Talk:Treaty of Tordesillas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

There are English source documents for or relating to this article that could be added to Wikipedia's sister project, Wikisource.
Wikipedia is not a repository of source data; Wikisource is. While this article does not itself contain source data that should be moved to Wikisource, documents that could be used as sources for or relating to this article could be on Wikisource but currently are not. Please be sure the work and any English translation conforms to Wikisource's copyright and inclusion policies. The source document is:


Tordesilhas line should be merged here. If someone has a second available... Lapaz 02:00, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

its been merged, but how to delete the other article? Shall I have a redirect? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Your merge was incorrect in the sense that all its info already appears in this article, so just removing the merger notice from this article is all that is necessary. The text of the other article should be replaced by a redirect—don't just put the redirect in front of the existing text (if the merge has to be reverted, the text can be recovered from a previous version). I'm correcting that. Also you should have clicked on "what links here" on the redirect page to make sure that no double redirects were created. I checked and found that Tordesillas Line was redirected to Tordesilhas Line, which, due the merger, was redirected here. I corrected that also. — Joe Kress 07:06, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Ratification sites[edit]

"The treaty was Portugal, September 5, 1494.". Does anyone knows where in Portugal? Thank you. FB

According to part 2 of the external link, the King of Portugal signed it in Setubal, whereas Ferdinand and Isabella signed it in Arevalo. — Joe Kress 06:15, 13 October 2006 (UTC)


This might be something that might not matter and could have been already discussed, but during class my professor brought it up that this treaty may have only been an urban legend. I might be wrong and she was not completely positive. It apparently had a lot to do with the pope and other people can anyone prove this or something? Thanks clash_division 03:37, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

It's absolutly real and proven so in more sources then I can name. The original copies are keept in the national archives of Portugal and Spain (I just saw the Portuguese copy being shown in tv the other day), and the treaty was efective as long as both countries could impose a Mare clausum policy, that was soon disputed, de facto and de jure - see the Mare Liberum controversy by Hugo Grotius. The Ogre 14:46, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Cantino map 1502[edit]

The old map pictured is the Cantino planisphere of 1502 held by the Biblioteca Estense Universitaria. There is good information about its significance elsewhere on wikipedia.--Nickm57 23:46, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

Wrong wiki links[edit]

Cipangu and Antilia shouldnt be wiki linked because they redirect to subjects totally unrelated to this treaty. I cant change it seems wiki seems to be having problem with its servers 13:31, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Hello! In fact the links are not wrong! They named the island thinking Cipango might be Japan, and the other one the mythical island of Antilia. Thank you. The Ogre 13:38, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Wrong information about Treaty of Zaragozza[edit]

I found nowhere outside wikipedia the information, that the line of the treaty of Zaragoza passed close 145°E near Guam and the Marian Islands, but saw several maps (A. H. de Oliveira Marques: Geschichte Portugals und des portugiesischen Weltreichs. Kröner August 2001, ISBN 978-3520385017.) showing a line at the east coast of Kyushu, corresponding with the information at German school book publisher Klett, that the line was close 135°E. --J. Patrick Fischer 08:48, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the citation. It raises the interesting dilemma of how to handle 'authoritative' sources that are clearly wrong. Two other citations in this class are Lines in the sea (p.3) and Lines of Demarcation 1529. But the treaty clearly states that the line is 297.5 leagues east of the Moluccas. Unlike the Treaty of Tordesillas, the Treaty of Zaragoza gives a conversion factor of 17.5 leagues per degree in the same sentence, leaving the inescapable conclusion that the line is 17° east of the Moluccas, even though the treaty itself states that the line is "almost seventeen degrees on the equinoctial" [equator]. "The fortress which is already built at Maluquo" mentioned in the treaty is probably that constructed in 1522 on the small volcanic island of Ternate, just west of the large North Maluku island of Halmahera, so its longitude (127°24'E) may be regarded as the longitude of the Moluccas for the purposes of the treaty. Klett's line of "approximately 135° east" is just east of the easternmost island, Kepulauan Aru, of the modern Maluku province, but is nowhere near 17° east of the Moluccas. The treaty also states that the line passes through the islands of las Velas (the Sails), which refers to the official name given by Magellan to the Mariana Islands, "Islas de las Velas Latinas" (Islands of the Lateen Sails), so named because the natives used proas with triangular sails. Islas de los Ladrones (Islands of the Thieves) was their unofficial name. I have not yet identified "Santo Thome" with any certainty, another island through which the treaty states the line passes. In support of 145°E are The cartography of the Orientals and Southern Europeans in the beginning of the western exploration of South-East Asia from the middle of the XVth century to the beginning of the XVIIth century by Frédéric Durand, which places the line at the eastern end of New Guinea. In the opinion of the authors of Philip II Orders the Journey of the First Manila Galleon, Father Urdaneta determined in 1560 that the line was at 147°E, 17° east if the west end of New Guinea. An even more extreme location is 162.5°E mentioned in [1]. I intentionally excluded from this list two references to c. 145°E that had no other commentary because they may have been influenced by Wikipedia. — Joe Kress 23:18, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Current use of Treaty[edit]

