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Treaty of Tordesillas

Upon returning to Spain in 1493 after his first voyage, Christopher Columbus contacted Pope Alexander VI (a Spaniard by birth) to report his discoveries. Acting as the great European arbiter of the day, the pope then issued a bull (decree) that divided the New World lands between Spain and Portugal by establishing a north-south line of demarcation 100 leagues* west of the Cape Verde Islands. Undiscovered non-Christian lands to the west of the line were to be Spanish possessions and those to the east belonged to Portugal.

News of this decision was not warmly greeted by the Portuguese, who argued that previous agreements conflicted with the pope's decision.   The Treaty of Tordesillas was In the spring of 1494, representatives of Spain and Portugal met in the Spanish town of Tordesillas and negotiated a mutually satisfactory solution to their dispute. The line of demarcation was relocated to a position 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. (It was impossible during this age to determine precisely the impact of this agreement on account of the nagging difficulty of establishing longitude accurately.) However, Portugal emerged with an enhanced position by gaining a larger portion of South America (Brazil). Even with this modification, Spain had gained control (on paper) of most of the New World. The pope granted his official recognition of this agreement in 1506. Spain and Portugal, with a few exceptions, remained loyal to the terms of the treaty; the Portuguese would expand deep into Brazil beyond the demarcation line, but Spain did not object. The natives of these regions, needless to say, were not consulted about the assignment of their homelands to others and competing powers in Europe totally ignored the line. For years following 1494, the Spanish lamented their consent to the treaty, convinced that they had received the short end of the stick. Their initial discoveries in the New World yielded little mineral wealth, but much disease and discomfort. Their evaluation of this bargain with Portugal changed dramatically in the 1520s as the riches from Aztec Mexico began to be exploited. In the Treaty of Zaragoza (1529), the demarcation line was extended through both poles and encompassed the entire world.

 

Translation of the Treaty


Don Ferdinand and Doña Isabella, by the grace of God king and queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, Sicily, Granada, Toledo, Valencia, Galicia, Majorca, Seville, Sardinia, Cordova, Corsica, Murcia, Jaen, Algarve, Algeciras, Gibraltar, and the Canary Islands, count and countess of Barcelona, lord and lady of Biscay and Molina, duke and duchess of Athens and Neopatras, count and countess of Roussillon and Cerdagne, marquis and marchioness of Oristano and Gociano, together with the Prince Don John, our very dear and very beloved first-born son, heir of our aforesaid kingdoms and lordships. Whereas by Don Enrique Enriques, our chief steward, Don Gutierre de Cardenas, chief commissary of Leon, our chief auditor, and Doctor Rodrigo Maldonado, all members of our council, it was treated, adjusted, and agreed for us and in our name and by virtue of our power with the most serene Dom John, by the grace of God, king of Portugal and of the Algarves on this side and beyond the sea in Africa, lord of Guinea, our very dear and very beloved brother, and with Ruy de Sousa, lord of Sagres and Berenguel, Dom Joao de Sousa, his son, chief inspector of weights and measures of the said Most Serene King our brother, and Ayres de Almada, magistrate of the civil cases in his court and member of his desembargo, all members of the council of the aforesaid Most Serene King our brother, [and acting] in his name and by virtue of his power, his ambassadors, who came to us in regard to the controversy over what part belongs to us and what part to the said Most Serene King our brother, of that which up to this seventh day of the present month of June, the date of this instrument, is discovered in the ocean sea, in which said agreement our aforesaid representatives promised among other things that within a certain term specified in it we should sanction, confirm, swear to, ratify, and approve the above-mentioned agreement in person: we, wishing to fulfill and fulfilling all that which was thus adjusted, agreed upon, and authorized in our name in regard to the above-mentioned, ordered the said instrument of the aforesaid agreement and treaty to be brought before us that we might see and examine it, the tenor of which, word for word, is as follows:

