volksmarschall

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BOOK I: THE RENAISSANCE

PART THREE: THE WHEELS OF COMMERCE

hv7scmv.jpg



I

The Role of Land, Sea, and Economics in History

In the history of economics, it is easy to gloss over the Renaissance in favor of a close examination of the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century and onward for the myth of material progress and the rise of capitalism. The reality is, however, that the seeds of the economic revolution which exploded in the mid to late 18th century were already laid long before that, back in the Renaissance and even earlier to some extent. Not to mention that the transformation and revolution in warfare was also expediting the radical changes to national economies as they had to develop to sustain larger and more professional armies with standardized equipment. To some extent, the economic changes of the late Renaissance would culminate in the Protestant Reformation – that mother of all revolutions – as Friedrich Engels aptly described in his book on the long and arduous struggle that was the Peasant War in Germany.[1]

But the struggle of empires and civilizations have often risen and fallen along economic lines: The Fertile Crescent, to the Silk Road, to the great struggle between Carthage and Rome over the Western Mediterranean and the trade routes and lines of commerce established by that great Punic republic crushed by the bloody light that was Rome. But the founding fathers of Carthage, as we should know, were from those great Phoenician seafarers who, during the reign of Solomon, had already traversed much of the Mediterranean and established colonies as far as North Africa: Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, which consummated Tyre’s great wealth and power that made Solomon and his concubines blush. The sea, of course, has always held great potential for humans if she could be tamed.

Even the rise of alphabetic script can be credited to Phoenician sailing and commerce, for the Greeks and other Mediterranean peoples took from the Phoenicians their alphabet as they set up shop around the Mediterranean world. Some would say that commerce is the universal language. This has, undoubtedly, a certain merit to it; especially considering the role of commercial trade with the developing of alphabetic script and the ease by which enhanced communication was derived as a result of this. Contrast with the landed economy of China, which never developed such an alphabetic script, because, in some sense, they never needed to do so.

GlJlxHH.png

FIGURE 1: A map of Phoenician trade routes. Commercial trade, for better or worse, has had a tremendous impact upon human development, or regression, and human history.

From the earliest accounts of element ontology, there has been a struggle to understand man as either an animal of the clay or a beast of the sea. The Enuma Elish, for example, recounts the great struggle of Tiamut – the chaotic and uncontrollable sea goddess of death and destruction – and Marduk, the future head of the Babylonian pantheon, the god of the land and order. In slaying Tiamut, and taking her blood, Marduk created man from the dust of the earth to toil in servitude to the gods but within a space of order and stability. The wrestling back of Leviathan by Yahweh in the Tanakh, and the references to the beating back of Leviathan in the Psalms, gives us a great picture into early ontology and the separation between the open but chaotic and dangerous sea with the closed, orderly, and stable garden of the earth.

The contest between land and sea has, as a result, been a driving force in human history. The contest between tellurocracy and thalassocracy being a given among the ancient epics and myths, now carried over between the great struggles of the Sea Peoples and Egypt, Athens and Sparta, and Carthage and Rome. After all, in Pericles’ funeral oration as recounted by Thucydides, Athens was great and exception because she was the city “open to the world,” with her ships and merchants stretching far and wide and returning with many exotic and foreign goods for her citizens. But that wall of a land power, Sparta, was in the way of the Athenian dream of consummating a universal empire that stretched from the Anatolian coasts down the coasts of Libya, Sicily, and Carthage. The wheels of progress could not be stopped; after all, when Corcyra (the second greatest naval power) was in trouble by Corinth (another great Greek land power) the Corcyreans turned to Athens (that greatest of naval powers) and told them it was in their interest (navally speaking) to come to their aid.

While Homer described the Greeks and Trojans as great sea powers, it cannot be understated that Greece was, in Homer’s romantic mind, the great sea power as she had always been. For when the Greeks gathered the largest army ever assembled at that time in the annals of warfare, landing on the shores of Troy, and then engaging the great walled city and her earthbound warriors and princes, the struggle Behemoth and Leviathan was brought to a whole new level eventually leading to the destruction of the garden that was Troy and the flight of Aeneas to Rome. To that end, if I may speculate, Virgil’s Aeneid is not merely part political propaganda as it is mythological in grafting into Roman consciousness an understanding that she was always meant to be a great sea power and not merely a land power, for part of the Trojan tradition was her seafaring prowess, as Homer tells us, and the fact that Virgil opens his great epic on the high seas and the dangers facing Aeneas and his countrymen from Juno’s wrath.