I believe, though I am not absolutely certain, that the Treaty of Tordesillas is part of the justification for Chile and Argentina's claims to the Antarctic Peninsula in Antarctica - the Antarctic Peninsula is held to be covered by former Spanish claims to the west of South America. Can someone confirm or deny this? If so, this would perhaps be the only current area in which the treaty still has some (debatable!) validity. --APRCooper 19:18, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Chile has indeed at least partially based its claim to its Antarctic sector on the Treaty of Tordesillas according to "National Interests and Claims in the Antarctic" (PDF).  (1.2MB) and Chilean Sovereignty in Antarctica. The treaty is also invoked for its Antarctic sector by Argentina according to Argentine National Territory of Tierra del Fuego, though apparently not as strongly as Chile has. Much more strongly, Argentina bases its claim to the Islas Malvinas on the treaty according to Las Islas Malvinas (Flash), also see The Falkland Islands Dispute in International Law and Politics by Raphael Perl. The treaty is also discussed in es:Territorio Chileno Antártico, but is not listed among the reasons given in Argentine Antarctica. It is not mentioned in either es:Antártida Argentina or La Actividad Argentina en la Antártida. — Joe Kress 17:12, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

Brazil goes west of the line[edit]

So, how does Brazil jibe with the treaty? I've read some snippet about one man leading the conquest of the vast territory that is now Brazil's, but no indication of how he went about it, or how Spain reacted to the seizure of its lands. (Presumably, the interior of South America, if Portugal had never acquired it, would have belonged to one or another of the vice-royalties, or even be partitioned among them, prior to the wars of independence.) GBC 13:17, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Check Bandeirantes! The Ogre 14:21, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

The reason is the Union of the Portuguese and Spanish Crowns under Phillip II of Spain, which became also the King of Portugal. So Portuguese forces could go West in Brazil, and Spanish forces could go East in the Philipines...-- (talk) 06:09, 7 March 2011 (UTC) Dumb dumb dumb to show the Tordesillas line on the map but not latitude or longitude so you have to guess where it went. Stupid. Typical Wiki moronism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:34, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

Major move of material[edit]

I am concerned about a major move of material by an anon editor from this article to Inter caetera. Two questions:

  • Should the material which was moved, actually be in both articles?
  • More importantly, the moved material is unreferenced, pov-sounding, and not exactly encyclopaedic tone - so the question is - does this material actually belong in either article, or should it be pulled out, and placed on the talk page, or on a sub-page for substantial re-writing, source-adding, and fact-checking?

NorCalHistory 23:38, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

The anonymous editor who moved the material is the same editor who wrote it five days earlier. However, I think it goes well beyond the subject matter of either article and should not be in either article. — Joe Kress 05:46, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Map Image issues[edit]

Regarding this revert... see Image:Treaty of Tordesillas bad align.png which was what I tried to fix. I run Firefox 2.0 at a width of about 1200-1300 or so. I think the revert was in error. Moving the maps up solved the problem for me, and does not throw the article flow off. I'll be reverting back after a chance for some discussion. ++Lar: t/c 16:46, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

There having been no comment for more than a day I'm carrying out the change, but have tried a different placement and location to see if that works better stylistically. I have no special affection for any particular place, but as the image I gave shows, the current location does not work on all browsers. Firefox 2 on Win XP is way too common a browser/machine type to not support correctly. Please discuss, providing an alternate solution, before reverting back. Thanks. ++Lar: t/c 13:12, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
Placing the maps to the left of a bulleted list hides the bullets in Internet Explorer 7 (no problem in Firefox 2), so I had to move them. I assume that placing them to the right of paragraphs causes the observed problems on a wide screen. So I tried placing the maps to the left of the numbered ref list instead, but some numbers were also hidden in IE7. So I'm moving the maps to their own section (where I had them at one time) which will hopefully not cause interference on a wide screen. — Joe Kress (talk) 07:59, 13 February 2008 (UTC)


This article needs an aftermath section. I know that after the Reformation, many of the Protestant colonizing countries explicitly ignored the treaty since it was a papal treaty. That explains why the Netherlands, England, Scotland, and others ignored it. I have no idea why France ignored it or if the treaty was eventually dismantled. (talk) 21:55, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

The Treaty was ignored for a simple reason - the parties to the Treaty i.e. the Crowns of Iberia and Pope Alexander VI had no legal rights to dispose of the newly discovered territories or, indeed, those to be discovered. There were other parties whose opinions and wishes were totally ignored - the peoples who lived in the territories. (talk) 18:23, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Why would any country, Catholic or otherwise, be bound by a treaty it did not sign? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:00, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

