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Late medieval Europe had long been linked with Asia via tenuous land routes, as had Asia with America across the Pacific, but it was not until the Portuguese thrust into the Atlantic early in the fifteenth century that the last great oceanic hiatus in global intercommunication came to be closed. The Portuguese thrust outward, however, was not limited to pushing down the west coast of Africa, important though that finally proved to be. These sailings inevitably brought them into contact with the islands of the Atlantic, nearby Madeira and the Canaries to begin with, the Azores and the Cape Verdes later. In the context of Portugal's prior Atlantic experience, the nature of Brazil was ambiguous. In most respects, it appeared to be simply another Atlantic island, but unlike Madeira or the Azores, it was populated by savage though comely natives. During the factory period, Portuguese relations with the Indians had been generally amicable.
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