Controversy surrounds the knowledge the Portuguese had about Brazil before they entered into the Treaty of Tordesillas. The Treaty of Tordesillas, signed in 1494, was a treaty between Castile (Spain) and Portugal, which divided the lands discovered in the New World.
The line of demarcation was 370 leagues (about 1277 miles or 2055km) west of the Cape Verde Islands, ruled at the time by Portugal, and the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola – which Christopher Columbus found on his original voyage to the New World. Pursuant to this treaty, the islands east of the meridian 370 leagues belonged to Portugal, and the islands west belonged to Spain.
Front page of the Treaty of Tordesillas. (Public Domain)
This theory gains some support when one considers the papal bull Æterni regis and King John II’s proposed expedition to explore the lands south of the Canary Islands. Firstly, King John argued that in 1479 Portugal had signed the Alcaçovas Treaty. This treaty was confirmed by the papal bull Æterni regis. The Æterni regis gave Portugal the lands south of the Canary Islands.
Secondly, King John made it clear that Portugal was in the process of sending an armada led by Francisco de Almeida to explore the lands south of the Canary Islands. This was interesting because Brazil is south of the Canary Islands.
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