      • The Pope's words carried far more weight -- not just moral weight but actual legal weight -- at least for majority Catholic states -- in those days, that's why. The Divine Right of Kings also worked hand in hand with Papal authority. If you didn't follow the Pope's instructions, then folks might question your own kingship, etc. Example -- Napoleon having the Pope crown him King (but then snatching the crown himself). It wasn't just for show -- it was symbol that all the major players in the syndicate (and you can view Western European history of kings, queens and popes as a syndicate) were on the same page. Chesspride (talk) 07:36, 7 June 2015 (UTC)


Long ago, perhaps at school, I read that when the British settled Australia and created the colony of New South Wales, they made the western border this line of demarcation, because they were at war with Spain and were pleased to annex its territory but had a treaty with Portugal and respected its rights. I don't know where to varify this. The present Western Australian border fits this. Norm Tered (talk) 05:03, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Interesting theory, although it has some faults. The principal problem is that the Treaty of Saragossa in 1529 specified that the line of demarcation between Portugal and Spain was 17° east of the Moluccas, near the present 145°E, which passes through Melbourne, well east of the border of Western Australia. This implies that the Treaty of Saragossa was ignored or forgotten by the British during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (or by your teacher). I presume the war with Spain you are referring to was the Anglo-Spanish War (1796–1808), which occurred a few years after the colony of New South Wales was established in 1788, but I don't know when its western border was defined. Portugal was indeed aligned with Britain near the end of the war. The article on Australia states that the British claimed Western Australia in 1829, which also fits your story. The New South Wales article states that when it was formed it covered most of the Australian mainland, and that other provinces were later carved out of it. — Joe Kress (talk) 04:49, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
A book devoted to this issue has been published, but I do not have access to it:
The Papal Line of Demarcation and Its Impact in the Eastern Hemisphere on the Political Division of Australia, 1479-1829 (2008) by Leslie Ronald Marchant
Joe Kress (talk) 21:20, 2 June 2011 (UTC)

I also read that theory in an old book, I think it 'History of Australia' by Arthur W. Jose, first published 1899, though I had the tenth edition, published 1924. The western boundary of NSW was set at 135E in Governor Phillips commission, dated 25 April 1787Nudge67 (talk) 13:09, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Current value[edit]

Neither Portugal or Spain has any colonies nowadays. So the contract(s) may have been breached when both countries gave independance to these South American countries....or was independance merely taken? Or did Spain and Portugal just leg it? Was it not a breach of contract when the USA gained Cuba (please dont mention Guantanamo). What is the current value of these treaties? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 09:34, 26 April 2010

Before any Latin American country gained its independence, the Treaty of Madrid (1750) suspended the Treaty of Tordesillas and then several other treaties determined the borders between Brazil and its neighbors. The article already discusses 20th century claims by Chile to Antarctica and by Argentina to the Falklands that are based on the Treaty of Tordesillas. — Joe Kress (talk) 08:56, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
"The treaty of 1750 was repudiated by Spain" how so? IF that were really true, Brazil would be much smaller. --Hrotovice (talk) 20:00, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
Who said repudiated? --Stat-ist-ikk (talk) 18:01, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

"Our sphere"[edit]

In places in the article the phrase "our sphere" is used. It makes no sense. It the text copypasted from somewhere? Abductive (reasoning) 03:48, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

That phrase is defined in the first paragraph of the section Tordesillas meridian wherein it is used, and its source is explicitly stated in that section to be Harrisse. Please reread it. Although that section is not copypasted from Harrisse, it does completely depend on him, as indicated by that section's references, all of which refer to pages within Harrisse's book, which is available online at the link in the References section. — Joe Kress (talk) 08:42, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
"Harrisse" wasn't defined the first time it's used, though. Fixed. --「ѕʀʟ·」 02:23, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

Treaty of Alcáçovas[edit]

The Treaty of Tordesillas superseded the Treaty of Alcáçovas (1479). I think it would be worth to mention this in the article.

Ekkehard, Berlin —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:56, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

The Treaty of Tordesillas only superceded the Treaty of Alcáçovas in the sense that it covered the whole world, whereas the 1479 treaty only covered the west coast of Africa. But the 1494 treaty did not change who owned any land granted to either Spain or Portugal by the 1479 treaty. Although the 1479 treaty is not mentioned, the papal bull Aeterni regis, which ratified the Treaty of Alcáçovas, is mentioned. — Joe Kress (talk) 08:21, 15 September 2010 (UTC)


Two forms of the Castilian league exist, the legal league (legua legal) and the common league (legua común), see The Castilian League by Fred Roeder in American Surveyor. The legal league is almost always used on land, whereas the common league is used for travel. The legal league has three Castilian miles whereas the common league has four Castilian miles, each mile containing 5000 Castilian feet (pies). On 26 January 1801 the Castilian foot was standardized to 278.6 mm, making the legal league 4.179 km and the common league 5.572 km. Immediately before 1801 several different feet were used, ranging from 277.3 mm to 282.7 mm each (one third of corresponding vara). But the Treaty of Tordesillas was negotiated in 1494, long before the Castilian foot was standardized, so even 5.572 km is the wrong league.

