Which is what I did. ;)
So here it is. Enjoy...
This document is the from the journal of Columbus in his voyage of 1492.
IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST...
...ordered me to proceed with a sufficient armament to the said regions of India, and for that purpose granted me great favors, and ennobled me that thenceforth I might call myself Don, and be High Admiral of the Sea, and perpetual Viceroy and Governor in all the islands and continents which I might discover and acquire. I hereby set forth my discoveries on ink and quill so that Your Highnesses will know of my journeys.
Thursday, 11 October, 1492 "At two o'clock in the morning the land was discovered, when we found ourselves near a small island, of which we were never told of the name so we christened it Isabela after her most Catholic Majesty.  I, the Admiral, bore the royal standard, and the two captains each a banner of the Green Cross. We saw few trees almost no fruits . I called upon the two Captains to bear witness that I, before all others took possession of that island for the King and Queen his sovereigns, making the requisite declarations...
...The peoples of the island are of concern, as I saw that they were very hostile to us. At first sight they take to their feet and flee shouting, "ALSCO."  I perceived that they could not be easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means. They all go completely naked and are covered in numerous tattoos, even the women, though I saw but one girl. All whom I saw were young, not above thirty years of age, not well made. They have an ugly look about them and their faces are almost always filled with scowls. Weapons they all have, and not are nor shy of using them, for a shipmate managed to catch one only to have his face scarred for the experience. For the native slashed him with a bronze blade, very worn and tarnished. We saw a few such blades, which were obviously highly cherished. It served this native little good, however, for the Castilian then showed them his sword which he struck home true...
... It seems to me, that the people are highly violent, untrustworthy, and dishonorable. I had hoped at my return to carry home some of them to your Highnesses, but this proved impossible...
...I saw no beasts in the island, nor any sort of animals except parrots and a monkey. We tried to obtain both of these, but again, I'm afraid it proved impossible. With the Grace of God we shall bring home one of these animals next time."
Saturday, 13 October. "The natives have not improved any with the passing of the days. We are attempting to re-supply our ship as best we can, but it is hard. Danger lurks everywhere among these dirty savages. They show no interest in trading with us, and throw stones and spears if we approach too closely. We grow weary of this."
Sunday, 14 October. "We were raided in the middle of the night. They came to the ship in canoes, made of a single trunk of a tree, wrought in a wonderful manner considering the country; some of them large enough to contain forty or forty-five men, others of different sizes down to those fitted to hold but a single person. They rowed with an oar like a baker's peel, and wonderfully swift.  They came loaded with knives, javelins, and other things too numerous to mention; our sword and shot fell them back and the retreated to their canoes, of which we sunk one. I was very attentive and had the corpses searched for anything of value. I then strove to learn from the captives if they had any gold. Seeing some of them with little bits of this metal hanging at their noses, I gathered from them by signs that by going southward or steering round the island in that direction, there would be found a king who possessed large vessels of gold, and in great quantities. I endeavored to procure them to lead the way thither, and we set off the very night. 
15 October "About sunset we anchored near the cape which terminates the island towards the west to enquire for gold, for the natives we had taken from Isabela told me that the people here wore golden bracelets upon their arms and legs. I believed pretty confidently that they had invented this story in order to find means to escape from us, still I determined to pass none of these islands without taking possession, because being once taken, it would answer for all times. We anchored and remained till Tuesday, when at daybreak I went ashore with the boats armed as heavily as possible. The people we found naked like those of San Salvador, and of the same disposition, inclined only to flight or to battle. Is no one friendly in these Islands?"
20 October "At a place where a small stream enters the sea, we found a town of perhaps fifty houses. This town was greater than those we had seen before, and the houses were made of stone, not wood, wherefore we thought we might have come to a greater town of this province. We went ashore, and found that each house was round like a baker's oven, large in size, perhaps twenty paces across, but low so that a tall man must stoop, and very dark inside. The stone work was very fine though no mortar was used. Each house had three rooms, one very large and two small. We had no doubt that the people had fled in terror at our approach, as each house was completely furnished, but soon we thought otherwise. For the furnishings were very old and rotten, and the dust lay thick all around, and creeping plants were growing up through the walls, and rats and monkeys were living in the roofs. It seemed to us that this house had not been used for a long time. Strange how some of these islands seem to have houses but no people. This island even exceeds the others in beauty and fertility. Groves of lofty and flourishing trees are abundant, as also large lakes, surrounded and overhung by the foliage, in a most enchanting manner. Everything looked as green as in April in Andalusia. The melody of the birds was so exquisite that one was never willing to part from the spot, and the flocks of parrots obscured the heavens."
28 October "We have been encountering more and more wreckage as we progress from Island to Island, but nothing could have prepared us for what we discovered today on the island called Cuba. We have become used to seeing many houses built in the round, like tents of stone, but compared to what we saw today they are but the playthings of children. The steamy hot jungles of this island cover the bones of a kingdom. It is like nothing any of us have ever heard of, or even imagined. Like something in Italy that had survived from the times of the Romans, only to be reclaimed by the forest. It was a city but it was dead. That is the only word for it. No people were in it, trees grew in the streets and vines were growing on buildings. Only the screech of parrots and monkeys sounded there now. No people. Just wrecks and buildings. We asked the natives and they shouted, "Timorlong." Which I take to mean that this cities were sacked by Tamerlane! Such was the fear aroused by the memory of this fearsome infidel, that the natives refused to even come near the cities, and had to be left under guard... 
...We explored as best we could. The structures were all in stone, and huge. The most common sort of building was a round stone house, like the ones in the smaller towns we had seen, but built up to four or five stories, and with many rooms inside. Within some we found tables and chairs, but all very rotten, and no jewels or gold. Some of the houses had been burnt by fire inside, which made us think this city had been sacked with great violence...
...Also we saw four great stone buildings, pyramids, not less than a hundred feet in height, which seem to be temples of some pagan sort, for their every stone was carved with beasts and devils of the most fantastic kind...
