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

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Portugal and Spain emerged as the two strongest powers in the world in the fifteenth century. Although there was no actual war between the two nations, competition between them—particularly on the high seas—was intense. The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) was an attempt to mitigate their rivalry.

This period in world history is known as the Age of Discovery or the Age of Exploration. Europeans sought new trade routes to the silk and spices of Asia. These routes were blocked by hostile Muslim forces by the mid-fifteenth century. Seafaring techniques had improved, and Portugal and Spain were able to launch multi-ship voyages to distant lands.

Prince Henry the Navigator (1394–1460) of Portugal led the way. Under his patronage, Portuguese sailors began exploring the western coast of Africa. Portugal's ultimate goal—completed after Henry's death—was to find a route to India by going around Africa.

By 1492, Spain had emerged as Portugal's primary rival. The last Muslim stronghold in...

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