Treaty of Zaragoza

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The 1494 Tordesillas Treaty meridian (purple) and the Moluccas antimeridian (green), set by the Treaty of Zaragoza, 1529 Spain and Portugal.png
The 1494 Tordesillas Treaty meridian (purple) and the Moluccas antimeridian (green), set by the Treaty of Zaragoza, 1529

The Treaty of Zaragoza, or Treaty of Saragossa, also referred to as the Capitulation of Zaragoza, was a peace treaty between the Spanish Crown and Portugal, signed on 22 April 1529 by King John III and the Emperor Charles V, in the Aragonese city of Zaragoza. The treaty defined the areas of Castilian (Spanish) and Portuguese influence in Asia, in order to resolve the "Moluccas issue", which had arisen because both kingdoms claimed the Moluccas islands for themselves, asserting that it was within their area of influence established by the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494. The conflict began in 1520, when expeditions of both kingdoms reached the Pacific Ocean, because no agreed meridian of longitude had been established in the orient.

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

John III of Portugal Portuguese monarch

John III nicknamed The Colonizer was the King of Portugal and the Algarves from 13 December 1521 to 11 June 1557. He was the son of King Manuel I and Maria of Aragon, the third daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. John succeeded his father in 1521, at the age of nineteen.

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor 16th-century Holy Roman Emperor

Charles V was Holy Roman Emperor from 1519, King of Spain from 1516, and ruling prince of the Habsburg Netherlands from 1506. Head of the rising House of Habsburg during the first half of the 16th century, his dominions in Europe included the Holy Roman Empire extending from Germany to northern Italy with direct rule over Austria and the Low Countries, and a unified Spain with its southern Italian kingdoms of Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia. Furthermore, his reign encompassed both the long-lasting Spanish and short-lived German colonizations of the Americas. The personal union of the European and American territories of Charles V was the first collection of realms labelled "the empire on which the sun never sets".


Background: the "Moluccas issue"

In 1494 Castile and Portugal signed the Treaty of Tordesillas, dividing the world into two areas of exploration and colonisation: the Castilian and the Portuguese. It proclaimed a meridian in the Atlantic Ocean, with areas west of the line exclusive to Spain, and east of the line to Portugal.

Crown of Castile Former country in the Iberian Peninsula

The Crown of Castile was a medieval state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and, some decades later, the parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then Castilian king, Ferdinand III, to the vacant Leonese throne. It continued to exist as a separate entity after the personal union in 1469 of the crowns of Castile and Aragon with the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs up to the promulgation of the Nueva Planta decrees by Philip V in 1715.

Treaty of Tordesillas "Age of Discovery" Catholic treaty dividing the "unclaimed" world between Spanish and Portuguese sovereignty

The Treaty of Tordesillas, signed at Tordesillas in Spain on June 7, 1494, and authenticated at Setúbal, Portugal, divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between the Portuguese Empire and the Spanish Empire, along a meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands, off the west coast of Africa. This line of demarcation was about halfway between the Cape Verde islands and the islands entered by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage, named in the treaty as Cipangu and Antilia.

Meridian (geography) line between the poles with the same longitude

A (geographic) meridian is the half of an imaginary great circle on the Earth's surface, terminated by the North Pole and the South Pole, connecting points of equal longitude, as measured in angular degrees east or west of the Prime Meridian. The position of a point along the meridian is given by that longitude and its latitude, measured in angular degrees north or south of the Equator. Each meridian is perpendicular to all circles of latitude. Each is also the same length, being half of a great circle on the Earth's surface and therefore measuring 20,003.93 km.

In 1511, Malacca, then the centre of Asian trade, was conquered for Portugal by Afonso de Albuquerque. Getting to know the secret location of the so-called "spice islands" – the Banda Islands, Ternate and Tidore in the Moluccas, then the single world source of nutmeg and cloves, and the main purpose for the travels in the Indian Ocean – Albuquerque sent an expedition led by António de Abreu in search of the Moluccas, particularly the Banda islands. The expedition arrived in early 1512, passing en route through the Lesser Sunda Islands, being the first Europeans to get there. [1] [ clarification needed ] Before reaching Banda, the explorers visited the islands of Buru, Ambon and Seram. Later, after a separation forced by a shipwreck, Abreu's vice-captain Francisco Serrão, sailed to the north and, but his ship sank off Ternate, where he obtained a license to build a Portuguese fortress-factory: the Forte de São João Baptista de Ternate  [ pt ].