Fortunately, the opinion of the expert consulted by King Ferdinand, Queen Isabella and Cardinal Mendoza survives. Jaime Ferrer stated in his Parer issued shortly after 28 February 1495 that there are 8 stades per mile and 4 miles per league (Henry Harrisse (1897) p. 92, Spanish p. 179). Harrisse also stated (p. 93) that Portugal would have accepted Ferrer's opinion regarding the league, but not the specific island within the Cape Verde Islands from which 370 leagues was measured. Harrisse stated (p. 180) that the stade was 192.27 m, but did not give his source. Thus Ferrer's league is 6.15264 km according to Harrisse. The American Surveyor article linked above states that the vara was standardized by Jaime I of Aragon (1213–1276) and other Spanish monarchs to three Roman feet (886.5 mm). After the 8th century, there were 3 Roman miles of 5000 Roman feet each (295.5 mm) in a league. All sources agree that a Roman stade was 625 Roman feet, hence a stade is 184.6875 m and a Ferrer league is 5.91 km according to the American Surveyor. Information on pages 227–230 of An essay on the ancient weights and money by Robert Hussey (1836) results in a Roman foot of 295.8 mm, hence a stade of 184.875 m and a Ferrer league of 5.916 km. Eratosthenes and the mystery of the stades by Newlyn Walkup gives a stade of 184.8 m and also mentions "the most commonly accepted value" of 185 m. These give Ferrer leagues of 5.9136 km and 5.92 km, respectively.

Thus Harrise's stade is about 4% larger than all others, which agree with each other within 0.2%. Because Harrise is a "reliable source", I can't dismiss his value, but it is too different from the others to use in the lead. So we could average the other values for a Ferrer league of 5.9149 km, state in the lead that 370 leagues is 2189 km, 1360 statute miles, or 1182 nautical miles, explain these values in a note, and relegate Harrisse's stade to that note. — Joe Kress (talk) 09:07, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Section 'Signing and enforcement'[edit]

At the end of the third paragraph, a quotation notes 'confirming to the Portuguese not only the true route to Indian, but most of the south Atlantic.' Should it be the true route to India? It makes more sense. The Average Wikipedian (talk) 14:23, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

It is indeed India according to Parry's quote from page 152 of The Age of Reconnaissance. I'm correcting it. — Joe Kress (talk) 21:25, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

comment from User:Rod jardiolin moved from article[edit]

Ps. Please consider that until the Magellan expedition in 1519–21, the world was not yet established as round and longitudes were not established yet to be given in term of degrees. Earth was neither circumnavigated yet, laterally nor vertically.

But since magnetic compass already existed at that time, directions could be given in figures of degrees by compass point and the distances in terms of leagues or other linear measures added to them. (example: 100 leagues, 45 degrees East) You measure one angle correctly you get to know the two missing angles also, their distances easily estimated as well. Algebra at work.

Exact location could then be determined by triangulation and not by degrees-latitude-meeting-degrees-longitude, which is the modern system that came much later. This is in connection with the article citing Jaime Ferrer purportedly giving exact locations using the modern system. Rod — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vannie227 (talkcontribs) 06:14, 11 October 2015 (UTC)

Sources for future article expansion[edit]

For the cartographic aspects of the line-drawing and its visualization at the time, more here:

 — LlywelynII 23:30, 11 August 2016 (UTC)

Question on dates[edit]

Is the dates in O.S. or N.S.? It was ratified before the Gregorian shift--Simen113 (talk) 22:45, 14 September 2016 (UTC)


The IPA [tɾɐˈtaðu ðɨ tuɾðɨˈziʎɐʃ] doesn't seem to be the right, it seems to me that the modern European Portuguese pronunciation of "d" tends to sounds more like a regular "d" than a "ð". RafaAzevedo msg 00:53, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

Portuguese is messy in this regard. Some pronounce /d/ as [d], some as [ð]; mispronouncing /s/ as [ʃ] in certain dialects is common, some stick to [s]; some reduce unstressed vowels as much as /a e i o u/ becoming [ɐ ɨ ɪ ʊ ʊ] or something like that. In this case since it refers to a treaty that affected Portuguese speakers from multiple dialects, I think the correct approach would be using 'the reconstructed pronunciation of that time', that was probably something like [tɾaˈtado de toɾdeˈziʎas]. (talk) 19:05, 23 February 2017 (UTC)