Today in the Middle Ages: September 29, 1513

Vasco Núñez de Balboa became the first European to see the Pacific Ocean on September 29, 1513.

Balboa initially sailed to the New World in 1500. After an unsuccessful stint as a planter on Hispaniola, he traveled to what is now Panama and in 1511 established a colony there. Francisco Pizarro, future conqueror of the Inca Empire, was one of his men.

Indigenous residents told Balboa that he could see the Pacific from the top of a certain mountain, so he made his men wait at the foot and climbed it by himself. John Keats's sonnet "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer" replaced Balboa with Cortes in its final lines:

... with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific - and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise -
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.