The treaty of Tordesillas

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The treaty of Tordesillas was an agreement between the Crown of Castile and the Kingdom of Portugal. The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus obliged them to create this new treaty, in which the imaginary dividing line of the treaty of Alcaçobas was moved west, 370 miles away from Cape Verde Islands.

The territories in the east of the line belonged to the Kingdom of Portugal.
The territories in the west of the line belonged to the Crown of Castile.

However, when Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastian Elcano demonstrated the world was round, a second line had to be created to divide the Earth into two parts.

The discovery of Brazil

external image Empire_of_Brazil_map_1822.pngIn 1500, Pedro Alvares Cabral lead an expedition to India, but he arrived to Brazil (South America). It is not known if this was an accident caused by a deviation due to continuous storms or Cabral's intention was, in fact, to visit the lands of the new
Bill of 1.000 shields
continent that had been assigned to Portugal by the Treaty of Tordesillas.
However, it is thought that Vicente Yañez Pinzon had already visited the coast of Brazil in 1499.
Pedro Alvares Cabral appears in the Portuguese bills of 1,000 shields.


The new lands were originally called Vera Cruz by Cabral, but the name was later changed into Brazil because of its most abundant tree, 'pau-brasil'.


Carib tribe

In the beginning, the new territory did not attract attention at all. It was populated by nomadic or semi-nomadic indigenous tribes: the tupi, the tapu, the carib and the maipure.
Sugar cane
Sugar cane

It was in a later expedition carried out by Martim Afonso de Sousa when the Portuguese started to be interested in Brazil. Also in this expedition the city of San Vicente was founded (in the current state of São Paulo), in 1532.
Then, the Portuguese introduced sugar cane in the country. This crop has been the base of the Brazilian economy for more than a century.

In the same year (1532) Juan III decided to organise the Portuguese colony, so he divided it into twelve manors or fiefs and gave them to several noblemen. However, this feudal system only lasted until 1548, when the power was centralized and the General Government of Brazil was created. Its first representative was Tome de Sousa. He encouraged colonization by founding new cities.