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Christopher Columbus, a Genoan-born sailor and navigator, appeared before the royal court of the Byzantine Empire in 1492, asking for support for an expedition to find a new route to India through the west. The Byzantines had shown interest in this idea, after building a canal had proven too costly an idea for this to work. The expedition was approved, and he was given three ships to make his voyage, the Theodora, Priostemi, and the Hegemon, all carracks of the Byzantine Navy. On October they reached what they though was the West East Indies, but turned out to be Cuba, and after a few months of exploring, they returned to the Byzantine Empire, and were praised as heroes, having brought back many new resources such as tobacco, pineapples, turkeys, and the hammock. He still believed he had made it to China or the West Indies, and named the island he discovered a native name, Cuba. Over time it was revealed they had discovered an entire new continent, and the race to colonize this new land began.
The Byzantines began colonizing this land when they realized they had not discovered Asia, but an entirely new continent. The Spanish and Portuguese, the other two main naval powers at the time, eventually caught on and sent their own expeditions to the new world. The Spanish sent expeditions to the Caribbean and Florida, and the Portuguese to the western coast of South America. The Byzantines continued to explore the coastal regions of these new continents, but they came upon a great surprise when they first discovered the Mexican coast in December 1509.Aztec scouts had patrolling the area that day, and made contact with them, and their party was invited to the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. The Byzantines were amazed that the natives could build such a vast and large city, and the canal system was so impressive that some of the explorers thought they were in a dream. The Byzantine explorer and leader of the expedition, Kostos Isias, said this about the city, "We stared upon the city in amazement, roads stretching all across the city, and canals greater than those in Venice. The streets were filled with people, and the buildings stood taller than anything I had seen since leaving Constantinople. And when we walked up to the "Huey Teocalli", as the natives called it, we were stunned to see high it reached, almost to the heavens themselves." They were then taken to the emperor's palace, where they spoke to Montezuma II, the Aztec Emperor through their translators. They found a common ground in that they both had regional enemies, Byzantines and Spain, Aztecs and Tlaxcalans, they also found common ground in their economic wealth, and the Byzantines left the next day to return to Constantinople.
The Byzantines soon began trading with the Aztecs, but there was a stir in the Byzantine Senate when the Aztec practice of human sacrifice was discovered. Many in the Senate demanded that the emperor declare war on them, but the emperor refused, but he instead put forward the idea of converting the Aztecs to Christianity, and this was largely agreed upon by the Senate. So missionaries would constantly go to the Aztec Empire, and every time, they would perform "miracles" to persuade the local population to convert. By 1520, one in four Aztecs was now Christian, and the Byzantines and Aztec Christians began petitioning the Aztec Emperor for the end of human sacrifice. Their calls were ignored, and the sacrificing continued, until the plague struck.
The Great Aztec Plague first struck in 1524, when it reached Tenochtitlan, and the disease, identified as smallpox, devastated the people of the Aztec Empire, who's population went from 25,000,000 in 1523 to 8,000,000 by 1527. Eventually, by around 1529-1530, the plague had settled down, after having killed most of the native population, and even the emperor, who was replaced by his son, Cuahtemoc, in 1526. All of the Aztecs hopes in human sacrifice were shattered, and the practice was ordered to stop by the emperor in 1527. The Aztecs put the blame the Spanish, who recently began trading with the Aztecs just months before the plague struck, for its happening, and they cut off all relations and trade with them.The Byzantines now were sure they had the perfect ally against the Spanish, and they began the Aztec army, or what was left of it, in the process of modernization, giving them muskets, cannons, and horses. They found the Aztecs were almost natural horsemen, and they were also trained in European style discipline, and by 1531, they were declared worthy to fight the Spanish. But another ally would come more to the south, the Inca Empire.
The Byzantines made first contact with the Incas in 1513, and began trading with them soon afterwards. They also hated the Spanish for a similar plague they believed caused by the Spanish, and were also trained militarily by the Byzantines.
The Spanish began to grow angry as the Byzantine alliance in the Americas made it impossible for them to gain any wealth from their colonies. And tensions began to rise as Spanish ships began raiding Byzantine traders in the Caribbean, and the Byzantines reacted by doing the same, and the Spanish decided to destroy what they saw as the root of their problems, the Aztec and Inca Empires.