...Again we saw a number of monkeys in these cities. Here they seem quite tame, and with a little patience will take food from the hand, though we did not pause to capture any, so intent were we upon searching the ruins...
...A stream runs through the city, and we followed it for half a day's march, where we found a small village of the natives, surrounded by some little fields where they grow a sort of gourd. There we caught one woman who was wearing a gold bracelet and anklet. When we enquired as to where she had obtained it, she got across the message that it was passed down from her mother's mother's mother. She said it was an item from the _Beforetime_. I have, of course, enclosed the jewelry for your Majesties. As you can see it is of exceptional quality and design.
January 2, 1493 Having mapped and explored these lands to the best of our abilities, we have replenished our supplies and now all three of your ships under my command are set to return for home.  On our last night here the water is as smooth as a pond. It was to view these parts that I set out in the morning, for I wished to give a complete relation to your Highnesses, as also to find where a fort might be built. I discovered a tongue of land which appeared like an island though it was not, but might be cut through and made so in two days; it contained six stone houses. I see the necessity of fortifying the place, as the people here are of a craven yet vicious disposition, fleeing all friendly greetings but turning to attack when their numbers are greater. This your Highnesses will see by those seven which I have ordered to be taken and carried to Spain in order to learn our language and return, unless your Highnesses should choose to have them all transported to Castile, or held captive in the island. After examining them I think you will agree with me, that this is a lush and beautiful country, full of prosperity and good fortune and that it would be a perfect place, if only it wasn't for the people here."
 In OTL one of the Lucayos, called in the Indian language Guanahani according to CC.
 OTL, "many trees, very green many streams of water, and diverse sorts of fruits." The fall of the *Arawaks hit this island very hard and they deforested it pretty badly. It's not a very promising island.
 A slight corruption of the Arawak word, ALCO (AL-koh). It's literally meaning is wild dog, but it's come to mean, "En-slaver."
 The natives have lost most of the *Arawak navigational package, and can no longer engage in blue-water sailing. However, a few tribes still have the ability to make large canoes, and a few modest coastal towns have grown up -- far from the *Arawak city sites, of course.
 They've retrograded, but they still know some basic knowledge from myths and legends of the times of their grandfather's grandfathers. And that's good enough when you have a sword at your throat and a big scary guy demanding you tell him where to get the shiny metal.
 Actually, what the natives said was, "tloggotl" which is the shapeless death.
 In OTL Santa Maria grounded on a reef, but that was more or less pure chance, and I'm assuming it doesn't happen here. Also, in OTL, while sailing north of Cuba on November 22, Martín Alonso Pinzón, captain of the Pinta, left the other two ships without permission and sailed on his own in search of an island called "Babeque," where he had been told by his native guides that there was much gold And on the way back got a little lost. Here, there aren't really any friendly natives so they don't get as many instructions.
The prospect of these lands in European eyes is slightly different. The Natives aren't viewed as quite so easy prey, and Columbus comes away thinking them mean, and bad servants. But on the plus side, gold is more evident in this Caribbean, even if it's mainly from the Beforetime. Also, all three of CC's ships come back in good order. That makes the trip look less perilous than OTL when one got grounded, and the other got lost for a while. All in all, it about evens out in the eyes of Europeans in terms of cost-benefits analysis.
Bronze Age New World: Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you .....(1492 - 1501)
1492 - 1501
When Christopher Columbus returned home with tales of his travels, the response was... mixed. Many people were skeptical of his description of all those intriguing ruins. His explanation is accepted at first, but slowly various people begin to point out a number of flaws in his reasoning (like it sounds nothing like the areas Tamerlane is supposed to have conquered).
One thing that everyone can agree on, however, is that the gold he brought back was awfully pretty and it would be nice to get more of it. The natives he brought back on the other hand... they're not regarded as very pleasant at all. Rebellious, insolent, and persistently trying to escape was the dominant view. And they seem to drop dead awfully easily, without even being handed over to the Inquisition or anything. Odd, that.
Meanwhile CC is hot to trot to get back to voyaging (and also stake out a larger claim for himself as well). So after some wiggling he manages to get more funding and off he goes again in 1493 and 1494, much as in OTL. He manages to find the Lesser Antilles the first time and Jamaica the second. However, his second voyages are not as lucky as his first. On his second he [rolls dice... OUCH!] loses five of his ships. Out of the eight that left only three come back. One was lost, never to be heard from again (although legend tells...), while the other four were shipwrecked on two different islands in the Lesser Antilles. These islands were not very impressive, having crashed hard during the fall. The surviving sailors pick up some gold here and there, but relations with the natives are rather strained after that. Which was bad luck for the stranded sailors as they are all dead by the time Columbus returns, a year later.
The other small island the ships wreck on is relatively peaceful. In fact, it's too peaceful: it's another of those eerily deserted islands, with more stone towers but no people . These castaways are relatively OK when CC returns in 1494, and one of them says he has been thinking long and hard (there wasn't a whole lot else to do on the island) about these deserted ruins and that he is sure that this was once a thriving oceanic civilization that traveled far and wide that then collapsed into anarchy, and that's the reason for all the abandoned islands. But he also says he can understand his pet hammock, so no one takes him seriously.
After Columbus's first journey, the Portuguese shouted to anyone who would listen that he had merely visited a part of their dominion of Guinea in Africa, and therefore the Gold and riches he brought back belonged to them. Spain replied that what Columbus described was so unlike anything in Guinea that it was not possible and refused the argument. Tensions were high for a bit, but cooled down afterwards. 
The loss of the five ships is a tough blow after not losing any in the first voyage,  but Europeans are a hearty and heartless people at this point. As one historian would later write, "The men and women of fifteenth-century Europe seem to have been able to endure great privations, but these things took their toll. One of their favorite images of life was the "Wheel of Fortune," which swept people up to the heights but inevitably dashed them down. Europeans were thus ready to snatch fortune when it came their way. They were quite ready to gamble their lives since they were accustomed to the death of friends, neighbors and family. If they held their own life so cheaply, they did the same with others. Emotionally, Europeans were contemptuous of the death of themselves or others, ready to gamble on anything, intolerant of the beliefs of others, and prone to violent swings of emotion."
