The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) divided up all new discoveries between Portugal and Castile, so establishing the position of Brazil. Pope Alexander VI's deal excluded the other Catholic states. England and the Netherlands eventually left the Church, ignored the Treaty, and went ahead to found overseas colonies just like the two grantees.

France stayed Catholic and nonetheless began projecting power overseas soon after. At the time the First French Colonial Empire was being founded, did the Holy See take any actions to try to get France to obey the Treaty of Tordesillas?

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    FWIW an earlier time when France wasn't happy with the Pope didn't go so well for the latter, and French troops were very much in Italy around when France ignored the Treaty of Tordesillas. So if there were any protests I'd gather they were symbolic. Feb 23, 2018 at 6:43
  • There were French attempts to colonize Brazil in the 16th century, e.g., France Antarctique. Eventually, the Portuguese kicked them out. Apr 4, 2019 at 7:03

2 Answers 2


No, more the other way around. France was busy punishing the pope in the Italian war.



Although the Treaty of Tordesillas technically divided the non-European world between Spain and Portugal, the real issue was Spanish Portuguese rivalry over what we now call South America. The reason was that Portugal had settled the eastern "hump" of that continent (now Brazil), while Spain would soon conquer land not so far to the north and west in modern Mexico and Peru. The treaty was designed to prevent war between Spain and Portugal (two Christian nations), over South America.

It did really apply to France, whose colonization efforts (in the western hemisphere) were much further north, in Canada and the Mississippi valley.

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    This is probably true as a general statement, but there were (at least) Portuguese efforts to take control of Newfoundland and Greenland, since they are on "their" side of the line.
    – Tomas By
    May 25, 2019 at 7:07
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    This makes no sense. The Treaty was signed in 1494. The Portuguese discovered Brazil in 1500. There was no South America yet. May 25, 2019 at 15:17

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