken the coast and that'd be about it. The interior would have been hard to take in any case as there were hundreds of thousands of indigenous people living in the Amazon basin, the major means to move inland. These peoples were generally noted to be hostile to outsiders in the few accounts that are contemporary with these societies before small pox and other disease found them.
                              The interior of the Amazon basin, yes. The point here was the hypothesis that the Portuguese are in a different landing position, closer to those occupied by the Spanish.
                              Michele

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