Thursday, May 25, 2017

Aztecs beat the Conquistadors | Alternative History

What if the Aztec had met the Chinese?

In this alternate "what if" scenario, the Chinese discover America and introduce gunpowder to the Aztecs at the beginning of the 14th century. Visitations are few for they have no economic interests or dreams of conquests in the Americas, having the wealth of Southeast Asia right next door. Yet, they rewrite history. Contrarily, the Spanish were looking for faster routes to Southeast Asia by circumnavigating Earth, thereby their encounter of the new continent would have happened sooner or later.

Could it have happened differently, though? Take a look at this ship of Chinese admiral Zhang He from the beginning of the 15th century. These massive and so called "Chinese Treasure Ships" are said, as described by early European explorers like Marco Polo, to have existed as far back as the 13th century. Compare it next to Columbus' flagship, the Santa María, built not until the end of the 15th century.

via thoughtco

Surely those ships could've crossed the Pacific but the Chinese had no need, they lacked the economic incentive to do so. But what if an unborn Chinese explorer fuelled by simple curiosity and a visionary emperor had decided to set sail east? In this parallel universe, a Chinese expedition discovers America and ancient Mexico in the early 1300s. Some 200 years before Columbus' arrival. A few consecutive trips happen but enough for the young Nahua civilisation to learn the secrets of Chinese gunpowder manufacturing and more advanced metallurgy. The Chinese talk of mythical cities at the other side of the Pacific to European merchants and explorers. A few Chinese have settled along the American coast.

Aztec metallurgy via latinamericanstudies

Ancient Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire:

Eventually, the Aztec empire uses this knowledge to invent fire weaponry and perfects it for more than a century, subjugating, faster than it originally did, the other cultures of Mesoamerica. Their empire grows towards the fertile south.

Tenochtitlan via latinamericanstudies

By the time the Spanish arrive a very different picture unfolds.
Spanish warring expeditions are defeated several times by these "new world weapons". Eventually the Chinese learn about these wars and the new Spanish discovery. Fearing an expanding European presence, they strengthen their settlements in the Americas, build military fortresses there and become backup to the Aztec.

Cortés and Montezuma

Unbeatable and strong, civilised trade is the only way forward. The Aztec empire joins a global economy and nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, becomes the dominant language of America, instead of Spanish. Its writing system and demonstrated syllabary (Lacadena and Wichmann, 2004) make it to our keyboards.

Perhaps becoming, with larger amounts of information to process as the civilization grew unconquered, of more simplified strokes like in the Japanese syllabaries.

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