Pope Sets Line of Demarcation
Pope Alexander VI signs, dividing the non-European world
The Battle for Land
On May 4th, 1493, Pope Alexander VI set the Line of Demarcation, a line dividing the non-European in two. Ferdinand and Isabella wanted the Pope to support them in dividing the New World among themselves (Spain) and Portugal. Conflicts emerged over the new land that Christopher Columbus was exploring. To settle this, the Pope drew an imaginary line, splitting the Americas. The lands discovered west of the line belonged to Spain and Portugal won control of the eastern side. After the line was set by the pope, Portugal rejected it and an agreement had to be made. After discussion, a treaty was written and signed by both countries. This document became the Treaty of Tordesillas, signed a year later in 1494 on June 7th, 1494. Looking forward, this agreement allowed both countries to peacefully explore the land that they own. Because of this, Brazil today speaks Portuguese because it was once owned and explored by Portugal. Most countries in Central America and South America are Spanish-speaking countries because they were once ruled and explored by Spain. This Line of Demarcation determined which countries could explore where, and made a lasting impact on their culture. Many European counties did not follow the rules of this line and treaty, since they are Protestant.
Pope Alexander VI
This is the portrait of Pope Alexander V. He set the Line of Demarcation and signed the Treaty of Tordesillas.
The Original Document
The original Line of Demarcation was set on May 4th, 1493. This picture shows the original Treaty of Tordesillas, which was signed on June 7th, 1494 (a year later.)
As shown in this picture, the left line and all the land east of it shows the land Spain claimed. The right line, and all the land west until Spain's line belonged to Portugal. At the time, the land seemed to be divided evenly, but it was not. This is because people at the time did not have a good understanding of the geography of the New World.