SAT Subject US History Practice Question 690: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 690

41. The fact that Spain, rather than its rival, Portugal, was the dominant power in the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries was largely the result of the

A. fact that Spanish ships were faster than Portuguese ships.
B. large numbers of Spanish settlers who arrived in the New World.
C. Treaty of Tordesillas, signed in 1494.
D. success of Christopher Columbus in the New World.
E. large treasury that had been accumulated by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

Correct Answer: C


The Treaty of Tordesillas, signed by Spain and Portugal in 1495, divided the non-European world between Spain and Portugal. Thus, Spain was then free to explore the Western Hemisphere without Portuguese interference-except the coast of Brazil, which fell into the Portuguese half of the world. The Portuguese had developed the caravel, a faster sailing ship than those possessed by the Spanish (A). Spanish settlers (B) did not come in large numbers to the New World. Although Christopher Columbus "discovered" the New World, his actions, by themselves, were not very successful in establishing Spain in the New World (D) and only encouraged competitors from other nations to join the search for an all-water route to the Far East. The wealth accumulated by the Spanish crown (E) was the result, not the cause, of Spanish domination of most of the New World.

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