Chapter IX, Part II – Walther von Mergentheim (1525-1541)
The colonization of mainland Atlantis had begun with Francisco Hernández de Córdoba leading a Hispanic-funded expedition to the Yokatlan region in 1517. After his troops and explorers had disembarked onto the Yokatlan coast, they met with Maya autochthons (indigenous peoples). Neither side could understand the language of the other, however, which was a great impediment. This miscommunication soon escalated into violence in which Maya warriors killed Hernández and most of his men, with the survivors returning to the Hispanic settlement Villa de San Cristóbal de la Habana on the island of New León. They brought with them tales of wild pagans and an untamed land ready to be added to the Hispanic Empire. Some of this was exaggeration on the parts of the survivors, but much of it was true. At this point the Maya people were animistic, and were uncivilized when compared to the Europeans. Emperor Miguel was intrigued by the reports of his explorers, and authorized so-called conquistadores to make further explorations and, if possible, conquests.
Things would not go according to Miguel’s plan, however. His appointed governor of New León, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, in 1518 authorized an expedition to Tenocha. It was to be led by a conquistador named Hernán Cortés. However, for much of their careers Velázquez and Cortés had been enemies, and the rivalry flared up again. Soon after authorizing expedition, Velázquez revoked it and barred Cortés from leaving New León. Of course Cortés disobeyed this, and set off with 800 men to the Yucatán. Once there he rescued Jeronimo de Aguilar, a Franciscan Castilian priest who also happened to know the Mayan language. Using Aguilar as an interpreter, Cortés was able to converse with the Mayans through Aguilar claimed the Mayan lands for himself. Due to his rift with Velázquez (and thus with the Hispanic Empire), it is no surprise that Cortés was reluctant to claim lands for Hispania. Some also postulate that he may have been influenced by the Greatest Crusade of the Ordensstaat, in which a group independent from any Imperial authority (be it Hispanic or Holy Roman) was able to build a massive empire. So when Cortés claimed the Mayan lands, he was probably planning on emulating the Monastic State, but on Atlantis and Columbia.
After nominally subjugating the Mayas, Cortés moved on to the western Yucatán, where after defeating another tribe of Mayas he received twenty girls as a tribute. One of these girls was Maria la Maya (Maria the Mayan) whom Cortés would eventually marry. She spoke both the Mayan language and the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs, which would come in handy later. In the meantime Cortés allied with the Nahua, Tlaxcaltec, and Totonac peoples of Tenocha. He marched on the city of Cholōllān, and with the help of his native allies captured the city. In an infamous incident in late 1519, Cortés had all of the nobility of the city gather in one area, surrounded then with his 800 Castilian troops, and gave them two options: convert to Catholicism, or die. The nobility had little knowledge of the Catholic faith and only feared that it would diminish their power should they be baptized. This combined with a radically different view of death held by the Aztecs as opposed to the Castilians led many to refuse conversion. However, a good deal of the nobility did agree to be baptized, possibly a majority. The Baptism of Cholōllān marked the first stage of the Catholicization of Tenocha. Over the next years the temples in the city would be converted into huge, magnificent churches and cathedrals that were some of the most prestigious in the New World. That would not happen for many years though, and in 1519 virtually all of the Tenochan population was pagan. 
Cortés soon moved out from Cholōllān and set his sights on Tenochtitlan capital and most powerful city of the Aztec Triple Alliance. On his march to the city he reinforced his Castilian regiment to close to one thousand men. In early November 1519, Cortés arrived in the city of Tenochtitlan. He was received by the emperor (huey tlatoani) of the Aztecs, Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin (better know as Moctezuma II). Due to a legendary prophesy the Aztecs believed that Cortés was the god Quetzalcoatl, or at least a messenger of said god. The misunderstanding was fueled when Cortés confirmed the fact that he was a messenger sent by God (the Aztecs did not detect the difference between “from God” and “from a god,” Cortés saying the former and the Aztecs hearing the latter). To the Aztecs this further told them that Cortés was a messenger of Quetzalcoatl. Moctezuma then welcomed the Castilians into Tenochtitlán. He may have had a second agenda, however, because he hoped by allowing Cortés into the heart of his empire he could learn the Castilian’s secrets and crush them later. So Moctezuma welcomed the Castilians into his empire and gave them lavish gifts of gold.
Not long after Cortés’ arrival, word made its way back to Hispania, to the court of Emperor Miguel in Lisbon. News of the betrayal of Cortés infuriated the emperor, and he authorized Velázquez (the governor of New León) to remove Cortés from his post and imprison the rogue conquistador. Velázquez dispatched an army of Castilians and Catalans lead by one Pánfilo de Narváez to apprehend Cortés. He landed in Tenocha in December 1519 and bribed a band of Nahua Atlanteans to lead him to Tenochtitlan, which they did by mid-December. They found Cortés in the city living a lavish life of a demigod in the city, a far cry from the Catholic piety that was expected. But the Aztecs had lucked out: the Castilians, who merely occupied it and appointed a governor, spared the city of Tenochtitlan. From here the Castilians sent armies to occupy Texoco and converted the tlatoani of that city to Catholicism. Through the converted Cacamatzin’s influence the Catholic faith was gradually imposed on the Aztecs of Texoco.
