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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 C. L. G. Anderson, Life and Letters of Vasco Núñez de Balboa (1941, repr. 1971);.
  • Romoli, K., Balboa of Darién (1953).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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