The Bull Romanus Pontifex (Nicholas V.). January 8, 1455.
Columbus, returning from his first voyage to America, was driven by storms into the river Tagus. On March 9, 1493, he was received by the King of Portugal, who "showed that he felt disgusted and grieved because he believed that this discovery [of the lands found by Columbus] was made within the seas and bounds of his lordship of Guinea which was prohibited and likewise because the said Admiral was somewhat raised from his condition and in the account of his affairs always went beyond the bounds of the truth".1 The king said "that he understood that, in the capitulation2 between the sovereigns [of Castile] and himself, that conquest [which Columbus had made] belonged to him.3 The admiral replied that he had not seen the capitulation, nor knew more than that the sovereigns had ordered him not to go either to La Mina4 or to any other port of Guinea, and that this had been ordered to be proclaimed in all the ports of Andalusia before he sailed".5 Thus, before Columbus had arrived in Spain, his discoveries in the New World threatened to create an international difficulty. To explain this difficulty it is necessary to consider the earlier history of the conflicting claims of Portugal and Castile to the newly discovered lands.
The first such conflict concerned the Canary Islands, rediscovered in the latter part of the thirteenth century. In 1344, on the ground that he wished to Christianize these islands, Don Luis de la Cerda, admiral of France and great-grandson of Alfonso the Wise, obtained a bull of investiture from Pope____________________