Navigator and geographer, b. at Seville, Spain, c. 1470; d. probably about 1528 at Seville. It is not known when, why, or with whom he went to America, but in 1508 he was living on the island of Santo Domingo, where he had accumulated a fortune in the practice of law. In 1509 Alonzo de Ojeda (or Hojeda) had been granted the government of Terra Firme (the region about the Isthmus of Darien), but he lacked the funds necessary to colonize the country. He then applied to Enciso, who had the reputation of being rich, able, and adventurous, and the latter agreed to provide a vessel with men and provisions. Ojeda set out in advance in 1509, and it was agreed that Enciso was to equip his vessel and follow him in 1510. When the latter arrived, he found that Ojeda, having been beset by hostile Indians, and having exhausted his supplies and ammunition, had returned in search of him. Taking the survivors of Ojeda's expedition, Enciso founded the town of Santa María la Antigua del Darien (1510). Among his followers was one Vasco Nuñez de Balboa who afterwards became famous for his discovery of the Pacific Ocean, then called the South Sea (Mar del Sur), and who had joined the expedition without Enciso's knowledge or authority, seeking to escape his creditors. Soon after the founding of the new city, Balboa stirred up rebellion among the men, and was able to depose Enciso, whom he banished to Spain. Here, the latter complained to the king of Balboa's arbitrary conduct and injustice, and the king, partly owing to these accusations, sent Pedrarias Dávila to America in 1514 as Governor of Darien, with instructions to have the wrongs of Enciso righted. Enciso accompanied the expedition as "alguacil mayor" and continued to oppose Balboa until the latter's execution by Dávila in 1517. He soon afterwards returned to Spain where he published his "Suma de Geografia que trata de todas las partidas del mundo", the first account in Spanish of the discoveries in the New World. The work was published in 1519 at Seville and was reprinted in 1530 and in 1549. It is dedicated to the Emperor Charles V, and in it, according to Navarrete, Enciso has embodied all that was then known of the theory and practice of navigation. The geographical portion is given with great care, and contains the first descriptions of the lands discovered in the western seas, that is, the results of the explorations of the Spaniards up to 1519. It is, on the whole, a more accurate work than the other early works of its kind.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online