The Romans, for their part, as they were growing beyond the confines of Italy, struggled with the reality that they were now enveloped by the sea monster that was Carthage. Having been humiliated at the Battle of Lipari, the Romans turned to what they knew best: land engagement. Realizing that they could not defeat the Carthaginians in a fair naval battle, the Romans developed the corvus – a ramping bridge that would be lowered onto the deck of Carthaginian ships allowing for Roman soldiers to rush across and massacre the sailors with sword and spear. The resulting Battle of Mylae was not a conventional naval battle at all; it was a land battle fought on floating platforms. The victory of Rome, and her transition from landed republic to sea-faring empire, was captured so poetically and deftly by Virgil that it ought to make one weep for the genius of that great saint who guided Dante through hell and purgatory.

And so it was that at the height of the Renaissance, the glowing and shining reflection of gold coins reflected from the sun glistening over the Mediterranean. Italian traders stretched from the Iberia to Egypt. Constantinople, still a center of trade, though fading, had a merchant quarter that was home to at least a dozen languages which made business difficult if one didn’t have multiple translators with them.

But the long history of sea and land power clashes was to come to ahead between Angevin France and the Ottomans in 1576 at Lefkada when the two great sea and land powers contested for supremacy over both the land and sea at the center of the world. With Ottoman forces marching over Budapest and threatening Vienna, and with the scrapped together Catholic Holy Alliance assembled by Pope Alexander VII (himself the former Bishop Cardinal of Anjou) and King Louis-Joseph I, with help from Spain; France, that great land power on the continent, and the Ottoman Empire, that great land power from the Orient, were now engaged in a bloody struggle over the sea at the center of the world which had long been fixation of dreamers, schemers, and madman as the Turks and French sought to be the hybrid Behemoth and Leviathan rather than solely Behemoth or solely Leviathan.

iNXMwWE.jpg
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FIGURE 2 (left): Count Thibaud de Saint Victoret at the Battle of Lefkada; FIGURE 3 (right): ‘Abd al-Mu’min Saber at the Battle of Lefkada.

Part of the temptation and struggle over the sea was not merely the commercial and economic gains that would be won if Tiamut was beaten and tamed into submission; but prideful and sinful men and their egos in their ever enlarging lust for domination. For what could possibly satisfy the lust for domination better than the crashing waves and waters of the sea begging for brave and illustrious men to venture out on her domain and tame her and bring her into submission? As has become customary in postmodern readings of history and environmental and elemental language to described the horrors and exploits, and advances, of history, I have not the gall to describe what should already be self-evident to the reader.

Nevertheless, as the wheels of commerce spun ever faster, and the sails of trade expanded across the Mediterranean and prepared to set sail over the Atlantic and into the Indian Ocean, those who closely read classical texts will be quick to realize this contest of land and sea, economics and empire, and their impact on history, from the creation of Adam to the exploits of Odysseus, the trials of Hercules, the vanity of Nebuchadnezzar, to the dream of Athens, Carthage, Rome, Constantinople, and London. Goethe, for his part, romanticized to the landed Germans the temptation and dream of the sea; “those who have never seen themselves surrounded on all sides by the sea can never possess an idea of the world, and of their relation to it.” Undoubtedly lamenting the reality of the British, Dutch, and French colonies to Germany’s landed and untenable position – divided, and not even the great continental land power in the face of French universalism, Goethe saw the sea as the great driving force of history. The fate of man, and of Europa, to some extent, was decided on the sea on that fateful July morning in 1576.


[1] Friedrich Engels, The Peasant War in Germany.


SUGGESTED READING

Fernand Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism, Vol. 2: The Wheels of Commerce
 
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guillec87

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how ironic that in this TL, French and Turks would fight each other... what a world without Hapsburgs does
 

KingJerkera

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I have to admit that passage was moving and yet completely void of any substance that couldn't be summed up in a singular sentence. What an excellently French thing to do. Also your borders are incredibly precarious I hope that there will be an attempt to bring about the end of this divide.
 

stnylan

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A very evocative passage.
 

Idhrendur

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Engels' book has a rather straightforward name. It's hardly the first, but for whatever reason I was rather amused by that fact this time.
 

volksmarschall

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how ironic that in this TL, French and Turks would fight each other... what a world without Hapsburgs does

Well, the Habsburgs are around; just nowhere near as powerful as they were historically or sometimes can get in the game. And due to marriage victories, well, turns out my dynastic family is taking on the brunt of the Ottoman invasion of Europe! :D :eek:

I have to admit that passage was moving and yet completely void of any substance that couldn't be summed up in a singular sentence. What an excellently French thing to do. Also your borders are incredibly precarious I hope that there will be an attempt to bring about the end of this divide.