So the great Discovery continues. CC managed to get funding and set off again. Due to trade wind patterns, he looks for his second crew first. It's a joyous re-union with much drinking by all hands. The descriptions of living in a strange environment and their ordeal and quest to survive is a thrilling one and fascinatingly bizarre to the Spaniards. It's all written up in the report home, where it sets off a cultural buzz, as well as a succesful proto-novel. Many pontificate on the meaning of it, to start anew on a new land...
In the Caribbean the celebration is a quick one through, for there is work to be done. They set off the next day to retrieve the second crew. This will not be a joyous reunion. Christopher Columbus is enraged beyond words when he discovers the ritualistically butchered remains of his first lost crew (left as a warning to others). He lets off on a large tirade of the perfidious and corrupt nature of the inhabitants of these lands. Before his entire crew he vows before God that he shall have revenge. He shall make them pay. He swears that the day will come when every Indian will curse the name of Christopher Columbus.
Unfortunately for the *Jamaicans, after making this pledge he lands in Jamaica. The inhabitants here were making a modest comeback. Chance and circumstance made the fall slightly less bad here, and trade is beginning to pick up. Unfortunately for them, this means that they've got a few more of the pretty metals that the Spaniards seem to like so much. Columbus sees a couple, wants them, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get them -- and, of course, he's still got those butchered sailors on his mind. What follows is not pretty, but Columbus will return home with a very nice bit of loot which will just serve to whet European appetites even more.
But one of the most interesting things is also one of the most underrated. Europeans liked to drink. A lot. But unlike most of the rest of the world, they did not have any stimulants. CC's third voyage changes that. On Jamaica he managed to pick up some plants that the natives seemed to value quite a lot. It's a small bean that grows -- bizarrely -- in pods that sprout from the sides of little trees (Columbus doesn't know it, but the *Jamaicans got it from the Tlon of Mesoamerica just two or three generations back). The bean can be used to make a bittersweet drink that's really quite tasty, and it quickly becomes popular among the crew, especially for the burst of energy it seems to give one. It will come to be called the cocoa bean, and Europe thus started it's love affair with chocolate. 
Meanwhile: On June 24th, 1497, John Cabot, a Venetian who lived in Bristol, landed on the coast of Labrador. Cabot and his men were not impressed, nothing much of interest here, and the voyage was considered a failure, although it did return home safe. John Cabot was determined to try again. The reports he has heard from the Caribbean were so... titillating. He wondered if perhaps he should try a more southerly route.
Meanwhile: In 1497-98 Vasco da Gama rounds the Cape and reaches India by sea. He brings back a cargo of spices that nets a huge profit. These key words, "Huge Profit" set off a major race. There is money to be made.
Columbus' fourth voyage in 1498 - 1500 was largely motivated by the desire to settle the question a) whether there was a passage to the Far East and, b) whether a major unknown landmass had been discovered. Regarding the northernmost land masses, it was left unsettled whether there was a passage, which is why the search for a Northwest Passage continued for some time. Regarding the existence of a major land mass, however, the reports were sufficiently convincing that by 1505, the major maps began showing these new lands as continents, not Islands. And curiously enough many of them also are labeling them with some derivative of the name of one of the major explorers, Amerigo Vespucci. 
The voyage is not a great success, though he does manage to discover South America. The _indios_ here are a bit less reflexively hostile, and they've also managed to hang on to some of their ancestral culture. For the first time, Europeans get the story of the great *Arawak empire and its Fall. Unfortunately it's fragmented, garbled, and mixed up with all sorts of wild tales. Men melting into bloody puddles? Floods that cover a country large as Aragon for months at a time? Spiders as big as rats, rats the size of ponies, blood-drinking bats? It's all grist for the mill, but it's going to be a long time before anyone sorts out fact from fiction in this strange New World.
Meanwhile: John Cabot sets sail to find a more southerly route to the east. He hopes that there will be a large river that will allow him to sail through the land. And in 1500 he sails straight into the *Chesapeakes. And there he . . . but that is a story for another day.
M/e/a/n/w/h/i/l/e/: In 1500 a Portuguese mariner, Pedro Alvarez Cabral, sailing along Africa en route to India, was NOT carried by a storm to Brazil. He DID NOT claim the land for Portugal since he was not there and it DIDN'T lie east of a line which DIDN'T exit. When the Portuguese king NEVER heard of Cabral's discovery, he NEVER sent out an expedition which sailed hundreds of miles along the South American coast. 
Brazil is discovered, as everyone knows, by Vicente Yanez Pinyon -- the captain of the /Nina/ on Columbus' first voyage, and a great explorer in his own right. 
In 1501, as the Sixteenth Century begins for the pedants, the Spanish have reason to be pleased with there discoveries. They have taken the lead in exploring and colonizing the New World. There are already several permanent settlements in the Caribbean. Santo Domingo has just been established two years ago. , and it will shortly became the first capital of New Spain. Other settlements will soon rose in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica.
The Caribbean was quickly becoming a Spanish lake. The natives, though still sullenly uncooperative, were becoming more used to being pushed around (although there seemed to be a lot fewer of them now... odd, that). And best of all was all the wonderful things they were shipping back: not only gold, but wonderful surprises like the cocoa bean, the strange carved bone flutes and curious bronze ornaments found in some of the empty cities, and of course and this nice monkey that the princess is sure to enjoy. 
But tauntingly the whispers of the mainland were stirring the hearts of many. There was much work to be done there. For God. For Glory. And for gold.
 There are quite a few of these. Some islands relied on imports for most of their food and shipbuilding materials; when the *Arawak trade network collapsed, they starved. Others were devastated by the tloggotl plague.
