Treaty of Madrid (13 January 1750)

The Spanish–Portuguese treaty of 1750 or Treaty of Madrid was a document signed in the Spanish capital by Ferdinand VI of Spain and John V of Portugal on 13 January 1750, to end armed conflict over a border dispute between the Spanish and Portuguese empires in South America in the vicinity of the Uruguay River, an area known as the Banda Oriental (now comprising parts of Uruguay, Argentina and the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil). The treaty established borders between the Spanish and Portuguese empires, ceding much of what is today's country of Brazil to the Portuguese.[1]


See also Spanish–Portuguese War (1735–37)
  • Political: Treaties of Tordesillas and Zaragoza

Earlier treaties such as the Treaty of Tordesillas and the Treaty of Zaragoza authored by both countries, and as mediated by Pope Alexander VI, stipulated that the Portuguese empire in South America could extend no farther west than 370 leagues west of Cape Verde Islands (called the Tordesillas meridian, approx. the 46th meridian). Had these treaties remained unchanged, the Spanish would have held both what is today the city of São Paulo and all land to the west and south. Thus, Brazil would be only a fraction of its present-day size.

Brazil (1534)

Brazil according to the Treaty of Tordesillas

  • Territorial: discovery of gold in Mato Grosso in 1695; Portuguese gains in the lower Amazon

Starting in the 17th century, Portuguese explorers, traders, and missionaries from the state of Maranhao in the north, and gold-seekers and slave-hunters, the famous bandeirantes of São Paulo, in the south, had penetrated far to the west and far to the south of the old imaginary treaty-line.

    • New captaincies (administrative divisions) created by the Portuguese beyond Brazil's previously-established boundaries: Minas Gerais, Goias, Mato Grosso, Santa Catarina

National motivations


  • To strike a balance between the boundary claims of Spain and Portugal by allotting the greater part of the Amazon basin to the latter country and that of the Rio de la Plata to the former
  • To secure the undisputed sovereignty of the gold and diamond districts of Goias and Mato Grosso for the Portuguese Crown
  • To secure Brazil's frontier by the retention of the Rio Grande do Sul and the acquisition of the Spanish Jesuit missions ("Seven Peoples") on the left bank of the river Uruguay
  • To secure the western frontier of Brazil and river communication with Maranhao-Para by ensuring that navigation on the rivers Tocantins, Tapajos and Madeira remain in Portuguese hands


  • To stop the westward advance of the Portuguese, who had already encroached on much of what was theoretically Spanish territory even though it consisted mostly of virgin jungle
  • To transfer to Spain the Portuguese colony of Sacramento, which had functioned as a backdoor for the illegal Anglo-Portuguese trade with the Viceroyalty of Peru and which rendered the Spanish city of Buenos Aires dangerously exposed to foreign invasion
  • To undermine the Anglo-Portuguese alliance, and thus eventually to facilitate a union between the two Iberian powers in South America against English aggression and ambition

Cartographic issues

  • 1722 map of French cartographer Guillaume de Lisle
  • 1749 map of Alexandre de Gusmão: Mappa das Cortes, or Mapa de las Cortes

International context

  • Philippines & Moluccas under Spanish sovereignty

Structure of the Treaty

The original was in both Portuguese and Spanish. The treaty consists of a lengthy preamble, and 26 articles.

Terms of the Treaty

The Treaty of Madrid was based on the principles of Uti possidetis, ita possideatis from Roman law (who owns by fact owns by right) and “natural boundaries”, stating respectively in the preamble: “each party must stay with what it now holds” and “the boundaries of the two Domains... are the sources and courses of the most notable rivers and mountains”, and thereby authorizing the Portuguese to retain the lands they had occupied at the expense of the Empire of Spain. The treaty also stipulated that Spain would receive the Sacramento Colony and Portugal the Misiones Orientales. These were seven independent Jesuit missions of the upper Uruguay River.

  • Treaty of Torsedillas specifically abrogated
  • Definition of the boundary

The treaty sensibly sought to follow geographic features in fixing the boundary: it moved westward from a point on the Atlantic coast south of Rio Grande do Sul, then northward irregularly following parts of the Uruguay, Iguaçu, Paraná, Paraguay, Guapore, Madeira, and Javari Rivers, and north of the Amazon, ran from the middle Negro to the watershed between the Amazon and Orinoco basins and along the Guiana watershed to the Atlantic.[2][3]

  • Mapping

Soon after signing it, two commissions for demarcation were created. The Northern, chaired by the State Governor of Grão-Pará and Maranhão, in the South headed on the Portuguese side by the Governor of Rio de Janeiro.


The Treaty of Madrid was significant because it substantially defined the modern boundaries of Brazil. However, the resistance of the Jesuits to surrendering their missions and the refusal of the Guarani to be forcibly relocated led to the nullification of the treaty by the subsequent Treaty of El Pardo, signed by both countries in 1761. The opposition by the Guarani led to the Guarani War of 1756. The terms of the Treaty of Madrid, with a few exceptions, were re-established in the First Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1777, and that treaty was again negated in 1801.

Brazil (1750)

Brazil according to the Treaty of Madrid of 1750, reaffirmed in the First Treaty of San Ildefonso of 1777.

