In 1493 Pope Alexander VI, issued a papal bull which
fixed a demarcation line between new lands that could be claimed by
Spain or Portugal. The line followed a circle 100 leagues west of the
Cape Verde Islands and through the two Poles. Lands already claimed at
that time were to remain in the control of the claiming party. This
division of the New World applied only to Spain and Portugal. Other
countries were not included. Pope Alexander’s line was fixed at 38°W.
On June 7, 1494 Spain and Portugal signed a Treaty at
Tordesillas, Spain dividing the non-Christian world into two zones.
The Treaty moved the line east from Pope Alexander’s line to 46°37’W.
In 1994 Portugal commemorated the signing of
the Treaty of Tordesillas with the issue of a stamp showing the Kings
of Spain and Portugal, with partial flags symbolizing the division of
the New World between Spain and Portugal.
The treaty line is identified on the stamp by red
lettering which appears to have been taken from the map painted for
Albert Cantino by a Portuguese cartographer for the Duke of Ferrara in