The Alexandrian line is a geographical delimitation proposed by Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, in 1494. It arises as a result of the discovery of America, due to the fact that the Portuguese and the Spanish maintained a strong dispute for years.
All because of the distribution of the territories of the “new world.” The geographical demarcation of the Alexandrian line was based on an imaginary line. It was drawn from pole to pole, from the Cape Verde archipelagos to Azore.
This line granted Spain all the lands that were 370 leagues west of the Azores, and Portugal a portion of the land that is known today as Brazil.
After the arrival of the news about the discovery of America by Columbus, King Ferdinand of Aragon asked Pope Alexander VI for a title of domain. This with the reason that the newly discovered lands became the property of Castilla y León (surnames of his wife Queen Isabel).
In May 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued four documents known as the Alexandrian Bulls. With these documents, an imaginary line was drawn from pole to pole.
It was established that all the lands and seas located 100 leagues west of the Azores and Cape Verde archipelagos would belong to the crown of Castilla y León.
The imaginary line that is mentioned is the one known as the Alexandrian line. His name was derived from Pope Alexander VI, the highest authority of the Christian countries at that time and also Aragonese like King Fernando of Spain.
To prevent any unauthorized passage from being made to the Alexandrian line, anyone who did so would be decreed in excommunication.
Furthermore, both parties were strictly prohibited from exploiting in any way the foreign territories that the line has delimited.
Conflict with Portugal
Upon learning of the Alexandrine Bulls, the Portuguese crown disagreed. He stated that Columbus had violated waters of Portuguese territory.In addition, they presented their complaints to the Spanish crown for not having been included at the time of the issuance of the Bulls.
Due to this conflict raised by the Portuguese, it was decided to sign the famous Treaty of Tordesillas. This stipulates that the Alexandrian line be moved 270 leagues further west than the previous treaty proposed.
Thanks to this new treaty, Portugal acquires the opportunity to get a portion of land that was rightfully its own. The Alexandrian line went from being 100 leagues west of the Azores Islands to 370 leagues.
Additionally, it was stipulated that all land and sea that was west of the Alexandrian line belonged by right to the crown of Castilla y León. Consequently, everything to the east of it remained in the hands of the Portuguese.
Finally, Portugal was able to claim the territory that is known today as Brazil. This is because there was no certain means of establishing geographic longitudes at the time.
Thus, the Portuguese benefited from determining the real limits of the Alexandrian line in American territory.
- Dra. López, M. Las Bulas Papers of Alejandro VI. (2015). Recovered from mre.gov.p.
- Palencia, F. Treaty of Tordesillas. (2014) Recovered from globalhisco.com.
- goodtasks.com. The Alejandrina line. (2017). Recovered from goodtareas.com
- Wikipedia.org. The Alexandrian Bulls. (2017). Recovered from: Wikipedia.org.
- Gonzalo Pinal. Towards a new image of the world. Royal Academy of History. (2014)