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The treaty with the greatest global impact

Jul 9, 2019 World
The treaty with the greatest global impact
The Treaty of Tordesillas was signed 5 centuries ago, in the Spanish city with the same name and divided the world - discovered and undiscovered - in two parts, giving the exploitation rights to Portugal and Spain
As the world continues on the expectation of the new chapters of the Trade Wars involving the US and several of their partners, and as other countries seem to be willing to follow the same restrictive path and close to international trade, the European Union gives a clear sign that it is walking into the opposite direction. The recent signature of the FTA with Vietnam, the entry in force of the FTA with Japan back in February and the announcement of the EU-Mercosur agreement witness the willingness of the European Union to defend free trade.

The took this opportunity to dive in into history and get a better understanding of some historic treaties, and today we bring you some details of a treaty signed 5 centuries ago, the Treaty of Tordesillas.

On the 7th of June 1494, the governments of Spain and Portugal agreed to the Treaty of Tordesillas, named for the city in Spain in which it was signed. Through this deal both countries decided to divide the so-called New World of the Americas amongst them.

A little bit of history

Spain and Portugal divided the New World by drawing a line in the Atlantic Ocean, about 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands (then controlled by Portugal). All lands east of that line (about 46 degrees, 37 minutes West) were claimed by Portugal with the lands west of the line claimed by Spain.

The signature of the Treaty represented a key moment in the history of the two countries and had impacts in many other countries and their populations. It is a key moment in the history of the overseas diplomacy, and it took place shortly after Christopher Columbus officially discovered the American continent. There are a lot of theories about the knowledge each country had about the undiscovered territories, and some historians claim that the Columbus could be a spy serving the King of Portugal (D. João II), giving him a fundamental role convincing the Spanish Catholic kings to sign the Treaty.

Putting aside controversy, there is consensus about the importance of the moment. With the signature of the Treaty, Portugal not only gained access to Brazil (officially discovered only a few years later in 1500) but also reserved for itself the area of the globe with more wealth to exchange, going from Brazil to China and Asia. Consequently, Portugal had the exclusivity to explore the area of spices for a period of 100 years. All of this makes the Treaty of Tordesilhas the trade agreement with the greatest impact in the world to this day, and in fact, there has never been any deal so global.

As a result of this threat, Spaniards had a strong presence in most Latin America nations, which are nowadays Spanish-speaking countries. On its turn, Portugal is since then profoundly linked to Brazil: the eastern tip of Brazil penetrates the line agreed to in the Treaty of Tordesillas, so the region was a colony of the Portuguese empire and Portuguese is the leading official language in Brazil. Both countries continue calling each other “the brother country”.