What if the conquest of the Americas was fair?

Nov 2013
584
Kingdom of Sweden
What if the European conquest and colonization of the Americas was a "fair" invasion?

This would primarily mean that:
- The native Americans are immune to the new European diseases (e.g. smallpox).
- The native Americans do not sell or give up land to the Europeans willingly, and will not allow them to settle peacefully.
- The native Americans staunchly refuse to ally with the Europeans against other tribes, no matter their rivalries (e.g. Tlaxcala and other anti-Aztec tribes).
- The Europeans do not gain peaceful entry to native American settlements nor easy access to its leaders (e.g. Hernán Cortés' capture of Moctezuma and Francisco Pizarro's capture of Atahualpa).

It would undoubtedly be bloodier, but to what extent? Would it even be possible for the Europeans to conquer all of the Americas by force when the natives stand united and hostile? Would organized empires such as the Inca or Aztecs fall at all, or be able to hold off the invaders with their large standing armies - and would they be able to catch up technologically, given enough time?
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,734
Australia
I find it hard to reconcile the terms 'conquest' and 'fair'. A conquest will always have winners and losers.
 
Nov 2013
584
Kingdom of Sweden
I find it hard to reconcile the terms 'conquest' and 'fair'. A conquest will always have winners and losers.
Of course, but even a fair game will inevitably have winners and losers. This is rather a question of how the conquest and colonization of the Americas would proceed if the Europeans did not have any unfair advantages, other than their technology.
 
Jan 2009
1,267
Will horses and firearms still inspire terror?


Assuming that the events continue with rather small-scale 'adventures' to Mexico and the Andes, I think the conquistadors get swamped by numbers of the hostile, non-negotiating natives. After the first attempts go down in bloody defeat, there would be even less of a chance that the natives would be intimidated, and I suspect that the logistic issues would spell doom on subduing the natives. There simply wouldn't be enough of a foothold and without the diseases & local allies, the native empires would be too strong.
 
Nov 2013
584
Kingdom of Sweden
Will horses and firearms still inspire terror?


Assuming that the events continue with rather small-scale 'adventures' to Mexico and the Andes, I think the conquistadors get swamped by numbers of the hostile, non-negotiating natives. After the first attempts go down in bloody defeat, there would be even less of a chance that the natives would be intimidated, and I suspect that the logistic issues would spell doom on subduing the natives. There simply wouldn't be enough of a foothold and without the diseases & local allies, the native empires would be too strong.
Perhaps initially, but as you say, defeating the Europeans once would make them much less intimidating in the future.
But what about the much more sparsely populated north of America, where large swaths of lands were completely unsettled by the local natives? Certainly the Europeans could gain a foothold there, and gradually subdue the disorganized natives in nearby areas. But would it ever be enough to march south?
 
Aug 2016
977
US&A
Perhaps initially, but as you say, defeating the Europeans once would make them much less intimidating in the future.
But what about the much more sparsely populated north of America, where large swaths of lands were completely unsettled by the local natives? Certainly the Europeans could gain a foothold there, and gradually subdue the disorganized natives in nearby areas. But would it ever be enough to march south?
There is a lot of debate about how densely settled some parts of N. America were. There are anecdotes that talk about gatherings of tens of thousands of natives. Even so, some experts estimate disease wiped out greater than 80-90% of the native population before the North really began to be colonized to any significant extent. The north would be seen as less profitable. The east coast of America mostly lacks the ability to grow money crops like sugarcane. Florida could, but it was already extremely difficult to push the natives out of there due to the terrain. There is no gold on the east coast. The coast of Texas is desert, and will be full of Comanche and other such friendly tribes as soon as horses start going missing. The French and other nations largely uninterested in colonization will trade with the natives and this means the natives will gradually learn better technology.
I honestly don't think native american war technology was immensely far behind European. Yes, i know we're talking about neolithic technology versus technology thats only a few hundred years away from what I'd consider the industrial era. Still, the Europeans would be constrained by their reliance on symmetrical warfare, and iron-working can be picked up relatively quickly once you know the tricks. Technology is similar to evolution. It tends to mostly happen when it's needed.
Muskets have only two advantages over bows. They create deadlier wounds, and you can learn hiw to use them very quickly. Bows fire faster, are lighter, more reliable, and are easily made. They don't give away your position when you fire, and they are more accurate.
Not to mention, the Europeans would also be constrained by the fact that there is an ocean between them and where they came from.
I don't really see Europeans conquering far beyond the Caribbean in this scenario. There are too many native advantages.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
What if the European conquest and colonization of the Americas was a "fair" invasion?

This would primarily mean that:
- The native Americans are immune to the new European diseases (e.g. smallpox).
- The native Americans do not sell or give up land to the Europeans willingly, and will not allow them to settle peacefully.
- The native Americans staunchly refuse to ally with the Europeans against other tribes, no matter their rivalries (e.g. Tlaxcala and other anti-Aztec tribes).
- The Europeans do not gain peaceful entry to native American settlements nor easy access to its leaders (e.g. Hernán Cortés' capture of Moctezuma and Francisco Pizarro's capture of Atahualpa).

It would undoubtedly be bloodier, but to what extent? Would it even be possible for the Europeans to conquer all of the Americas by force when the natives stand united and hostile? Would organized empires such as the Inca or Aztecs fall at all, or be able to hold off the invaders with their large standing armies - and would they be able to catch up technologically, given enough time?
The Euorpeans would not have been able to conquer the Americas in that case. The might have been able set up cities, and there might have been a lot of trade back and forth, both Europeans and Native Americans had things each other wanted. The Europeans would have set up cities and communities for trade in a land rule by the natives themselves, a lot more intermarriage, and you would have large communities of native Americans in European cities as well.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,734
Australia
Of course, but even a fair game will inevitably have winners and losers. This is rather a question of how the conquest and colonization of the Americas would proceed if the Europeans did not have any unfair advantages, other than their technology.

Right...now I see what you are getting at. I read a book some time ago that proposed that had Harold won at Hastings the North American natives would be far better off. How? You ask...



A Saxon victory at Hastings would have led to a powerful northern European alliance with Harold probably becoming King of Norway as well as England given Hardrada has been killed at Stamford Bridge. This leads to a Scandinavian 'golden age' with the resources of England enabling earlier exploration across the Atlantic. The Europeans would arrive and settle but would not have the advantage of superior weapons and so would have to make an accommodation with the Indians in order to survive. This would lead to a much more level playing field where both societies would flourish and eventually combine into a distinct North American society.
 
Jun 2017
2,960
Connecticut
The North is still conquered, the South and Mexico is not. Cortes and Pizzaro's military adventures might be the two luckiest conquests in human history and come off more as myth's than historical events(not saying those are myth's saying their success was borderline impossible and they had almost everything that could have went right happen).