European Treaties Bearing on the History of the United States and Its Dependencies to 1648

By Frances Gardiner Davenport | Go to book overview

7.
The Bull Inter Caetera (Alexander VI.). May 4, 1493.

INTRODUCTION.

Like the bull Eximiae devotionis of May 3,1 the bull Inter caetera of May 4 is a restatement of part of the bull Inter caetera of May 3.2 Taken together the two later bulls cover the same ground as the bull Inter caetera of May 3, for which they form a substitute. The changes introduced into the bull Inter caetera of May 4, are, however, of great importance, and highly favorable to Spain. Instead of merely granting to Castile the lands discovered by her envoys, and not under Christian rule, the revised bull draws a line of demarcation one hundred leagues west of any of the Azores or Cape Verde Islands, and assigns to Castile the exclusive right to acquire territorial possessions and to trade in all the lands west of that line, which at Christmas, 1492, were not in the possession of any Christian prince. The general safeguard to the possible conflicting rights of Portugal is lacking. All persons are forbidden to approach the lands west of the line without special license from the rulers of Castile.

It is not probable that by this bull Alexander VI. intended to secure to Portugal an eastern route to the Indies, as some writers have maintained. In the bulls of May 3, the earlier papal grants to Portugal are said to have given her rights in the region of Guinea and the Gold Mine, but the Indies are not mentioned. The bull of May 4 does not name Portugal and refers to her only in the clause which excepts from the donation any lands west of the demarcation line, which at Christmas, 1492, might be in the possession of any Christian prince.


BIBLIOGRAPHY.

Text: MS. and facsimile. The original manuscript of the promulgated bull is in the Archives of the Indies at Seville, Patronato, 1-1-1, no. 3. A photograph of this manuscript is reproduced in the Boletín del Centro de Estudios Americanistas de Sevilla, año III., núm. 7 ( March-April, 1915). A facsimile of the text found in the Vatican registers is in J. C. Heywood , Documenta Selecta e Tabulario Secreto Vaticano ( 1893),

____________________
1
Doc. 6.
2
Doc. 5. For some unknown reason the bull of May 4 was antedated by several weeks. It was expedited in June, and thus is actually to the bull, Eximiae devotionis, which, also antedated, was expedited in July. Vander Linden, "Alexander VI. and the Demarcation". American Historical Review, XXII. 3-8.

-71-

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