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Events/moves that have taken place from 1400-1600, for reference. Here, moves were mostly by Portugal and Spain.

15th Century

Maps dating from the 14th century include many islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Whether this knowledge is based on actual evidence or mere hearsay is not clear; most of the islands, though, are indicated very closely to the actual sites of Ampere, Madeira, Canary and Azores islands. In 1385, Portugal defeated the Castilians at the Battle of Aljubarrota, which led to the ending of Castilian claims to Portuguese throne. In the aftermath, a new dynasty, the house of Aviz, was crowned in Portugal. King John I of Portugal associated with noblemen (fidalgos) and merchantmen and established a plan of maritime expansion for Portugal, in order to find resources and grant Portuguese independence towards Castile forever. Parsifal br 01:47, July 12, 2011 (UTC)

One year after the troubling loss of rights to the Portuguese throne, John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster landed an army to reclaim his right to the Crown of Castile. Despite early setbacks due to poor planning and unavailable equipment, John was able to strike a major blow to Castilian forces on the Portuguese border and declared himself king of the entire realm of Castile. His ascension to the throne also marked the end of conflict between England and Castile.

Movements by decade


Portugal has reached Ampere Islands in the late 1300s and established a feitoria (a trading post) there. This feitoria will work as a landmark for overseas expansion, and is planned to be the starting point for new expeditions. The two big islands have been named Saint Peter Island and Saint Paul Island (Ilha de São Pedro and Ilha de São Paulo, in Portuguese), in reference to the two apostles that have been martyred at the same time.Parsifal br 01:47, July 12, 2011 (UTC)


In 1415, Portugal conquers the village of Ceuta, in the African coast, and this leads to their expansion southward by the African shore.Parsifal br 01:47, July 12, 2011 (UTC)


In 1420, Portugal begins the colonization of Madeira Island and founds the village of Funchal.vParsifal br 01:47, July 12, 2011 (UTC)


In 1431, Portugal reaches the islands of the Azores. This vast archipelago will be considered of major importance for future expansions and production. Prior to the islands occupation, sailors let loose some sheep and cattle there, because there were no big animals to support major occupation. In the following years, Portuguese sailors mapped the entire archipelago.Parsifal br 01:47, July 12, 2011 (UTC)


Portugal populates the Azores Islands. Settlers came mostly from Algarve (Southern Portugal) and some were of Jewish origin (the Jew converts, or "cristãos novos", who were suspicious of still holding Jewish faith); some of the Jewish immigrants included Flemish. The islands became a haven of religious tolerance in a country that was very strongly jealous of its Catholic traditions.Parsifal br 01:47, July 12, 2011 (UTC)


Around 1456, Portuguese sailors discover the uninhabited islands of Cape Verde archipelago. Pope Nicholas V issues the papal bulls Dum Diversas (1452) and Romanus Pontifex(1455), which granted European monarchies permission to conquer and enslave Saracens and pagans from the newly-explored lands (DD) and gave Portugal exclusive rights of trade and colonization of the lands of Africa and Asia, whether conquered or yet to be (RP). His successor, pope Callixtus III, confirmed Portuguese claims through papal bull Inter caetera (1456 - not to be confused with 1493's homonym bull ), from Cape Bojador through Guinea, up to India. These exclusive rights would later be overlooked and revoked. By 1600, they were no longer taken into consideration by any European power. Parsifal br 19:47, July 12, 2011 (UTC)


In 1462, Portugal colonists settle in Cape Verde Islands, where they found the city of Ribeira Grande. The colony of Cape Verde would flourish in the forthcoming centuries as a major slave trading post. Parsifal br 19:47, July 12, 2011 (UTC)


In 1472, Portugal reaches the island of Fernando Poo, where they start a sugarcane plantation system. Despite its poor quality, the sugar produced there soon overwhelms European market. In the following years (1473-1489), Portugal settles in all major islands of the Biafra Archipelago. Parsifal br 19:47, July 12, 2011 (UTC)


In 1485, Portugal settles in the uninhabited island of Saint Thomas (Portuguese: São Tomé), which, just like Fernando Poo and the rest of Biafra Islands, served as sugar production factories and was manned by mainland African slaves. Parsifal br 19:47, July 12, 2011 (UTC)


In 1491, Portugal reaches the islands south to Angola and settles in the biggest one, named San Francisco. This island is uninhabited, but will be used as a major center for slave trade. First attempts to build sugar plantations in the island give some profit, but the island would be no longer viable as a plantation site after the discovery of American lands of Brazil. Parsifal br 15:41, July 15, 2011 (UTC)
Castile discovers and claims Greater Bermuda, naming it Poco Florida (Little Flower). Castile also warns Portugal not to neglect the Treaty of Tordesillas.

