Do we know the exact place in Panama where Vasco Núñez de Balboa first saw the South Ocean?
(If so, do we have a picture of this place where he saw the two oceans at the same time?)
In Decisive Moments in History from Stefan Zweig, it is written that Balboa and his men built at this location a Christian cross with the initials of the King of Spain. Is the cross still there or is there some monument that marks this point?
The place is not known with certainty, but some googling revealed two possible candidates:
One of them is Pechito Parado, a mountain near a very small village named Quebrada Eusebio. This place was visited by a group of young people in the Ruta Quetzal BBVA, a cultural exchange program, on the anniversary of the discovery in 2013 (more info, in Spanish, in this Spanish newspaper).
The other candidate is a mountain named Urrucallala and is mentioned in some academical journals such as Ángel Rubio's La ruta de Balboa y el descubrimiento del Océano Pacífico (1965) and an article in the Hispanic American Historical Review (1967), both in snippet view so I can't read them in full. Rubio, however, mentions both mountains and says they were very close to each other.
According to Wikipedia articles both in English and Spanish that spot was the top of a mountain.
Britannica mentions “a peak in Darién” around quotes.
“A peak in Darién” is also the end of a poem of John Keats, in which he (wrongly) attributes the discovery to Hernán Cortés.
So it seems the name of the mountain or peak is not recorded.
The Indian people carried him on a chair to their king. The king was disgusted with the treasures that they were giving him for trade for their spices. Da Gama only gave him some silk scarves and pottery. Then when Da Gama walked out all the Indian people yelled at them and spit at the ground.
Vasco Nuñez de Balboa helped establish the first stable European settlement on the mainland of South America. The colony of Darien in Panama helped Spain establish a vast colonial empire in the Americas. Balboa is also credited as being the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from the New World.
Balboa came from the ranks of that lower nobility whose sons often sought their fortunes in the West Indies. In 1500 he was part of an expedition led by Rodrigo de Bastidas (b. 1460?), which explored the coast of present-day Colombia. Balboa then settled in Hispaniola and was given a farm to tend. Balboa did not enjoy the agrarian lifestyle and accumulated much debt. He wished to leave the country and seek his fortune elsewhere but was told he could not leave the island with outstanding debts. He decided to bribe some men getting ready to leave on an expedition so that he and his faithful dog could stowaway in a barrel. The voyage was organized in 1510 by Martín Fernández de Enciso (1470?-1528) to bring aid and reinforcements to a colony off the coast of Uraba (present-day Colombia). When they arrived, the colony was in ruins and there were few survivors. The Indians in the area were hostile and used arrows with tips that were soaked in poison. On the advice of Balboa the settlers moved across the Gulf of Uraba to an area known as Darien. This area was much less hostile, and they founded the town of Antigua. Balboa began to accumulate wealth from the Indians by befriending them or, if that was not successful, by going to war with them. Eventually Balboa was elected as the comagistrate of the settlement. He was later named by the king as interim governor and captain general of Darien.
Balboa meanwhile had organized a series of expeditions to hunt for gold and slaves. His Indian policy combined the use of barter, every kind of force, including torture, to extract information, and the tactic of divide and conquer by forming alliances with certain tribes against others. He was able to do this because of his vast knowledge of the area. The Indians of Darien were more timid that those of Uraba, so they were easily subdued.
One day, in a fit of rage over the Spanish love of gold, an angry Indian told of both a land to the south by a sea and a province infinitely rich in gold. It is thought that these references were to the Pacific Ocean and perhaps to the Inca Empire. The conquest of that land, their informants declared, would require 1,000 men. Balboa dispatched men to request reinforcements the news they brought created much excitement, and a large expedition was promptly organized. But Balboa was not given command of the expedition because he had fallen out of favor with King Ferdinand II. Instead, that position went to an elderly, powerful nobleman, Pedrarias (1440?-1531). The expedition, numbering over 2,000 persons, left Spain in April 1514.
