History is stranger than fiction.

Published October 13, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Seriously, if I changed the names and wrote it as a novel, everyone would say it was too implausible, that it was too far-fetched for people to ever act this way.

I’ve been reading about the early period (1810-1820, roughly) of the Wars of Independence in Spain’s American dominions.  I’m sure everyone involved was acting for reasons that made sense at the time, but looking at it from 200 years later, from a different cultural mindset, it just looks like chaos.  Worst of all, it’s chaos where people kept making choices that made the fighting last longer, instead of ending sooner.  Of course, in some cases, I don’t think ending the fighting really entered their thought process at all.  As far as I can tell from the historical record (as processed by professional historians, anyway) it seems like a lot of people were out to grab power for themselves — which certainly happens all the time in fiction, too — and a lot of other people seem to have just been exceedingly stubborn, and perhaps just a little bit self-deluding.  Possibly a lot self-deluding.

For example, when Buenos Aires, capital of Rio de la Plata, declared its independence from Spain, all the other provinces of the Rio de la Plata decided that there was no reason they should have to listen to Buenos Aires any longer now that there wasn’t a king (Napoleon forced him to abdicate in favor of Napoleon’s brother Joseph), and they declared their own independence of both Spain and Buenos Aires.  In response, Buenos Aires, which had not finished winning its independence from Spain, declared the other provinces in rebellion, and attacked them.  A government in the process of rebelling was itself rebelled from.*  And this sort of thing was going on all over South America:  when they should have been banding together to fight off the Spanish and royalist forces, they were fighting amongst themselves instead.

Really, if you put that kind of thing in a novel, no one would accept it.

Honestly, I kind of want to.

Change all the names, invent new personalities for all the major players, set it in a fictional world (maybe a fantasy world, or steampunk!) and just go crazy with fiction based on this convoluted reality.  (Though first I would need a heavy-duty timeline, seriously detailed maps, and probably a couple of flow charts to help me keep track of what’s going on where and when.)

Fortunately for all parties involved, I have neither the time nor the ability to write such a thing.  Anyone else who’d like to have a go at it, feel free.



* This is why we have Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, instead of just one nation.  Although the latter had only been added to the Rio de la Plata very late, so it’s understandable that they didn’t want to stay part of it.  They used to be part of Peru.

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