Survivor of Columbus Expedition
by Jeff Provine
says: we're very pleased to present a new story from Jeff Provine's
excellent blog This
Day in Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this
post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
By September 8th 1492,
on this day a fishing boat north of the Canary Islands spotted a man
clinging to a barrel in the midst of waves. They managed to him aboard,
and, after several hours' rest, the delirious man told his story, saying
that the small fleet sent with the Italian Cristoforo Colombo (pictured)
had met with disaster.
He gave a wild tale of an enormous sea serpent destroying the ships, a
tale which he continued relating after returning to the taverns of the
Canaries in trade for drinks.
While some superstitious sailors believed the stories, others were
suspicious of the Portuguese caravels that had been spotted nearby.
Portugal denied any involvement, but the caravels had disappeared shortly
after Columbus. Other rumors suspected a sudden storm while still more
suggested that the man had simply jumped ship. However, as winter came and
years passed, it was obvious that Columbus and his ships were not going to
"England would use the influx of Gold more
effectively than Castille (between having not run much of it's merchant
classes out and not having multiple continental wars to blow it on), but
not by a whole lot, and the settlement patterns in Mesoamerica will not be
all that much different" - reader's comment
Bartholomew Columbus continued to press the French King Charles VIII to
support an expedition even after Christopher's disappearance, but the
French had lost the Italian War and incurred major debts. Moving along,
the younger Columbus returned to England where Henry VII had once offered
marginal support for the lost expedition, but too late as Christopher had
already promised to sail for Isabella and Spain. After several years,
Bartholomew managed to convince Henry to give £50 toward the expedition,
which was more than the Royal Council advised.
Taking whatever he could get, Bartholomew followed the pledge with
gathering pledges from others while stressing that they would please the
king because of their support.
"Intriguing" - reader's commentIn 1499, in a
single, well-stocked ship called Mary, Bartholomew set sail from Bristol
and headed southwest, following the wind and mimicking his lost brother's
course. While he dreamed of finding Christopher perhaps shipwrecked or
living on some paradisaical island, no evidence of the former expedition
was found. Instead, they came across a chain of islands that Bartholomew
initially took for Japan. After comparing the local Carib with what he and
the other sailors knew of the Japanese, Bartholomew realized that they had
come across something wholly uncharted.
After a lengthy stay charting the islands, Columbus's men discovered
natives willing to trade gold on a large island they would call Anglandia.
Leaving a station of eight men to build a fort, Columbus loaded his ship
with spices, gold, and local goods and returned to England by a northern
route. Upon his return in 1502, Columbus was knighted and granted
governorship of this "New England" as well as promises for handsome
rewards as trade became lucrative.
"I was wondering about that sea serpent" - reader's
commentWithin a few years, England began domination of the
Caribbean. The Portuguese would launch their own expeditions with noted
cartographer Amerigo Vespucci more to the south, while the Spanish would
directly challenge the English by settling northward. Henry VIII dedicated
his rule to securing the west, fighting numerous naval wars until finally
dominating North Columbia above the Isthmus with a treaty giving South
Columbia to the Portuguese. The Dutch and Spanish would have minor
colonies while France went far north to monopolize the fur-trade.
Upon the conquest of the Aztecs by Sir Walter Raleigh, the English found
themselves with a seemingly unending source of income from the Columbias.
The resulting wealth fueled the growing problems between Protestants and
Catholics as well as Parliamentarians and Royalists, tearing the country
apart over the course of the seventeenth century. In the eighteenth
century, the English Golden Age would come to an end, eclipsed by growing
French, Portuguese, and Dutch supremacy.
says in reality, Christopher Columbus's expedition west would fail to
find a route to Asia but succeed in discovering the Western Hemisphere.
Spain grew mighty with American gold, though its investment in wars against
Protestants, specifically the Dutch, would give no lasting base for Spanish
power. Later British settlement in North America as well as in Africa and
Asia would contribute to the nation becoming the World Power of the
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Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of
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