South America


How was the New World divided between Spain and Portugal?

In 1493 Pope Alexander VI divided the New World into Spanish and Portuguese spheres of influence. A line was placed “100 leagues” (about 300 miles [480 kilometers]) west of the Azores islands, located several hundred miles west of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean. Everything in the New World to the east of this Demarcation Line, which lay off the east coast of South America, belonged to Portugal, while the lands in the west belonged to Spain. Since this division provided little land for Portugal, the Portuguese were dissatisfied. The Treaty of Tordesillas established a new line about 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) to the west of the old line. Pope Julius II approved the line in 1506.


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