Spain, at the urging of Bartolomé de Las Casas, implemented the Leyes Nuevas—the “New Laws of the Indies for the Good Treatment and Preservation of the Indians.” The New Laws were intended to protect Indians from enslavement and maltreatment by Spanish colonists, but they had little effect as colonists refused to abide by them.
Christopher Columbus’s letter describing what he discovered during his voyage across the Atlantic was published in Barcelona in April 1493. Columbus’s descriptions were soon reprinted in other languages, with news of his discoveries spreading across Europe by 1500.
The Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 moved the boundary between Spanish and Portuguese lands in the New World. The line of demarcation established a year earlier by the pope’s papal bull Inter Caetera shifted 1,000 miles westward, with the result that Brazil (when it was discovered) came under Portuguese control.