Balboa decided to move ahead without reinforcements and sailed on September 1, 1513, to Acla, at the narrowest part of the Panama isthmus. His troop numbered nearly 200 Spaniards and hundreds of Indian carriers. They marched across the isthmus through dense jungles, rivers, and swamps. Finally on September 27, 1513, after ascending a hill by himself, Balboa sighted the South Sea, or the Pacific Ocean. Some days later he reached the shore of the Pacific at the Gulf of San Miguel and took possession of the South Sea and the adjacent lands for his king. He then retraced his steps and returned in January of 1514. Once the king was informed of Balboa's feat, he immediately appointed Balboa the governor of the South Sea and Panama, but Balboa remained subject to the authority of Pedrarias.
When Pedrarias finally arrived in Darien in June of 1514, relations between the men were strained. As a show of good faith, Pedrarias betrothed his daughter Maria in Spain to Balboa. But the underlying causes of friction remained. Highly suspicious and jealous of Balboa, Pedrarias implemented policies that were meant to impede Balboa. After much effort, he granted Balboa permission to explore the Gulf of San Miguel. Soon thereafter, the king decided to have a judicial review of Pedrarias, as it was believed he was unfit to govern. One of the chief witnesses against Pedrarias would be Balboa. Pedrarias feared that Balboa's presence and testimony would contribute to his demise, so he decided to eliminate his rival. Summoned home, Balboa was seized and charged with rebellion, high treason, and mistreatment of Indians. After a mock trial, Balboa was found guilty, condemned to death, and decapitated in January of 1519.
Vasco Núñez de Balboa
The Spanish conquistador (conqueror) Vasco Núñez de Balboa was the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from the Americas. He also helped to found the first successful European colony on the mainland of the Americas.
Balboa was born in Spain in 1475. He left for America in 1500 and settled on the island of Hispaniola, in the West Indies. In 1510 he sailed with a group headed for a colony in what is now Colombia. When they arrived they discovered that the colony had been abandoned except for a few people. Balboa persuaded them to go with him to Darién, in what is now Panama. There they established a stable colony.
Indians told Balboa about a great ocean with gold on its shores. Balboa asked for a large expedition from Spain to search for this ocean, but before it arrived he set out on his own with a smaller group. In September 1513 he reached the Pacific, which he called the South Sea, and claimed it for Spain.
The expedition from Spain arrived in 1514, with Pedro Arias Dávila at its head. Balboa and Dávila competed for power. As governor of Darién, Dávila eventually charged Balboa with various crimes. Balboa was found guilty and beheaded in January 1519.
Did You Know?
The currency of Panama is called the balboa.
When Balboa finished his journey he found he had reached the Pacific Ocean. Balboa became the first European to see the Pacific Ocean. Once there he claimed the ocean and all the land that it touched for Spain.
While at the Pacific Ocean Balboa found the treasures he hoped would be there. He spent months collecting pearls and gold to send back to Spain.
Unfortunately for Balboa he was accused of treason by an enemy and was beheaded.
Vasco Núñez de Balboa
The Spanish conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa (ca. 1475-1519) explored Central America and discovered the Pacific Ocean. He was the first Spanish explorer to gain a permanent foothold on the American mainland.
Vasco Núñez de Balboa was born at Jerez de los Caballeros in the province of Estremadura. He was descended from an old and noble Galician family. To improve his meager fortune, Balboa went to the new Spanish colonies in America. In 1500 he sailed with Rodrigo de Bastidas on a preliminary reconnaissance of the Colombian and northern Panamanian coasts. He then settled in Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and tried farming but failed and fell heavily into debt.
Meanwhile, two would-be conquistadores, Alonso de Ojeda and Diego de Nicuesa, received crown licenses to settle the regions explored by Bastidas. Ojeda headed for the northern Colombian coast late in 1509 with 300 men, while Nicuesa sailed toward the Panamanian Isthmus with a force numbering over 700. Within a few months hostile Native Americans, disease, and starvation had reduced their combined forces to less than 100. Ojeda returned to Hispaniola, leaving his remnant under Francisco Pizarro to wait for the relief expedition of Martin Fernández de Encisco.
One of Encisco's provision casks contained an unusual cargo: Balboa had stowed away to escape his creditors in Hispaniola. At 35 the intelligent and willful Balboa was at the height of his physical powers. With these qualities and his knowledge of the area he soon became the group's leader. He convinced the men to leave the inhospitable site of Ojeda's camp at San Sebastián and to cross the Gulf of Urabá (now the Gulf of Darién) to a new location on the Isthmus (Santa Maria la Antigua, commonly called Darién).
