Before traveling to Cemanahuac, the people of the Iberian peninsula were at war with their southern neighbor for almost 700 years. The Islamic Moors spent a lot of that time fighting against different Spanish and Portuguese kingdoms. Iberian nobles even fought amongst themselves for centuries. But Spanish and Portuguese people did not gain control of their land and expel the Moors, until they united in arms as Christians.

In 1061, when Pope Alexander II began sanctioning crusades for the Catholic Church, he ushered in a new era of religious fighters. These Crusaders would help carry out the church’s agenda while being absolved of their sins in the process. The religious army would officially end the Reconquista battles in the Iberian Peninsula by recapturing Granada and banishing the Moors for good. Winning the war in January, 1492, meant the Catholic monarchs could shift their attention, and resources, to a new western effort.

By October of that year, Columbus would land on the Canary Islands with remnants of the Reconquista armies. Because many of the first voyagers to the New World were joined by religion and not government, the Pope would need to settle the first land disputes. The Treaty of Alcáçovas and the Treaty of Tordesillas are primarily responsible for the dividing of Cemanahuac. The premature lines were drawn before much of the northern part of the continent was explored –– and is why Portugal was only granted a small portion of land. It’s easy to recognize the territories today, as Spanish and Portuguese languages split “South America.” Despite differences in language, the faith of all Iberian people was fairly unanimous. That is why religion, especially Catholicism, is so synonymous with the foundation of the Americas.

Collision Course with the World