Author: Pope Alexander VI

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

Inter caetera by Pope Alexander VI (May 4, 1493)

In this bull, Pope Alexander VI is responding to Christopher Columbus’ exploration of North and South America, which was sponsored by the king and queen of Spain. The Pope decrees that land “discovered” by envoys of the Spanish kingdom–and not already claimed by Christians–now belonged to it. These rights were already granted to Portugal and its own discoveries. He further specifies that land west of an imaginary line of longitude running through the eastern part of present-day Brazil belonged to Spain, and everything east to Portugal. This “Doctrine of Discovery” became the basis of all European claims to colonize the Americas. The text was originally written in Latin and takes its name, Inter caetera from the opening phrase (“Among other”).