The Full Wiki

More info on Treaty of Tordesillas

Treaty of Tordesillas: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

The Treaty of Tordesillas (Portuguese: Tratado de Tordesilhas, Spanish: Tratado de Tordesillas), signed at Tordesillasmarker (now in Valladolid provincemarker, Spainmarker), 7 June 1494, divided the "newly discovered" lands outside Europe between Spain and Portugal along a meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verdemarker islands (off the west coast of Africa). This line of demarcation was about halfway between the Cape Verde Islands (already Portuguese) and the islands "discovered" by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage (claimed for Spain), named in the treaty as Cipangu and Antilia (Cubamarker and Hispaniolamarker). The lands to the east would belong to Portugal and the lands to the west to Spain. The treaty was ratified by Spain (at the time, the Crowns of Castile and Aragon), 2 July 1494 and by Portugal, 5 September 1494. The other side of the world would be divided a few decades later by the Treaty of Zaragoza or Saragossa, signed on 22 April 1529, which specified the antimeridian to the line of demarcation specified in the Treaty of Tordesillas. Originals of both treaties are kept at the Archivo General de Indiasmarker in Spain and at the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo in Portugal.

Signing and enforcement

Lines dividing the non-Christian world between Castille (modern Spain) and Portugal: the 1494 Tordesillas meridian (purple) and the 1529 Zaragoza antimeridian (green)
The Treaty of Tordesillas was intended to resolve the dispute that had been created following the return of Christopher Columbus. In 1481, the papal Bull Aeterni regis had granted all land south of the Canary Islandsmarker to Portugal. On 4 May 1493 the Spanish-born Pope Alexander VI decreed in the bull Inter caetera that all lands west and south of a pole-to-pole line 100 leagues west and south of any of the islands of the Azores or the Cape Verde Islands should belong to Spain, although territory under Christian rule as of Christmas 1492 would remain untouched. The bull did not mention Portugal or its lands, so Portugal couldn't claim newly discovered lands even if they were east of the line. Another bull, Dudum siquidem, entitled Extension of the Apostolic Grant and Donation of the Indies and dated 25 September 1493, gave all mainlands and islands then belonging to Indiamarker to Spain, even if east of the line. The Portuguese King John II was not pleased with that arrangement, feeling that it gave him far too little land — it prevented him from possessing India, his near term goal (as of 1493, Portuguese explorers had only reached the east coast of Africa). He opened negotiations with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to move the line to the west and allow him to claim newly discovered lands east of the line. The treaty effectively countered the bulls of Alexander VI and was sanctioned by Pope Julius II via the bull Ea quae of 24 January 1506.

Very little of the newly divided area had actually been seen by Europeans, as it was only divided via the treaty. Spain gained lands including most of the Americas. The easternmost part of current Brazilmarker, when it was discovered accidentally in 1500 by Pedro Álvares Cabral, while on route to India, was granted to Portugal. However some historians contend that the Portuguese knew of the South American bulge that makes up most of Brazil before this time, so his landing in Brazil was not an accident. The line was not strictly enforced — the Spanish did not resist the Portuguese expansion of Brazil across the meridian. The treaty was rendered meaningless between 1580 and 1640 while the Spanish King was also King of Portugal. It was superseded by the 1750 Treaty of Madrid which granted Portugal control of the lands it occupied in South America. However, the latter treaty was immediately repudiated by Spain.

Tordesillas meridian

Early Tordesillas lines in South America (1495–1545)
The Treaty of Tordesillas only specified its demarcation line in leagues from the Cape Verde Islands. It did not specify the line in degrees, nor did it identify the specific island or the specific length of its league. Instead, the treaty stated that these matters were to be settled by a joint voyage, which never occurred. The number of degrees can be determined via a ratio of marine leagues to degrees which applies to any sized Earth or via a specific marine league applied to the true size of the Earth.

  • The earliest Spanish opinion was provided by Jaime Ferrer in 1495 at the request of and to the Spanish king and queen. He stated that the demarcation line was 18° west of the most central island of the Cape Verde Islands, which is Fogomarker according to Harrisse, having a longitude of 24°25'W of Greenwichmarker, hence Ferrer placed the line at 42°25'W on his sphere, which was 21.1% larger than our sphere. Ferrer also stated that his league contained 32 Olympic stadesmarker, or 6.15264 km according to Harrisse, thus Ferrer's line was 2,276.5 km west of Fogo at 47°37'W on our sphere.
  • The earliest surviving Portuguese opinion is on the Cantino planisphere of 1502. Because its demarcation line was midway between Cape Saint Roque (northeast cape of South America) and the mouth of the Amazon River (its estuary is marked Todo este mar he de agua doçe (All of this sea is fresh water) and its river is marked Rio grande (great river)), Harrisse concluded that the line was at 42°30'W on our sphere. Harrisse believed the large estuary just west of the line on the Cantino map was that of the Rio Maranhão (this estuary is now the Baía de São Marcosmarker and the river is now the Mearim), whose flow is so weak that its gulf does not contain fresh water.

