Written in Spanish, the front page of this copy of the treaty is owned and held by Portugal
As the Roman Empire was falling apart in the fourth and fifth centuries, the province of Hispania, the Iberian Peninsula, fell under the sway of a Germanic horde known as the Visigoths, who mostly held to the heretical views of Arian theology. Most of the Roman citizens of Hispania (Spain) believed Trinitarian Christian doctrine. In the eighth century, following a hundred years or more of raids, Muslim Berbers and Arabs crossed from North Africa and conquered the Visigoths, establishing Muslim hegemony in its furthest western advance into Europe. The Reconquista began right away, in bits and pieces, and by the late 15th century, succeeded in pushing the Muslim rulers still in authority out of their pockets of resistance and back to North Africa. Two noble Spanish houses then united with the marriage in 1469 of two teenage royals of Aragon and Castile: Ferdinand and Isabella, who pooled their resources, blood, and kingdoms. The newfound wealth and unity enabled them to subsidize expeditions of exploration, which began with Christopher Columbus sailing westward to “The New World,” and expanded to multiple conquistadors over the next century.
Christopher Columbus appearing before King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain upon his return from exploring the Americas
Central and South America and the Caribbean hinted at wealth in gold, silver, gems, natural resources, and slaves beyond the wildest imagination of the Spanish monarchs. Their daring sea-captains and missions-minded priests anticipated new trade routes to the Orient also to the greater glory of Spain and the Roman Church. God, it seemed, had blessed the providential foresight and investment of the Spanish-speaking successors to the Roman Empire. To protect their claims, King Ferdinand concocted a plan to preempt competition from other European powers, especially Portugal, which shared the Iberian Peninsula with Spain.
The Cantino planisphere, completed by an unknown Portuguese cartographer in 1502, is one of the most regarded cartographic documents of all time. It depicts the world as it became known to the Europeans after the great exploration voyages at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century to the Americas, Africa, and India.
Portugal, the westernmost European nation, had fallen under the rule of the Visigoths in the same centuries as Spain, and was invaded by Muslim armies in kind in the 8th century. Taking to the mountains and providing refuge for Christians fleeing the North African raiders and conquerors (known collectively as Moors), certain noble Christian leaders provided a bulwark to keep the enemies out of the south of France, and initiated the re-conquest of the lands that would become the nation of Portugal. Great battles were fought over a six-hundred-year period (the Reconquista) until the Moors were finally driven out. In 1373 Portugal made an alliance with England, which is the longest-standing alliance between two countries in the world.