Tordesillas, Treaty of

Tordesillas, Treaty of

(tōr'thāsē`lyäs), 1494, agreement signed at Tordesillas, Spain, by which Spain and Portugal divided the non-Christian world into two zones of influence. In principle the treaty followed the papal bull issued in 1493 by Pope Alexander VI, which fixed the demarcation line along a circle passing 100 leagues W of the Cape Verde Islands and through the two poles. This division gave the entire New World to Spain and Africa and India to Portugal. However, the Treaty of Tordesillas shifted the demarcation line to a circle passing 370 leagues W of the Cape Verde Islands and thus gave Portugal a claim to Brazil. There was little geographic knowledge at the time the treaty was signed, and it remains controversial whether the Portuguese then knew of the existence of Brazil.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tordesillas, Treaty of

 

an agreement signed in Tordesillas, Spain, on June 7, 1494, by Spain and Portugal that fixed the division of their colonial possessions in the western hemisphere. The treaty specified that the line of demarcation established by the papal bulls of 1493 divided the Atlantic Ocean from pole to pole at a distance of 370 leagues, or more than 2,000 km, from the westernmost point of the Cape Verde Islands. The lands east of the line were acknowledged to belong to Portugal; those west of the line were conceded to Spain. The Treaty of Tordesillas was abrogated in 1777.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.