Right, finally I managed to get this rolling. I decided to change approach completely and redo it all from scratch as I realised I was in way over my head in my first approach.
But one afternoon's worth of typing later, I give you my suggestion for the first 80 years of post-columbian mesovespuccia.
Cortez begins his conquest of Mexico in April 1519 by establishing Veracruz and allying with the neighbouring Totonacapan and convincing them to rebel against Moctezuma II. He had become a renegade when he had fled from Cuba to avoid governor Veláscuez from relieving him.
Following contact with Mexica Tenocha ambassadors, he departs Cēmpoalātl, capitol of Totonacapan, with an army of Spaniards, African freedmen, Taíno and a large totonac warhost. Initially they face hostilities from the Tlaxcaltec but eventually forms and alliance.
Spurred by the gifts provided by the Mexica Tenocha, he departs Tlaxcala and heads for Cholōllān, now also accompanied by a large tlaxcaltec warhost. Initially welcomed, Cortéz turns on the Cholōllān nobility and massacres them in the city square. During the fighting the eldest of the Amicqui falls prey to the flames as the temples are put to the flame. The Spaniards maintains this was in self-defence. The Mexica maintain he was being manipulated by the vengeful and deceitful tlaxcalteca. The death of the Amicqui, while suspected, is not yet confirmed by the Mexica.
Finally invited to Tenochnitlan 18th of November 1519, Cortéz takes his host there. He quickly seizes control over the palace and makes Moctezuma II his captive and rules through him. The nobility quickly start to be aggravated by the spaniard’s decrees.
In April 1520 he sets out with his army to stop Pánfilo de Nárvaez, who had recently arrived in Totonacapan from Cuba, from taking him into custody. He soundly defeats Panfilo the 27th of May.
Meanwhile, de Alvarado back in Tenochnitlan sparks a major revolt by massacring nobles celebrating Toxocatl. During this revolt, the Amicqui stirs and the priesthood points out de Alvarado and Cortéz as responsible for the crime at Cholōllān. Cortéz returns to a city up in arms and has to fight his way in, only to find his top lieutenant dying and his people under siege. June 30th Moctezuma II is stoned to death by an angry mob as he tries to calm his people and the nobles choose Cuitláhuac as their new Huey Tlatoani (emperor).
The night of July 1st, the Noche Triste, Cortéz tries to fight his way out of Tenochnitlan on the northern causeway out of the city towards Tlacopan. Unfortunantely, the tepanec send out a warhost that intercepts his forces on the warhost. Trapped between the tepanecs and the mexica most of Cortéz forced perishes or is captured. Cortéz himself gets away but dies from his injuries a few days later in Tlaxcala.
War eternal against Caxtilteca 1521 - 1550
Spoiler: Triple alliance
The aftermath of the war profoundly changed the Triple Alliance. Most notably in 1521 a massive smallpox epidemic, brought to Mesovespuccia by a soldier under Pánfilo de Nárvaez, ravages the lands. The priesthood mitigates the impact of the disease, but the epidemic (which is quickly followed by a wave of measles) still kills hundreds of thousands over the region.
A cadre of shrewd priests capitalizes on this, the death of the Amicqui and a relatively weak emperor and declares eternal war against the vile Caxtilteca (castillians or spaniards), more or less seizing power in the alliance. Over the next few decades, they gradually increase their influence through a combination of disease, political purges and taking control over key locations.
Cholōllān becomes a prize and is massively fortified and secured with a massive warhost to guard against Tlaxcala (a few days to the north) and Veracruz and Totonacapan (roughly a week east of the city). During this period the Amicqui soldiers are created to guard the blessed ones, the spirit fields are staffed mostly by nobles sacrificed as part of the political purges.
Spoiler: Surrounding cultures
A cold war develops between the Triple alliance and the Spaniards. Mostly consisting of attempted raids and proxy wars. The Spaniards are spurred on by pressures from Madrid to actually produce some sort of worth from the colony, their interest quickly fading in a largely expensive affair. The Triple alliance as part of the political shift (anyone speaking against the war eternal ends up sacrificed).
Totonacapan, Huasteca and the Mayan city states in Mayalatolli and Cuauhtēmallān (Guatemala) suffer in particular, being caught in the crossfire.
Caught between the Spaniards in the southeast and the Mexica to the northwest, the various maya peoples in the highlands began to look to their own safety.
In 1527 the Kaqchikel of Iximche formed a defensive coalition with the intent of keeping both mexica and Spaniards out of the highlands. In response the K'iche' Kingdom of Q'umarkaj, enemies of the Kaqchikel, quickly formed their own defensive coalition resisting the Kaqchikel coalition. Neither coalition lasted very long and not once were they truly tested, but it sowed the seeds for future such endeavors throughout Mayatlahtolli (Yucatan, Tabasco, Campeche, Belize, and Guatemala).
The P’urépacha too are affected by the Eternal war, once more being seen as a target for ambitious soldiers. The same applies to the Mixtec and the Zapotec at the southern end of the Triple alliance, who rebelled against the tyranny imposed by the Eternal war.
However, the three formed relations with a new arrival to their shores, the Hǎiyuánrén ( 海员人) operating out of Fúsāng: A set of seaborne clans operating out of (California) that through trade helped the three small nations resist their giant neighbor. Ultimately it was not enough for the Zapotec, but for the time being the Mixtec and P’urépacha remained independent.
Spain’s focus on the new world had never really been that prominent. It was interested in the new world and viewed it as a potential source of great wealth. But all its successes had been accomplished by a small cadre of military adventurers. It never committed armies or navies, but remained little more than a financier for these ambitious men.
After the catastrophic defeat of Cortéz and the continued lack of revenue coming out of Cuba, Hispaniola and Castilla del Oro the crown started to become increasingly impatient with these adventurers. The colonies suffered a huge loss of manpower as both locals and Spanish settlers kept dying of disease, having prompted them to get involved with the fairly expensive slavetrade for labour. Carlos I, king of Spain and Emperor of the Holy Roman emperor, was fed up with paying for the colonies and started to look to his interests in the empire.
Instead, the ambitious conquistadors faced the harsh truth that they had to finance their own adventures and that they frequently had to send large sums of money back to Spain proper. The explosive growth that the New World colonies had seem stifled and stagnated, and the conquistadors who dreamed of countries of their own to rule had to settle for little more than raids on Mayan, Mexica and Huastec lands. Expeditions that yielded little profit and often what little was taken was often taken by the crowns tax collectors.
The most famous and successful of these raiders was Cortéz cousin Fransisco Pizarro, who not only conducted a few successful raids along the pacific coast, on Belize and the Itzá of northern Mayalahtolli but also scouted along the Missisippi River (never quite reaching Cahokia), explored the coast of Florida and explored the coastlines of northern south Vespuccia. All from his base in Castilla del Oro.
But despite this, Spain’s interests in the new world waned considerably. Occasionally a merchant was allowed a charter to set up a small trade outpost on an island or on the mainland. But more often than not, they had to be the primary financiers of these endeavors.
The dawn era 1558-1600
Spoiler: Triple Alliance
1658 the triple alliance virtually collapsed under the tyranny of the Eternal War policies. Despite the claims of the priests, there were no signs of any reprieve from the diseases that were promised as a reward from waging war on the Spanish and a combination of the policies and the massive loss of population led to widespread famine. Sacrefices become more and more each year and many of the subject peoples became increasingly fed up with constantly being pressured for the tribute.
The military became increasingly disillusioned by being asked again and again to engage in futile expeditions through Mayalatolli to reach Castilla del Oro or yet another siege of Veracruz (which as always ended with the majority of the army dead of disease).