 This is the first really big change in Europe from OTL. In OTL Spain and Portugal asked Pope Alexander VI to settle the dispute, which resulted in the famous Line of Demarcation in 1493. The deal was that if Spain discovered lands west of this line, the Spanish king was to have them if they were not already owned by a Christian King. But I think that the greater strangeness of the ruins would put a hold on asking the Pope to settle it until things were explored a little more. And by that point I think things will have progressed to a point where it won't really be feasible.
 See the previous chapter for more details.
 This is about one decade ahead of OTL. Reasonably, I think, given the different discoveries.
 About four years ahead of OTL.
 I was really tempted to just have America be called Atlantis, but Atlantians just doesn't sound cool enough to me.
 I'm sure you can figure out what happened in OTL here.
 It almost was OTL.
-- poor Pinzon missed being first by a few weeks, and has languished in relative obscurity ever since.
 Permanent settlement is just a little behind OTL, as the natives aren't as friendly.
 You do not want to touch this monkey.
Digression: European Intellectual Debate about the New World
It was the cocoa bean that really got the intellectual debate going. If this were truly the Orient, surely Europe would have heard of the cocoa bean before? Certainly it would have had at least been brought back by Marco Polo or someone? And where exactly does the cocoa bean fit in the classification system? The damn thing grows in pods that sprout, not from branches, but right off the trunk of a tree. What's that about? What did one do with the logical manipulation of categories, when one got something that didn't fit?
The discovery of all these unheard of places and peoples and things severely challenged the scholars' ability to fit them into the neat categories required by scholastic thought. It seams to many that these new... things... just don't fit.
And the more stuff comes back from the New World, the worse things get. Who built those stone towers? Who made those fine bronze mirrors and ancient, yellowed bone flutes? What is this strange colored grain that grows in rows on a cylindrical... thing? And, my god, that's a three-foot long lizard with a crest like a fighting cock. Who ordered that?
Perhaps it's best to actually go and see these things rather than to try and sit back and logically stuff them into imaginary boxes? Of course, many regard this as utter nonsense. Still, the challenge of the New World is fizzing away like acid at the intellectual foundations of the Old -- much like OTL, but faster.
One immediate consequence: by around 1500, most people (excluding of course CC) think that these newly discovered lands are in fact, not the Orient. Which gives rise to the most troubling question: just what the heck are they?
Well... there are various theories. Some claim that the ruins are obviously those of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Duh! But others wonder why the buildings have no Biblical symbology, and why the ex-Israelites didn't seem to act very Jewish or look very much like Jews.
If it's not in Asia, that means they can't be the sacked cities of Khan or Tamerlain. Perhaps some fearsome native conqueror could have done so? But most troubling of all is the idea that a civilization could have fallen so far. After all, did not God found Israel, which passed civilization to the Egyptians, to the Greeks, to the... The Europeans were now in contact with cultures of which human history, as Europeans experienced it for two millennia, had no inkling. The challenge was in coming to terms with an entire portion of human life which had never been acknowledged in all of there history.
Perhaps... Perhaps it is Atlantis! An ancient civilization that was destroyed... Was Plato right? Many like this idea, and some maps are even printed with the world Atlantis on them.
Still others claim that they are the descendants of Pester John, the Christian King of the East. But again, others point out that they don't seem to be very Christian, and anyhow surely God would never let a Christian Kingdom fall forever? (There was that messy business with the Holy Land, but surely in time the power of Christ would return there as well.)
To which others explain that Pester John may have fallen, but that it was up to us to reclaim these lands for Christ. Many people like this idea. A lot.
Bronze Age New World: 1501 - 1512: To Bermuda, Bahamas, Come on Pretty Mama
BANW: 1501 - 1512: To Bermuda, Bahamas, Come on Pretty Mama
The 16th century begins with something that will become a recurring drama in the new land of Latin America. In 1501 Columbus was removed from Governor's House of Hispanolia due to his incompetence in running the colony as well as political intrigue. He felt deeply betrayed and raged about the unjustness of how one who could lead Spain in the conquest of Asia (this is ASIA damn it) could be betrayed so readily by her. He leaves with great sadness and never returns to the New World. As in OTL, he will die, poor and neglected, a few years later.
[In OTL CC was replaced in 1500. He tried hard to set up an extensive and, relatively, large scale Indian Slave trade, and this increased resentment because of his failures in it. But in this TL, he never tries, as he is very disillusioned with the natives. So without that failure, people are a little less mad at him. This only delays his dismal failure, however -- he wasn't a very popular governor, and his illnesses are making him short-tempered and erratic just as in OTL.]
The natives are glad to see him leave. He is widely blamed among them for their plight, and his hatred and contempt for them is well known. Many of the survivors hope that with a new Chief there troubles will lighten. However, that is not to be.
The new Governor, Bobadilla, doesn't last long either.
He comes and goes without leaving much of a mark, besides bringing 12 Franciscan friars with him. Their efforts at converting the natives are not that successful. The natives often use a sermon as a chance to flee for the woods, and after receiving a beating for their efforts they are rarely receptive to the word of God. Many of the colonists think the natives are not even worth converting. As one put it, "If you would not try to convert a Donkey, then do not try to convert an _indio_."
The anxious colony awaited its new Governor and on April 15th, 1503 it got him, and much more besides. The largest yet dispatched expedition arrived in the new world. It contained 38 small vessels and over 3,300 persons, including over 95 families, all of which were added to the new colony. It's a tremendous addition to the 400 surviving colonists in Santo Domingo.
However, the new colonists were unprepared for the hard labor involved in the colony, nor for the subtle challenges of a West Indian climate. They had came to look for Gold after all, not scratch in the dirt. The result was inevitable. Provisions failed them, fevers seized them, and within a short time a third of them were dead.
