In the 15th century the aromatic spices of cloves and nutmeg, grown only in the remote Spice Islands of present day Indonesia were said to be worth their weight in gold and were some of the most valuable of traded commodities.
After the discovery of the America’s, the 1494 of Treaty of Tordesillas between Spain and Portugal divided the world in half, along a line of demarcation in the Atlantic Ocean halfway between the Portuguese claimed island of Azores and the island of Hispaniola discovered by Columbus. The Treaty then allowed Spain to claim any territory discovered to the west of this line and Portugal any territory discovered to the east.
The two Iberian powers were now in a race to reach the source of these valuable spices and claim it for themselves, by sailing in opposite directions around the world and across the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean respectively. Although neither of them could accurately measure longitude and know in whose supposed half of the world the Spice Islands were actually located. The results changed the map of the world and even the first map of Australia.
Follow this link to view the 30 minute presentation on ‘A World Divided ‘made by Ian Burnet at the ANZ Map Conference in October 2020 at the National Library of Australia.