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Alexander vi., Pope.

Rodrigo Lenzuolo, a native of Valencia, Spain, was elected Pope, and assumed the name of Alexander vi. He was born in 1431; made Pope Aug. 11, 1492; and died Aug. 8. 1503. His mother was a Borgia, and Caesar and Lucretia Borgia were two of his five illegitimate children by his mistress, Rosa Vanozza. His death, some historians say, was caused by his accidentally taking a poisoned draught intended for a large party of cardinals whom he had invited to a banquet.

On the return of Columbus from his first voyage of discovery, the Portuguese, [97] who had previously explored the Azores and other Atlantic islands, instantly claimed a title to the newly discovered lands, to the exclusion of the Spaniards. Simultaneous with the order given to Columbus at Barcelona to return to Hispaniola, an ambassador was sent to Rome to obtain the Pope's sanction of their claims to the regions discovered, and to make a conquest of the West Indies. Alexander assented without much hesitation to the proposal, and, on May 3, 1493, he issued a bull, in which the lofty pretensions of the Bishop of Rome to be the sole arbiter of the world were fully set forth, and a grant given to Ferdinand and Isabella of all the countries inhabited by “infidels” which they had discovered or should discover, extending the assignment to their heirs and successors, the kings and queens of Castile and Leon. To prevent the interference of this grant with one previously given to the Portuguese, he directed that a line supposed to be drawn from pole to pole, at a distance of 100 leagues westward of the Azores, should serve as a boundary. All the countries to the east of this imaginary line, not in possession of a Christian prince, he gave to the Portuguese, and all westward of it to the Spaniards. On account of the dissatisfaction with the Pope's partition. the line was fixed 270 leagues farther west. Other nations of Europe subsequently paid no attention to the Pope's gifts to Spain and Portugal, but planted colonies on the Western Continent without the leave of the sovereigns of Spain or the Pope. A little more than a century afterwards the English Parliament insisted that occupancy confers a good title, by the law of nations and nature. This remains a law of nations. Portugal soon disregarded the Pope's donation to Spain, and sent an expedition to North America in 1500.

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