Vasco Núñez de Balboa – Part 1

balboaSpanish conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa is famous for being the first European to see the Pacific Ocean.

In Part 1 of our podcast on Balboa, he begins his journey as a stowaway on a ship to the province of Tierre Firme.

In short order, he will establish the first permanent European colony in the Americas and kick start the seemingly insatiable Spanish quest for gold in the new lands.


Balboa’s journeys were centered primarily in the region of what is modern-day Columbia and Panama. Below is a map showing off several key locations, such as the colony of Santa Maria, and the route Balboa would take to the Pacific Ocean.

Note: the Gulf of Uraba is located just east of Santa Maria on the map (it is not marked).


Ferdinand Magellan and the Circumnavigation of the World – Part 4

fernc3a3o_de_magalhc3a3es_por_charles_legrandFerdinand Magellan may be dead in the blood-soaked surf off the Philippines, but the voyage goes on. The fleet, under Juan Sebastián Elcano, has to find the Spice Islands and return to Europe to complete their epic mission.

This is the final episode in the Ferdinand Magellan Saga.

Recommended Sources

I read a lot of books and articles about Ferdinand Magellan and his amazing journey around the world. I’m not going to list out everything, but I am going to link to a few of my favorites.

Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen was my favorite source. Bergreen is a fabulous writer, and his book is the best written and most thorough that I read on Magellan. If I had to recommend one book on Magellan, this would be the one.

Ferdinand Magellan on Wikipedia – Offers a pretty good overview of Magellan and his expedition. Plus if you want to read a little more about some of the people involved in our story – Henry the Navigator, Juan Sebastián Elcano, the Moluccas and a hundred other subjects – it’s a great visit.

The First Voyage Round the World/Pigafetta’s Account of Magellan’s Voyage is an online version of Antonio Pigafetta’s journal that he kept. This version is translated into English. This doesn’t include all of Pigafetta’s detailed writings. It might just be an abridged version – or perhaps some of the more detailed writings I have seen quoted in various sources are from the later books that he wrote. Either way, it’s an interesting read.

Ferdinand Magellan by Frederick A. Ober is an old (published in 1907) account of Magellan’s voyage. It is free to read online (or you can download a PDF or electronic version), so it offers an interesting take on our Portuguese explorer.

parenas_magallanesMonument of Ferdinand Magellan in Punta Arenas in Chile. The statue looks towards the Strait of Magellan. Image from Wikipedia.

Ferdinand Magellan and the Circumnavigation of the World – Part 3

In the third part of our Ferdinand Magellan, the intrepid Portuguese explorer strikes out across the Pacific in search of the Spice Islands – sailing blindly into the largest body of water in the world.

Here’s a look at annual reenactment of the Battle of Mactan, where Magellan met his death.


The Lapu Lapu image is from Wikipedia.

Ferdinand Magellan and the Circumnavigation of the World – Part 2

In the second part of our multi-part series on Ferdinand Magellan, we find the Portuguese navigator setting sail from Spain. His destination was South America, where he hoped to find the strait that would take him to the Western Sea. He must, however, deal with the Portuguese, who are out to stop him, as well as his own men, many of whom do not trust him.


Strait of Magellan