Biography of Vasco Nunez de Balboa

Vasco Nunez de Balboa was born in 1475, in Jerez de loc Caballeros. His father was a nobleman, but Balboa grew up poor. In 1500, Balboa left for the New World on the expedition of Rodrigo de Bastidas . The expedition explored parts of both Central and South America. They then sailed to Hispaniola. Balboa settled in Hispaniola and attempted to be farmer. He was not successful as a farmer and soon found himself in debt. To escape his creditors, Balboa stowed away on an expedition to support the new settlement of San Sebastian.

When the expedition arrived at San Sebastian they found the settlement destroyed. The governor had left, and Balboa convinced the settlers to move the settlement to the region of Darien. There they established the settlement of Santa Maria. Balboa established a strong reputation for himself among the settlers. He managed to maneuver himself to become governor of the settlement. He immediately organized expeditions to explore the area along the coast of Panama.

Balboa heard stories of a great ocean. He led a party of 190 Spaniards and 1,000 friendly natives on expedition to cross the mountains. The passage was difficult and through part of the journey, it was necessary to hack their way through the jungle.

On September 25th, 1513, Vasco Nunez de Balboa reached the peak of the mountains and spotted the Pacific Ocean below. Four days later he reached the Pacific, which he named "Mar del Sur" (South Sea). Balboa plunged into the ocean and claimed it for Spain.

After discovering the Pacific, Balboa explored the area further finding both gold and pearls. When he returned to San Maria, in 1514, he found a new governor in charge. Balboa submitted to the authority of the new governor, but the relations between him and the new governor, Pedrarias D'vila, were rocky and went up and down. Balboa stayed at the colony marrying the governor's daughter. In 1517 and 1518 Balboa explored the western coast of Panama. On his return, Pedrarias had Francisco Pizarro arrest Balboa. Balboa was tried and found guilty of treason. He was beheaded on January 15, 1519.

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