Portugal

How the Pope divided the New World among Spain and the Rest of the World

How the Pope divided the New World among Spain and the Rest of the World

On May 4, 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued the papal bull ‘Inter caetera‘ (Among other [works]), which granted to the Catholic Majesties of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain all lands to the “west and south” of a pole-to-pole line 100 leagues west and south of any of the islands of the Azores or the Cape Verde islands. It established a dividing line between the Castilian and Portuguese spheres of power. No Agreement between Portugal and Spain…
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Vasco da Gama and the Route to India

Vasco da Gama and the Route to India

On December 24, 1524, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira, passed away. He was one of the most successful explorers in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India. Background Vasco da Gama was born into a family of noblemen, his father belonged to the Order of Santiago and was occupied with several administrative tasks. Little is known about…
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António Egas Moniz and the Cerebral Angiography

António Egas Moniz and the Cerebral Angiography

On November 29, 1879, Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz was born. He is reknown as the developer of cerebral angiography. Moniz is regarded as one of the founders of modern psychosurgery, having developed the surgical procedure leucotomy — known better today as lobotomy — for which he became the first Portuguese national to receive a Nobel Prize in 1949 shared with Walter Rudolf Hess. António Moniz was born in the northern coastal village…
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Juan Sebastián Elcano and the First Circumnavigation of the Earth

Juan Sebastián Elcano and the First Circumnavigation of the Earth

On August 4, 1526, Spanish explorer of Basque origin Juan Sebastián Elcano passed away. Elcano was part of the Spanish expedition commanded by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who set sail for the first successful circumnavigation of the Earth. After Magellan‘s death in the Philippines, Elcano took command of the nau Victoria from the Moluccas to Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Spain. Juan Sebastián Elcano was born among four brothers in 1476 at…
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Amerigo Vespucci and the New World

Amerigo Vespucci and the New World

On February 22, 1512, Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci passed away. He first demonstrated that Brazil and the West Indies did not represent Asia’s eastern outskirts as initially conjectured from Columbus’ voyages, but instead constituted an entirely separate landmass hitherto unknown to Afro-Eurasians. Colloquially referred to as the New World, this second super continent came to be termed “America“, deriving its name from Americus, the Latin version of Vespucci’s…
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Bartolomeu Dias and his Trip into the Pacific Ocean

Bartolomeu Dias and his Trip into the Pacific Ocean

On May 29, 1500, Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias passed away. Dias sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, reaching the Indian Ocean from the Atlantic, the first European known to have done so. Not too much is known about the life and achievements of Bartolomeu Dias. He was a Knight of the royal court, superintendent of the royal warehouses, and sailing-master of the man-of-war, São Cristóvão. In October 1487, it…
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Pedro Álvares Cabral and the Discovery of Brazil

Pedro Álvares Cabral and the Discovery of Brazil

On March 9, 1500, Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral set sail with a fleet of 13 ships to establish a trade route to India. But, due to a storm his ships got lost and he should become one of the first Europeans to reach the coast of Brazil. While details of Cabral’s early life are unclear, it is known that he came from a minor noble family and received a good education. He…
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Ferdinand Magellan and the first Trip around the World

Ferdinand Magellan and the first Trip around the World

On 10 August 1519, five ships under Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan‘s command left Seville and descended the Guadalquivir River to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, at the mouth of the river. After further preparation 5 weeks later the ships set sail for the very first circumnavigation of the earth. Magellan was born Fernão de Magalhães (or Magalhãens) to an impoverished noble family in the northern Portuguese province of Trás-os-Montes. His father, Rui de Magalhães,…
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