The Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 was intended to separate the spheres of settlement and trade between Spain and Portugal. Although longitude could not be determined exactly at the time the Portuguese were to have all discoveries found east of a line of longitude "370 leagues" west of the Azores. This line was later extended over the poles as a Great Circle and defines Portuguese and Spanish influence in the Pacific. Thus Timor was on the Portuguese side. So was the Brazilian coast and western Australia which the Portuguese are believed to have visited as early as the 16th century. Most of South America was on the Spanish side. It marked the first phase of the growth of the European empires in the Age of Discovery.

Last revised 9/3/05


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