Treaties are agreements between and between nations. Treaties have been used to end wars, settle land disputes and even destabilize new countries. The Treaty of Tordesillas set only the dividing line in the leagues of the Cape Verde Islands. It did not indicate the line in degrees, nor did it identify the specific island or the specific length of its league. Instead, the treaty indicated that these issues had to be resolved by a common journey that never occurred. The number of ranks can be determined by a relationship between the naval leagues and the degrees applied to the Earth, regardless of its supposed size, or by a certain naval league applied to the true grandeur of the Earth, called “our sphere” by historian Henry Harrisse.  The papal bulls granted Spain exclusive rights over the parts of the world west of the line; the Portuguese should of course stay in the East. And if one of the two kingdoms accidentally discovered a country ruled by a Christian ruler, neither would be able to claim it. Instead of settling disputes between Portugal and Spain, the agreement sparked a furious race between nations to demand new countries and control the world`s trade routes, even as they tried to move the demarcation line to favour either party. Disputes over the location of the line continued when diplomats from both countries gathered in the small town of Tordesillas in northwestern Spain to find a compromise. But while Spain abandoned its claims to North America, contracts in Europe rarely had an impact on the chaos and growing political instability in the Caribbean.
By the middle of the 17th century, Spain had lost control of the region. At a time famous for Pirates of the Caribbean – the Buccaneers and Henry Morgan – the Spanish colonial authorities could not guarantee the safety of their citizens, regardless of government regulations and decrees or papal proclamations. Spanish warships were almost exclusively dedicated to the protection of Bullion ships, while Spanish maritime trade was almost destroyed – Spanish merchants could not compete with smugglers. The Spanish colonies were unable to ship goods from Europe, nor could they find a market for their hides, indigo, sugar, cocoa, tobacco and wood. Reduced to bankruptcy, many settlers left their colonial cities and moved. While the great colonial ports (Saint Domingue on Hispaniola and San Juan in Puerto Rico) were still flourishing, most of the islands and wide coasts were completely free of Spanish inhabitants. The eighteenth century was as bloody as the 17th century, with an almost uninterrupted series of wars. Europe`s internal struggles have been exported all over the world: wars for politics, dynastic succession, trade, religion and the power struggles of the construction of the empire. But the Treaty of Tordesillas, which laid the cultural and political basis for these ongoing conflicts, was no longer the determining justification, and it has therefore gone from history as a direct inspiration and motivation for historical acts. The world had moved on. Two centuries earlier, the leader of one of the many factions of Christian Europe had divided the world between two favoured nations. Like a modern patent, the strength of the papal proclamation was as valuable as the availability and ability of the beneficiaries to defend it, and with the decline of the Spanish and Portuguese empires, the treaty lost its champions, while winning many enemies.