There Balboa dispensed with the nominal authority of Encisco, sending him back to Spain. Nicuesa, another potential rival, was picked up with survivors and brought to Darién. They were soon returned to the mercies of the sea in a leaky, meagerly supplied ship.
By the end of 1510 Balboa's authority was certified by King Ferdinand, who commissioned him captain general and interim governor of Darién. Balboa extended his conquest westward along the Central American coast and into the interior, subjugating the Native Americans or allying with them by a combination of terror and diplomacy. Strengthened by reinforcements form Spain and Hispanola, the group accumulated hoards of gold ornaments they also learned about a sea to the south, bordered (so the Native Americans said) by fabulously gold-rich kingdoms.
While Balboa foraged the countryside, Encisco was undermining him at the court in Spain. Eventually, he persuaded the King to replace Balboa with the elderly Pedrarias (Pedro Arias de á vila), who was sent off with a company of 1,500 men. Getting wind of this development, Balboa hastened to redeem himself by discovering the "South Sea." With a small band of Spaniards and a larger number of Native American allies, he journeyed to the narrowest part of the Isthmus, fought his way across the hilly, swampy country, and on Sept. 25, 1513, ascended the summit of Darién. From that point he saw the vast expanse of the Pacific to the south. Balboa then marched down to the coast of the Gulf of San Miguel, waded into the water, and claimed the "South Sea" and all its adjacent territories for Spain. A nearby pearl fishery provided more material rewards.
King Ferdinand did not rescind his appointment of Pedrarias but made Balboa governor of the South Sea province and two bordering ones. The king was greatly pleased by the pearls and gold Balboa had sent him, and for the next 5 years a jealous Pedrarias was forced to share his authority with the conquistador. During that time Balboa sent back complaints about his rival's mistreatment of friendly Native Americans, while Pedrarias attempted to win over Balboa by offering his daughter in marriage.
At last Balboa decided to strike out once more on his own. On the southern Panamanian coast he constructed four brigantines and was about to sail off on another voyage of conquest when he was summoned to confer with Pedrarias. On his way to the meeting Pizarro arrested him. Balboa was accused of plotting treason and condemned, and in January 1519 he was beheaded.
Vasco Núñez de Balboa
(1475–1519). The first European to look upon the Pacific Ocean from the shores of the New World was Vasco Núñez de Balboa. The Spanish adventurer and explorer also led a colony in what is now Panama that was the first stable European settlement on the mainland of the Americas.
Balboa was born in 1475 in Jerez de los Caballeros, Spain, into the lower ranks of the nobility. In 1500 he sailed for the Americas on an exploring expedition to what is now Colombia. He later settled on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. There his unsuccessful attempts at farming led him into debt. In 1510, hoping to escape his creditors, he stowed away on a ship bound for the new colony of San Sebastián, on the northern coast of Colombia.
When the ship arrived at San Sebastián, the expedition discovered that the colony’s founder had fled and abandoned the survivors. Balboa persuaded his superiors to transfer the colony to Darién, on the Isthmus of Panama, where the colonists founded the town of Santa María de la Antigua. Balboa soon became the head of the colony.
From local Indians, Balboa learned of a great ocean beyond the mountains and of the gold to be found there. He sent word to Spain that he needed reinforcements to explore the area. In Spain an expedition was organized, but Balboa was not given command. The king instead sent Pedro Arias Dávila as commander and as governor of Darién.
Meanwhile Balboa, without waiting for reinforcements, had set out across the isthmus. It took about 25 days for his party of 190 Spaniards and hundreds of Indians to cross 45 miles (70 kilometers) of dense jungle. On September 29, 1513, Balboa reached the shores of the Pacific Ocean, which he called the South Sea. He took possession of the ocean and all lands washed by it in the name of the Spanish monarch.
When Balboa returned to Darién, conflict arose immediately between him and the new governor. Balboa received grudging permission to explore the South Sea but was then summoned home and arrested on the false charge of instigating a rebellion. He was found guilty and was beheaded on January 12, 1519, in Acla, near Darién.
