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

By Frances Gardiner Davenport | Go to book overview

3.
Treaty between Spain and Portugal, concluded at Alcaçovas, September 4, 1479. Ratification by Spain, March 6, 1480. [Ratification by Portugal, September 8, 1479.]

INTRODUCTION.

In 1460 the Infante Henry died and the sovereignty of the newly discovered lands became vested in the crown of Portugal. King Alfonso V., however, whose chief ambitions were to extend his Moorish conquests and annex Castile, did not directly concern himself with continuing the work of exploration. This was left to private enterprise, and the impetus given by the infante gradually wore itself out, although the Guinea trade was actively prosecuted.

In 1475 Alfonso invaded Castile, and, to strengthen his pretensions to that country, became betrothed to the Princess Joanna, Queen Isabella's rival for the Castilian crown. The resulting War of Succession extended beyond the limits of the peninsula into the Canary Islands, where the Portuguese aided the natives against the Castilians;1 and it gave the Castilians the chance to engage vigorously in trade with Guinea--a country which, in spite of the bull Romanus pontifex, they continued to claim.2 As the result of preliminary negotiations held at Alcántara in March, 1479, between Queen Isabella of Castile and her aunt, the Infanta Beatrice of Portugal, the bases for a settlement were laid, and it was agreed that a peace should be negotiated and concluded in Portugal.3

In the following June, in pursuance of this agreement, Queen Isabella despatched Dr. Rodrigo Maldonado, of Talavera, a lawyer in whom she had

____________________
1
J. de Viera y Clavijo, Historia General de las Islas Canarias ( 1858- 1863), II. 37.
2
Pulgar, Crónica, pt. II., cc. 62, 88. The Catholic sovereigns declared ( 1475) that "los Reyes de España tuvieron siempre la conquista de Africa y Guinea, y llevaron el quinto de cuantas mercaderias en aquellas partes se resgataban". Navarrete, Viages ( 1825- 1837), I. xxxvii-xxxix, with which, however, compare Santarem, Recherches sur la Priorité ( 1842), p. 199. A few years later, but before the end of the war, they instructed their ambassadors in Rome to procure permission for themselves and those to whom they should give license "para que puedan contratar con los infieles que tienen la mina del oro e de la Guinea sin incurrir por ello en sentencia de excomunion." M. F. de Navarrete et al., Coleccion de Documentos Inéditos para la Historia de España ( 1842--), VII. 552.
3
For accounts of the peace negotiations, see the chronicles of Nunes do Liam, Ruy de Pina , and Pulgar, and J. B. Sitges, Enrique IV. y Doña Juana la Beltraneja.

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