Dividing the world and the Doctrine of Discovery

The New York Times opinion blog page has an interesting piece today about the division of the island of New Guinea, located just north of Australia.

Following the 141st meridian east, a line neatly splits the island in half between the countries of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

This is relevant to the Doctrine of Discovery because the line is part of the papal bulls that divided the world in 1493 for the Spanish and the Portuguese to dominate, control, and own.

The line drawn by Pope Alexander VI in 1493, however, only expressly divided the Atlantic.  But in 1529 Spain and Portugal signed the treaty of Zaragoza and agreed on where the Pope's Atlantic line would continue around the world through the Pacific.

The blog states: "The Papuan border is not only intercontinental, is resonant of an even older, global border: the 141st meridian east is almost exactly where the Spanish and Portuguese chose to draw the line that divided the entire world between them. In 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas cut off a Portuguese slice from the otherwise Spanish Main in South America [9]. The logical pendant of that treaty was the one concluded at Zaragoza in 1529, which fixed the anti-meridian to the Tordesillas Line."

How convenient to have the church grant you the entire world!  That must be the perfect definition of chutzpah and hubris, and whatever other words you might think of that define that kind of ethnocentric, feudal thinking.

Read more: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/who-bit-my-border/?hp#ftn10

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One Response to Dividing the world and the Doctrine of Discovery

  1. Jay Taber says:

    Speaking of grand larceny, how about the UN giving West Papua to Indonesia?

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