In the name of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three truly separate and distinct persons and only one divine essence. Be it manifest and known to all who shall see this public instrument, that at the village of Tordesillas, on the seventh day of the month of June, in the year of the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ 1494, in the presence of us, the secretaries, clerks, and notaries public subscribed below, there being present the honorable Don Enrique Enriques, chief steward of the very exalted and very mighty princes, the lord and lady Don Ferdinand and Doña Isabella, by the grace of God king and queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, Sicily, Granada, etc., Don Gutierre de Cardenas, chief auditor of the said lords, the king and queen, and Doctor Rodrigo Maldonado, all members of the council of the said lords, the king and queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, Sicily, Granada, etc., their qualified representatives of the one part, and the honorable Ruy de Sousa, lord of Sagres and Berenguel, Dom Juan de Sousa, his son, chief inspector of weights and measures of the very exalted and very excellent lord Dom John, by the grace of God king of Portugal and of the Algarves on this side and beyond the sea in Africa, lord of Guinea, and Ayres de Almada, magistrate of civil cases in his court and member of his desembargo, all of the council of the said lord King of Portugal, and his qualified ambassadors and representatives, as was proved by both the said parties by means of the letters of authorization and procurations from the said lords their constituents, the tenor of which, word for word, is as follows: [Here follow the full powers granted by Ferdinand and Isabella to Don Enrique Enriques, Don Gutierre de Cardenas, and Dr. Rodrigo Maldonado on June 5, 1494; and the full powers granted by John II. to Ruy de Sousa, Joao de Sousa, and Ayres Almada on March 8, 1494.] "Thereupon it was declared by the above-mentioned representatives of the aforesaid King and Queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, Sicily, Granada, etc., and of the aforesaid King of Portugal and the Algarves, etc.:


[I.] That, whereas a certain controversy exists between the said lords, their constituents, as to what lands, of all those discovered in the ocean sea up to the present day, the date of this treaty, pertain to each one of the said parts respectively; therefore, for the sake of peace and concord, and for the preservation of the relationship and love of the said King of Portugal for the said King and Queen of Castile, Aragon, etc., it being the pleasure of their Highnesses, they, their said representatives, acting in their name and by virtue of their powers herein described, covenanted and agreed that a boundary or straight line be determined and drawn north and south, from pole to pole, on the said ocean sea, from the Arctic to the Antarctic pole. This boundary or line shall be drawn straight, as aforesaid, at a distance of three hundred and seventy leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, being calculated by degrees, or by any other manner as may be considered the best and readiest, provided the distance shall be no greater than abovesaid. And all lands, both islands and mainlands, found and discovered already, or to be found and discovered hereafter, by the said King of Portugal and by his vessels on this side of the said line and bound determined as above, toward the east, in either north or south latitude, on the eastern side of the said bound provided the said bound is not crossed, shall belong to, and remain in the possession of, and pertain forever to, the said King of Portugal and his successors. And all other lands, both islands and mainlands, found or to be found hereafter, discovered or to be discovered hereafter, which have been discovered or shall be discovered by the said King and Queen of Castile, Aragon, etc., and by their vessels, on the western side of the said bound, determined as above, after having passed the said bound toward the west, in either its north or south latitude, shall belong to, and remain in the possession of, and pertain forever to, the said King and Queen of Castile, Leon, etc., and to their successors.

[2.] Item, the said representatives promise and affirm by virtue of the powers aforesaid, that from this date no ships shall be despatched-namely as follows: the said King and Queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, etc., for this part of the bound, and its eastern side, on this side the said bound, which pertains to the said King of Portugal and the Algarves, etc.; nor the said King of Portugal to the other part of the said bound which pertains to the said King and Queen of Castile, Aragon, etc.-for the purpose of discovering and seeking any mainlands or islands, or for the purpose of trade, barter, or conquest of any kind. But should it come to pass that the said ships of the said King and Queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, etc., on sailing thus on this side of the said bound, should discover any mainlands or islands in the region pertaining, as abovesaid, to the said King of Portugal, such mainlands or islands shall pertain to and belong forever to the said King of Portugal and his heirs, and their Highnesses shall order them to be surrendered to him immediately. And if the said ships of the said King of Portugal discover any islands and mainlands in the regions of the said King and Queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, etc., all such lands shall belong to and remain forever in the possession of the said King and Queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, etc., and their heirs, and the said King of Portugal shall cause such lands to be surrendered immediately.