Malacca State of Malaysia

Malacca, dubbed "The Historic State", is a state in Malaysia located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, next to the Strait of Malacca.

Afonso de Albuquerque Portuguese general and nobleman

Afonso de Albuquerque, Duke of Goa was a Portuguese general, a "great conqueror", a statesman and an empire builder.

Maluku Islands Archipelago in eastern Indonesia, also called the Spice Islands

The Maluku Islands or the Moluccas are an archipelago in eastern Indonesia. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone. Geographically they are located east of Sulawesi, west of New Guinea, and north and east of Timor.

Letters describing the "Spice Islands", from Serrão to Ferdinand Magellan, who were friends and possibly cousins, helped Magellan persuade the Spanish crown to finance the first circumnavigation of the earth. [2] [3] On 6 November 1521, the Moluccas, "the cradle of all spices", were reached from the east by Magellan's fleet, sailing then under Juan Sebastián Elcano, at the service of the Spanish Crown. Before Magellan and Serrão could meet in the Moluccas, Serrão died on the island of Ternate, almost at the same time Magellan was killed in the battle of Mactan in the Philippines. [4]

Ferdinand Magellan Portuguese explorer in the service of Spain

Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth, completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano.

Circumnavigation Navigation of a circumference

Circumnavigation is the complete navigation around an entire island, continent, or astronomical body. This article focuses on the circumnavigation of Earth.

Juan Sebastián Elcano Spanish seafarer and circumnavigator

Juan Sebastián Elcano was a Spanish explorer of Basque origin who completed the first circumnavigation of the Earth. After Magellan's death in the Philippines, Elcano took command of the carrack Victoria from the Moluccas to Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Spain.

After the Magellan–Elcano expedition (1519–1522), Charles V sent a second expedition, led by García Jofre de Loaísa, to colonise the islands, based on the assertion that they were in the Castilian zone, under the Treaty of Tordesillas. [note 1] After some difficulties, the expedition reached the Moluccas, docking at Tidore, where the Spanish established a fort. There was inevitable conflict with the Portuguese, who were already established in Ternate. After a year of fighting, the Spanish suffered a defeat but, despite that, nearly a decade of skirmishes over the possession of the islands ensued.

Tidore City in Maluku Islands, Indonesia

Tidore is a city, island, and archipelago in the Maluku Islands of eastern Indonesia, west of the larger island of Halmahera. In the pre-colonial era, the Sultanate of Tidore was a major regional political and economic power, and a fierce rival of nearby Ternate, just to the north.

Map of the Moluccas, showing Ternate and Tidore Karta ID Maluku isl.PNG
Map of the Moluccas, showing Ternate and Tidore

Conference of Badajoz–Elvas

In 1524, both kingdoms organised the "Junta de Badajoz–Elvas" to resolve the dispute. Each crown appointed three astronomers and cartographers, three pilots and three mathematicians, who formed a committee to establish the exact location of the antimeridian of Tordesillas, and the intention was to divide the whole world into two equal hemispheres.

Astronomy Universe events since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago

Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry to try and explain their origin and evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets. Relevant phenomena include supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, quasars, blazars, pulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, astronomy studies everything that originates outside Earth's atmosphere. Cosmology is a branch of astronomy. It studies the Universe as a whole.

Cartography The study and practice of making maps

Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.

Navigation The process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another

Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. The field of navigation includes four general categories: land navigation, marine navigation, aeronautic navigation, and space navigation.

The Portuguese delegation sent by King João III included António de Azevedo Coutinho, Diogo Lopes de Sequeira, Lopo Homem, a cartographer and cosmographer, and Simão Fernandes. The plenipotentiary from Portugal was Mercurio Gâtine, and those from Spain were Count Mercurio Gâtine, Garcia de Loaysa, Bishop of Osma, and García de Padilla, grand master of the Order of Calatrava. Former Portuguese cartographer Diogo Ribeiro, was part of the Spanish delegation. [note 2]

An amusing story is said to have taken place at this meeting. According to contemporary Castilian writer Peter Martyr d'Anghiera, a small boy stopped the Portuguese delegation and asked if they intended to divide up the world. The delegation answered that they were. The boy responded by baring his backside and suggesting that they draw their line through his butt crack. [5] [6] [7]

The board met several times, at Badajoz and Elvas, without reaching an agreement. Geographic knowledge at that time was inadequate for an accurate assignment of longitude, and each group chose maps or globes that showed the islands to be in their own hemisphere. [note 3] John III and Charles V agreed to not send anyone else to the Moluccas until it was established in whose hemisphere they were situated.

