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Thu, 06.07.1494

The Treaty of Tordesillas is Signed

*The Treaty of Tordesillas or Tratado de Tordesilhas was signed on this date in 1494.  It was signed in at Tordesillas Spain and authenticated at Setubal, Portugal, and showed the 15thcentury intersection between Africa and European slavery.

The treaty divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between the Portuguese Empire and the Crown of Castile, along a meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands, off the west coast of Africa. This line of geographic separation was about halfway between the Cape Verde islands (already Portuguese) and the islands entered by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage (claimed for Castile and León), named in the treaty as Cipangu and Antilia (Cuba and Hispaniola).

The lands to the east would belong to Portugal and the lands to the west to Castile. The treaty was signed by Spain on July 2, 1494, and by Portugal on September 5, 1494. The other side of the world was divided a few decades later by the Treaty of Zaragoza, signed on April 22, 1529, which specified the antemeridian to the line of demarcation specified in the Treaty of Tordesillas. Originals of both treaties are kept at the Archivo General de Indias in Spain and at the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo in Portugal.

The treaty would be observed well by Spain and Portugal, despite considerable ignorance as to the geography of the New World; however, it omitted all the other European powers. Those countries generally ignored the treaty, particularly those that became Protestant after the Protestant Reformation.  The treaty was included by UNESCO in 2007 in its Memory of the World Program.

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