Taxes were high and dissatisfaction widespread, but it was when the priesthood insisted they could decide who the next Huey Tlatoani of Tlacopan would be that the floodgates burst open.
Tlacopan and Texcoco both, two out of three core members of the Triple alliance rose in rebellion. Soon Cholōllān, by now a massive fortified citadel city, joined the two against the Eternal War priests.
Many lesser cities rose on Tenochnitlan’s side, but much of the merchant class supported the rebels. With them they brought their contacts among the P’urepácha, Mixteca, Mayalatolli and even Totoneca (and thus, by extension, unnoticed by both Mexica and Spaniards, Spain itself).
The Amicqui remained dormant. By and large, they had remained rather quiet during the Eternal War. With their silence, many lesser priests and priests among the subject peoples threw their lots in with the rebellion.
Despite this, the civil war raged for no less than 12 years. The Zapotecs once more cut ties with the alliance, this time supported by the emergent kingdom of Iximche in Cuauhtēmallān. In praxis, this largely meant they replaced their Mexica overlords with Maya ones.
Veracruz seized the opportunity to expand and try to link up with the Tlaxcaltec, a people who had been hard pressed by barely managed to retain their independence. Paradoxically and largely unknowingly the Spanish provided crucial supplies for the rebels.
P’urépacha and the Mixtec found the civil war a very welcome reprieve and even benefited from the trade the war generated. Providing the Mexica with P’urépacha copper weapons among other things.
The war was as much a conflict between conservative powers and reformative ones as it was one between priests on one side and military and merchants on the other. A lot of nobles and soldiers supported the priests. But in 1570, the war finally died down.
A new Triple Alliance rose from the shell of the old. Instead of a small clique of priests, the dominant powers became the imperial court in Tenochnitlan (who towards the end had thrown in his lot with the rebels), the military establishment and the merchant caste.
Many of the restrictions were lifted, and for the sake of peace many subject peoples no longer had to provide a massive tribute of people for annual sacrifices. Sacrifices did by no means go away, but it was a much more muted affair. Often limited to corrupt officials and nobles, slaves bought for the purpose (often captured from the chichimeca north of the empire). Emphasis instead shifted a lot to sacrifice of blood, rather than life, and that a life of service was a life of sacrifice.
Two notions that had already been common prior to Cortéz, but had made much more popular with the crippling epidemics and the associated loss of life and the largely unpopular Eternal War.
With the civil war ending, the Triple alliance started to recover. Tlaxcala’s days were eventually numbered and in a lightning campaign in 1574 the city was finally conquered and the Caxtiltec driven back to Veracruz and Totonteca.
Ironically, despite having been the chief stronghold of the Eternal War priests, Tenochnitlan became something of the political capital of the empire. Increasingly, it became the administrative centre of the huge state apparatus and the markets expanded manifold. Once Cholōllān was recognized as equal to the three core cities and an integral pillar of the empire this was more or less cemented. From this point on, the term Triple alliance started to wane in favour of the name Aztlatlan.
This period also saw the rapid expansion of Mexican Christianity. The religion had gained a foothold during Cortéz’s war and the initial Eternal War, but had quickly become outlawed and been a scapegoat for the Eternal War policies and excesses. With the victory of the rebels, the persecution the Christians faced largely disappeared. The unspoken agreement was that they would be allowed to follow their own faith as long as they were subtle about it.
Spoiler: Mayalatolli, Mixteca and Tzintzuntan
The end of the Eternal War that had defined the region happen simultaneously as the first modern Mayan state was formed. The kingdom of Iximche, a successor to the earlier coalition, formed as much as natural development of the coalition itself, and as a response to the civil war up north. Iximche became the capital much because it was the premier power and it quickly overwhelmed and conquered their ancient enemies among the K'iche' Kingdom of Q'umarkaj.
A chief reason for its success was that the civil war meant no more Mexica or Spanish expeditions to plague the highlands.