[3.] Item, in order that the said line or bound of the said division may be made straight and as nearly as possible the said distance of three hundred and seventy leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, as hereinbefore stated, the said representatives of both the said parties agree and assent that within the ten months immediately following the date of this treaty their said constituent lords shall despatch two or four caravels, namely, one or two by each one of them, a greater or less number, as they may mutually consider necessary. These vessels shall meet at the Grand Canary Island during this time, and each one of the said parties shall send certain persons in them, to wit, pilots, astrologers, sailors, and any others they may deem desirable. But there must be as many on one side as on the other, and certain of the said pilots, astrologers, sailors, and others of those sent by the said King and Queen of Castile, Aragon, etc., and who are experienced, shall embark in the ships of the said King of Portugal and the Algarves; in like manner certain of the said persons sent by the said King of Portugal shall embark in the ship or ships of the said King and Queen of Castile, Aragon, etc.; a like number in each case, so that they may jointly study and examine to better advantage the sea, courses, winds, and the degrees of the sun or of north latitude, and lay out the leagues aforesaid, in order that, in determining the line and boundary, all sent and empowered by both the said parties in the said vessels, shall jointly concur. These said vessels shall continue their course together to the said Cape Verde Islands, from whence they shall lay a direct course to the west, to the distance of the said three hundred and seventy degrees, measured as the said persons shall agree, and measured without prejudice to the said parties. When this point is reached, such point will constitute the place and mark for measuring degrees of the sun or of north latitude either by daily runs measured in leagues, or in any other manner that shall mutually be deemed better. This said line shall be drawn north and south as aforesaid, from the said Arctic pole to the said Antarctic pole. And when this line has been determined as abovesaid, those sent by each of the aforesaid parties, to whom each one of the said parties must delegate his own authority and power, to determine the said mark and bound, shall draw up a writing concerning it and affix thereto their signatures. And when determined by the mutual consent of all of them, this line shall be considered as a perpetual mark and bound, in such wise that the said parties, or either of them, or their future successors, shall be unable to deny it, or erase or remove it, at any time or in any manner whatsoever. And should, perchance, the said line and bound from pole to pole, as aforesaid, intersect any island or mainland, at the first point of such intersection of such island or mainland by the said line, some kind of mark or tower shall be erected, and a succession of similar marks shall be erected in a straight line from such mark or tower, in a line identical with the above-mentioned bound. These marks shall separate those portions of such land belonging to each one of the said parties; and the subjects of the said parties shall not dare, on either side, to enter the territory of the other, by crossing the said mark or bound in such island or mainland.

[4.] Item, inasmuch as the said ships of the said King and Queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, etc., sailing as before declared, from their kingdoms and seigniories to their said possessions on the other side of the said line, must cross the seas on this side of the line, pertaining to the said King of Portugal, it is therefore concerted and agreed that the said ships of the said King and Queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, etc., shall, at any time and without any hindrance, sail in either direction, freely, securely, and peacefully, over the said seas of the said King of Portugal, and within the said line. And whenever their Highnesses and their successors wish to do so, and deem it expedient, their said ships may take their courses and routes direct from their kingdoms to any region within their line and bound to which they desire to despatch expeditions of discovery, conquest, and trade. They shall take their courses direct to the desired region and for any purpose desired therein, and shall not leave their course, unless compelled to do so by contrary weather. They shall do this provided that, before crossing the said line, they shall not seize or take possession of anything discovered in his said region by the said King of Portugal; and should their said ships find anything before crossing the said line, as aforesaid, it shall belong to the said King of Portugal, and their Highnesses shall order it surrendered immediately. And since it is possible that the ships and subjects of the said King and Queen of Castile, Leon, etc., or those acting in their name, may discover before the twentieth day of this present month of June, following the date of this treaty, some islands and mainlands within the said line, drawn straight from pole to pole, that is to say, inside the said three hundred and seventy leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, as aforesaid, it is hereby agreed and determined, in order to remove all doubt, that all such islands and mainlands found and discovered in any manner whatsoever up to the said twentieth day of this said month of June, although found by ships and subjects of the said King and Queen of Castile, Aragon, etc., shall pertain to and remain forever in the possession of the said King of Portugal and the Algarves, and of his successors and kingdoms, provided that they lie within the first two hundred and fifty leagues of the said three hundred and seventy leagues reckoned west of the Cape Verde Islands to the above-mentioned line-in whatsoever part, even to the said poles, of the said two hundred and fifty leagues they may be found, determining a boundary or straight line from pole to pole, where the said two hundred and fifty leagues end. Likewise all the islands and mainlands found and discovered up to the said twentieth day of this present month of June by the ships and subjects of the said King and Queen of Castile, Aragon, etc., or in any other manner, within the other one hundred and twenty leagues that still remain of the said three hundred and seventy leagues where the said bound that is to be drawn from pole to pole, as aforesaid, must be determined, and in whatever part of the said one hundred and twenty leagues, even to the said poles,-they that are found up to the said day shall pertain to and remain forever in the possession of the said King and Queen of Castile, Aragon, etc., and of their successors and kingdoms; just as whatever is or shall be found on the other side of the said three hundred and seventy leagues pertaining to their Highnesses, as aforesaid, is and must be theirs, although the said one hundred and twenty leagues are within the said bound of the said three hundred and seventy leagues pertaining to the said King of Portugal, the Algarves, etc., as aforesaid. And if, up to the said twentieth day of this said month of June, no lands are discovered by the said ships of their Highnesses within the said one hundred and twenty leagues, and are discovered after the expiration of that time, then they shall pertain to the said King of Portugal as is set forth in the above.

