1494: How a Family Feud in Medieval Spain Divided the World in Half
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1494: How a Family Feud in Medieval Spain Divided the World in Half

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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  79 ratings  ·  19 reviews
"This is a starry love story, a tale of seething jealousies and subterfuge, a political imbroglio, and religious cruelties. It sounds like Shakespeare and it could have very well been the plot of one of his plays."
--Toronto Star

In 1494, award-winning author Stephen R. Bown tells the untold story of the explosive feud between monarchs, clergy, and explorers that split the...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published July 1st 2011)
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Jennifer
This a good generalist novel on the events leading to the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas and the ramifications stemming from that Treaty. I for one, had no idea that it was the Pope (Pope Alexander VI aka the infamous Rodrigo Borgia) who decreed this and how Brazil is the only Portuguese speaking country in South America. Since this was a papal bull, it was enforced for a century and led to Spain and Portugal being superpowers of the day until the Protestant Reformation. It highlights Columbus's voy...more
John
An admittedly "big picture" book by a Canadian author, "1494" is a fun, quick, interesting read that introduces a set of historical events that few readers may know. The book sketches the rise of the Portuguese and Spanish overseas empires, the clashes between the ruling (and related) houses of the two countries, and the creation of the papal bull and associated treaty that attempted to divide the "new" world into exclusive Portuguese and Spanish zones. The book then turns its attention to descr...more
Sharon
A really interesting historical read about how Spain and Portugal managed to control so much of the "known" world, the role of the Pope, and the monarchs, and more. It really set a lot of background for me to what I knew - and not a lot - and remembered about the slave trade, and other information. Since traveling to Spain several years ago, I've had an interest in learning how Spain become a world power and is hardly considered by many today even worth a tourist trip. This is well-written, and...more
Gustavo Nascimento
Ótimo livro sobre o período das grandes navegações, traz um bom panorama do período com destaque para a unificação da Espanha e as viagens de Cristóvão Colombo e Fernão de Magalhães. Também traz uma reflexão interessante sobre a como divisão do mundo pelo por uma bula papal entre apenas dois países da cristandade européia pode ter sido um fator importante no sucesso da reforma protestante nos demais países da Europa. O livro peca um pouco por dar muito mais destaque sobre fatos ocorridos na Espa...more
Ruth
I picked this one up at my library because I fancied some history and it just looked a bit intriguing. I made a great choice with this one!

It is definitely a real history book. You need to understand a bit of European history, particularly Tudor-era history, to really get to grips with it, but for me it's a wonderful book that links Columbus, Sir Francis Drake, sugar, slaves, cinnamon, pepper, and popes all together in one very well-written general history, and in the process explains why Indone...more
Littlebrit
A carefully written text on the tumultuous events in the Iberian peninsula and the world's oceans during the 15th century. These events, including Columbus's "discovery" of America, dramatically changed the course of world history, but were largely set in motion by the decision of a young Spanish woman of high birth to decide her own future and defy the wishes of her family. Also, pivotal in setting history's course, were the unbelievable, in today's terms, and arrogant actions of a number of po...more
Thomas
Mr. Bown gives us a good "wide angle" view of the love/hate relationship that Spain and Portugal developed prior to Columbus's first voyage to the New World. He explains how internal dynastic struggles and corrupt popes contributed to these two nations actually dividing the world between them. Yep, they actually drew up up a treaty and had it blessed by Rodrigo Borgia. Portugal got most of the East half and Spain the West.

I especially enjoyed his description of Magellan's circumnavigation of the...more
Cary
I'm on the fence as to what to give this - a 3 or a 4. On the one hand it's engaging and fascinating, but on the other it is a bit fluffy. I could have done with a little more detail, footnoting and maps. The last point in particular bogged me. A book about the age of exploration with ONLY ONE MAP. Weak.

If you have an interest in figures like Columbus, Isabella and Magellan,as well as the treaty that divided the world between the two superpowers of the late 15th century and how that shaped geopo...more
Julie
An awesome read on the power of the Pope and the Roman seat of power during 15th century Europe - specifically Spain and Portugal. A great historical story detailing how Pope Alexander divided the world in half and how England and other countries became Protestant in order to bypass the Papal Bull that gave half the world to Spain and the other to Portugal without having the inconvenience of being excommunicated by
the Roman Catholic church.
Dispels a lot of misconception regarding who really dis...more
Daniel Kukwa
A solid concise thesis, a concise story well told, and an excellent analysis of a specific series of decisions that lead to a monumental impact on the world. I had my eye on this one for a long time, and it didn't fail to live up to expectations. I especially appreciated the succinct summary of the Borgias...one that didn't require a biblical-length text in its own right.
Lauren Albert
The book is really about the events leading up to the division of the world into "Portuguese" and "Spanish" possessions by the Pope and then to the consequences of that event. So the second half of the book discusses the exploratory travels funded by other countries and the wars that resulted.
Sharyn Lehrke
Very readable explanation of Spanish and Portuguese early exploration/colonization and how the Roman Catholic Church split the globe between these two countries. Very vivid characterizations of the key historical figures involved.
Robert
This book delivers in what it promises. For those that don't have much knowledge about that era, other relevant events are appropriately covered briefly. Very quick and easy to read, a bit too short for my taste.
Raymond Brown
Very good story - the author does a great job of linking the Treaty of Tordesillas to larger historical events and to maritime history in general. Excellent tale from the time. Easy to read and interesting to follow.
Cristóvão Atherino
The author did a good historical review of the time of Columbus and how the Treaty of Tordesillas influenced later European alliances and conflicts. Good read.
Felisa
Me ha gustado mucho. Su lectura se hace muy amena, nada pesada, y me ha servido para recordar cosas que había estudiado y ya no recordaba. Muy interesante.
Dave
Great story concerning the Church and the Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal during the 16th century. Very well written.
David
The effects of the
Treaty of Tordesillas
On world history.
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I am an award-winning author of historical non-fiction with seven books to my credit (and the manuscript for my eighth book is almost complete). My book Scurvy: How a Surgeon, a Mariner and a Gentleman Solved the Greatest Medical Mystery of the Age of Sail was an international critical success and was selected as one of the Globe and Mail's Top 100 books of 2004. A Most Damn...more
More about Stephen R. Bown...
Scurvy: How a Surgeon, a Mariner, and a Gentlemen Solved the Greatest Medical Mystery of the Age of Sail The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen Merchant Kings A Most Damnable Invention: Dynamite, Nitrates, and the Making of the Modern World Madness, Betrayal and the Lash: The Epic Voyage of Captain George Vancouver

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