Between 1525 and 1528 Portugal sent several expeditions to the area around the Moluccas. Gomes de Sequeira and Diogo da Rocha were sent by the governor of Ternate Jorge de Meneses to the Celebes (also already visited by Simão de Abreu in 1523) and to the north. The expeditioners were the first Europeans to reach the Caroline Islands, which they named "Islands de Sequeira ". [8] [note 4] Explorers such as Martim Afonso de Melo (1522-24), and possible Gomes de Sequeira (1526-1527), sighted the Aru Islands and the Tanimbar Islands. [9] In 1526 Jorge de Meneses reached northwestern Papua New Guinea, landing in Biak in the Schouten Islands, and from there he sailed to Waigeo on the Bird's Head Peninsula.

On the other hand, in addition to the Loaísa expedition from Spain to the Moluccas (1525-1526), the Castilians sent an expedition there via the Pacific, led by Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón (1528) (prepared by Hernán Cortés in Mexico), in order to compete with the Portuguese in the region. Members of the Garcia Jofre de Loaísa expedition were taken prisoner by the Portuguese, who returned the survivors to Europe by the western route. Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón reached the Marshall Islands, and in two failed attempts to return from the Moluccas via the Pacific, explored part of west and northern New Guinea, also reaching the Schouten Islands and sighting Yapen, as well as the Admiralty Islands and the Carolines.

On 10 February 1525, Charles V's younger sister Catherine of Austria married John III of Portugal, and on 11 March 1526, Charles V married king John's sister Isabella of Portugal. These crossed weddings strengthened the ties between the two crowns, facilitating an agreement regarding the Moluccas. It was in the interests of the emperor to avoid conflict, so that he could focus on his European policy, and the Spaniards did not know then how to get spices from the Moluccas to Europe via the eastern route. The Manila-Acapulco route was only established by Andrés de Urdaneta in 1565.


The Treaty of Zaragoza laid down that the eastern border between the two domain zones was 297 12 leagues (1,763 kilometres, 952 nautical miles) [note 5] , or 17° east, of the Maluku Islands. [11] The treaty included a safeguard clause which stated that the deal would be undone if at any time the emperor wished to revoke it, with the Portuguese being reimbursed the money they had to pay, and each nation "will have the right and the action as that is now." That never happened however, because the emperor desperately needed the Portuguese money to finance the War of the League of Cognac against his archrival Francis I of France.

The treaty did not clarify or modify the line of demarcation established by the Treaty of Tordesillas, nor did it validate Spain's claim to equal hemispheres (180° each), so the two lines divided the Earth into unequal portions. Portugal's portion was roughly 191° of the Earth's circumference, whereas Spain's portion was roughly 169°. There was a ±4° margin of uncertainty as to the exact size of both portions, due to the variation of opinion about the precise location of the Tordesillas line. [12]

Under the treaty, Portugal gained control of all lands and seas west of the line, including all of Asia and its neighbouring islands so far "discovered", leaving Spain with most of the Pacific Ocean. Although the Philippines was not mentioned in the treaty, Spain implicitly relinquished any claim to it because it was well west of the line. Nevertheless, by 1542, King Charles V had decided to colonise the Philippines, assuming that Portugal would not protest too vigorously because the archipelago had no spices. Although he failed in his attempt, King Philip II succeeded in 1565, establishing the initial Spanish trading post at Manila. As his father had expected, there was little opposition from the Portuguese. [13]

In later times, Portuguese colonization in Brazil extended far west of the line defined in the Treaty of Tordesillas and into what should have been Spanish territory.

