Vasco De Balboa



Vasco Nunez De Balboa, A Spanish conqueror & explorer who lived
from 1475 to 1526 and was the first european to reach the Pacific Ocean
from the Atlantic.
He was born in Jerez de los Caballeros, in western Spain. In early
1500's he was a member of the trading expedition, organized by the Spanish
explorer Rodrigo de Bastidas, that visited the northern coast of South
America. He left Hispaniola to lead the first Spanish expedition to colonize
the mainland of South America. Later, Balboa settled in what is now Haiti
and the Dominican Republic. An unsuccessful farmer, Balboa had a hard
time making money and soon had fallen heavily in dept. 1510 he escaped his
creditors and hid in a cask on board a ship. The ship was taking soldiers to a
colony on the Colombian coast. When they arrived, the indians had driven
away most of the colonist. Balboa then joined an expedition to Panama
commanded by Martin Fernandez de Encisco. There they founded a
settlement called Darien. Balboa took command and became temporary
governor.
Indians told Balboa about the sea to the west and of a land called
Tubanama where he could find more gold. The land was located across the
mountains near the great sea. When he heard that the king was sending a
new governor to Darien, Balboa led a exploratory party to the shores of the
Pacific Ocean. With a party of about 190 spaniards and about 800 Indians,
Balboa first sighted the Pacific on September 25, 1513. Four days later, the
party reached the Pacific coast at the Gulf of San Miguel. Balboa named the
sea Mar del Sur (south Sea). He claimed it and all the land within it for
Spain. Following his discovery, he was made governor of the South Sea
and Coiba. As a result of intrigues at the Spanish court, Balboa was replaced
as governor of Darien by the Spanish soldier Pedrarias Davila, an elderly
nobleman. He also prevented Balboa from leaving Darien, and finally arrested
and beheaded him on unjust charges of treason.