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2022-06-14 22:03:08

Why do only Brazilians speak Portuguese in Latin America?

Why do only Brazilians speak Portuguese in Latin America?

This story began in a small town in Spain called Tordesillas, on the Duro River near Valladolid. The historic center of this town with ancient churches and the main square of the Plaza Mayor, traditional for Castilian cities, is perfectly preserved.

However, there are other cities with this name: in Colombia, Brazil, many other Latin American countries.

In this city in 1494, the Castilian and Portuguese monarchs made the division of the skin of a bear that had not yet been killed - lands that had yet to be discovered. It was this event that predetermined Portuguese as the main state language of Brazil.

Geography led to the fact that Tordesillas is an ideal place for diplomatic summits of the Pyrenean monarchs: located at the crossroads, equipped with a magnificent palace, it turned out to be an ideal place for signing an agreement. By the way: the negotiations lasted more than a year and had every chance of ending with the Portuguese-Spanish war.

Of course, the position and the fact of the presence of the palace were not the only grounds for choosing Tordesillas as a location for negotiations. The city was called the oldest, crown, noble and loyal city, possessing rich historical ties with the westernmost kingdom of the Iberian Peninsula. That is why Their Catholic Majesties made such a choice.

An additional factor was the fact that in the XIV century the city served as a residence for Queen Maria of Portugal and her daughter, Infanta Doña Beatrice. It is likely that in this way the Spanish monarchs, interested in a successful resolution of the negotiations, made a step towards Portugal.

The Catholic majesties had every reason for this, especially since the lengthy negotiations that began in the summer of 1494 and lasted more than a year were seriously delayed and threatened to break down altogether, which was fraught with a military conflict. Spain was seriously puzzled by the preservation of its own conquests in the region, and therefore was ready to make some concessions. Moreover, the need for these negotiations arose a very long time ago – even after the return of Columbus from his first voyage, when, as everyone believed at the time, he opened the western route to India.

The expedition was caught in severe storms, and the sailors had to land in Lisbon. And so it turned out that the first to learn about the new world were not the sponsors of the voyage Ferdinand Aragon and Isabella of Castile, but the Portuguese João II. The monarch was convinced that the new lands fell under the agreement concluded between Alcasovas and the Toledo court in 1479, according to which all the newly discovered lands west of the Canaries belonged to the Portuguese monarchy, and hurried to declare his rights to these lands.

True, one of the ships of the expedition under the command of Alonso Pinson managed to reach the Spanish coast. Having set foot on land, the captain immediately informed the Aragonese monarch, who was being treated for wounds, that they had managed to discover new possessions far in the West.

The Spaniards did not enter into discussions with Portugal; they appealed to Pope Alexander VI Borgia for mediation in arbitration. It should be noted that this dissolute and ambitious Roman pontiff himself came from Aragon, or rather from Valencia, was a local archbishop, and then ceded the see to his nephew, and therefore could not be completely impartial.

Three bulls were issued in the name of the Pope.

One of them, called Inter Caetera and dated May 4, 1493, the treaty in Alkasovas was de facto canceled. In place of the horizontal division of the Atlantic Ocean and its coasts between the two Iberian monarchs, the Pope decided to establish a vertical line between the poles.

Portugal was very disappointed with this decision.

  1. First, they lost new lands.
  2. Secondly, they lost the way to Asia and Africa, because the demarcation line lay 500 kilometers west of Cape Verde. Thus, Portuguese ships were forced to either violate the sovereignty of Spanish waters, risk ships, or abandon colonial expansion. All three options were patently unacceptable.

Incredibly intense negotiations followed. A paradoxical situation was created: neither side wanted war, but against the background of negotiations, both strengthened their fleets and armies. At this time, Columbus set sail on a new voyage, promising to provide information that could be used during the negotiation process.

The Genoese did not deceive - in April of the following year he sent the king and queen a plan of his last discoveries. However, he did not know that the agreement was canceled, and therefore made some changes to the map. For example, he placed Hispaniola north of its actual location. So the island was on the same parallel with the Canaries, which made it the possession of the Spanish crown. However, Portugal eventually agreed to Spanish terms with a caveat: the demarcation line would be shifted 1200 miles west of Cape Verde.

So the Portuguese gained lands east of this mark on the map - from the aforementioned archipelago to the African coast, while Spain got the western islands and the discoveries of Columbus in recent years.

The monarchs of both Spanish monarchies agreed to this partition because they knew that columbus's map confirmed that Portugal and its king would get nothing. It turned out not to be so – and Brazil, which was not opened at that time by the Portuguese monarch and his emissaries, was recorded in advance as the property of Lisbon.

The long-awaited discovery was made in 1500 by Pedro Álvaris Cabral, who found out this during his voyage and hurried to inform his ruler about it.

In the following decades and centuries, the Portuguese steadily increased their influence on the country. So Brazil became the only country on the continent where people speak, teach in schools, write books and engage in politics in Portuguese. The Tordesillas agreement is therefore important for the country; this is one of the milestones of national history, because the crown of Portugal received the right to annex to its colonial empire all undiscovered possessions in the depths of South America.

In addition, this point has a legal significance, as well as a historical one, shedding light on the relationship between the Central European powers and the rest of the world. By the way: if you think about it, Portugal crystallized as a single state a century earlier compared to France, England and Spain!

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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