Immediately upon Columbus’ return, Ferdinand and Isabella petitioned the Pope to bifurcate the non-Christian world. The western half, from pole to pole, was to be titled to Spain, while the eastern half went to Portugal.
The news of Columbus’ discovery galvanized merchants more than the courts of other countries, though kings commissioned ventures which were largely privately financed.
In 1497, Italian John Cabot, backed by Bristol merchants and under commission of Henry VII of England, sailed forth to discover Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. The next year he made a 2nd voyage.
Cabot’s failure to return with marketable commodities, such as spices or precious metals, meant that his commercial backers lost interest. So it went with other efforts to find a western passage to India, even as new lands were discovered.
Meanwhile, sovereigns who backed these ventures laid claim to the future countries of the New World. What started as a gold rush ended up as a land grab, though lunging for lucre never went out of fashion. Persistence did pay off in riches for some while claims for nascent empires were being laid.