This surname of VALBUENA was a Spanish habitation name from any of various places, for example in the provinces of Palencis, Salamanca and Valladolid, so called from the Old Spanish VAL (valley) and BUENA (good, pleasant and attractive). The name is also spelt Balbuena, Balbo and Balboa. A notable member of this name was Vasco Nunez de BALBOA (l475-l5l9) the Spanish explorer born in Jerez-de-Los-Caballeros. In l5ll he joined an expedition to Darien as a stowaway. Taking advantage of an insurrection, he took command, founded a colony at Darien and extended Spanish influence into neighbouring areas. On one of these expeditions he climbed a peak the size of the Pacific Ocean, the first European to do so and took possession of Spain. The Governorship was granted in l5l4 to Pedro Avila, for whom Balboa undertook many successful expeditions and whose daughter he married. After a disagreement in l5l9, Balboa was unjustly beheaded. In Spain identifying patronymics are to be found as early as the mid-9th century, but these changed with each generation, and hereditary surnames seem to have come in slightly later in Spain than in England and France. As well as the names of the traditional major saints of the Christian Church, many of the most common Spanish surnames are derived from personal names of Germanic origin. For the most part these names are characteristically Hispanic. They derive from the language of the Visigoths, who controlled Spain between the mid-5th and early 8th centuries. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour.
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