A French Farce in Brazil
Spain and Portugal divided almost all of South America between them, but in the 16th century the French also had commercial and colonial ambitions in Brazil. Robert Knecht tells the stories of two French expeditions that ended in disaster.
France is not normally associated with the European discovery and settlement of Latin America. In 1493, the year after Columbus’s first voyage to the West Indies, the Spanish Pope Alexander VI promulgated the bull Inter Caetera that ceded to Ferdinand and Isabella, the ‘Catholic Kings’ of Aragon and Castile, rights to all lands situated west of a north-south line drawn 100 leagues (or 300 miles) west of the Azores and the Cape Verde Islands. The Portuguese king, Manuel I, objected and, as a result, under the Compromise of Tordesillas the dividing line of longitude was shifted further west to 46o 37' West, thus giving Brazil (soon to be discovered) to Portugal.