See also


  1. The expedition of García Jofre de Loaísa (1525–1526) aimed to occupy and colonise the Moluccas. The fleet of seven ships and 450 men included the most notable Spanish navigators: Juan Sebastián Elcano, who lost his life in this expedition, and the young Andrés de Urdaneta.
  2. The records of the committee, held in the Portuguese national archive at Torre do Tombo, include a letter written by Lopo Homem, Portuguese cartographer and cosmographer, alluding to the quarrel between the two kingdoms over the sovereign rights of each.
  3. As an example of this partiality, the chief advisor to Charles V, Jean Carondelet, possessed a globe by Franciscus Monachus which showed the islands in the Spanish hemisphere.
  4. There is a much-disputed theory that Cristóvão de Mendonça (1522) and Gomes de Sequeira (1525) were the first Europeans to discover Australia.
  5. Using the legua náutica (nautical league) of four Roman miles totalling 5.926 km, used by Spain for navigation during the 15th and 16th centuries. [10]

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The Loaísa expedition was a 16th-century voyage of discovery to the Pacific Ocean, commanded by García Jofre de Loaísa and ordered by King Charles I of Spain to colonize the Spice Islands in the East Indies. The seven-ship fleet sailed from La Coruña (Spain) in July 1525 and became the second naval expedition to cross the Pacific Ocean in history, after Magellan-Elcano's voyage. The expedition resulted in the discovery of the Sea of Hoces, south of Cape Horn and, the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. One ship ultimately arrived in the Spice Islands on New Year's Day of 1527.

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Magellans circumnavigation

In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan launched a Spanish expedition, the Armada de Molucca, that completed the first circumnavigation of the world in 1522. The expedition's goal, which it accomplished, was to find a western route to the Moluccas. Magellan left Spain on 20 September 1519, sailed across the Atlantic, and discovered the strait that bears his name, allowing him to pass through South America into the Pacific Ocean. The fleet crossed the Pacific, stopping in the Philippines, and eventually reached the Moluccas after two years. A much-depleted crew finally returned to Spain on 6 September 1522.

Portuguese discoveries Portuguese voyages of exploration

Portuguese discoveries are the numerous territories and maritime routes discovered by the Portuguese as a result of their intensive maritime exploration during the 15th and 16th centuries. Portuguese sailors were at the vanguard of European overseas exploration, discovering and mapping the coasts of Africa, Canada, Asia, and Brazil, in what became known as the Age of Discovery. Methodical expeditions started in 1419 along West Africa's coast under the sponsorship of prince Henry the Navigator, with Bartolomeu Dias reaching the Cape of Good Hope and entering the Indian Ocean in 1488. Ten years later, in 1498, Vasco da Gama led the first fleet around Africa to India, arriving in Calicut and starting a maritime route from Portugal to India. Portuguese explorations then proceeded to southeast Asia, where they reached Japan in 1542, forty-four years after their first arrival in India. In 1500, the Portuguese nobleman Pedro Álvares Cabral became the first European to discover Brazil.

Fort Tolukko

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António de Abreu Portuguese explorer

António de Abreu was a 16th-century Portuguese navigator and naval officer. He participated under the command of Afonso de Albuquerque in the conquest of Ormus in 1507 and Malacca in 1511, where he got injured. Departing from Malacca in November 1511 with four ships, in an exploratory voyage to the 'Spice Islands' of Maluku, he led the first European expedition to reach Timor and the Banda Islands, in Indonesia, in 1512.

Exploration of the Pacific

Polynesians reached nearly all the Pacific islands by about 1200 AD, followed by Asian navigation in Southeast Asia and West Pacific. Around the Middle Ages Muslim traders linked the Middle East and East Africa to the Asian Pacific coasts. The direct contact of European fleets with the Pacific began in 1512, with the Portuguese, on its western edges, followed by the Spanish discovery of the Pacific from the American coast.

Timeline of the Magellan–Elcano circumnavigation

The Magellan–Elcano circumnavigation was the first voyage around the world in human history. It was a Spanish expedition that sailed from Seville in 1519 under the command of Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, in search of a maritime path to East Asia through the Americas and across the Pacific Ocean, and concluded by Spanish navigator Juan Sebastian Elcano in 1522. Elcano and the 18 survivors of the expedition were the first men to circumnavigate the globe in a single expedition.

Portuguese presence in Asia

The Portuguese presence in Asia was responsible for what would be many of first contacts between European countries and the East, starting on May 20, 1498 with the trip led by Vasco da Gama to Calicut, India. Portugal's goal in the Indian Ocean was to ensure their monopoly in the spice trade, establishing several fortresses and commercial trading posts.

Teixeira planisphere

The Planisphere of Domingos Teixeira was made by this Portuguese cartographer in 1573, during the reign of Sebastian of Portugal.


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