By Daniel K. Lewis
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Additional resources for A South American Frontier: The Tri-border Region (Arbitrary Borders)
It served its purpose, and Spain and Portugal avoided war, but ambitions and realities quickly made the treaty outdated. In this new world, Portugal was relegated to the area now known as Brazil. In fact, the two kingdoms avoided conflict by fortune and default. Portugal took charge of the ocean routes between western and southern Africa. Building trading posts and launching convoys, the Portuguese developed markets that fully commanded the resources and attention of the Crown. When Portuguese expeditions took charge of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, Portugal became Europe’s best source of Asian products.
They also opened up new mercantile industries: ranching, tanning, the production of yerba mate, and the collection of wood for fuel, construction, and other uses. The encomienda grants cemented the elite position of the Spanish invaders and their descendants in the generations that European Settlement followed. This exploitation concerned Spanish authorities. In 1542, the Crown appointed Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca as Asunción’s new governor. Cabeza de Vaca came with orders to abolish the encomienda system and to bring under his own supervision the mercantile activities of the region.
The development of other towns and cities complicated matters. Buenos Aires, rebuilt by an expedition sent from Asunción, replaced the Paraguayan town as the key base for Spanish defense against Brazil and other foreign groups that the Spanish Crown considered a threat. Asunción would continue to provide the military resources to answer all threats, but Buenos Aires had the advantage of being closer to Spain. The rise of Córdoba—at the midpoint of a wagon road that connected Buenos Aires to Spain’s Andean colonies and towns—as the center of Church operations east of the Andes created a second rival to Asunción.
A South American Frontier: The Tri-border Region (Arbitrary Borders) by Daniel K. Lewis