Martin Fernandez de Encisco

Spanish Explorer & Colonist

Born: 1470

Died: 1528

Martin Fernandez de Encisco, a judge in Hispianola, was sent by the Spanish administration to succor the San Sebastian settlement on the coast of the Gulf of Darien. The explorer Alonso de Ojeda had founded the colony earlier that year. However, Encisco was unable to bring order to the fledgling colony’s colonists, who had been ravaged by attacks from native Indians and hunger. Vasco Nunez de Balboa, who arrived as a stowaway on Encisco’s ship, turned out to be a dynamic and charismatic leader. Balboa encouraged the colonists to resettle the colony in a better, safer area, and by 1511, Balboa had pretty much taken over control of the colony’s leadership.

Balboa was later named the official commander of the colony by Columbus’ son, Diego, and with the appointment, became the new governor of the region. When Encisco and his officers opposed Balboa’s appointment, Balboa sent them back to Spain.

Back home in Spain, however, Encisco gave a scathing report of Balboa’s seizing of the colony’s control. This, in part, led to the designation of a new governor, Pedrarias, and Balboa’s eventual arrest and execution.

Encisco later published an account of discoveries in the New World, called Suma de Geografia in 1519.

Click on the Piece of Eight to return to the Main Page