Published: August 5, 2010
While Portugal was carving out a colonial empire in Asia, Spain was building up her colonial empire in the Americas. A keen rivalry soon developed between these two Catholic countries. To reconcile their differences and prevent war between them, Pope Alexander VI, on May 3, 1493, issued two papal bulls–or decrees–dividing the entire world between Spain and Portugal. The first bull provided that to Spain should belong all lands west and south of the Azores and Cape Verde Islands, while to Portugal should go all of the African continent. A second bull, issued to make the provisions of the first clearer, set an imaginary line from the North Pole to the South Pole passing through the Atlantic Ocean at 100° west of the Azores and the Cape Verde Islands. All lands found or still to be discovered west of this line were to belong to Spain, and all lands east of the line were to belong to Portugal.
But in September of the same year, the Pope, who happened to be Spaniard, nullified the second bull y allowing Spain to own all lands to be discovered in Asia, which properly belonged to Portugal according to the earlier bulls.
João II (pronounced zhoo oun), the king of Portugal, protested this decree because it violated the rights previously given to Portugal. To solve the problem and prevent further conflict, Spain and Portugal concluded the Treaty of Tordesillas on June 7, 1498. The most important provisions of this treaty were as follows;
- Another demarcation line was drawn running from the North Pole to the South Pole at a distances of 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. All lands west of the line were to belong to Spain, and all lands east of the line were to belong to Portugal.
- All lands discovered west of this line would go to Spain, and all lands discovered east of the line would go to Portugal.
- No Spanish ships were to be sent for the purpose of trade to the lands belonging to Portugal, and no Portuguese ships should trade with the lands belonging to Spain.
The Treaty of Tordesillas has been the only treaty that both countries followed.