Carving Up a New World
Columbus made four voyages to America. His first triggered a dispute between Spain and Portugal, whose king had rebuffed the Great Navigator back in 1484. The failure to back him notwithstanding, the Portuguese crown pressed claims to Columbus’s discoveries, which soon led Pope Alexander VI to issue a pair of papal bulls (Inter Caetera and Inter Caetera II) in 1493 that divided the newly discovered and yet-to-be-discovered world between Spain and Portugal. The two nations formalized this decree with the Treaty of Tordesillas (June 7, 1494), which established a line of demarcation at 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands.