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Explorers Project Biography

Vasco Núñez de Balboa
by

Emily Val

on 26 April 2010

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Transcript of Explorers Project Biography

Vasco Núñez de Balboa Inspired by Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the Americas, he joined a crew, explored a bit, and ended up on the island of Hispaniola (Cuba). With the money he earned, he became a pig farmer, which failed, causing him to stow away with his dog Leoncico in a barrel on the expedition of Fernández de Enciso to Nueva Andalucia. He was discovered, but pledged his knowledge of the region in return for the sparing of his life. In the Americas, he used a mixture of war, diplomacy, and negotiation to expand his influence and profit from the natives’ gold. While in the territory of a chief named Comagre, he heard about the mystical “South Sea,” where gold was so plentiful that it was used for plates and goblets. Núñez traveled across the Isthmus of Panama, and when he reached the South Sea, his men built pyramids and carved crosses into the bark of trees to mark the spot it had first been seen. To claim the sea for Spain, Balboa raised his hands, his sword in one and an image of the Virgin Mary in the other, walked knee-deep into the ocean, and declared the sea and all the adjoining lands now belonged to Spain. Balboa returned to the main Spanish settlement, where he had been demoted in his absence. When he attempted to secretly return to the South Sea, the new governor had him locked up in a wooden crate until the King ordered him to be set free. When Balboa finally returned to the South Sea, the new governor had him captured and put to death. Beheading Balboa took the executioner three tries. The South Sea was renamed by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520. Because of its calm waters, he christened it Pacifica (the Pacific Ocean). Balboa is well remembered in Panama, where he settled for a while. Their currency is called the Balboa, and his face appears on some of their coins. He also has a crater named for him on the moon. The End
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