Negotiated by the Borgia Pope: dividing the world into two hemispheres

Tordesillas Treaties

Tordesillas (Spain) — 1494

Tordesillas Treaties

Tordesillas Treaties

Tordesillas (Spain) — 1494

  1. Pope Alexander VI (1431–1503) mediated this agreement between the world powers Spain and Portugal, which divided the world into two hemispheres

  2. The final dividing line was set on June 7, 1494, which still separates Portuguese-speaking Brazil from Spanish-speaking South America

  3. The treaty is also evidence of the papacy’s consciousness of its own power at the threshold of the modern era

Tratado de Tordesillas

Tordesillas Treaties

Spanish Copy

This copy of the treaty was given to King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, who are named in the elaborately-written first line of the document. A masterful scribe was obviously responsible for the neatly written yet highly stylized text with numerous flourishes and embellishments. Ferdinand and Isabella were officially bestowed with the title “the Catholic Monarchs of Spain” by Pope Alexander VI in 1494, the same year that the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed.

Tordesillas Treaties

Alternative Titles:
  • Tratados de Tordesillas
  • Acta de los tractados de Tordesillas I y II
  • Vertrag von Tordesillas
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology
Short Description

The famous Treaty of Tordesillas divided the world in 1494 between the two greatest sea-powers and forces of discovery of the time: Spain and Portugal. The agreement was proposed and implemented by none less than Pope Alexander VI, the highest authority of the Catholic powers. After the unbelievable discoveries of the 15th centuries and the still-awaited further discoveries of new lands and regions, this New World had to be divided up. Thus the Treaty of Tordesillas, which followed several papal bulls, secured a definitive line of demarcation. The regions lying to the west of the line, thus the Americas – up to modern Brazil – were awarded to the Spanish, and the eastern regions went to Portugal. The treaty offers an exciting glimpse into this great Age of Discovery and the reorganization of the world!

Tordesillas Treaties

The famous Treaty of Tordesillas divided the world in 1494 between the two greatest sea-powers and forces of discovery of the time: Spain and Portugal. The agreement was proposed and implemented by none less than Pope Alexander VI, the highest authority of the Catholic powers. After the unbelievable discoveries of the 15th centuries and the still-awaited further discoveries of new lands and regions, this New World had to be divided up. Thus the Treaty of Tordesillas, which followed several papal bulls, secured a definitive line of demarcation. The regions lying to the west of the line, thus the Americas – up to modern Brazil – were awarded to the Spanish, and the eastern regions went to Portugal. The treaty offers an exciting glimpse into this great Age of Discovery and the reorganization of the world!

An Imaginary Line through the Atlantic

“[…] 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 above said. 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.”

Lucrative Business and Exotic Lands

The Treaty of Tordesillas was concluded on June 7th, 1494, and was ratified on July 2nd by Spain and on September 5th by Portugal and from then on regulated the territorial claims between the two great sea-powers. They were in competition in particular for the numerous new discoveries of islands and whole continents in the 15th century. The so-called New World was to be divided into a Spanish and a Portuguese half. The focus of the Portuguese kingdom lay in maintaining the control of the sea route to India along the African coast. India and the sea route there and back promised, among other things, the profitable spice trade in the Pacific region. This African route was to be free of competing Spanish influence. Thus was the Spanish royal house allowed to seek a sea route to India over the Atlantic and in doing so discovered an unknown continent: America. They wanted to secure the control and right over these lands, which were first discovered by Christopher Columbus, in the west. The Portuguese King John II namely allowed, among others, for the proclamation of the Brazilian coast as a Portuguese region. Naturally, the Spanish did not want to allow that to happen.

The Pope as Arbitrator

The Borgia Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503) intervened as arbitrator between the two competing parties in the division of the New World. The pope held the highest authority in the Catholic lands and his word had to be complied with by both Spain as well as Portugal. At the end of the 15th century, there came a flood of papal bulls, which were meant to regulate the matter. Among them was the 1481 bull Aeternis regis that gave all regions south of the Canary Islands to Portugal. In the year 1493 there were several papal bulls, among them the bull Inter caetera, in which a line of demarcation was established. Portugal was nonetheless not in agreement with this and thus tough negotiations began. An agreement was reached about the shift of the line westward, so that Brazil went to Portugal.

A Final Settlement

This settlement was finally sealed in the famous Treaty of Tordesillas. Other sea powers such as England, Holland, or France were completely unaccounted for, as were the rights of the indigenous populations of the newly discovered regions. Agreements were recorded across the eight pages of the historically significant contract that would influence the further course of world history. It is an unbelievably exciting document of a 15th century and a certificate of the division of the world!

Codicology
Alternative Titles
Tratados de Tordesillas
Acta de los tractados de Tordesillas I y II
Vertrag von Tordesillas
Size / Format
8 pages / 32.0 × 23.0 cm
Date
1494
Language
Tratado de Tordesillas

Tordesillas Treaties

Portuguese Copy

The twin copies of this historic agreement are among the most prized historic treasures in the national archives of Spain and Portugal. This copy bears the name of its recipient, King John II of Portugal, and is affixed with his royal seal: argent, five escutcheons in cross azure each charged with as many plates in saltire, all within a bordure gules charged with seven golden triple-towered castles.

This document is written in an exquisite hand with letters written with incredibly disciplined uniformity and spacing, as well as an important passage written in bold for emphasis. A splendid “D” initial precedes the text and is intricately patterned in such a way as to appear woven or braided – the result of a series of precise pen strokes.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Tordesillas Treaties“

Tratado de Tordesillas Facsimile

Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Tordesillas Treaties – Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)
 / Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
Imageof

Tratado de Tordesillas Facsimile

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1990
Limited Edition
980 copies
Binding
Documents in a folder
Commentary
1 volume (140 pages) by Tomás Marín Martínez and José Manuel Ruiz Asencio
Languages: Spanish or English
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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