Give the Treaty of Tordesillas definition. What’s its significance?


The Treaty of Tordesillas definition can be formulated as an agreement between Spain and Portugal, signed in 1494, which divided discovered lands between these states. The Treaty of Tordesillas has great significance for the history of America, since the peace between the two largest colonial countries allowed them to discover territories and form colonies


One should turn to the history of the discovery of America to understand what was the impact of the Treaty of Tordesillas on the world. Portugal and Spain entered the era of geographic discoveries almost simultaneously, and both countries had the potential to conquer vast territories. However, the war was not necessary, since the scale of undiscovered lands in the Pacific Ocean and Africa was large enough to divide it between the two states. For this reason, Spain and Portugal decided to draw a line between the lands they discovered to avoid conflicts. King John II of Portugal, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain directly negotiate about points of this treaty, that shows its importance for both of state. It is also interesting that Spain and Portugal decided that they will not colonize lands with a “Christian king,” but Christianity exists only in Europe, so this note was unnecessary.

Nevertheless, one may note that the first version of the Treaty of Tordesillas 1494, by definition, was inaccurate, since it did not take into account the geography of the Earth and longitudes. The formal line was about halfway between the Cape Verde Islands and the islands Cipangu and Antilia (Cuba and Hispaniola). Therefore, the unsuccessful and illogical division of land was what did the Treaty of Tordesillas actually do in the first place.

However, after the opening of Moluccas in 1512, which was an important geographical point for both Spain and Portugal, the countries found a lack of agreement. According to the Treaty of Tordesillas, the demarcation line did not encircle the land, so each country claimed the islands. As a result, after disputes, the countries signed a new agreement, which was called the Treaty of Saragossa. This agreement defined the new antemeridian, which was located 17 ° to the east from the Moluccas, for which Portugal paid Spain 350,000 ducats. Thus, Spain gained control of most of the Pacific Ocean, and Portugal dominated in Asia. In addition, it is interesting that in one period, the treaty did not make sense, since the king of Spain and Portugal was the same person.

Moreover, the Treaty of Tordesillas is a definition of one of the most significant plans directed on colonization in world history. One can note the main consequences of this agreement on a modern world map. For example, all Latin American countries speak Spanish as these territories were owned by Spain due to the treaty. However, Brazil is the largest Portuguese-speaking country, since Portugal determinate the ownership of this territory in the agreement. The United States and Canada, in this case, are not an exception, since they were also the possessions of Spain, but a century later the power over them passed to England and France, which changed their language and culture. Initially, the Treaty of Tordesillas did not consider claims of other European countries to own territories, which subsequently led to their conquest or sale. Thus, the Treaty of Tordesillas formally determines the colonization of the Pacific region, Africa and Asia, and divided the world into territories controlled by European empires.

Answer by Academic.tip's expert
An answer to this question is provided by one of our experts who specializes in history. Let us know how much you liked it and give it a rating.

Cite this page

Select a citation style:


Academic.Tips. (2020) 'Give the Treaty of Tordesillas definition. What's its significance'. 18 March.


Academic.Tips. (2020, March 18). Give the Treaty of Tordesillas definition. What's its significance? Retrieved from


Academic.Tips. 2020. "Give the Treaty of Tordesillas definition. What's its significance?" March 18, 2020.

1. Academic.Tips. "Give the Treaty of Tordesillas definition. What's its significance?" March 18, 2020.


Academic.Tips. "Give the Treaty of Tordesillas definition. What's its significance?" March 18, 2020.

Work Cited

"Give the Treaty of Tordesillas definition. What's its significance?" Academic.Tips, 18 Mar. 2020,