European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648/Document 08

8. The Bull Dudum Siquidem (Alexander VI.) September 26, 1493.

INTRODUCTION. Not long after the interview of March 9, 1493, between Columbus and John II. of Portugal,[1] the latter caused an armada to be fitted out to take possession of the lands found by Columbus. A report[2] of these hostile prepa­ rations having reached the Spanish sovereigns they at once despatched Lope de Herrera to the Portuguese court to request that ambassadors be sent them, and that the caravels should not sail, or Portuguese subjects go to those parts, until it should be determined within whose seas the discoveries lay.

Meanwhile the King of Portugal had sent Ruy de Sande to the Spanish sovereigns to entreat them (among other things) to prohibit their subjects from fishing south of Cape Bojador till the limits of the possessions of both kingdoms should be fixed, and to make these limits the parallel of the Canaries, leaving the navigation south of this line to the Portuguese.[3] In the middle of August the Portuguese ambassadors, Pero Diaz and Ruy de Pina, arrived in Barcelona, and an attempt at settlement was made. In the midst of the negotiations the Spanish sovereigns appealed to the Pope, who, on September 26, granted them a fourth bull, which confirmed the bull Inter caetera of May 4,[4] extended it so as to secure to Spain any lands discovered by her in her westward navigations, even though they should be in the eastern regions and belong to India, excluded the subjects of all other crowns from navigating or fishing or exploring in those parts, without license from Spain, and revoked all the earlier papal grants to Portugal which might seem to give her a claim to lands not already actually possessed by her in those regions.


Texts: MS. Two original manuscripts of the promulgated bull, written on parchment and with the leaden seal affixed, are in the Archives of the Indies at Seville, Patronato, 1-1-1, nos. 2 and 5. A ma nuscript copy, probably dating from the first years of the sixteenth century, is inserted at the beginning of a manuscript of the Columbus Codex, preserved in the Library of Congress. This bull has not been found in the Vatican registers, and it is a curious fact that neither of the original manuscripts of the promulgated bull bears the customary endorsement "Registrata".

Texts: Printed. The text of the promulgated bull has been printed by J. de Solorzano Pereira , De Indiarum Jure (1629-1639), I. 613, and from this source in G. Berchet, Fonti Italiane (1892-1893), I. 15-16 (pt. III. of the Raccolti di Documenti published by the Reale Commissione Colombiana); S. E. Dawson, "Line of Demarcation of Pope Alex­ ander VI.", etc. ( 1899), pp. 538-539, in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, ad ser., 1899- 1900, vol. V., § 2; and J. B. Thacher, Columbus (1903-1904), II. 162-164. It has also been printed in the Colección de Documentos Inéditos . . . de Ultramar, 2d ser., tom. V., Documentos Legislativos (ed. A. M. Fabié, 1890- 1897), I. 1-4.

Translations : A Spanish translation of the bull, made in 1554 by Gracian de Aldrete , secretary of Philip II., and printed in Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages (1825-1837), tom. II., app., pp. 404-406, has been erroneously supposed by several modern historians to be the basis of Solorzano's Latin text. The English translation in Blair and Robertson, Philippine Islands (1903-1909), I. 111-114, is from the Spanish version. Thacher (op. cit., II. 163-164) and Dawson (op. cit., pp. 539-540) are from Solorzano's text.

References : See under Doc. 9.


Alexander episcopus, servus servorum Dei: carissimo in Christo filio Ferdinando regi et carissime in Christo filie Elisabeth regine Castelle, Legionis, Aragonum, et Granate, illustribus, salutem et apostolicam benedic­ tionem.