After the victory against the natives Balboa&rsquos thoughts about the Darien region were proven correct. The natives of the area were relatively calm compared to the settlement of San Sebastian and the land was fertile. This coupled with his charisma caused much of the crew to push for him to become Mayor of Santa Maria. The crew began to mutiny against the commanding officer Fernandez de Enciso and the ambitious Balboa took advantage of it by removing Enciso. Balboa and Martin Samudio were appointed in the first election of the Americas as the municipal council of Santa Maria. After being elected to the municipal council Balboa would become Governor of Veragua.
As Governor Balboa put Fernandez de Enciso on trial, stripped him of all his possessions and sent him back to Hispaniola. With Enciso out of the picture Balboa began to expedite the territories and quickly learned of another sea. He then organized an expedition to explore the isthmus of Panama in search of the South Sea and a quest for more riches. Balboa sent for aid from Spain, but at this point many had turned against him due to his actions against Enciso. Balboa decided to journey there one his own with a small amount of men. Through some hardships Balboa reached the South Sea, thus discovering a new ocean that would later be named the Pacific Ocean due to its passive nature.
The discovery of the South Sea was an important discovery for the Spanish Empire:
- It confirmed the discovery of a New World. Even though the idea that Christopher Columbus had actually sailed to Asia was beginning to fade the discovery of the Pacific Ocean allowed future explorers to plan their voyages differently.
- The Spanish could now prepare to establish a trade route to Asia that had been monopolized by the Portuguese up until this time.
Early life and Expeditions
He was born in the province of Extremadura in Castile. Spain. He sought out for the expeditions in South America at a time, when people were looking for fortunes and wealth in the New World. He explored the coast of present-day Columbia and stayed on the island of Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic). He became infamous as he got into debt and had to flee in a ship to San Sebastian. After his arrival, he came to know that colonists are killed by the native and indigenous people of the lands. He then spoke to the colonists to move to the west of the Gulf of Uraba.
Balboa had also suggested that San Sebastián should be moved to the Darien region which was to the west of the Gulf of Urabá. Here the soil was much more fertile and the natives did not show any resistance. Fernández de Enciso took this suggestion, and the regiment went to Darién,
Fernández de Enciso
However, here the native chieftain-Cémaco had 500 warriors waiting ready to wage a battle. The Spanish became fearful of a large number of enemy warriors, took a solemn pledge to the Virgen de la Antigua, worshipped in Seville. The vow maintained that they would name a settlement in the region after Seville if they became victorious and win the battle.
It was a difficult battle for both the combatants. But The Spanish came out victorious.
Gulf of Uraba
Here they established the town of Darien on the Isthmus of Panama( It is a small strip of land connecting the Central and South America). He was made the interim governor of Balboa.
Isthmus of Panama
Vasco Nunez de Balboa
Vasco Nunez Balboa was a very significant explorer that was born in 1475 and died in 1519. Balboa was born into a deprived Spanish family in Spain and sailed for Spain. He is most remembered for his expedition in 1513 to Panama from Spain hoping to make a new discovery to impress King Ferdinand, on the expedition he found the Pacific Ocean and claimed the ocean and all the land bordering it. He died in 1519 because he was charged with treason against Spain and beheaded although, he was really innocent and just framed by a friend. I think that Vasco Nunez Balboa should be part of your new series of stamps featuring famous European Explorers because I believe that Balboa deserves to be honored considering, that he was a man of his country who sailed and claimed land for his country and his important and rememberable discovery of the Pacific Ocean. Also I think that’s the least he is owed considering, that Balboa was not guilty but still found guilty for treason against Spain although, he was really innocent and framed by a friend. Even though his unfair death is not our fault I still believe that he is owed that and deserves to be honored for his discovery. I think that all explorers should get some kind of appreciation and deserve to be honored for their discoveries especially Vasco Nunez de Balboa. Also to give you even more reason to include Balboa on your new series of stamps there was once stamps that had Vasco Nunez on them. The stamps were issued in 1513 which is the year that Balboa departed with about ninety of his troops and Indian guides from the Atlantic port city of San Blas, in what is now Panama. Taking a generally southern route in search of a "great sea" the natives had talked about, they reached the southern shore of the isthmus on September 13, claiming the "South Sea" - what is now the Pacific Ocean - and all its adjacent lands for Spain. The stamp commemorates the 400th anniversary of the year Balboa discovered the.