Hahaha. One of the joys of this AAR is definitely the persona of the historian. A moving yet non-substantial passage; pretty much sums up French philosophy post-1950! :p

I do think it is remember that, in theory, as this AAR is being told, I'm viewing Provence as just an extension of France. But in practicality, as the last of the apanage families to survive, I'm also trying to break free from out of the shadow of the Valois in Paris. Don't worry, you'll see just how crazy the borders are gonna get... ;)

A very evocative passage.

But who is doing the remembering? :p

Engels' book has a rather straightforward name. It's hardly the first, but for whatever reason I was rather amused by that fact this time.

I like straightforward titles that actually portend to the nature of the work. But yes, Engels couldn't get much simpler than writing a history of the Peasant War in Germany by naming his work The Peasant War in Germany. Communist Manifesto is pretty straightforward to; a book that people like to name drop but have never read. Fun fact, Marx advocates seizing immigrant property first to loosen the grip of private property on the consciousness of native nationals. How many lefties today are really in favor of that today? :p
 

volksmarschall

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Oh shit....

It became a problem, admittedly, and while that will be alluded to in this "volume 1" AAR, the whole issue of being all over the place would only be detailed in a "volume 2" that will probably never get off the ground! :p
 

volksmarschall

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BOOK I: THE RENAISSANCE

PART THREE: THE WHEELS OF COMMERCE


II


The Relationship Between Agrarianism and Urbanism

One of the seminal issues driving economic history and human society has been the relationship between rural agrarianism and commercial urbanism. The usual dichotomy is that rural agrarianism and urban commercialism have little in common and that the two are mutually antagonistic with one another in a sort of zero sum game. In reality, however, the cult of agrarianism and cult of commercialism feed off of each other and are in a mutually reinforcing relationship like any sadist and masochist. While one can contemplate which of the two loses more in the long run, the nature of human society is that it cannot get underway without agrarianism. And without agrarian society as the foundation of civilization, no commercial and urban society can develop from agrarian foundationalism.

When God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, and the first account of fratricide occurred in the murder of Abel by Cain, and Cain and his sons founded the first cities, it is important to realize two things. First, Cain was a farmer. He was a loyal son of the dust, of earth. His brother, by contrast, was a shepherd. Second, the punishment of God to sinful humanity was to toil, that is labor, the dust of the earth for their livelihood. Cain, who with his son Enoch, founded the first cities from their livelihood as farmers. Attentive and sharp readers of the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Old Testament, will know of this conflict between farmers and shepherds from Genesis through the New Testament, with the shepherds always being depicting in a positive light; the great heroes of the drama are all shepherds: Abel, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and Jesus (as the “good shepherd”) while the landed farmers are generally depicting in a negative light: Cain, Esau, Egypt, Babylon, and the slip into idolatry by the Israelites was often accompanied by their adoption and worship of an agrarian deity from the other nations.

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FIGURE 1: "Cain Murdering Abel," Peter Paul Rubens; 1609.

The emergence of the agrarian way of life is the very wellspring of urban life. For without the tilling of the soil, and the abundance of food that comes with this, no city can develop or endure for long. Agrarianism is very much part of the totalizing effects of the socio-political-militaristic construct that characterizes urban, or bourgeois, life, which demands total fidelity and loyalty to its idolatry and dream of universal consummation over the whole of the earth. And, as a future French revolutionary commander said, “An army marches on its stomach.”

In Politics, Aristotle commented on the nature of commercialism and its place in the political. He concluded that while all societies benefit from a certain degree of commercial economics, bringing in greater wealth and productivity, commercialism should nevertheless be kept in checked and should never outgrow its proper place within the polis. This is only understandable within the framework of hierarchal metaphysics, which was commonplace within Greek and Roman philosophy, Christianity, and into the Renaissance before being upended by the Protestant Reformation. For Aristotle, long before Marx or Locke, had concluded that labor was the source of all value and that labor held the prime position within the political-economic hierarchy and was a necessary barrier that kept commercial interests in check. Yet, the very goal of commercialism is its expansion, the breaking down of all the barriers that prevent its expansion: labor, national borders, languages, the sea, etc. There is, then, a necessary dialectic between agrarian labor and commercial capitalism – if one can call it that, capitalism simply being the economic mode of life that values capital as the prime means of socio-economic-political organization which commercialism certainly implies in of itself – that cannot be understated despite the fact that both feed off one another.