After consolidating that city the Castilians moved onto the third and final conquered city of the Triple Alliance, Tlacopán. This was the least powerful of the Aztec city-states, but with the submission of Tenochtitlan and Texoco the tlatoani of Tlacopán had increased his control of the remaining free Aztecs. They were still no match for Castilian arquebusiers and cannons. After a brief siege in mid 1520, Tlacopán fell and was occupied by Cortés. The ruler of the city was forcibly baptized (following the examples set in Tenochtitlan and Texoco, as well as other cities) and made a Hispanic puppet. Even though most of the control was only de jure, only in words or on maps, this marked the beginning of the colonization of Atlantis-Columbia. Much of the population of the former continent had been inoculated against smallpox by the Szczepan voyage of 1410. That had introduced Variola parvulus (A.K.A. Mandek-1) to the autochthons, and in the next 110 years they had grown some immunity to it. So the preexisting population remained as the Hispanic formations took control. The Nahuatl and other languages would survive to be still widely spoken, even though on the coasts Castilian supplanted existing languages.
As the Hispanic Empire began its colonization of southern Atlantis and the Columbian Sea, they also sent conquistadores to the continent of Columbia. The only major state in the region was the Inca Empire, which dominated much of the western coast. The rest was either a patchwork of tribal statelets or there was no state at all. The Incas defeated any Hispanic incursions into their territory, forcing Miguel to recognize the Sapa Inca’s right to rule. But the same could not be said for the rest of the continent. Before the union of Castile, Aragon, and Portugal, the Treaty of Tordesillas had already basically divided up the world between Portugal and Castile- León-Aragon. After the Hispanic Union this treaty remained in place. So the Portuguese settlers were mainly in eastern Columbia, in the colony of Brasil. The Castilians took much of the rest of the continent.
There was an area of the continent claimed originally by the Castilians, which by the late 1520s was barely settled. In 1528, the Milchling-Rastenberg family bought the rights to colonize Klein-Venedig. That family had already gained significant wealth running Komturei in the Ordensstaat and banking elsewhere in the empire, which gave them the riches needed to buy the charter from Emperor Miguel. After the transaction, the Milchling-Rastenbergs quickly established a colonization scheme somewhat reminiscent of ancient Germany. The colonies would be headed by a Komtur based in the most powerful city of Klein-Venedig (planned as the first settlement). Below him would be a group of margraves who would control the colony of frontier Marches. By emulating the old Saxon technique (and even the Ostsiedlung which allowed the Teutonic Knights to colonize Prussia) Grand Master Walther hoped to speed up settlement of Germans and the spread of Catholicism.
In October 1528 the first colonists departed from Königsberg. They briefly stopped in Oviedo to pick up a navigator. They landed in Klein-Venedig in February 1529 with a main party of nine hundred colonists. The area where they landed was named Neusstadt (New City). It was designated the residence of the Komtur and the capital of all of the Monastic State’s colonies in Columbia. A hundred of the colonists set off further inland in search of a second El Dorado (city of gold), the first being the city of Tenochtitlan where the huey tlatoani had given lavish gifts of gold to Cortés. These foolhardy adventurers were quickly killed, either by alien disease or native attacks. The first few years of the existence of Klein-Venedig were rough and uncertain. There were many opportunities for failure; fortunately most did not manifest themselves.
By the mid-1530s the colony had begun to languish somewhat, so Walther organized new settlers. These were mainly German miners from the Holy Roman Empire, as well as slaves – mostly Arabs who had been (nominally) converted to Catholicism – numbering around four thousand. These additions breathed new life into the Teutonic colony and gave it impetus to expand. The population boost was able to give the Prussians a numerical advantage over the smaller groups of native Columbians they usually encountered. Coupled with the first Komtur Albrecht’s 1538 regulation forbidding expeditions in search of the Second El Dorado (Zweite Eldorado) which prevented the death of many useful colonists.
At first, colonization was relatively simple. It would much more crowded with the founding of Fleuve Argenté (Silver River, later simply Argenté), Franche Anarctique, and Guyane by France, and of Verzilivert and Burgundian Guyana from the 16th century on. Several Hispano-Teutonic wars would also alter the balance. In stark contrast, the colonization of Atlantis at this point was almost nonexistent. The northern continent was seen as less profitable and more risky than Columbia. Although Hispania claimed all of Atlantis, they could do little to enforce those claims. Indeed, despite that lack of control there was no one to take advantage of Hispanic weakness. That would change later in the 16th century, but for the majority of Walther von Mergentheim’s reign, Atlantis was quiet.
The same cannot be said for Europe. During Hochmeister Walther’s rule, the onetime lawyer and monk named Martin Luther began his schismatic preaching in Frankfurt. As has been covered previously in this textbook in Chapter Eight, the Augsburg Heresy had begun to spread outward after 1530, slowly at first, then quickly gaining momentum . Much of northern Germany and the Holy Roman Empire had converted, as had almost all of Sweden (including Finland), and into Silesia. A separate heretical sect that was founded by Zwingli had swept through the Swiss Confederacy. Aside from those areas the two new sects found little success, but as time went on. This alarming development would distract the powers of Europe from their colonial aspirations. For the moment the Ordensstaat would turn its attention away from the Mediterranean and for the first time in years would have to defend its European borders from enemies close to home.
 In this AAR, after the union of Portugal, Castile, and Aragon, “Castilian” gradually comes to mean basically the same as OTL Spaniard (while Portuguese and Catalan are basically the same)
 IOTL Cortés sacked Cholōllān and massacred the nobility, but ITTL influenced by the Teutonic Order’s treatment on non-Christians in the Mediterranean
 Roughly on the site of OTL Santa Ana de Coro in Venezuela
 OTL Venezuela
 IOTL Prussia was the first nation to adopt Protestantism as their state religion in 1525. Since that does not happen here, Lutheranism takes slightly longer to be accepted as a state religion (although its spread among the people is for the most part unhindered).