The Treaty of Tordesillas

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Storyboard Description

When Columbus returned from his journey to the America's in 1494, he infamously landed in Lisbon, Portugal. This fact resulted in a major conflict for the Portuguese empire and the Catholic Monarchs. Ultimately this event would lead to to a decree by Pope Alexander VI that would divide the world between two empires. This is the story of the Treaty of Tordesillas.

Storyboard Text

  • What a journey... but what will king John II make of this conquest?
  • What a discovery, I must tell the monarchs of Castile and Aragon! But I'm in Lisbon...
  • So what of these discoveries? It appears Fernando and Isabel have violated our previous Papal Bulls
  • Indeed...a compromise is most necessary
  • I could prepare an Armada... but it is best to handle these matters with diplomacy before jumping to conclusions.
  • I can't stand the thought of another dispute with Portugal
  • In March of 1493, Christopher Columbus returned from his journey to the west when he landed in Lisbon, Portugal. He knew that King John II of Portugal would want to speak with him of his discoveries and his agreement with the Catholic Monarchs Fernando and Isabela
  • There is no need for war when you have diplomacy!
  • To some surprise, both Columbus and King John would meet peacefully on March 11. This is greatly due to a letter sent from Batholomew Diaz to the King on behalf of Columbus. Columbus informed the King of his discoveries in the West and his duty to the Catholic Monarchs. For three days the King spoke of how both sides can benefit (including Columbus personally).
  • There has been enough trouble surrounding these two kingdoms. I hope this treaty will please them.
  • Instead of reacting with hostility to these explorations, King John wrote to the Catholic Monarchs in order to make sense of these discoveries through "peaceful negotiaton". By mid August, The King of Portugal would send his diplomats to Spain.
  • Isabel and Fernando wanted no part of another war with Portugal after their previous naval war. So in response, the Kingdom of Castile would ask Pope Alexander VI to draft a treaty to settle the dispute and to override his vague Papal Bulls.
  • So the Pope - along with the diplomats and writers on behalf of Spain and Portugal - drafted a treaty that would divide ownership and conquest of land between Spain and Portugal.
  • This treaty drafted in June of 1494 would give Spain ownership of all conquered land west of the 370 meridian league off the coast of the cape verde islands off the west coast of Africa. Though there is clarity in ownership, the lack of knowledge surrounding the world's geography within this treaty would render it meaningless decades down the road.
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