Dudum siquidem omnes et singulas insulas et terras firmas, inventas et inveniendas versus occidentem et meridiem, que sub actuali dominio temporali aliquorum dominorum Christianorum constitute non essent, vobis heredi­ busque et subcessoribus vestris Castelle et Legionis regibus, imperpetuum, motu proprio et ex certa scientia ac de apostolice potestatis plenitudine donavi­ mus, concessimus, et assignavimus, vosque ac heredes et successores prefatos de illis investivimus, illarumque dominos cum plena, libera, et omnimoda potestate, auctoritate, et jurisdictione, constituimus et deputavimus, prout in nostris inde confectis litteris, quarum tenores, ac si de verbo ad verbum, presentibus insererentur haberi volumus pro sufficienter expressis, plenius continetur.[6] Cum autem contingere posset quod nuntii et capitanei aut vassalli vestri, versus occidentem aut meridiem navigantes, ad partes orientales applicarent, ac insulas et terras firmas que Indie fuissent vel essent, repperi­ rent, nos, volentes etiam vos favoribus prosequi gratiosis, motu et scientia ac potestatis plenitudine similibus, donationem, concessionem, assignationem, et litteras predictas, cum omnibus et singulis in eisdem litteris contentis clausulis, ad omnes et singulas insulas et terras firmas, inventas et inveniendas ac detectas et detegendas, que navigando aut itinerando versus occidentem aut meridiem hujusmodi sint vel fuerint aut apparuerint, sive in partibus occidentalibus vel meridionalibus et orientalibus et Indie existant, auctoritate apostolica, tenore presentium, in omnibus et per omnia, perinde ac si in litteris predictis de eis plena et expressa mentio facta fuisset, extendimus pariter et ampliamus, vobis ac heredibus et successoribus vestris predictis, per vos vel alium seu alios, corporalem insularum ac terrarum predictarum possessionem, propria auctoritate libere apprehendendi ac perpetuo retinendi, illasque adversus quoscunque impedientes etiam defendendi, plenam et liberam facultatem concedentes, ac quibuscunque personis etiam cujuscunque dignitatis, status, gradus, ordinis, vel condicionis, sub excommunicationis late sententie pena, quam contrafacientes eo ipso incurrant, districtius in­ hibentes, ne ad partes predictas ad navigandum, piscandum,[7] vel inquirendum insulas vel terras firmas aut quovis alio respectu seu colore ire vel mittere quoquo modo presumant absque expressa et spetiali vestra ac heredum et successorum predictorum licentia, Non obstantibus constitutionibus et ordi­ nationibus apostolicis, ac quibusvis donationibus, concessionibus, facultatibus, et assignationibus per nos vel predecessores nostros quibuscunque regibus, principibus, infantibus, aut quibusvis aliis personis aut ordinibus et miliciis,[8] de predictis partibus, maribus, insulis, atque terris, vel aliqua eorum parte, etiam ex quibusvis causis, etiam pietatis vel fidei aut redemptionis captivorum, et aliis quantuncunque urgentissimis, et cum quibusvis clausulis etiam deroga­ toriarum derogatoriis, fortioribus, efficacioribus, et insolitis, etiam quascunque sententias, censuras, et penas in se continentibus, que suum per actualem et realem possessionem non essent sortite effectum, licet forsan aliquando illi quibus donationes et concessiones hujusmodi facte fuissent, aut eorum nuntii, ibidem navigassent, quas tenores illarum etiam presentibus pro suffi­ cienter expressis et insertis habentes, motu, scientia, et potestatis plenitudine similibus, omnino revocamus, ac quo ad terras et insulas per eos actualiter non possessas pro infectis haberi volumus, nec non omnibus illis que in litteris predictis voluimus non obstare, ceterisque contrariis quibuscunque. Datum Rome apud Sanctum Petrum, anno Incarnationis Dominice millesimo quad­ ringentesimo nonagesimo tertio, sexto kalendas Octobris, pontificatus nostri anno secundo. Gratis de mandato sanctissimi domini nostri Pape.


P. GORMAZ.[10]



Alexander, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to the illustrious sovereigns, his very dear son in Christ, Ferdinand, king, and his very dear daughter in Christ, Isabella, queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, and Granada, health and apostolic benediction.