It was said that they died so fast that the clergy had not the time to conduct their funerals. Many of the survivors were shocked at how many of their friends died. They were a hearty people, but still many a person was shocked by what they saw around them. Hernado Cortes, was aghast at the death toll. He was no stranger to death, but it seemed to him that with just a little better planning and foresight, hundreds could have been saved. He resolved that what ever it takes, he will always be prepared, and this becomes a motto of his which he teaches to his men.
[In OTL the specifics were a little different, but basically the Same. They arrived April 1502, had 2,500 people to joining 300 survivors and suffered 1000 fatalities. Cortez _just_ missed coming on this ship by chance. Butterflies.]
But the hardships became more manageable over time, and Ovando proved to be a good ruler. He was courteous and affable, but of great firmness, and ambitious to command. Under his guidance the colonization of the New World first assumed an ordered form. Several new towns were established upon the island, as well as various reforms in Santo Domingo. He also pushed, and pushed hard, for the colonists to train and arm themselves. They were very reluctant, and never commited fully, but a couple Indian attacks convinced at least some of them of the need for order and discipline. [In OTL, he also moved the capital, but that proves unnecessary in this TL as the Spanish built it on a more favorable spot. They had used the ruins as a guide. Also, Santo Domingo is more militarized than OTL, due to more hostile natives. Ovando pretty much gave up on an ordered defense in OTL.]
His most important accomplishment, at least to Spain, was that the extraction of Gold from Hispaniola rapidly increased, peaking only in 1510 before making a rapid decline. Farming also improved, but that wasn't nearly as exciting to any of the colonists. This increase was due, in thanks to a large part, to his system of _encomiendas_.
This forced labor was desperately resisted by the Natives. The tales of the Beforetime told of how the cruel masters of old had done just this, and how the brave spirits of their ancestors had resisted them. So while the first impulse is to run away, the second is to take up arms and drive the new masters away.
But the new masters are too powerful. They have strange weapons, and evil magic, and monstrous animals that serve them. And, too, this is a time of mysterious and horrible death: strange new diseases sweep across the islands, killing thousands.
Unlike OTL, the natives have some notion of epidemic disease. And they know what you should do about it: run. Most head for the hills, where they will eventually be tracked down and captured. Elsewhere, they take to the water and sail down the coast. This, alas, merely serves to spread the new diseases that much faster, without giving the refugees more than a brief respite.
On Jamaica and Cuba, though, there are a few coastal towns where the art of blue-water sailing has been preserved or revived. By 1510, boatloads of terrified Indians are leaving Jamaica and heading for Cuba. Unfortunately, they are just barely ahead of Diego Velasquez, who -- as in OTL -- leads an expeditionary force from Hispaniola to Cuba in December of that year.
The Indians of Cuba, alerted to their danger, put up a fight: the first really serious military resistance the Spanish have encountered. OTL Velasquez won all his battles and conquered almost the entire island in just two years. In this TL, he's actually repelled for a year, forced to retreat by a large force of nearly a thousand Indians, including some equipped with bronze-tipped spears and blades.
He returns in the spring of 1512, though, with more guns and more horses. And though he doesn't know it, he has an invisible ally: in just the year since his last campaign, imported diseases have killed about 10% of Cuba's population, and seriously demoralized many of the survivors.
The weakened Indian opposition is smashed in a pitched battle. Velasquez offers a Mass, and marches methodically on. The campaign will drag on until 1516, but the outcome is never in doubt. And by 1515, a new wave of refugees is setting out to sea, fleeing Cuba for Florida and the Yucatan.
Around this time the population of the Caribbean, rapidly declining for over a decade, begins a complete free fall.
Soon there is a desperate labor shortage on the islands, and the Spaniards begin looking for ways to make up for it. A number began to make slave raids on nearby islands. Soon the Bahamas Islands were raided in force, and their was some movement to import from the South American mainland. Slave catching became more common and, as the native Hispaniolans and Jamaicans disappeared, more and more widespread.
Meanwhile, far out in the Atlantic, Juan de Bermudes finds an island inhabited by the *strangest* people. His account of his discovery excites interest, but the mysterious Island of Towers proves strangely elusive. The sea around it is stormy and turbulent, the island itself is surrounded by ugly reefs, and open-sea navigational techniques are still pretty primitive. While Bermuda is occasionally sighted in the distance, no European will visit it again for many years.
Santo Domingo is not the Crown's sole interest in the Caribbean. For in 1509, Ponce de Leon became governor, and later 'captain' of the island of San Juan (Puerto Rico). It was a nice island and all, but Ponce de Leon had other dreams. For he soon heard whispers of great riches, and a wondrous kingdom where the Tree of Life grew, in the lands to the North. Perhaps one day he will head there.
Ovando was pleased with the progress he had made and was anxious to continue his work, but as happened to all good Spanish Governors, he was soon sent home. In 1510, as he sails home, he took one last look at the beautiful Caribbean sea. It was a pleasing sight. He had done good work here. The Crown was even more secure now than it had been at the beginning of the decades. The conquest of Cuba was about to begin. Where there were once hundreds of Spaniards, there were now thousands. It had been a good decade. Looking at all he accomplished, he wondered what the next decade would hold for this deep blue sea?
But while Spain was busy consolidating its territory and debating what to do with the natives, the rest of the world wasn't just sitting on it's hands. For instance, the First French corsairs appeared in the New World around 1505. They managed to capture a nice booty and sail it home. Upon hearing of its rich prizes, many a French sailor dreamed of "exploring" these new seas himself. [In OTL it happened in 1506, but greater wealth and more astounding tales creates a slightly greater desire among Europeans.]
The Portuguese have also started a small colony in what in OTL would become northern Brazil. It is nothing more than a way-station on the way to Africa, but so far it is the largest European colony in South America.
And then, of course, there were the English in the North. But that is another story, to be told another day.