In mainland Africa

  • Portuguese explorer Gil Eanes finds a passage through Cape Bojador in 1434, thus allowing Portuguese vessels to reach Cap Vert (in Senegal) in 1444. Although they did not settle there, Portuguese used the cape as a site for capturing slaves in mainland and upstream in Senegal River.
  • In 1483, Portuguese merchants make contact with the manikongo (king of Kongo), who converts to Catholicism (under the name of John I) and establishes a permanent embassy with Portugal. The Kingdom of Kongo's capital, Mbaza Kongo, was renamed San Salvador.
  • 1494 – Portugal and Spain sign the Treaty of Tordesillas, that grants to Portugal all the lands east of a meridian that goes from 370 leagues to Cape Verde Islands. This meridian encompasses the lands of all Azores islands and the islands to the east, and the entire Brazilian bulge, yet to be discovered at that time. The treaty has never been regarded as valid by no other European power other than Portugal and Spain, so the land claims derived from it mean nothing from mid-16th century onwards.
  • In 1498, Vasco da Gama reaches Calcutta, in India, thus establishing a trade embassy with India and fulfilling Portuguese colonial objectives. Parsifal br 19:47, July 12, 2011 (UTC)

16th Century

Movements by decade


In April 1500, Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral reaches American coast, but leaves without settling there. These lands will not be occupied until 1532. Parsifal br 15:41, July 15, 2011 (UTC)


Portugal explores the American shore and maps every island there is close to it, but no settling happens. The only economical activity that is developed in the New World is the extraction of Caesalpinia echinata, a wood that only occurs in the mainland. Parsifal br 15:41, July 15, 2011 (UTC)


Portugal starts settling in Brazil’s mainland and claims the great island of Santa Cruz, a little further south. But there is no effective occupation of the island for some decades. Parsifal br 15:45, July 15, 2011 (UTC)
In 1534 French explorer Jacques Cartier sails towards the new world. Planing to land in Azores, he instead landed at west Corner Islands. He placed a large cross on the beach claiming it for King Francis I. He gave it the name of Isle de Grand Corne after the shape, which has a horn. He made contacts with native Indians and traded some goods. Cartier then continued to discover and claim New France. In 1537 a large group of settlers came from Normandy to settle in the horn and made the town of Basseterre. Granero 17:28, July 12, 2011 (UTC)


Portugal establishes a system of captaincies in the Brazil lands that were given to it by Treaty of Tordesillas. The southernmost captaincy is the great island of Santa Cruz, but its donor has never laid foot on it, and the island remained void. Parsifal br 15:45, July 15, 2011 (UTC)
300 settlers make a village at Petit Corne, Saint Pierre (1542). Saint Pierre is ambushed by natives in 1543 and 90 dead. French soldiers come also to Basseterre and work on a small fort, Fort de Basseterre.


An epidemic kills 400 people in Corners (1554) about 30 percent of the total populations. Louis Cartier (the son of Jacques) discovers the west of Greater Azores. Settlers from France come to colonise those islands, but it is abandoned in 1559. Granero 17:28, July 12, 2011 (UTC)


Cap Breize is establish by Bretons (1561) and is a busy seaport later in the decade. Louis Cartier is given a charter by French king Henry III (1576) to make trading posts in Gabon (Port-Gentil). Port Gentil became an important point for slaves leaving to France (since 1590s).


Portugal claims the islands close to Bahian coast (the islands east to the most prominent part of Brazil’s coast, but not the ones up north), and tries to establish plantation systems there. They mostly fail, but the region is regarded as of vital importance for Portuguese interests in America. Parsifal br 15:45, July 15, 2011 (UTC)
200 Jesuit and Ursulines land and founded Saint Juste. There is a convent and hospital and over many times religious people come to settle there. In 1573 24 Hugonauts going to Gabon (escaping St Bartolomew's Day massacre) crash near Anabon island. More huguenots come to the island and there are 200 in 1590.



The Italian States talk about unifying. In the meantime, an explorer discovers a rather large island in the Atlantic and names it Aurelius.

The French Atlantic company is create in 1591 to explore and colonise islands for France.

Throughout the century

1. In mainland Africa, during this century:

  • Portuguese embassy with the Kingdom of Kongo flourishes but, by the end of the century, deteriorates. the manikongo loses power, as inland invaders raid into the kingdom and create a permanent state of warfare. The conflicts breed an enormous amount of slaves, which makes up for a continuous flow of Africans to Brazil.
  • The slave regions of Western Africa - Senegambia, Gold Coast, Slave Coast, Ivory Coast and the bights of Benin and Biafra - also supply Portuguese vessels with a large amount of slaves. Many of these slaves are used in the African islands of Biafra Archipelago and San Francisco, but a great amount of them are shipped to Bahia for cane sugar production. Parsifal br 15:45, July 15, 2011 (UTC)

2. In mainland America, during this century:

  • Brazil's vast lands are employed for growing sugarcane, in a plantation system. Many villages are founded throughout the shoreline, from the southernmost Laguna to the northernmost Natal. In the North, the village of Belem is founded in the mouth of Amazonas River. The villages of Laguna and Belem are the milestones to the Treaty of Tordesillas line. Every land heading east of these towns is supposed to be Portuguese under the Treaty. Parsifal br 15:45, July 15, 2011 (UTC)

Situation of Portuguese overseas settlements in 1600

1. Occupied:

2. Claimed, but unoccupied:

3. Explored only:

All the mentioned islands had been granted to Portugal by Treaty of Tordesillas, but it is important to notice that:

  1. Only Portugal and Spain took the treaty seriously;
  2. The treaty is only valid until 1580, when the Iberic Union merges the Iberian crowns (although the colonies remain under separate rules);
  3. Uti possidetis states that land belongs to whoever settles it effectively - which means, to whoever succeeds in establishing a viable colony and stating its purposes. Parsifal br 15:45, July 15, 2011 (UTC)