Late Renaissance economies were undergoing a whirlwind of change. New agrarian technologies and conquest opened new land for farmers. At the same time, the growth of industrial machines, from the printing press to the need for standardized weaponry, put pressure on craftsmen to the point that standardized machines were beginning to be experimented with rather than personally crafted tools manufactured by the guild craftsman and his apprentices. Where new farms were plotted, new centers of trade and commerce opened. This was commonplace in North Africa through the Angevin Conquests which, in the minds of the French, was just a further continuation of the Reconquista of sorts – the reclaiming of the historical bed of Western Christianity: North Africa. After all, some of the most important Latin Church Fathers hailed from North Africa: Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine. North African towns sprung forth into commercial trading centers; the North African countryside likewise transformed into sprawling agrarian communes and manors entrenching the minor aristocracy and lesser sons who ventured to North Africa and becoming the landed aristocracy and nobility of the region after years of successful crusades.

Uo0ETpw.png

SCREENSHOT 1: The agrarian boom in French North Africa during the early 1500s. Successful crusades against the Zayyanids and Hafsids led to a reorientation of cultural and political power in the Western Mediterranean. The influx of minor French nobles, many of them the younger sons of established aristocratic families in mainland France, created a French-speaking Catholic elite in North Africa with a Muslim serf underclass to tend the manors being constructed throughout the region. Aggressive Catholic missionizing of North Africa followed, as did sporadic migration of emergent middle-class families to stake their claim in French North Africa.

But the strains being levied onto society because of the growth of agrarianism, giving way to the expansion of commercialism and urbanism was a real force that authorities had to contend with. Some of the new nobles of Angevin North Africa were not keen to let the peasantry move to take opportunities that were slowly emerging in urban cities – the growth of commerce and the need for increased craftsmen and apprentices being an early sign of what would become the mass exodus from the countryside come the industrial revolution. But such migration was already occurring in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. At the same time, the demands of urban growth, commercial exploitation, and brewing conflict between France and the Ottoman Empire, and of the Italian Wars, came down hardest on the farmers. The dream of Babel, it seems, is the one dream that unites all humans.

While urban centers were dependent upon their invisible agrarian brethren, the nature of the relationship between farmers and commercialists, between ruralists and urbanists, was not equal. No relationship is ever equal. And suffer the farmers did in this abusive relationship. Resentment grew; perhaps understandably. As did animosity between the local aristocrats, the lords of the manors and the agrarian way of life, with the emerging middle-class: the merchants, traders, and guild lords.

With economic changes, a preferable term than to say “growth” as if that is universally beneficial, comes division. This is the real universal law of economics. Growth, like relationships, is something that is not equal. The changes between the haves and haves not, the changes between the old aristocracy and the new aristocracy, the changes in political power and who has the ear of political power itself, are all wrapped up in ongoing economic changes. The great myth peddlers in England, those utilitarian Whig fetishists, who claim that all economic growth is to the benefit of everyone, fail to take into account that humans are, and have always been, more than mythical rational economic consumers which second rate English publications like Economist constantly proclaim to their blind readers.

M46uKiZ.jpg

FIGURE 2: A French manor established near modern day Oran.

And this brings me to another topic that I have already alluded to but would like to comment on in more detail. Much of the changes in Late Renaissance economy were tied to conquest, exploration, and colonization. As Spanish, English, Dutch, and French sailors set across the Atlantic to the New World, what they found, what they did, and what they established all netted new effects on the “Old World” economies. French expansion into North Africa, regardless of what casus belli and pretext was being offered, was very much the reason for the new changes in agrarian development and commercial expansion. With new land comes new opportunity. But few people stop to think about the ramifications upon those inhabitants who must now suffer the consequences of “progress.” And the English, undoubtedly, were the most dastardly of them all who never stopped to consider that question.

Part of the contest between agrarianism and commercialism rest on the principle of rootedness and unimpeded movement, or action. While it is true that the new agrarian aristocracy emerging in Franco-Angevin North Africa was not rooted when first arriving, its arrival plants the roots necessary for it to grow and flourish. Agrarianism is landed, that is to say, rooted in the soil. Commercialism seeks to expand beyond its rooted territories and, therefore, must conquer all the barriers that prevent its free movement. Liberal philosophers in England, like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, in defining liberty as unimpeded movement, lent their definition of “liberty” to the capitalists and commercialists who agreed; any restriction of the free movement (conquest) of capital necessarily meant that such forces, barriers, or restrictions, or prohibitions on “economic freedom.”

The conquest of capital logically implies the uprooting of established norms and customs which serve as restrictive barriers against the consummation of commercial progress. Commercial progress, under the guise of “liberty,” leads to transformative destruction. This, in the mind of the Whigs, is always a good thing. But in the reality of lives of the people that the gospel of mammon touches, not so much.

