Event Summary

Treaty of Tordesillas




Pope Alexander VI, a Spaniard acting on a request from Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, established a north-south line in the Atlantic Ocean separating claims of Portugal and Spain to new lands in series of papal bulls [sometimes referred to collectively as the "Bull of Demarcation"] in 1493. Meant to replace the 1479 Treaty of Alcacovas.

The decidedly pro-Spanish line was then renegotiated at the king of Portugal's insistence, with the resultant Treaty of Tordesillas, by which Portugal was granted exploration and settlement rights to all lands east of a line that roughly corresponds to the 50th meridian (500 leagues west of the Canaries)and to Spain all lands west of that line.

Although it was not the intention of the negotiators in 1496, this allowed Portugal to lay claim to Brazil in 1501 when Alvarez Cabral happened upon it during a voyage around the Cape of Good Hope.



Timeline 1

Europe's Maritime Reconnaissance, 1350-1640

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