The said Don Enrique Enriques, chief steward, Don Gutierre de Cardenas, chief auditor, and Doctor Rodrigo Maldonado, representatives of the said very exalted and very mighty princes, the lord and lady, the king and queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, Sicily, Granada, etc., by virtue of their said power, which is incorporated above, and the said Ruy de Sousa, Dom Joao de Sousa, his son, and Arias de Almadana, representatives and ambassadors of the said very exalted and very excellent prince, the lord king of Portugal and of the Algarves on this side and beyond the sea in Africa, lord of Guinea, by virtue of their said power, which is incorporated above, promised, and affirmed, in the name of their said constituents, [saying that they and their successors and kingdoms and lordships, forever and ever, would keep, observe, and fulfill, really and effectively, renouncing all fraud, evasion, deceit, falsehood, and pretense, everything set forth in this treaty, and each part and parcel of it; and they desired and authorized that everything set forth in this said agreement and every part and parcel of it be observed, fulfilled, and performed as everything which is set forth in the treaty of peace concluded and ratified between the said lord and lady, the king and queen of Castile, Aragon, etc., and the lord Dom Alfonso, king of Portugal (may he rest in glory) and the said king, the present ruler of Portugal, his son, then prince in the former year of 1479, must be observed, fulfilled, and performed, and under those same penalties, bonds, securities, and obligations, in accordance with and in the manner set forth in the said treaty of peace. Also they bound themselves [by the promise]that neither the said parties nor any of them nor their successors forever should violate or oppose that which is abovesaid and specified, nor any part or parcel of it, directly or indirectly, or in any other manner at any time, or in any manner whatsoever, premeditated or not premeditated, or that may or can be, under the penalties set forth in the said agreement of the said peace; and whether the fine be paid or not paid, or graciously remitted, that this obligation, agreement, and treaty shall continue in force and remain firm, stable, and valid forever and ever. That thus they will keep, observe, perform, and pay everything, the said representatives, acting in the name of their said constituents, pledged the property, movable and real, patrimonial and fiscal, of each of their respective parties, and of their subjects and vassals, possessed and to be possessed. They renounced all laws and rights of which the said parties or either of them might take advantage to violate or oppose the foregoing or any part of it; and for the greater security and stability of the aforesaid, they swore before God and the Blessed Mary and upon the sign of the Cross, on which they placed their right hands, and upon the words of the Holy Gospels, wheresoever they are written at greatest length, and on the consciences of their said constituents, that they, jointly and severally, will keep, observe, and fulfill all the aforesaid and each part and parcel of it, really and effectively, renouncing all fraud, evasion, deceit, falsehood, and pretense, and that they will not contradict it at any time or in any manner. And under the same oath they swore not to seek absolution or release from it from our most Holy Father or from any other legate or prelate who could give it to them. And even though, proprio motu, it should be given to them, they will not make use of it; rather, by this present agreement, they, acting in the said name, entreat our most Holy Father that his Holiness be pleased to confirm and approve this said agreement, according to what is set forth therein; and that he order his bulls in regard to it to be issued to the parties or to whichever of the parties may solicit them, with the tenor of this agreement incorporated therein, and that he lay his censures upon those who shall violate or oppose it at any time whatsoever. Likewise, the said representatives, acting in the said names, bound themselves under the same penalty and oath, that within the one hundred days next following, reckoned from the day of the date of this agreement, the parties would mutually exchange the approbation and ratification of this said agreement, written on parchment, signed with the names of the said lords, their constituents, and sealed with their hanging leaden seals; and that the instrument which the said lords, the