A short while ago of our own accord, and out of our certain knowledge, and fullness of our apostolic power, we gave, conveyed, and assigned forever to you and your heirs and successors, kings of Castile and Leon, all islands and mainlands whatsoever, discovered and to be discovered, toward the west and south, that were not under the actual temporal dominion of any Christian lords. Moreover, we invested therewith you and your aforesaid heirs and successors, and appointed and deputed you as lords of them with full and free power, authority, and jurisdiction of every kind, as more fully appears in our letters given to that effect, the terms whereof we wish to be understood as if they were inserted word for word in these presents. But since it may happen that your envoys and captains, or vassals, while voyaging toward the west or south, might bring their ships to land in eastern regions and there discover islands and mainlands that belonged or belong to India, with the desire moreover to bestow gracious favors upon you, through our similar accord, knowledge, and fullness of power, by apostolic authority and by tenor of these presents, in all and through all, just as if in the aforesaid letters full and express mention had been made thereof, we do in like manner amplify and extend our aforesaid gift, grant, assignment, and letters, with all and singular the clauses contained in the said letters, to all islands and mainlands whatsoever, found and to be found, discovered and to be dis­ covered, that are or may be or may seem to be in the route of navigation or travel toward the west or south, whether they be in western parts, or in the regions of the south and east and of India. We grant to you and your afore­ said heirs and successors full and free power through your own authority, exercised through yourselves or through another or others, freely to take corporal possession of the said islands and countries and to hold them forever, and to defend them against whosoever may oppose, With this strict prohi­ bition however to all persons, of no matter what rank, estate, degree, order or condition, that under penalty of excommunication latae sententiae, which such as contravene are to incur ipso facto, no one without your express and special license or that of your aforesaid heirs and successors shall, for no matter what reason or pretense, presume in any manner to go or send to the aforesaid regions for the purpose of navigating or of fishing, or of searching for islands or mainlands--notwithstanding apostolic consti­ tutions and ordinances, and any gifts, grants, powers, and assignments of the aforesaid regions, seas, islands, and countries, or any portion of them, made by us or our predecessors to any kings, princes, infantes, or any other persons, orders, or knighthoods, for no matter what reasons, even for motives of charity or the faith, or the ransom of captives, or for other reasons, even the most urgent; notwithstanding also any repealing clauses, even though they are of the most positive, mandatory, and unusual char­ acter; and no matter what sentences, censures, and penalties of any kind they may contain; providing however these grants have not gone into effect through actual and real possession, even though it may have happened that the persons to whom such gifts and grants were made, or their envoys, sailed thither at some time through chance. Wherefore should any such gifts or grants have been made, considering their terms to have been suffi­ ciently expressed and inserted in our present decree, we through similar accord, knowledge, and fullness of our power do wholly revoke them and as regards the countries and islands not actually taken into possession, we wish the grants to be considered as of no effect, notwithstanding what may appear in the aforesaid letters, or anything else to the contrary. Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, on the twenty-sixth day of September, in the year of the incarnation of our Lord one thousand four hundred and ninety-three, the second year of our Pontificate.

Gratis by order of our most holy lord the Pope.



  1. See introduction to Doc. 1.
  2. The report came from the Duke of Medina-Sidonia. A letter in respect to this from the sovereigns to the duke, dated May 2, 1493, is printed in Navarrete, Viages, tom. II., no. 16, pp. 22-23.
  3. Las Casas quotes Columbus as stating that King John "said that there was mainland to the south". J. E. Olson and E. G. Bourne, Northmen, Columbus, and Cabot (1906), p. 326. For these negotiations see Herrera, Historia General, dec. I., lib. II., c. 5; Zurita, Historia, tom. I., lib. I., c. 25; Muñoz, Historia, tom. I., lib., IV., § 26.
  4. Doc. 7.
  5. The text is from the original manuscript of the bull, preserved in the Archives of the Indies at Seville, Patronato, 1-1-1, no. 5.
  6. The reference is to the bull Inter caetera of May 4, Doc. 7.
  7. The reference to fishing is doubtless explained by the fact that Spain, yielding to the demands of Portugal, had just agreed to forbid her subjects to fish south of Cape Bojador. One of the two treaties between Spain and Portugal, concluded at Tordesillas on June 7, 1494, relates to the fisheries from Cape Bojador to the Rio do Ouro. This treaty is printed in J. Ramos-Coelhos, Algs. Docs. (1892), pp. 80 ff.
  8. This refers to the Portuguese military Order of Christ, to which Pope Calixtus had granted the spiritualities of Guinea, and beyond, as far as to the Indians. See Doc. 2.
  9. Cf. Doc. 6, note 14.
  10. In the second copy of the bull the name of L. Alvarus is substituted. The name of the pontifical secretary, L. Podocatharus, appears on the dorse of both copies of the bull.
  11. See Doc. 5, note 19.