  • In 1518 another Spanish opinion was provided by Martin Fernandez de Enciso. Harrisse concluded that Enciso placed his line at 47°24'W on his sphere (7.7% smaller than ours), but at 45°38'W on our sphere using Enciso's numerical data. Enciso also described the coastal features near which the line passed in a very confused manner. Harrisse concluded from this description that Enciso's line could also be near the mouth of the Amazon between 49° and 50°W.

  • In 1524 the Spanish pilots (ships' captains) Thomas Duran, Sebastian Cabot (son of John Cabot), and Juan Vespuccius (nephew of Amerigo Vespucci) gave their opinion to the Badajoz Junta, whose failure to resolve the dispute led to the Treaty of Saragossa. They specified that the line was 22° plus nearly 9 miles west of the center of Santo Antão (the westernmost Cape Verde island), which Harrisse concluded was 47°17'W on their sphere (3.1% smaller than ours) and 46°36'W on our sphere.

  • In 1524 the Portuguese presented a globe to the Badajoz Junta on which the line was marked 21°30' west of Santo Antão (22°6'36" on our sphere).

Antimeridian: Moluccas and Treaty of Zaragoza

Initially, the line of demarcation did not encircle the Earth. Instead, Spain and Portugal could conquer any new lands they were the first to discover, Spain to the west and Portugal to the east, even if they passed each other on the other side of the globe. But Portugal's discovery of the highly valued Moluccas in 1512 caused Spain to argue in 1518 that the Treaty of Tordesillas divided the Earth into two equal hemispheres. After the surviving ships of Magellan's fleet visited the Moluccas in 1521, Spain claimed that those islands were within its western hemisphere. In 1523, the Treaty of Vitoria called for the Badajoz Junta to meet in 1524, at which the two countries tried to reach an agreement on the anti-meridian but failed. They finally agreed via the Treaty of Zaragoza (or Saragossa) that Spain would relinquish its claims to the Moluccas upon the payment of 350,000 ducats of gold by Portugal to Spain. To prevent Spain from encroaching upon Portugal's Moluccas, the anti-meridian was to be 297.5 leagues or 17° to the east of the Moluccas, passing through the islands of las Velas and Santo Thome. This distance is slightly smaller than the 300 leagues determined by Magellan as the westward distance from los Ladrones to the Philippine island of Samarmarker, which is just west of due north of the Moluccas.

The Moluccas are a group of islands just west of New Guineamarker. However, unlike the large modern Indonesianmarker archipelago of the Maluku Islandsmarker, to sixteenth-century Europeans the Moluccas were a small chain of islands, the only place on Earth where cloves grew, just west of the large north Malukan island of Halmaheramarker (called Gilolo at the time). Cloves were so prized by Europeans for their medicinal uses that they were worth their weight in gold. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century maps and descriptions indicate that the main islands were Ternatemarker, Tidoremarker, Motimarker, Makianmarker and Bacanmarker, although the last was often ignored even though it was by far the largest island. The principal island was Ternate at the chain's northern end (0°47'N, only in diameter) on whose southwest coast the Portuguese built a stone fort (São João Bautista) during 1522–23, which could only be repaired, not modified, according to the Treaty of Saragossa. This north-south chain occupies two degrees of latitude bisected by the equator at about 127°24'E, with Ternate, Tidore, Moti, and Makian north of the equator and Bacan south of it.

Although the treaty's Santo Thome island has not been identified, its "Islas de las Velas" (Islands of the Sails) appear in a 1585 Spanish history of China, on the 1594 world map of Petrus Plancius, on an anonymous map of the Moluccas in the 1598 London edition of Linschoten, and on the 1607 world map of Petro Kærio, identified as a north-south chain of islands in the northwest Pacificmarker, which were also called the "Islas de los Ladrones" (Islands of the Thieves) during that period. Their name was changed by Spain in 1667 to "Islas de las Marianas" (Mariana Islandsmarker), which include Guammarker at their southern end. Guam's longitude of 144°45'E is east of the Moluccas' longitude of 127°24'E by 17°21', which is remarkably close by sixteenth-century standards to the treaty's 17° east. This longitude passes through the eastern end of the main north Japanesemarker island of Hokkaidōmarker and through the eastern end of New Guinea, which is where Frédéric Durand placed the demarcation line. Moriarty and Keistman placed the demarcation line at 147°E by measuring 16.4° east from the western end of New Guinea (or 17° east of 130°E). Despite the treaty's clear statement that the demarcation line passes 17° east of the Moluccas, some sources place the line just east of the Moluccas.