Bronze Age New World: The Spanish Treatment of the Natives
BANW: The Treatment of the Natives
The destruction of the natives did not go without notice. Nicolas de Ovando was instructed by Queen Isabella to assure the native chiefs that they and their people were free subjects under the crown's especial protection. Spain gave a number of restrictions on how far the natives could be pushed, but when this proved to be unprofitable (as well as a number of captured natives creating ill will in court) a change in laws was enacted. The natives were made to work on buildings and farms and in the mines, and to insure their being "civilized," they were gathered into villages, under the administration of a patron or protector, and provided with a school and a missionary priest.
This proved to be impossible. Too many natives used their concentration as a means to spark uprisings and rebellions. And after a particularly nasty event when a native mutilated a priest, even harsher measures were deemed necessary. Bartolome de las Casas, even while dying from his wounds would call for leniency for his attacker. With his last gasps he croaked, "I tell you now that I do _not_ hate them. Evan as I bleed, there is no hate in my heart for them. For is it not your own sins that have caused these Indians to attack me? Is it not your own greed, and hate, and want that has touched them so? Are these not men? Are you not bound to love them as you love yourself?"
"...I can see by your eyes the answer to that question. I am a voice crying in the wilderness. I shall cry no more. Pray for me. Pray for the Indians. Pray for yourselves."
So passed Bartolomeo de las Casas, and his call for leniency was unanswered. The entire village was enslaved as a result of the attack. 
The outright enslavement of the natives began to be stepped up at this time, and more and more raids were launched against natives who were hostile, or who were suspected of being hostile.  This quickly sparked off a large debate about the Natives in Spain. The Spaniards were not exactly squeamish, but the resumption of large scale slavery was something even they were just a little uncomfortable about. A number of famous missionaries, theologians, and lawyers assembled to determine the Crowns rights and duties to the Natives in the New World.
One of the main questions was whether the Indians were rational beings, or more like beasts of the field. If they were rational beings, could they with justice be deprived of their lands and freedom? If they were utterly barbarous - inferior by nature according to Aristotelian doctrine - justification for their conquest might be found in the Christian duty of raising them to a higher plane of human dignity. The debate was long and fierce and in the end inconclusive. It was decided that the natives did have some rights, but that in some circumstances it was within reason to enslave them. The exact circumstances were often vague and the end the result was that relations with the natives were pretty much allowed to proceed however the person on the ground wanted them to proceed. 
In 1508 two attorneys were sent to Spain to plead the cause of the colonists. The new regent, Ferdinand, was less tender of the natives welfare than Isabella, and gave his approval for the enslavement of any runaway Natives. This was judged a necessary measure to keep the restive ones in line. It was hoped that adding such a harsh punishment as slavery would entice the natives to be more civilized. Perhaps it convinced some, but the end result was to increase the number of Native slaves.
Still, the majority of Natives were not enslaved. But that did not mean they were treated nicely. In the coming years a petition to outlaw the use of Natives as carriers was put before King Charles. The decision was close, but in the end he rejected it. The Natives would remain beasts of burden, at least for now. 
 Bartolome de las Casas came in with Ovando in 1502. In OTL, he would return to Spain and be called "The Protector of the Indians." He was not the only person to stand up for the rights of the Indians, but he was the most effective. He managed to get the ear of a young King Charles, when Charles was only 17. King Charles became a big ally of his. But in this TL they never meet and Charles never really cares that much about the Natives. Some, but not much.
 In OTL, in the beginning, only cannibal Indians were legally allowed to be enslaved. Slavery, as apart from forced labor, was actually rarer for the natives than I thought The enslavement of Natives was, in principle at least, forbidden from 1500 on. Not so here. Due to a number of factors, it will be about two or three times as common as in OTL.
 From this conference immerged the famous Requerimiento. But in this ATL the Indians make an even worse impression on the Spanish than OTL, as well as Bartolomé de Las Casas being dead. The end result is that the natives have weaker support in Europe than in OTL.
 In 1511, King Ferdinand outlawed the practice of using the Indians as carriers. Not so here. It will eventually be outlawed, but more or less, native rights are about a generation behind OTL. This has big effects once the conquistadors get going, but that will be covered later
BANW: 1510 - 1515 Good News and . . .
In 1510 the new governor of Hispanolia arrived at the island. He was Christopher Columbus's son, Diego Columbus, and the only thing he truly strove for was the thing that he could do the least about; trying to become governor of _all_ of the Americas, as in the contract made with his father. He ended up spending most of his time desperately trying to enforce that contract, but he failed miserably at this. Regardless of what the contract was, once the riches of the New World were apparent, there was no way the Crown would allow one man to rule it all. Diego didn't last very long, and a string of un-imaginative successors followed him.
1510 also saw the first Dominican friars arriving at Santo Domingo. It wasn't long until they raised their voices in protest against the exploitation of the aborigines. They gave a sermon that threw the town into an uproar. When word of this reached King Ferdinand, he ordered a stop to it and temporarily expelled them from the colony (but not from all of the New World). This was a warning, but it would be remembered. (1)
It was also at this same time that a commission that had been debating in Spain, decided that the _encomienda_ system (of organizing Indian labor into mines and plantations) was necessary, and therefore just. This was simply the only way that labor could be obtained from the natives, so their forced labor at essentially government fiat would continue (as would their plummeting population).
1510 was also the year in which King Ferdinand first gave permission to ship slaves from Seville to the New World. He sets a limit of 300 to this, though. that should be plenty for the new colonies... (2)
By 1510 Europeans had fully realized that the new land was not part of the Orient, but they still thought that China and India were _just_ beyond, so a search for a quick passage continues. It's during one of these attempts that Gaspar Corte Real, a Portuguese explorer, discovers and landsin Northern Canada. He HATES it. It's cold, and worthless in his opinion. He takes one look at it and says, "This is the country that God gave Cain." After that, he leaves and never returned.
