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Old January 27th 10, 03:38 PM posted to soc.culture.spain,soc.history.medieval,alt.history,rec.games.chess.politics,rec.games.chess.misc
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Default Spain – The Story of a Great Nation

On Jan 26, 6:07*pm, Taylor Kingston
wrote:
On Jan 26, 5:30*pm, wrote:





On Jan 26, 4:12*pm, Taylor Kingston
wrote:


On Jan 26, 1:11*pm, wrote:


On Jan 26, 12:18*pm, Taylor Kingston
wrote:


* In the novel, Brunner dealt with that by inventing a character who
does not exist in our history, the Earl of Barton, a Scottish Catholic
in the service of Spain. He is described as a brilliant military
leader who permanently subdues the Netherlands for Spain.


In OTL Spain had the whole bunch of the brilliant generals: ALba, Don
John, Parma. However, a general is only a part of equation because he
needs adequate military forces, finances, logistics, etc. Alba had
something like 12K people (who were, AFAIK, never paid on time), Parma
had 20 - 30K (and initially was very optimistic about possibility to
subdue England with this force). With teh forces that small the
generals had to stuck to the sieges of the fortified cities,
maneuvering and the battles which rarely could win a war.


Subduing the Netherlands was a political issue at least as much as a
military one and you have to remove Phillip II from the picture (or to
replace him with an open-minded pragmatist) to solve a political (and
religios) part of equation. Or you have to somehow to come with a
scenario under which Spain is able to raise much greater armies that
was typical for this time. After all, during the French Revolutionary
Wars both Austrian Netherlands and the Netherlands had been conquered
without much ado: big armies made all these fortifications pretty much
irrelevant.


* Well, again Brunner is light on the details. Barton is said to have
"appeared from nowhere in the Netherlands when Elizabeth ascended the
English throne ... and when Parma was recalled to command the Armada
he finished the Duke's work in sixteen weeks of whirlwind campaigning,
making sure forever of the Netherlands." In contrast, Medina Sidonia
is described as "a commander who's sick at the least lurching of his
ship ... a worse sea-commander could hardly be picked in all of
Spain!"


* This does sound a bit implausible.


Well, as far as Medina Sidonia is involved, it is, AFAIK, close to the
truth because he did not have naval experience, understood his
inadequacy for the task and tried to excuse himself from this
appointment. However, he was one of the top aristocrats and the task
of this magnitude *and importance could be trusted only to somebody of
his rank.


As for the possibility of "whirlwind campaigning", IMO it did not
exist by a number of reasons. To start with, political structure of
the rebellious provinces was too amorphous for them to be defeated by
a single blow at a critical point (there was none). Then, relative
weakness of their field armies had been compensated by the presense of
the numerous fortified cities, ability to flood pieces of territory
and another ways of defensive resistance. To achieve his goal, he
would have to invent methods of "whirlwind" sieges without the losses
on his side and even then, size of the Spanish army meant that big
part of it would have to be assigned to the garrisson duties (the more
successful he would be in taking these fortified places, the sooner
his army would dissapeared). Then, there was a factor of the Dutch
"Sea Beggars" who more or less controlled the sea making difficult
reenforcement of the Spanish troops , etc.


If history has shown anything, it
is that it is very difficult or impossible to "make sure /forever/" of
a conquered nation. The Dutch have been conquered several times, but
still survive today as an independent nation.


Exactly. Even at the time of Mary Tudor the English side made a long
list of demands to her husband-to-be to guarantee that English
national sovereignity will be intact and that influence of Queen's
husband would be minimal. This had little to do with Catholicism vs.
Protestantism and a lot to do with the growing national consciousness.
Under these circumstances, conquest as described in the book looks
unlikely: it requires that Phillip not just defeated the Brits on
their territory and made peace (with whom?) as a result of which
Elizabeth is replaced by some legitimate alternative (who this could
be? Mary Stuart was a little bit dead and the Tudors made a methodical
work on most of the potential competotors) after which the Spaniards
removed themselves from England (for how long it would remain friendly
under any alternative ruler?). Instead, Phillip declares himself King
of England (on which grounds besides, perhaps, Papal blessing? Phillip
was a legalistically-minded person), moves to England (immediately
after which the Ottomans managed to successfully invade Spain ....
being pushed by the little green creatures from Mars who captured
Istambul ...) followed by the Spnish aristocracy .... This was not XI
century and the only remote parallel *can think about would be Bohemia
at the beginning of the 30YW (the whole situation was seriously
different politically and geographically).


* *A sci-fi writer can often ignore inconvenient historical facts. If
the reader is to accept the impossible idea of time travel into the
past, why worry about the mere near-impossibility of subjugating the
Netherlands in the late 1500s?


No reason whatsoever. It is just that I'm trying to keep as much as
possible to SHM framework. :-)

Like swallowing a camel and straining
at a gnat, eh?
* I'd say Brunner's main purpose (besides making a few bucks)


Well, I'm not sure why would author have any other purpose in
mind. :-)

was to
illustrate the innate instability of a world where time travel was
possible.


There were numerous illustrations of this idea ranging from scenarios
where it is not only possible but is done routinely ("End of
Ethernity", etc.) and all the way to scenario where travel is possible
but interference is not. The last scenario also ranged from NONE
interference being possible (forgot novel's title but each attempt of
interference makes interfering person less material) to no change of
the important historical events is being possible as in the recent
series of Gabaldon's novels, on the personal level, personages have a
lot of freedom of action but their actions can't pervent battle at
Culloden from happening.


Eventually various meddlings with the past would keep on
destroying various lines of history, ultimately resulting in a world
without time travel (Keith Laumer's "Dinosaur Beach" explored along
similar lines). The implausibility of various scenarios created for
the alternate history is relatively unimportant, as long as it's all
done in an entertaining style.


When everything is said and done it boils down to being entertaining,
even "RUR" and "The War against Salamanders". :-)


* Sci-fi implausibilities notwithstanding, I have enjoyed this
discussion. The Armada and related topics are not something I have
studied much, and posts by you and others here have been interesting
and informative.- Hide quoted text -

- Show quoted text -


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