The Treaty of Saragossa did not modify or clarify the line of demarcation in the Treaty of Tordesillas, nor did it validate Spain's claim to equal hemispheres (180° each), so the two lines divided the Earth into unequal hemispheres. Portugal's portion was roughly 191° whereas Spain's portion was roughly 169°. Both portions have a large uncertainty of ±4° due to the wide variation in the opinions regarding the location of the Tordesillas line.

Portugal gained control of all lands and seas west of the Saragossa line, including all of Asia and its neighboring islands so far "discovered," leaving Spain most of the Pacific Oceanmarker. Although the Philippinesmarker were not named in the treaty, Spain implicitly relinquished any claim to them because they were well west of the line. Nevertheless, by 1542, King Charles V decided to colonize the Philippines, judging that Portugal would not protest too vigorously because the archipelago had no spice, but he failed in his attempt. King Philip II succeeded in 1565, establishing the initial Spanish trading post at Manilamarker.

Besides Brazil and the Moluccas, Portugal would eventually control Angolamarker, Mozambiquemarker, Guinea-Bissaumarker, and São Tomé and Príncipemarker in Africa; Goamarker and Daman and Diumarker in Indiamarker; and East Timormarker and Macaumarker in the Far East.

Portuguese and Spanish empires (anachronous world maps)

Antarctic claims

The Treaty of Tordesillas has been invoked by Chilemarker in the 20th century to defend the principle of an Antarcticmarker sector extending along a meridian to the South Polemarker, as well as the assertion that the treaty made Spanish (or Portuguese) all undiscovered land south to the Pole.

The Treaty of Tordesillas has been invoked by Argentinamarker in the 20th century to justify its claim to the Falkland Islandsmarker.


  1. Davenport, pp. 85, 171.
  2. Frances Gardiner Davenport, ed., European Treaties Bearing on the History of the United States and Its Dependencies to 1648 (Washington, DC: Carnegie Institute of Washington, 1917) 107–111.
  3. John A. Crow, The Epic of Latin America (fourth edition, University of California Press, 1992) p. 136. ISBN 0520077237.
  4. Harrisse, pp. 91–97, 178–190.
  5. Harrisse, pp. 100–102, 190–192.
  6. Harrisse, pp. 103–108, 122, 192–200.
  7. Harrisse, pp. 138–139, 207–208.
  8. Harrisse, pp. 207–208.
  9. Edward Gaylord Bourne, "Historical Introduction", in Blair.
  10. Emma Helen Blair, The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803, part 2
  11. Emma Helen Blair, The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803, part 3
  12. Lord Stanley of Alderley, The first voyage round the world, by Magellan, London: Hakluyt, 1874, p.71
  13. Andaya, pp.1-3
  14. Corn, p.xxiv.
  15. Gavan Daws and Marty Fujita, Archipelago: The Islands of Indonesia, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p.98, ISBN 0520215761 (early 1500s).
  16. The Portuguese in the Moluccas and in the Lesser Sunda Islands by Marco Ramerini, 1600s
  17. Lord Stanley of Alderley, The first voyage round the world, by Magellan, London: Hakluyt Society, 1874, pp. 126–7.
  18. Andaya, p.117. After the Iberian Union (1580–1640) and the effective Dutch conquest of the Moluccas (1605–1611, pp. 152–3), the fort was destroyed by the Spanish in 1666 during their retreat to the Philippines. (p.156)
  19. Knowlton, p.341. The islands were named both las Velas and los Ladrones in a quote from Father Juan González de Mendoza in Historia de las cosas más notables, ritos y costumbres del gran Reino de la China (History of the most remarkable things, rites and customs of the great Kingdom of China, 1585).
  20. Cortesao, p.224, with detailed maps naming each island on several maps.
  21. ed. John O. E. Clark, 100 Maps (New York: Sterling, 2005) p.115, ISBN 1402728859.
  22. The cartography of the Orientals and Southern Europeans in the beginning of the western exploration of South-East Asia from the middle of the XVth century to the beginning of the XVIIth century by Frédéric Durand
  23. Philip II Orders the Journey of the First Manila Galleon
  24. Lines in the sea by Giampiero Francalanci and others, p.3 about 129°E or only 1.5° east of the Moluccas.
  25. Lines of Demarcation 1529 about 134°E or 6.5° east of the Moluccas.
  26. Infoblatt Das Zeitalter der großen Entdeckungsfahrten about 135°E or 7.5° east of the Moluccas.
  27. Robert E. Wilson, "National interests and claims to Antarctica"
  28. Falklands / Malvinas


See also

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address