Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Balboa, Vasco Núñez de from Philip's Encyclopedia

Spanish conquistador, the first European to see the Pacific Ocean. He went to Hispaniola in 1500, and to Darién (Panama) ten years later. In September 1513, accompanied by a group of locals, he crossed the isthmus and saw the Pacific, which he called the South Sea. He was later executed on a false charge by the governor.

Summary Article: Balboa, Vasco Núñez de
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(bălbō'Ә, Span. vä'skō nō'nyāth dā bälbō'ä), c.1475–1519, Spanish conquistador, discoverer of the Pacific Ocean. After sailing with Bastidas in 1501, Balboa probably went to Hispaniola. In 1510, fleeing from creditors, he hid on the vessel that took Enciso to Panama. After reaching Darién, Balboa took command, deposed the incompetent Enciso, and sent him to Spain as a prisoner. Balboa showed only rarely the rapacity and cruelty characteristic of the conquistador. He won the friendship of the indigenous people, who accompanied him on his epic march across the isthmus. Toward the end of Sept., 1513, he discovered the Pacific and claimed it and all shores washed by it for the Spanish crown. His discovery came too late to offset Enciso's complaints at the court of Spain. Balboa was replaced by Pedro Arias de Ávila, and while preparing an expedition to Peru, he was summarily seized, accused of treason, and beheaded.

  • See Anderson, C. L. G. , Life and Letters of Vasco Núñez de Balboa (1941, repr. 1971);.
  • Romoli, K. , Balboa of Darién (1953).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles

Full text Article Balboa, Vasco Núñez de
Chambers Biographical Dictionary

1475-1519 Spanish explorer He was born in Jerez de Los Caballeros, and in 1511 joined an expedition to Darién (Central America) as a stowaway. Taking

Full text Article Balboa, Vasco Nuñes de (c. 1475 - 1517)
The Encyclopaedia of the Renaissance

Balboa was born into a good Estremaduran family and went to the West Indies in 1501. In 1510 he assumed command of an...

Full text Article Balboa, Vasco Núñez de (c. 1475 - 1517)
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

Having settled in Hispaniola, he became a stowaway on an expedition to present-day Colombia (1510), moved on to Panama, and...

See more from Credo