Tuesday, June 14, 2005

What if...

  • Celtic, well okay, Germanic weapons in North America.

  • I was thinking, just kind of letting my mind meander and the idea struck me: what if the Celts had discovered North America? First of all, this would require a substantial revision of history because it's not like the Celts were a seafaring people who simply failed to find North America; the Celts were simply not a seafaring people. So this is in fact a very different situation. Nonetheless, let us assume that in about 100BCE, Roman Legions marched their war across Europe and the Celts said to each other, the hell with it, and left.

    Not all of them, not even most of them. Just a couple of smaller tribes on the coast. Let's say they find Iceland and are smart enough to name it Greenland. Then they find Greenland and name it what it really is: Iceland. So what happens next? America of course.

    Here we encounter a totally new and bizzare scenario. The Celts had no dominionist ideology. They had no religious faith that asserted supremacy over other faiths. And they would have arrived having fled an advancing Roman army. They would have no motivation to conquer the Native Americans.

    Now don't get me wrong; the Celts love a good fight as much as-if not more than-anyone. They were not peaceniks. But by the same token, the Celts never really did an Alexander the Great or a Julius Ceasar. In fact the idea of uniting a bunch of Celts to conquer anything is pretty laughable; these were nomadic free spirits. The various Celtic tribes formed very loosed confederations, but had no formal central government.

    So they show up in North America, starving, weak and out of ale and wine, so you know they are desperate. They have steel and they have the wheel.

    They also have a tribal system not too dissimilar from the Native Americans! They have a religious system that is loose and open as well. Both spiritual systems are based on nature and nature's rythmns and patterns. The Celts were not too picky about names either. I could see them sitting with the Native Americans: Oh, you have the Thunderbird? We call ours Tyrannis, God of the Storms. Thunderbird is kind of cool though. Hey, pass that peace pipe thing again, will you?

    So what would have happened had the dominionist Europeans, the ones convinced that their faith of the God who died nailed to a tree was superior to all other faiths, arrived and encountered a Native American population armed with steel and using the wheel. This population would already have survived smallpox and other European illnesses. That and the fact that the old enemy of Rome, the Celts, would stand with them.

    That would have been a very different and interesting world. This has all the makings of a great work of historical fiction. Too bad I won't write it.