But given the peculiarity that urban and commercial life is founded upon the necessity of agrarian life – are the farmers not to blame in some way? Are they not guilty of perpetuating the system which they come to loathe and hate? Or is their noble servitude to the ground, acceptance and pious embrace of the punishment of the Fall, the very source of their nobility? Meanwhile it is the commercialists, in circumventing all the nuances and complexities of social life, in service to only themselves, the needed serpent to drive progress? For, as most people would assent to, the economic changes wrought by commercial and urban life have been beneficial – especially those of us living today. From this perspective, dear readers, one should never forget this relationship that was at once visible and concrete to many, which has become invisible to us today; yet is very much still with for those who have the eyes to see and ears to hear.
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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Ahh, the narrator's own voice comes stridently to the fore again :)
 

jeeshadow

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Just caught up! Very interesting AAR! I think this is actually my first EU IV AAR I have ever read. I am rather enjoying it. Based on the mentions early on of a french war of succession, I wonder if the Angevin will one day claim control of the French monarchy proper...
 

stnylan

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Just caught up! Very interesting AAR! I think this is actually my first EU IV AAR I have ever read. I am rather enjoying it. Based on the mentions early on of a french war of succession, I wonder if the Angevin will one day claim control of the French monarchy proper...
Well welcome to EU4 AARs. It is a marvellous one to look into.
 

volksmarschall

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Ahh, the narrator's own voice comes stridently to the fore again :)

I'm sure whenever the historian talks of England, the English, and English North America, his voice will get the better of him. :p

Just caught up! Very interesting AAR! I think this is actually my first EU IV AAR I have ever read. I am rather enjoying it. Based on the mentions early on of a french war of succession, I wonder if the Angevin will one day claim control of the French monarchy proper...

Wonderful to see you here @jeeshadow and thanks for the kind words. I hope you're enjoying the EU IV AAR subsection, and I'm especially grateful to know that this AAR - in particular - has lured you in! Glad to know you're enjoying it! :)

In due time we'll see just how far the hand of the Angevins stretch -- this is Europa, in the age of the fourth race of kings after all! ;)
 

volksmarschall

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BOOK I: THE RENAISSANCE

PART THREE: THE WHEELS OF COMMERCE


III

New World Riches – Economics and the Growth of Colonialism


When discussing the relationship between colonialism and commerce the relationship is already well known and clear. When Christopher Columbus stumbled into the New World, or the Americas, he had done so with the intention of sailing to India. Contrary to the most egregious Whig propaganda of Dark Ages and superstitious nonsense, no one believed Columbus was going to sail off the edge of the world. The Greeks had known the world was round, and this was inherited by Europe through Christianity which subsumed Greek philosophy and science as it expanded.


F2p1vSl.jpg

FIGURE 1: A medieval manuscript depicting God (Christ) creating a round world.

What fueled colonialism, however, was not much more than a combination of raiding and trading like civilizations of old. The myth of the civilizing mission – especially propagated by the English and then later by the Spanish – was simply not their main concern in the expansion across the Atlantic into the New World after Christopher Columbus made landfall in Florida. The Europeans who descended upon the New World were doing so in the pursuit of riches to fuel the demands for goods, resources, and labor necessary back home as Europe embarked a premature industrial revolution and serious of wars that demanded new goods, resources, and labor in the pursuit of empire and balance of power on the continent.

However, one should not confuse the New World as a peaceful and harmonious one prior to European arrival. The Native Americans of North America, the Aztecs and Incas, the various other Mesoamerican tribes and civilizations, were often harsher and more brutal than European and Islamic societies at the close of the fifteenth century heading into the sixteenth century. Child sacrifice and adult sacrifice was common throughout the New World, especially where French and Spanish conquistadors and explorers landed. One French Jesuit, in Mexico, recalled his horror at seeing a “Satanic mass” being performed by the Aztecs -- a cruel parody of the Christian mass wherein a man was sacrificed to the sun god but who couldn’t bring about the redemption of the Aztec people.

