3. The discoveries (II). Journeys and travellers
3.1 The Portuguese explorations
Mid 15th century.
Portugal’s aim was to gain access to Sudan’s gold and trade with India by following the African coast. There was rivalry with Castilla in this region but it was resolved with the signing treaty of Alcáçovas.
Along the African coast, the Portuguese occupied the Madeira, Azores and Cape Verde archipielagos.
Along the African and Asian coasts, the Portuguese founded colonies and built forts yo oversee the trade in Sudanese gold and slaves.
3.2 Castilla. The discovery of America
America was discovered by Christopher Columbus. He first represented his project to King John II of Portugal (1484), but the king rejected it. It was then offered to the Catholic Monarchs, who accepted it in their Capitulations of Santa Fe (1492).
Columbus set sail with three boats from the port of Palos (Huelva). He stopped at the Canary Islands and on 12 October 1492, he landed on the Caribbean Island of Guanahani, which he renamed San Salvador.
3.3 Sharing out the world and new expeditions
They agreed the areas of influence of their respective countries in the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494). This treaty established a frontier 370 leagues to the west of the Cape Verde Islands, located to the west of this line would belong to Castilla and those to the east to Portugal.
4. The birth of the modern State
4.1 The authoritarian monarchies
The feudal European monarchies became authoritarian monarchies. The king reinforced his power over the kingdom by imposing his authority over the nobility and limiting the autonomy of the municipalities. This new way of organising the state is referred to as the modern State.
In Europe, authoritarian monarchy took root in France, England and Italy did not manage to create unified states.
4.2 The instruments of royal power
The monarchs reinforced their power in a number of ways:
Territorial unification. They unified their territories and extended the size of their state by waging wars and negotiating marriage alliances.
Control of the state’s power. Monarchs imposed their authority on the high-ranking nobility, exerted influence over the allocation of positions of authority and summoned Parliament (Las Cortes, in Spain) as little as possible.
Improved administration. The monarch’s courts would be established in one city, which became the capital city: a bureaucracy of professional civil servants was created to carry out the monarch’s orders and standard taxes were levied, which provided regular income without monarchs having to approach Parliament.
Creation of a permanent army. Monarchs substituted the feudal troops with a permanent army that was basically made up of paid mercenaries.
Organisation of international relations. Diplomatic relations were established with other countries. This diplomacy was based on permanent ambassadors, who were in charge of defending the monarchy’s interests and resolving conflicts in a peaceful manner.