1604 - Treaty between Spain and England

The treaty conference at the Somerset House, in London, bringing peace to England and Spain at the end of a nineteen year-long war.

       This treaty purposefully left unresolved the question of who owned what in distant lands.  (Click here for more on this treaty)  Spain asserted that it left the papal charter intact, effectively denying England the right to sail her ships into the Indies for the purpose of trade under the Law of Nations, but England could argue that it had full rights to north and south Virginia.  By the time Jamestown was established a few years later, these questions were moot.  Both monarchs realized that the legal arguments under the abstract law governing nations had little practical effect on the rights to empire in foreign lands.  The future legitimacy of any clam would be perfected through power on the ground, not lawyers in a courtroom. 

         In this way, the theocratic arguments of King Duarte and Queen Isabella (a century before) began giving way to the relentless secular motivation for acquisition of gold and silver.  No one could fool anyone anymore as to the true prize of conquest.  The new world was about gold and silver, with a few converts thrown in to lend an air of respectability to the tempests of genocide that would rule the 'new world' for the next three centuries.