In North America, where the English and Spanish and Dutch made their inroads, the Natives of North America have long been mythologized by propagandists of the new order. First, many of the east coast tribes had already learned how to farm and were relatively settled people. In fact, historical Jamestown colony was founded where it was because the Natives had burned down the swamp induced forests for agriculture.[1] Native tribes, however, constantly engaged in wars and quarrels with one another. This was only made worse with the arrival of the Europeans who began selling these tribes new weapons of war to make the warfare and plunder of Natives by Natives even more brutal than before. As one anthropologist noted, “the dogs of war were seldom on a leash” before the arrival of Columbus.[2]

The whole leftwing mythology of a noble savage and a peaceful New World, one in which Native spirituality and cosmic care was prevalent – another lie – is something any honest person has to give up. This does not, however, include forgiving the Europeans of whatever sins one thinks that they had committed; of which there were many. As noted, part of the fuel of colonialism was the pillaging and raiding of Native lands and tribes. But this was hardly any different than what the Natives themselves were doing to each other. The difference was that the European conquest of the New World was, save for English North America, largely a resource and labor drain: the exploitation of the New World for the benefit of the Old World. It was only English North America, largely because of religious dissenters fleeing to North America for their self-preservation, where settled communities arose and some degree of care for the earth was practiced because its destruction would entail the destruction of these communities. It would only be long after the first Europeans arrived in the New World that French, Spanish, and Dutch settlements, in particular, would begin the program of rootedness necessary for settlement.

HiK2rHC.jpg

FIGURE 2: Aztec sacrifice. A Catholic priest part of the colonial endeavor described the sacrifice as a “elaborate ritual of Satanic worship that mocked the sacrifice of Jesus.” Aztec human sacrifice was non-discriminatory, women and children were also sacrificed just as men were. Part of the increase in human sacrifice just prior to European arrival is also believed to be linked with Central American ecological crises; thus destroying the myth of the noble savage and ecological spirituality of the native inhabitants for anyone who isn’t a blind ideologue. Like Rome in Europe, Aztec sacrifice was also practiced in the form of gladiator combat. Aztec culture has been aptly, and accurately, described as a culture obsessed with death.

Part of the leftwing mythology of the New World is to claim that European sources overstated the brutality of the New World inhabitants to justify their conquests. This, of course, rose to prominence in the mid and late 20th century thanks to deconstructionist critical literary theory. Embracing skepticism with a critical quasi-Marxist lens, these thinkers – many of them deplorably French in lineage, or at the ideas emanating from the masochistic French Left – simply claimed without archeological evidence that one should treat any New World writings from the Europeans with suspicion.

Of course it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that one should always approach a text with a certain healthy skepticism. But archeological evidence is another matter entirely. This is where the relativism of mythologists for the Natives is unforgiveable. Archeological evidence does, in fact, support much of the claims of the European encounters with the Natives tribes and civilizations of the New World. Human sacrifice was a regular occurrence, and brutal one at that. War between the native tribes and empires was equally brutal. And the natives did not live with the ethos of peaceful coexistence with one another until being pitted against each other by the European colonists.

France’s role in New World colonization began in Central America, with the landing of Pierre Joseph Béthencourt in Northern Mexica and spreading southward into Azteca. There were many myths also perpetrated by the Europeans in presenting the Natives as superstitious savages, like the idea that the Natives of the New World regarded the Europeans as gods. Another false trope established by the Europeans themselves.

The French landing in Central America was met with suspicion and welcome by the local tribes and confederations that were at war with each other. The Aztec, the strongest of the Central American confederations, was the target of animosity of lesser tribes and confederations that feared absorption, or destruction, at their hands. Thus, these tribes and confederations turned to the French for their salvation. Promises of riches and glory fueled the French expansion westward with the support of native allies.

In 1542, Béthencourt brought his army to the gates of Tenochtitlan and unleashed a hellish fire against the city. The Aztec defenders, who embraced the strong willed warrior code and a violent ethic of militarism, stood their ground against the French onslaught. The French, seeking to limit their losses, “gave the honor” of storming the city to their native allies. The French soldiers followed behind their native allies, the most notable being the Tlaxcala Confederacy, who butchered the Aztecs in their streets for revenge for the many horrors and travesties perpetrated upon them by the Aztecs during the Flower Wars; a state of perpetual conflict between the Mesoamerican confederations and tribes in Mexico prior to French contact.

The destruction of Tenochtitlan was more the result of the Tlaxcala than the French.[3] Tlaxcalan warriors always made up the majority of the French military forces. They were “honorable” and “brave” warriors according to French sources. They knew the terrain and geography well. They knew where to pause and rest, and where to keep moving to avoid being ambushed. Without the aid of the natives, the French would have quickly perished in the harsh and unforgiving environment of Central America – an environment which they were ill-suited and unprepared to survive in. After defeating the Aztec, the French would turn their eyes south toward the mighty Izta.

FAENowy.jpg

FIGURE 3: The French destroy Tenochtitlan with the support of their Tlaxcalan allies.

