The Story of Geographical Discovery eBook

Joseph Jacobs
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 165 pages of information about The Story of Geographical Discovery.
New World altogether; and the line of demarcation was then shifted 270 leagues westward, or altogether 1110 miles west of the Cape Verdes.  By a curious coincidence, within six years Cabral had discovered Brazil, which fell within the angle thus cut off by the raya from South America.  Or was it entirely a coincidence?  May not Cabral have been directed to take this unusually westward course in order to ascertain if any land fell within the Portuguese claims?  When, however, the Spice Islands were discovered, it remained to be discussed whether the line of demarcation, when continued on the other side of the globe, brought them within the Spanish or Portuguese “sphere of influence,” as we should say nowadays.  By a curious chance they happened to be very near the line, and, with the inaccurate maps of the period, a pretty subject of quarrel was afforded between the Portuguese and Spanish commissioners who met at Badajos to determine the question.  This was left undecided by the Junta, but by a family compact, in 1529, Charles V. ceded to his brother-in-law, the King of Portugal, any rights he might have to the Moluccas, for the sum of 350,000 gold ducats, while he himself retained the Philippines, which have been Spanish ever since.

By this means the Indian Ocean became, for all trade purposes, a Portuguese lake throughout the sixteenth century, as will be seen from the preceding map, showing the trading stations of the Portuguese all along the shores of the ocean.  But they only possessed their monopoly for fifty years, for in 1580 the Spanish and Portuguese crowns became united on the head of Philip II., and by the time Portugal recovered its independence, in 1640, serious rivals had arisen to compete with her and Spain for the monopoly of the Eastern trade.

[Authorities:  Major, Prince Henry the Navigator, 1869; Beazeley, Prince Henry the Navigator, 1895; F. Hummerich, Vasco da Gama, 1896.]



While the Portuguese had, with slow persistency, devoted nearly a century to carrying out Prince Henry’s idea of reaching the Indies by the eastward route, a bold yet simple idea had seized upon a Genoese sailor, which was intended to achieve the same purpose by sailing westward.  The ancients, as we have seen, had recognised the rotundity of the earth, and Eratosthenes had even recognised the possibility of reaching India by sailing westward.  Certain traditions of the Greeks and the Irish had placed mysterious islands far out to the west in the Atlantic, and the great philosopher Plato had imagined a country named Atlantis, far out in the Indian Ocean, where men were provided with all the gifts of nature.  These views of the ancients came once more to the attention of the learned, owing to the invention of printing and the revival of learning, when the Greek masterpieces began

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The Story of Geographical Discovery from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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