|line ahead/line astern. A classical battle formation of the latter Age of Sail, wherein ships-of-the-line sailed in single-file columns. This avoided an inconclusive but potentially damaging and unpredictable mêlée, while maximizing the power of broadside fire: as each ship sailed up the enemy line it would fire a broadside at every enemy vessel it passed. This also protected the vulnerable prow and stern of ships, where high “castles” hosted small antipersonnel cannon and snipers who fired down onto the decks of enemy ships. Line ahead/ astern tactics dominated warfare at sea until Nelson broke the old rules, and the French and Spanish line, at Trafalgar.|
|line of battle.Seeline ahead; ship-of-the-line.|
|line of control.SeeKashmir.|
|“line of death.” A baseline drawn by Muammar Quadaffi across the Gulf of Sidra (Sirte), which he claimed as Libyan territorial waters but which other powers insisted was part of the high seas. Libyan attack boats and aircraft tried to enforce the line, but the U.S. Navy made a point of deliberately crossing it with sea and air craft in order to maintain international claims. On several occasions, U.S. forces sank or shot down would-be Libyan interceptors.|
|line of demarcation (1493). After the first voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World, with breathtaking arrogance the pope divided the nonChristian, non-European world between the two Catholic powers of Iberia, Spain, and Portugal. The division ran along a nautical line 370 leagues west of Cape Verde and the Azores. Spain received the western, American hemisphere; Portugal, the eastern, African lands. The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) moved the line 210 leagues farther west, to secure West Africa for Portugal and the Caribbean for Spain. That meant that the great bulge of Brazil (then undiscovered by Castile, but possibly known in secret to Lisbon) fell within Portugal’s sphere. Pedro Cabal then landed on the Brazilian coast in 1500. |
With the discovery of the Pacific in 1512, the line was extended into the eastern hemisphere. In 1514 the pope granted Portugal the right to any new lands discovered while sailing east. This spurred Spain to sail across the Pacific from the Americas, to reach the Spice Islands first. The Philippines went to Spain despite lying inside Lisbon’s sphere because they were discovered by Magellan (1480–1521) while in service to Charles V. In 1529 the Treaty of Zaragoza extended the Tordesillas settlement into the Pacific at 145 East. The line of demarcation was ignored by other maritime powers from the start, but especially so after the Protestant Reformation. As early as 1497 the Genoese John Cabot sailed to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia for England, and in subsequent decades Protestant explorers from England and the Netherlands, and Catholics from anti-Habsburg France, mapped and settled eastern North America. Meanwhile, French and other pirates and privateers preyed on the Atlantic trade and treasure fleets of the Iberian monarchies. In 1654 Portugal abandoned its exclusive claim to India to form an alliance with Cromwell’s Republic, which abrogated Lisbon’s monopoly in order to give the English East India Company access to Portuguese ports and markets. See also Canary Islands.