Central America, however, did not prove to be the richest of the regions. That proved to be South America, which was contested by a four-way colonial race between the Dutch in Columbia, the Portuguese in Brazil, the Spanish and French along the western Pacific and Argentina. French La Plata, however, became one of the bases of European power and culture in the Southern hemisphere of the New World. The English may have been included as a fifth wheel in the race, given their colonization and conquest of the Caribbean which rivaled Portugal.

There were also religious dynamics that influenced New World contests between the European powers. Protestants and Catholics vied for control of the New World to bring salvation and God’s kingdom on earth. Catholics were preoccupied with missionizing the natives. The Protestants, especially Dutch and English Protestants, saw their arrival to the New World as the opportunity to build the New Jerusalem and be the shining light of inspiration to Old World Protestants to cast off the shackles and chains of Popish Pagan tyranny. That dynamic, however, I will cover in Book Two.

GSvPxe7.png

SCREENSHOT 1: French Mexico, the norther frontier, ca. 1550, after plundering the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan in 1542. The Second Aztec War, 1549-1553, brought about the end of the Aztec Empire for good. One can see the Second War in progress in this screenshot.

of3LpHs.png

SCREENTSHOT 2: The Izta Empire, ca. 1560. The Izta would become the main competitor with the French for Central American dominance.

But the reality of colonization and economic growth was this. With the rise of commercial and, broadly speaking, “capitalistic” economics and culture in the Renaissance, it was colonization that fueled economic growth and prosperity. Contra Milton Friedman, the wealth of the Old World was forcibly seized and plundered from the New World. The coming industrial revolution was fueled by the exploitation of the New World. Anyone who says differently is either ignorant or a propagandist of some ideological cause. Just as are the people who mythologize the harmony and wonderful coexistence of native peoples prior to the arrival of Europeans. I will devote more time to the New World in the forthcoming pages of this work.


[1] This is historically true. And for my sake, it was convenient that the Middle Atlantic (including Virginia) was part of English North America.

[2] Lawrence Keeley, War Before Civilization, p. 39.

[3] This is also historically true in our timeline with the Spanish. The Tlaxcala confederacy often comprised of the majority of Spanish led warriors and troops during their conquest of the Aztec. This is no different for this timeline, apart from the fact that in-game France, rather than Spain, was colonizing Central America.


SUGGESTED READING:

Lawrence Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage

Steven Le Blanc, Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage
 

stnylan

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And so France becomes well established in the Americas.

I did smile at the ire towards certainFrench writers of the left :p
 

guillec87

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I like the way you write... we need more honest historians hehe
 

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And so France becomes well established in the Americas.

I did smile at the ire towards certainFrench writers of the left :p

Our author does not hold back from whom he dislikes and whom he likes. Just because he's French doesn't mean he won't hold back from fellow Frenchmen whom he dislikes! :p

I like the way you write... we need more honest historians hehe

Never let facts get in the way of a seductive and pathological story, especially when in the service of a political ideology -- that most corrupt and wicked of diseases that man suffers from! We will spare no one! :p
 

volksmarschall

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BOOK I: THE RENAISSANCE

PART THREE: THE WHEELS OF COMMERCE


IV

New World Riches – Economics and the Growth of Colonialism


The great works of the Renaissance in Europe were not the result of simple European ingenuity. This is not to discount the great work of European engineers, artists, and architects which were second-to-none in the world in the late 1400s and early 1500s. And with the Roman Church as the great patron and sponsor of the arts, there was a certain degree of resources allotted to European artists. But from Venice to France, and Denmark to England, many of the new cathedrals, works of art, and new bridges and roads, were funded through the newfound economic prosperity and growth open to Europe.

Since the mid-thirteen century, European commerce had opened itself up to the Middle East through trade. The sacking of Constantinople by European crusaders, the establishment of the Latin Empire in the former European lands of the Byzantine Empire, and the new trade lanes established with the remaining outposts of the Crusader states in the Levant, meant that European - specifically Italian (and more specifically Venetian) - trade flourished through de facto monopolistic trade. Even as the rise of the Mamlukes and Turks altered the geopolitical reality of the eastern Mediterranean, the trade lanes remained opened. The early Renaissance may have been fueled by intra Mediterranean and European-Near East trade, but the late Renaissance through the mid-sixteenth century was fueled by New World riches.

Pierre Joseph Béthencourt’s sacking of Tenochtitlan had the same affects as the earlier sacking of Constantinople by the Europeans armies three centuries earlier. The functional collapse of the Aztec Empire brought chaos to Central America which allowed for open French conquest of the region over the course of the next century. But the fall of the Aztec Empire meant that France, along with Spain, now forcibly possessed much of the wealth of the New World. Much of that wealth from the indigenous empires were sent back to the fatherlands in Europe. The arrival of new wealth in France spurred the Council of Rodez, the French conquests in North Africa, the construction of new roads and churches during the Catholic Counter Reformation in France, and, more importantly, allowed the French monarchy to overtake the Roman Church as the great patron of European art and literature.

