Treaty of Tordesillas Background and Consequences

Treaty of Tordesillas

Territorial division agreement between the kingdom of Castile and the kingdom of Portugal signed at the end of the 15th century. In this article we will provide you information about the Treaty of Tordesillas.

It is known as the Treaty of Tordesillas to a series of agreements established between Queen Isabel I of Castile and King Fernando II of Aragon , on the one hand, with King Juan II of Portugal, on the other, to distribute the Atlantic space from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America .

Through these agreements, signed on June 7, 1494 in Tordesillas, a town near Valladolid, a line was established that divided the dominion of the world between the crowns of Castile and Portugal.

During the 18th century , the Portuguese began to advance westward and effectively occupied American territories that were beyond the line established by the Treaty. The Treaty of Tordesillas was annulled in 1750 by another agreement, the Treaty of Madrid .

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Background to the Treaty of Tordesillas

From the beginning of the overseas explorations of Castile and Portugal in the middle of the XV century , it became necessary to establish agreements on the control of the found territories in order to avoid conflicts. Some of those antecedents were:

  • The Treaty of Alcáçovas (or Alcázobas), signed in 1479, was the direct antecedent of the Treaty of Tordesillas. In this pact, which put an end to the War of the Castilian Succession, the domain of some Atlantic sectors such as the Azores and the Canaries and the African coast was established.
  • Several papal bulls that granted to the crown of Castile the territories that it had discovered in its Atlantic explorations.

What did the Treaty of Tordesillas establish?

Some of the clauses that were established in the Treaty of Tordesillas were:

  • A pole-to-pole dividing line was set that would pass 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands.
  • The kingdom of Castile was granted the dominion of all the regions to the west of that line and to Portugal, to the east.
  • Commissions were created made up of Portuguese and Castilians who had to establish the points through which the line passed, known as the Tordesillas meridian .
  • Both kingdoms pledged to respect the terms of the treaty. Spain was authorized to pass through territory under the control of Portugal during the return navigation from America to Spain.

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Consequences of the Treaty of Tordesillas

The consequences of the Treaty of Tordesillas were the following:

  • It put an end to a long conflict over the territories explored by the kingdom of Castile and Portugal. The agreement prevented these two powers from going to war.
  • For the first time in history, border was established that divided the world, denying rights to any other nation.
  • Portugal explored and conquered territories in America that later became part of the Portuguese Empire.
  • Although the Treaty managed to resolve the immediate conflicts, with the advance of the expeditions and the new discoveries, unregulated areas were left that were a new source of conflict, among them, the Asian territories conquered by Spain and the Río de la Plata region.

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