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Explain the rivalry between Spain and Portugal during the 15th century, in the "Age of...

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parama9000 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted May 5, 2013 at 2:16 PM via web

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Explain the rivalry between Spain and Portugal during the 15th century, in the "Age of Discovery".

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 5, 2013 at 2:37 PM (Answer #1)

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Portugal and Spain were, in some ways, natural rivals because of geography.  The two countries are neighbors on the Iberian Peninsula, and neighboring countries have long had rivalries and conflicts in many parts of the world.  It was no different with Portugal and Spain (though we should note that the rivalry began before there was any unified country of Spain). 

The natural rivalry between Spain and Portugal was exacerbated by trade.  Both countries were very interested in exploring and developing trade.  They were both located in ideal places to start exploring Africa and to start thinking about trying to round Africa and find a way to the Spice Islands in Asia.  Because of this, they came to be rivals in exploration.  They competed with one another to “find” and to claim “new” lands.  This rivalry became heated enough that the two countries had to get the pope to divide up the New World into parts that would be Spanish and parts that would be Portuguese.  The line that was drawn in the Treaty of Tordesillas did this, leading to the situation where Brazil was Portuguese while the rest of South America belonged to Spain.

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