See also


  1. ^ Waisberg, Tatiana, "The Treaty of Tordesillas and the (Re)Invention of International Law in the Age of Discovery" Journal of Global Studies, No. 47 (2017), p. 9.
  2. ^ Bethell, ed., Leslie (1987). Colonial Brazil. Cambridge University Press. p. 186. ISBN 978-0521349253.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Savelle, Max (1974). Empires to Nations: Expansion in America, 1713-1824. Univ Of Minnesota Press. pp. 132–33. ISBN 978-0816607815.

External links

Amazonas (Brazilian state)

Amazonas (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐmɐˈzõnɐs]) is a state of Brazil, located in the North Region in the northwestern corner of the country. It is the largest Brazilian state by area and the 9th largest country subdivision in the world, and is greater than the areas of Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile combined. Mostly located in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the third largest country subdivision in the Southern Hemisphere after the Australian states of Western Australia and Queensland. It would be the sixteenth largest country in land area, slightly larger than Mongolia. Neighbouring states are (from the north clockwise) Roraima, Pará, Mato Grosso, Rondônia, and Acre. It also borders the nations of Peru, Colombia and Venezuela. This includes the Departments of Amazonas, Vaupés and Guainía in Colombia, as well as the Amazonas state in Venezuela, and the Loreto Region in Peru.

Amazonas is named after the Amazon River, and was formerly part of the Spanish Empire's Viceroyalty of Peru, a region called Spanish Guyana. It was settled by the Portuguese moving northwest from Brazil in the early 18th century and incorporated into the Portuguese empire after the Treaty of Madrid in 1750. It became a state under the First Brazilian Republic in 1889.

Most of the state is tropical jungle; cities are clustered along navigable waterways and are accessible only by boat or plane. The capital and largest city is Manaus, a modern city of 2.1 million inhabitants in the middle of the jungle on the Amazon River 1,500 km upstream from the Atlantic Ocean. Nearly half the state's population lives in the city; the other large cities, Parintins, Manacapuru, Itacoatiara, Tefé, and Coari are also along the Amazon River in the eastern half of the state.

Banda Oriental

Banda Oriental, or more fully Banda Oriental del Uruguay (Eastern Bank), was the name of the South American territories east of the Uruguay River and north of Río de la Plata that comprise the modern nation of Uruguay; the modern state of Brazil Rio Grande do Sul; and some of Santa Catarina, Brazil. It was the easternmost territory of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata.

After decades of disputes over the territories, the 1777 First Treaty of San Ildefonso settled the division between the Spanish Empire and the Portuguese Empire: the southern part was to be held by the Spanish Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata and the northern territories by the Portuguese Capitania de São Pedro do Rio Grande do Sul (English: Captaincy of Saint Peter of the Southern Río Grande).

The Banda Oriental was not a separate administrative unit until the de facto creation of the Provincia Oriental (English: Eastern Province) by José Gervasio Artigas in 1813 and the subsequent decree of the Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata of 7 March 1814, which formally established the Gobernación Intendencia Oriental del Río de la Plata (English: Governorship-Intendency East of the Río de la Plata), making it a constituent part of the United Provinces of South America.

Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia del Sacramento (Spanish pronunciation: [koˈlonja ðel sakɾaˈmento]; formerly the Portuguese Colónia do Sacramento) is a city in southwestern Uruguay, by the Río de la Plata, facing Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay and capital of the Colonia Department. It has a population of around 27,000.

It is renowned for its historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Modern Colonia del Sacramento produces textiles and has a free trade zone, in addition to a polytechnic centre and various government buildings.

Index of Portugal-related articles

The following is a list of Portugal-related articles. Those interested in the subject can monitor changes to the pages by clicking on Related changes in the sidebar.

List of treaties

This list of treaties contains known agreements, pacts, peaces, and major contracts between states, armies, governments, and tribal groups.

Treaty of Madrid

Treaty of Madrid may refer to:

Treaty of Madrid (1339), collaboration between Aragon and Castile

Treaty of Madrid (1526), in which France renounced claims in Italy, surrendered Burgundy to Spain, and abandoned sovereignty over Flanders and Artois

Treaty of Madrid (1617), between the Holy Roman Empire and the Republic of Venice ending the Uskok War

Treaty of Madrid (1621), in which Valtelline was restored to the Bund and Protestants in the region were given religious freedoms

Treaty of Madrid (1630), in which England renounced supporting the rebels of the Spanish Netherlands and the Protestants in Germany

Treaty of Madrid (1667) or Lord Sandwich's Treaty, the first step in officially ending the Anglo-Spanish War (1654–1660)

Treaty of Madrid (1670), in which Spain recognized English possessions in the Caribbean Sea

Treaty of Madrid (13 January 1750), which settled boundaries between Spain and Portugal's colonies in South America

Treaty of Madrid (5 October 1750), between Spain and Britain

Pinckney's Treaty or Treaty of Madrid (1795), which settled boundaries between the United States and Spain

Treaty of Madrid (1801), in which Portugal gives France an indemnity of 20 million francs and half of Guiana

Treaty of Madrid (1814), between Britain and Spain, following restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy

Treaty of Madrid (1880), between the Sultan of Morocco and other Powers

Treaty of Madrid (1891), giving France legal protection of the term "champagne"

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