Another explorer who runs into trouble is a fellow named Balboa. He's supposed to explore the northwest coast of what may one day be called Columbia; and as his base of operations, he's supposed to begin at a small Spanish settlement on the coast. Unfortunately, when he arrives, the settlement has been gripped by gold fever. Rumours have reached them of an Indian chieftain who rolls in gold dust ("El Dorado", the gilded one), and they're hieing off on an expedition of their own, straight into the interior. (3)
Balboa reluctantly tails along... and manages to rescue a handful of survivors, before the bronze-tipped blowgun darts of jungle-wise Indians kill all of them off. Among the handful of survivors is a fellow named Francisco Pizarro, though he's permanently embittered by the death of his brother Juan. (4)
One adventurer a bit more lucky in his choice of lands to explore is Juan Ponce de Leon. After hearing stories about the "Tree of Life," he and his plucky little band of adventurers land in Florida.
The *Timuchan have had the bad luck to be hit by a series of plagues at this time, (from natives of the Caribbean fleeing the Spanish) and it doesn't take much to topple them. They leave behind a culture rich in song and dance and art, but the Spaniards aren't very interested in that.
There was little gold to be had here. Still, while his men never did find a city of Gold, they do manage to become feudal barons in this new land, and that will be good enough for most of them. But, even that doesn't last very long, as the greater number of diseases (they were hit just recently with Tsslot as well as European ones) as well as shipment to the Caribbean islands, depopulated Florida rather quickly. (5)
While things are changing in Florida, things in the Spanish Caribbean are going through a period of re-adjustment too. In 1513, as noted, Velasquez embarks upon the conquest of Cuba. Then in 1514 two Repartidores de Indios, Peror Ibanzed de Ibarra and Rodrigo de Albuquerque, are sent to make a new distribution of the natives forced labor, the encomienda system, to the colonists. Surprising no one, it is through this distribution that many a small colonist loses out and many a government mine or politician wins. Small farmers, having enjoyed a generation of relative liberty and prosperity, now were forced either to become tenants or to seek new frontiers. This pattern would be repeated many times in Spain's New World.
It was also around this time that the destruction of the natives became impossible to ignore, even by the greediest and most aggressive of the colonists. They began to realize that in order to survive in the manner to which they were accustomed, they needed a steady workforce that wouldn't go extinct on them. Smallpox, and measles are proving particularly deadly and _something_ needs to be done. The Spanish increase their slave/serf raids into nearby islands, but this is no more than a stopgap as those slaves, too, tend to die off rather quickly. Sugar and cocoa are really beginning to take off, but this requires a lot of labor, especially sugar. (6) There are fortunes to be made in the New World even by those who never find El Dorado... if only the labor to make those fortunes can be found...
...the 300 slaves brought from Seville seemed to be working out good, so pretty soon this number was increased. And then increased again. There was a lot of talk about someone obtaining an imperial license to just ship slaves whole-sale, but that had to wait a bit due to dynastic intrigues back in Spain. But the number of slaves grew steadily during this period, and when the new Young King Charles (7) finally got around to it, he granted a royal license to ship slaves from Africa. There; that should solve everything.
...well, not quite, because less than one year after the license there was already growing concern among the Spanish settlers in Hispaniola about the safety of having all these new African slaves. And the numbers of slaves just keeps growing...
One large reason for this fear came from French corsairs. Those dastardly sea dogs didn't recognize Spain's enslavement and subjugation of the natives, and they had been appearing more and more frequently in Caribbean waters. If they should do a serious raid, and ally themselves with the Africans and the Natives... well let's just say that the Spaniards don't want to see that happen.
But a young fellow named Peg-leg LeClerc (8) hears news of these worries, and ponders the possibility. He _would_ like to see what would happen...
Still, all in all, during the early 'teens, things are going quite well for Spaniards in the New World. Sure, some folks have met horrible ends -- lost at sea, dying of fever in godforsaken jungle hellholes, tortured to death by unhappy Indians -- but that's life in the conquistador biz. (And surely SOME of those amazing rumors about cities of gold must be true!) More land has been added to Spain's Empire, crops are expanding, cattle and pigs are multiplying like crazy, and the worst seems to be over. (9) Those who didn't starve in the early days now know a thing or two about how to get by. The future looks bright for the Spaniards. And then, in 1515 one in ten of them dies.
-- Mike Ralls
(1) The Dominicans will be slightly, but significantly, less enthusiastic about the natives than in OTL.
(2) Slightly above OTL's number. It will nonetheless be revised upward. And then again, and then again...
(3) OTL Balboa convinced the small colony -- which was indeed having problems with both Indian attack and gold fever -- to move across the gulf to the Panamanian coast. He then struck south from there to find the Pacific. In this TL more trade among the Indians of the interior, and slightly better technology, have made both the rumours and the attacks more acute.
(4) Juan Pizarro is thus saved from having his skull crushed by angry Incas some 20 years later.
(5) In OTL Ponce returned to Florida in 1521 to build a settlement, but was slain by Indians Here the natives are advanced and numerous enough that they can set themselves up as overlords from the beginning -- at least for a while. In the long run, though, Florida will be almost as depopulated as OTL. The Spanish colony here will sputter and may not survive.
(6) Cocoa was not anywhere near a crop at this point in OTL, but it got introduced and popularized a lot earlier in this TL.
(7) Not quite our Charles V (aka Carlos I) but an incredibly close simulation.
(8) We Are Not Making This Up -- real OTL character.
(9) Cattle and pigs did indeed multiply like wild on every Caribbean island where they were released. This led to the extinction of dozens of species of birds and small mammals, and it will here too. No 16th century European in any TL is going to notice that, though.
Bronze Age New World 1515 - 1520: What Goes Around...
BANW 1515 to 1520: What Goes Around...
In 1515, just as Velasquez was wrapping up Cuba, a strange disease started appearing among the conquistadors. The first major outbreaks took place in Cuba, and were brought back to Hispaniola by returning conquistadors. It was, and still is, a thoroughly ghastly disease; and in the next six weeks, it would kill one out of every ten Spaniards in the New World.
