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Map showing the Treaty of Tordesillas line. Digital image. When In Time. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2016.

The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), as indicated on the map, settled the territorial dispute between Spain and Portugal in the New World.

Why did the treaty become largely obsolete by the early 17th century?


The Protestant Reformation had severely limited papal legitimacy in settling European squabbles.


Portuguese colonies in the Eastern Hemisphere were largely conquered by the Spanish and the French.


The success of the Dutch mercantile system supplanted the power of the Spanish and Portuguese.


The waning power of the Spanish and Portuguese led to increased exploration by the British and French.


Neither party fully adhered to the territorial limits imposed by the Treaty.

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