They quickly seized the opportunity to secure their borders and allied with the Zapotecs that were rising up against the Eternal War. Sending soldiers to help fortify their settlements and repel Mexica armies trying to reconquer them. A measure that proved largely successful.
The creation of Iximche soon led to the formation of another Mayan state, Itzá in the Petén basin just northeast of Iximche: Neither state were true kingdoms in the European sense of the word, they were ruled by monarchs but in truth they were more akin to noble oligarchies or confederations.
However, thanks to a fusion between their own culture and some ideas introduced with the Hǎiyuánrén-traders to the Mixtec and Zapotec and some introduced with Christian missionaries, these kingdoms would probe fairly resilient.
The introduction of P’urépacha copper tools also helped these states greatly.
Further north, the P’urépacha had reached a comfortable position. They had secured their access to the Pacific, and thus, to the Hǎiyuánrén network and with it they grew into the prosperous and powerful kingdom of Tzintzuntan.
They greatly benefited from the civil war in the Triple alliance, but when the war finally died down the trade did by no means cease. Instead it multiplied several times, and Tzintzuntan found itself the primary middleman between Fúsāng and the Triple Alliance. Providing them with enough wealth to maintain a strong and well trained army that would keep their borders secure.
The Mixtec had similar success, though less established than Tzintzuntan, several new towns quickly sprang into life. In the north they were fortified fortresses to protect against Mexica armies and along the coast merchant cities of mixed Mixtec and Hǎiyuánrén trader communities formed organically in natural harbours.
The religious conflicts that ravaged Europe from 1550 onwards sucked in everything Spain had and largely drained the New World settlements of the same adventurers that had been its core proponents and cause of rapid expansion. This was perhaps the primary reason New Spain capitalized so little on the crippling civil war in the Triple alliance.
The New world colonies became something of a backwater of the Spanish empire, everything of true worth was located in Europe. Spain looked at the riches the Portuguese brought in and many thought that they had drawn the shorter straw. They did grow lots of cashcrops, primarily sugarcane, on Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica and spices in Castilla del Oro though.
The New world was perhaps a disappointment to the crown, the conquistadors and the nobles but a small emerging group of merchants were making money by the bucketload. It still paled compared to what the Portuguese were raking in, but it was nothing to scoff at. The businesses grew slowly though, as most merchants had to fund it themselves.
Some merchants started looking at attempts to use Castilla del Oro as a middlepoint for shipping to and from China and when one of them finally managed to find the sea route to the Phillipines interest in the small colony sparked up again. Even the crown became interested, and when the merchants of the colony came into contact with the Hǎiyuánrén network they agreed to start backing mercantile companies between Spain and Castilla del Oro and between Castilla del Oro and the sinosphere.
It is part of history’s great ironies that well after it had been proven that the New world was not china, it was once more the lure of china that brought it back into Spanish attention.
However, this would not be the great rebirth of Spanish Vespuccia. Instead that would be the 80-years war between Spain and the Netherlands.
The Netherlands were rebelling against Spanish rule and sending out their own fleets across the world. And when they arrived in the new world they soon came into contact with Aztaztlan. Initially they were not welcomed warmly, even with hostility and conflict.
But once they managed to make it clear that they too were enemies of the Caxtilteca they were welcomed… and got access to the internal markets of Tenochnitlan and most notably: Vanilla, Xocolatl, Chili and by extension Chinese goods.
The dutch merchants became ridiculously rich very quickly… and once Europe learned from where it came, interest in the new world exploded. Not just in Spain, but also in Portugal, France and England. Most notably however, the Spanish realized that suddenly they had to protect their interests in the region.
Some interesting things is that Spain is not nearly as powerful as it was in our world, since it lacks access to Mexican and Peruvian silver. Which means that they probably never built the Spanish Armada. It'll have interesting repercussions in the 30-year war too.
On the other hand, it probably ends up being better for Spain itself.
There... 80 years down... just 150 years to go.