Vasco Núñez de Balboa (Dictionary of World Biography: Renaissance)
Article abstract: Balboa was a Spanish conquistador who participated in the exploration and conquest of the Caribbean and the Central American mainland during the early sixteenth century. In 1513, he discovered the Pacific Ocean.
Vasco Núñez de Balboa was born in 1475 in Jeres de los Caballeros in the Spanish province of Estremadura. Although part of the hidalgo class, Balboa’s family was very poor. Thrilled by the reports of Christopher Columbus’ voyages to the New World in 1492 and 1493, he drifted toward the vibrant atmosphere of Spain’s port cities. He served eight years under Don Pedro Puertocarrero, Lord of Moguer, and acquired a reputation as an excellent fighter. In 1501, Balboa sailed to the New World under Don Pedro de Bastides, who discovered Barbados and sailed along the north coast of Tierra Firme (northern South America). The Bastides expedition terminated disastrously when his ships became infested with shipworms and eventually sank off the coast of Hispaniola (Haiti).
Balboa remained on Hispaniola to farm near Salvatierra, to mine for gold, and to fight Indians. He fell deeply into debt, and his creditors constantly harassed him for payments. As an Indian fighter, however, Balboa acquired great renown for his spirit and skill. Equally famous was Balboa’s dog, the great “Leoncico” (little lion), that was noted for his ferocity in combat. Indeed, Leoncico was...
(The entire section is 1595 words.)
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