king and queen of Castile, Aragon, etc., should have to issue, must be signed, agreed to, and sanctioned by the very noble and most illustrious lord, Prince Don Juan, their son. Of all the foregoing they authorized two copies, both of the same tenor exactly, which they signed with their names and executed before the undersigned secretaries and notaries public, one for each party. And whichever copy is produced, it shall be as valid as if both the copies which were made and executed in the said town of Tordesillas, on the said day, month, and year aforesaid, should be produced. The chief deputy, Don Enrique, Ruy de Sousa, Dom Juan de Sousa, Doctor Rodrigo Maldonado, Licentiate Ayres. Witnesses who were present and who saw the said representatives and ambassadors sign their names here and execute the aforesaid, and take the said oath: The deputy Pedro de Leon and the deputy Fernando de Torres, residents of the town of Valladolid, the deputy Fernando de Gamarra, deputy of Zagra and Cenete, contino of the house of the said king and queen, our lords, and Joao Suares de Sequeira, Ruy Leme, and Duarte Pacheco, continos of the house of the said King of Portugal, summoned for that purpose. And I, Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, secretary of the king and queen, our lords, member of their council, and their scrivener of the high court of justice, and notary public in their court and throughout their realms and lordships, witnessed all the aforesaid, together with the said witnesses and with Estevan Vaez, secretary of the said King of Portugal, who by the authority given him by the said king and queen, our lords, to certify to this act in their kingdoms, also witnessed the abovesaid; and at the request and with the authorization of all the said representatives and ambassadors, who in my presence and his here signed their names, I caused this public instrument of agreement to be written. It is written on these six leaves of paper, in entire sheets, written on both sides, together with this leaf, which contains the names of the aforesaid persons and my sign; and the bottom of every page is marked with the notarial mark of my name and that of the said Estevan Vaez. And in witness I here make my sign, which is thus. In testimony of truth: Fernando Alvarez. And I, the said Estevan Vaez (who by the authority given me by the said lords, the king and queen of Castile, and of Leon, to make it public throughout their kingdoms and lordships, together with the said Fernando Alvarez, at the request and summons of the said ambassadors and representatives witnessed everything), in testimony and assurance thereof signed it here with my public sign, which is thus. The said deed of treaty, agreement, and concord, above incorporated, having been examined and understood by us and by the said Prince Don John, our son, we approve, commend, confirm, execute, and ratify it, and we promise to keep, observe, and fulfill all the abovesaid that is set forth therein, and every part and parcel of it, really and effectively. We renounce all fraud, evasion, falsehood, and pretense, and we shall not violate or oppose it, or any part of it, at any time or in any manner whatsoever. For greater security, we and the said prince Don John, our son, swear before God and Holy Mary, and by the words of the Holy Gospels, wheresoever they are written at greatest length, and upon the sign of the Cross upon which we actually placed our right hands, in the presence of the said Ruy de Sousa, Dom Joao de Sousa, and Licentiate Ayres de Almada, ambassadors and representatives of the said Most Serene King of Portugal, our brother, thus to keep, observe, and fulfill it, and every part and parcel of it, so far as it is incumbent upon us, really and effectively, as is abovesaid, for ourselves and for our heirs and successors, and for our said kingdoms and lordships, and the subjects and natives of them, under the penalties and obligations, bonds and abjurements set forth in the said contract of agreement and concord above written. In attestation and corroboration whereof, we sign our name to this our letter and order it to be sealed with our leaden seal' hanging by threads of colored silk.

Given in the town of Arevalo, on the second day of the month of July, in the year of the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1494. I, THE KING. I, THE QUEEN. I, THE PRINCE. I, FERNANDO ALVAREZ de Toledo, secretary of the king and of the queen, our lords, have caused it to be written by their mandate. . . . doctor.