Vasco Nunez de Balboa
by Frederick Ober
Balboa is most famous for discovering the Pacific ocean, but this was but one incident in a swashbuckling life. After running amok in Hispaniola, Balboa escaped from the island by stowing away in a barrel, and founded the first Spanish settlement in the region of Darien (modern Panama) by first battling, and then making alliances with several important chieftains. After making his famous discovery he lost control of the colony, and for the next few years was at loggerheads with the new governor Pedrarias, his arch-nemesis. It was a battle he ultimately lost, along with his head on the executioners block.
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