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FIGURE 1: “The Last Days of Tenochtitlan.” The Fall of Tenochtitlan signaled a monument shift in the politics and power of the New World as it cemented French control over Central America.

The rise of France, Spain, England, Portugal and the Dutch Confederacy, and to a lesser extent Denmark, were all fueled by New World expansionism. This is nothing new in the course of human affairs and history either. The great civilizations of the Near East, to Africa, and Asia, were all predicated on conquest and wealth acquisition of the new lands of their conquests. This is true even in the New World, where the Mesoamerican empires were consummated in blood and war.


It has become common, of late, to deride European colonization and conquest while overlooking, deliberately or ignorantly, the warfare and imperialism of the indigenous empires of the New World. The wealth, for instance, of the Aztec and Incan empires, were the result of their own conquests and brutality displayed toward their indigenous neighbors. Their collapse, at the hands of Europeans, was also fostered by angered indigenous opponents. European exploits in the New World was not as much predicated on the destruction of New World lands as it was the capture of already acquired wealth from indigenous empires who had acquired their wealth through conquest of both human communities and the natural world. It was only in North America that the conquest of nature, which would have made Francis Bacon smile, that facilitated wealth acquisition in a manner that would make the most ardent environmentalist faint in horror.

***

The French and Spanish conquest of Central and South America also led to the expansion of the French and Spanish maritime forces. It became necessary for large transport ships to sail gold and silver from the New World to the Old World. The rise of piracy, largely from emergent Protestant powers, like England and later Holland, was equally premised on this attempt to plunder for wealth rather than toil for it.

From this dynamic of wealth plunder and safeguarding the arms race of the sailing ship was not the result of European scientific ingenuity as often portrayed but the result of the need for newer and better ships to sail the seas, resist opposing attacks, and counter faster and swifter raiding ships. The slow and lumbering transport ships were often poorly armed as they were carrying sums of gold, silver, and other goods. Small and swift ships, operated by privateers, were the first of the Caribbean pirates. The privateers were often private sailors and captains, in the service of either themselves or their respective European crowns but not flying the official colors of their crowns, who preyed on slow merchant ships or even attacked forts and nascent ports as they began to appear.

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FIGURE 2: The Sack of Havana, ca. 1550, by French Protestants. The rise of colonialism coincided with rising sectarian tensions in Europe. Many Protestants fled across the Atlantic to seek to build the New Jerusalem in the New World to be the beacon of light of the Reformed and other Protestant faiths. The majority of pirates in the New World were Protestant. Being dispossessed and migratory peoples, many New World Protestants who were born in Europe or raised in Europe took their frustrations out against the Catholic establishment in the New World. Many not only saw their actions personally justified, but also religiously sanctioned.

The religious wars in Europe also impacted the rise of piracy and wealth plundering in the New World. Many Protestants, especially in Catholic countries, as they were expelled from their homes, took to the high seas for their revenge or private comfort. In particular, French Protestants flooded the Caribbean and began plundering Catholic ports and forts in the region: French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Many soon found themselves in the service of the fledgling Protestant powers in the New World - England and Holland - in an awkward dynamic of economic, political, and religious struggle.

Furthermore, deception and deceit emerged as means to protect the treasure fleets as they returned from the New World. French and Spanish vessels, from Europe, were often loaded with manufactured goods as attempts to lure privateers to attack these ships rather than the merchant ships returning from the New World. Of course, to be a sailor or soldier on these ships, deliberately loaded to be attacked, must have been disheartening to the sailors well knowing their expendable status. The real hope of these ships was to garner to the attention of the privateers to allow the real ships of importance, the gold and silver merchant ships from the New World, safe passage back to Europe. While some of these ships were attacked, many were bypassed by the emergent seasoned privateers who were quick to catch on to Old World trickery. It was not long until the reality of needing to protect the treasure fleets hit home to the French and Spanish crowns.

Nevertheless, the wealth found in the New World flooded back to the Old World in Europe. The wheels of commerce, at least in the sixteenth century, was more predicated on the sails and sabers of commerce. Many of the works of art, architecture, and scientific advances made in Europe, were, in part, or in full, progressed by New World wealth. The logistics of global trade, the rise of European industry and manufactures, and the “European ascendency” were all given fuel by the resources of the New World.
 

stnylan

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