Now the Spanish-Americans saw 1 in 2 of their number die of starvation just a little over 10 years ago, so 1 in 10 is bad, but manageable. It was the effect of seeing people being eaten alive, blood and pus dripping from their skin, and the awful appearance of the corpse afterward that left the biggest effect on Spanish-American culture. Never exactly bright and cheerful in any TL, a particularly morbid and gruesome element enters this world's Hispanoamerican mind around this time. Many a sad, gruesome sonnet was written in these years, of the horror of seeing your mother, wife, son, daughter, sister, or brother turned into a parody of humanity right before your eyes. One author, Jorge Felipe D'amourmétier, became popular writing almost nothing but stories about men facing unspeakable evil that often drove them mad once they had faced it. At first his work was too painful for the colonists to read, but a generation or two later he was declared one of the greatest authors to write about the early days in the Caribbean.
Those who survived the disease were often left blind, crippled, and/or sterilized. One of these victims was Vasco Nunez de Balboa, just back from his heroic rescue of the first Spanish colony on the north coast of South America. Balboa will subsequently claim it was God's punishment on him for fighting for God, Glory, and Gold, when he should have been just fighting for God. (1)
The disease is not the only event to happen during this period, of course. There are momentous events going on in Europe and elsewere. For example, the Portuguese have just set up a colony in South Africa. It's not much, really just a way station, but the Portuguese are trading more with the east than in OTL. (In OTL, Brazil was small during this period, but it wasn't insignificant, and the energies that went to it had to spill out some where in some form. Having a small colony in north-eastern South America, just isn't the same as having a letter from the Pope saying that you own all this land.) It's also during this period that some chap named Magellan starts off on a world cruise. And off in distant Germany, some deranged monk is nailing some papers to a church door... not that any Spaniard is going to care much what happens _there_.
Meanwhile, back in the Americas, a fellow named Cordoba has gone off to explore for islands west of Cuba, much as in OTL. Cordoba comes back from his adventures in the west with tales of such a FANTASTICALLY and INSANELY HUGE empire in Mexico that EVERYONE gets excited. There is some talk that perhaps they should wait until the colony has recovered from the decimation (literally) caused by the disease. But that's all it is, talk. And being a Conquistador means never having to wait for a committee.
The Conquistadors, after all, were not a state run enterprise, but more of a free market entrepreneur system -- sometimes licensed by the state, sometimes not. A visionary leader would gather together enough men, who would be paid in shares of loot, slaves and land, and would hare off on a high-risk high-gain adventure. Think dot-coms, but with muskets and fanatic Catholicism.
In this case, two aspiring conquerors emerge. The first is a fellow named Juan de Grijalva. Grijalva is the nephew of Velasquez, the conqueror of Cuba. He's a fairly conservative, play-it-safe kinda guy who's more interested in talking to the Indians, at least at first, than in fighting them. His cautious approach will be balanced by a younger, more aggressive second-in-command. (2)
Unfortunately for de Grijalva -- among others -- the tloggotl plague is not quite finished. A week before the expedition is due to leave, de Grijalva falls sick with the dreaded infection. He survives (many do, after all), but he will be many months convalescing. De Grijalva will have to stay home, and the more aggressive subordinate will take over. He is blonde, blue-eyed, charming, charismatic and a violent and absolutely ruthless borderline psychopath. His name is Fernando de Alvarado, and he has big plans. (3)
But just before de Alvarado leaves to fight the Tlon, there is a curious incident. Vasco Nunez de Balboa, conquistador turned man of God, appears in the square and preaches a sermon at Alvarado's men. Balboa tells them that they should strive above all else to rid themselves of their greed, and instead of seeking Gold they should join him in his quest for God.
Alvarado can barely keep himself from whipping the blind man of God, and instead just made some snide remark about cowards getting what they deserved. Now, Balboa may be a man of God now, but he was a conquistador once and he could not let that insult pass. He charges at the sound of Avando's voice, and barely misses him, stumbling to the ground. The crowd laughs embarrassedly at this. It is funny, because a man is in pain, but this is a man of God who used to be like them, so there is a nervousness to their mirth.
Balboa picks himself off, turns to his mocking crowd, and in a low voice he says simply, "God will be watching you. For your own good, act accordingly." And then, leaning on an aide for guidance, he walked away with his head held high.
De Alvarado wasn't disturbed by this though. He knew God was watching him. What's more, he knew that God approved of what he was doing. It was doctrine, after all, that all natives had to accept Christianity and/or be militarily subjugated. If the Spanish didn't attack the Tlon fairly quickly, they'd be betraying God. There could be no doubt of the righteousness of his cause; God, Spain, gold and glory all combined with his own peculiar personal impulses to urge him onwards. And so, in late 1520, Fernando de Alvarado set off to meet his fate in the land of the Tlon.
(1) Balboa was OTL a fairly decent and sensible fellow, who was betrayed to a grossly unjust death by a greedy rival.
In this TL he has not discovered the Pacific -- no one has, yet -- because he was too busy rescuing the Colombian colony. This may buy the Incas a few extra years; or maybe not. In any event Balboa himself will live longer than in OTL, albeit in complete darkness after 1516.
(2) De Grijalva was a real OTL character and was much as described. He commanded the second Spanish expedition to the mainland, the one after Cordoba but before Cortes. De Grijalva was one of those conquistadores (and there were a number of them) who preferred talking and trading to looting and fighting. Unsurprisingly, history has largely forgotten him.
(3) Pretty much all the biographies of De Alvarado agree on this description. Think of sailing off under Mr. White from "Reservoir Dogs".
One person who isn't wild about this idea either is Hernan Cortes. He could have joined this expedition, but didn't like the idea of being anything but head man -- and, too, this whole thing seems just a little risky to him. By 1520 this TL's Cortes has diverged a bit from ours; the stronger Indian resistance on Cuba has impressed him, so he's just a bit more cautious. Maybe he'll join the next expedition. After all, if Coronado isn't lying, there should be enough gold to go around...