Abstract

While a number of concepts date back to Roman Law, the origins of the modern law of the sea might very well be said to have occurred early in the 16th Century. Charles V, King of Spain and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, decreed that the seas were to be divided between the Portuguese and the Spanish. His first challenge came from his cousin, Francis I, King of France, who had organized and financed an expedition to explore the New World. Charles sent an Ambassador to Francis reminding him of the imperial decree forbidding all but the Portuguese and Spanish to navigate to the New World. Francis' answer to the envoy was very straightforward: "Tell my good cousin Charles that if he will show me where in Adam's will the sea was bequeathed to the Spanish and Portuguese, then I will obey." Accordingly, Francis' expedition, led by an Italian, Verrazano, sailed and discovered what is now New York harbor.

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