Spanish Invasion of the Coast
The Spanish landed at the Aztec towns of Tochpan and Cempohuallan on September 4, 1532, landing 300 soldiers, 250 infantrymen and 50 cavalrymen. All of the Spanish soldiers were armed with arquebus', putting them at a slight advantage of the Aztecs, who, although quick to adapt steel armor, were not as quick to adapt gunpowder weapons, and all of their 200 aurquebusiers were currently stationed. The Spanish pushed the Aztecs back and captured the towns of Atlan and Cuauhtochco, but were met outside Cuauhtochco by a combination of 500 Aztecs and 200 Incan soldiers. The soldiers fought fiercely against the Spanish, who lost 40 men in the battle, and were forced to spend winter in the town. Meanwhile, at Atlan, the Spanish were confronted by a small army of 200 arquebus and 40 cavalry, all trained by the Byzantine army. The Spanish suffered a horrible defeat, and were forced to wait for reinforcements, while the Aztec surrounded the town and forced them to hold out for a month. Spanish reinforcements finally arrived, now also with HRE troops joining their "crusade", they numbered at 1,000 troops, 800 infantrymen and 200 cavalrymen. They were soon able to break the siege and eventually take the entire coast, forcing the Aztecs into a front-wide surrender.
Spain Advances and Aztecs Retreat
With the Spanish reinforced, they began to advance now on the Aztec countryside, attacking Tollan in the north. They advanced with 1,500 troops, overrunning the town within 2 hours, killing all of the town's only 200 defenders. They then began to advance on the city of Tetzcoco, but the Aztecs engaged them at what seemed like every point.
Meanwhile, in the south, the Spanish entered the city of Tlaxcala, where they was much hostility from who they had presumed would be welcoming natives. The Tlaxcalans had also been hit by the plague, suffering similar losses to the Aztecs, and attacked the Spanish with their remaining 12,000 troops, although most were killed and the city partially destroyed, the Spanish had been slowed down and the Spanish then had to retreat out of Tlaxcala. They raided the town of Chololla, taking revenge against the Tlaxcalans, and moving to the town of Tochtepec in the south.
Spanish Advance Stalls and Stalemate
With the Spanish advancing, the Aztecs now had to find a way to defend lake Texcoco, as the Spanish laid siege to the city of Tetzcoco, one of the members of the Aztec Triple Alliance. The city was defended by 5,000 Aztec soldiers, and was laid siege to on July 17, 1535, by 750 Spanish and Holy Roman soldiers. The Texcocans were able to ship supplies from across the lake, while the Spanish had to rely on their dwindling supply lines, which had become overextended and were continuously attacked by Aztec forces. Eventually the Spanish siege on the city was broken on December 9, 1535, and the Spanish retreated slightly south. But a stalemate was formed when the Aztecs failed to push them out. Meanwhile, a Spanish advance on the town of Tochtepec in January 1536, failed to take the town, forcing them also into a strategic stalemate.
Aztec Counterattack and Spanish Retreat
Now the Aztecs and Incas had been put in a powerful, they were cutting off the Spanish supply lines, and the Spanish were now in a total retreat. The Spanish in the north were forced to retreat back to Cuauhtochco, where they were then met by a force of 4,000 Aztec soldiers, who forced them into a massive retreat all the way back to Cempohuallan, where another force of 5,000 soldiers forced them to retreat all the way back to Spain by sea. Where they were met with public disdain after losing to what the public thought was an inexperienced and under-equipped enemy force.
Meanwhile, the southern force were forced to attack the city of Aztecan, which they captured, and then used to retreat back to Spain themselves, where they received similar treatment. The war had finally ended and the Spanish had been defeated, and now the Aztecs and Incas were able to clean their wounds and the Aztecs were able to rebuild their cities and towns. The Byzantines had also proved themselves of finding useful allies on almost every continent. The war had proved disastrous for the Spanish and the country's military was seen as a disgraceful force.
The Incas pulled their forces out of Mexica, and the Aztecs went to work on rebuilding their damaged country. They then spent the next forty or so years establishing a real empire by subjugating the Aztec vassals once and for all in a very violent series of conflicts called by many, the Flower Wars. The Byzantines showed continuing support for the Aztecs and helped in their rebuilding effort. This made the Incas feel unappreciated and relations between the Incas and the Aztec and Byzantines eventually broke down. And as the Europeans continued to ally with and conquer different American countries, they set the stage for a future conflict.