to the Portuguese the undiscovered world, from Cape
Bojador in Africa
, easterly to the Indies.
To prevent collision between Christian princes, on the fourth of May, 1493, Alexander the Sixth published a bull, in which he drew a line from the north pole to the south a hundred leagues west of the Azores
, assigning to Spain
all that lies to the west of that boundary, while all to the east of it was confirmed to Portugal
The commerce of the middle ages, concentrated upon the Mediterranean Sea
, had enriched the Italian
republics, and had been chiefly engrossed by their citizens.
Maritime enterprise now transferred its seat to the borders of the Atlantic
, and became boundless in its range.
It set before itself as its great problem the discovery of a pathway by sea to the Indies; and England
, which like Spain
looked out upon the ocean, became a competitor for the unknown world.
The wars of the houses of York
had terminated with the intermarriage of the heirs of the two families; the spirit of commercial activity began to be successfully fostered; and the marts of England
were frequented by Lombard
The fisheries of the north had long tempted the merchants of Bristol
to an intercourse with Iceland
; and had matured the nautical skill that could buffet the worst storms of the Atlantic
Nor is it impossible, that some uncertain traditions respecting the remote discoveries which Icelanders had made in Greenland
towards the north-west, ‘where the lands nearest meet,’ should have excited ‘firm and pregnant conjectures.’
The achievement of Columbus
, revealing the wonderful truth, of which the germ may have existed in the imagination of every thoughtful mariner,