Skip to main content

Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de (1510?-1554)

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (1510?-1554)

Conquistador

Sources

Expedition. In 1536 Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and the three other survivors of the Panfilo de Narváez expedition finally reached Mexico City after wandering through present-day Texas for eight years. Though these men had seen no treasure during the time they spent living among the Indians, they had heard rumors of several large, wealthy cities located to the northwest of Spains Mexican possessions. Their story of an Indian civilization akin to the Aztec Empire elicited great interest among the Spaniards living in Mexico City, particularly the viceroy of New Spain, Antonio Mendoza. De Vacas account persuaded Mendoza to send one of his protégés, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, governor of the province of Nueva Galicia, to locate and take possession of what many Spaniards had concluded were the fabled Seven Cities of Cíbola. Coronado was forbidden from indiscriminately attacking Indians or looting their wealth as Hernando Cortés had during his conquest of the Aztecs, however, because Emperor Charles Vs recently promulgated New Laws expressly prohibited such practices.

Zuni and Hopi. Coronados large expedition of 250 cavalry, 80 infantry, 1,000 Indians, and thousands of horses, cows, and sheep departed from Culiacán, the capital of Nueva Galicia, in the spring of 1540. Moving ahead with a small advanced guard, he reached Háwikuh, a Zuni pueblo, in July. Despite Coronados peaceful intentions, fighting broke out almost immediately between the Indians and the Spanish. Equipped with muskets, armor, and horses, his men made short work of it: they killed a dozen Zunis and easily occupied the town. An expedition sent north to the Hopi Indians pueblos likewise resulted in a brief engagement that ended in the Spanish occupying a town. Coronado thus had little trouble dealing with the militarily inferior Pueblo Indians. The economic results of the campaign were disappointing, however; neither the Zunis nor the Hopis possessed precious metals or stones. Coronado nonetheless sent a messenger to New Spain ordering the expeditions main body to join the advanced guard in Pueblo territory.

The Tiguex War. With cold weather approaching, Coronado decided to winter in the part of the Rio Grande valley inhabited by the Tiwa Indians. At first, relations between the Spaniards and the Indians were amicable. Intolerable pressures on the Native Americans food supply and sexual assaults on Indian women soon antagonized the Tiwas, however, and led them to attack the Spaniards horses. Believing that he had to crush the Tiwas decisively to intimidate other tribes, Coronado retaliated by savagely sacking the biggest Tiwa settlement and burning thirty Indians to death at the stake. His men then besieged the large and well-defended pueblo of Moho, which capitulated in March 1541 due to lack of food. Coronado enslaved the survivors and distributed them among his men.

Disappointment. Still hoping to find treasure, Coronado sent out small parties in various directions. He led one group eastward into present-day Kansas in 1541 in search of the Quivira Indians, who were rumored to possess large amounts of gold. Coronado succeeded in finding the Quivirans but discovered that they possessed nothing of value. After spending the winter of 15411542 in the Rio Grande valley, Coronado led his men back to Mexico. Shortly after his return, Coronado faced charges of having violated the New Laws by abusing Indians and by taking goods from them. He eventually cleared himself of these charges but lost his position as governor of Nueva Galicia. He died soon afterward.

Legacy. Coronados expedition had important and lasting consequences for both the Spanish and the Pueblo Indians. For the Pueblos, Coronados invasion demonstrated that the Spanish were a hostile, arrogant people who retaliated viciously for any infraction and who enjoyed a vast military advantage due to their horses, muskets, and iron weapons. For the Spanish, meanwhile, Coronados foray into the Southwest ended the belief that North America contained a wealthy, easily plundered Indian civilization akin to the Aztec or Incan empires. Spain consequently lost interest in the region until settlers under the leadership of Juan de Oñate established the colony of New Mexico in 1598.

Sources

Elizabeth H. John, Storms Brewed in Other Mens Worlds: The Confrontation of Indians, Spanish and French in the Southwest, 15401795 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1975);

Alfonso Ortiz, ed., Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 9: Southwest (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1979).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de (1510?-1554)." American Eras. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Mar. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de (1510?-1554)." American Eras. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/coronado-francisco-vasquez-de-1510-1554

"Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de (1510?-1554)." American Eras. . Retrieved March 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/coronado-francisco-vasquez-de-1510-1554

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (1510-1554) was a Spanish explorer and colonial official who is credited with one of the first European explorations of Arizona, New Mexico, and the Great Plains of North America.

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was born in Salamanca, the second son of Juan Vásquez de Coronado, a wealthy nobleman. As a younger son, Francisco could not inherit the family estates. He therefore went to the court of Charles I, where he secured a place in the service of Don Antonio de Mendoza, newly appointed viceroy of Mexico.

After his arrival in Mexico in 1535 Coronado rose rapidly in viceregal favor. In 1537 he married the wealthy Doña Beatriz de Estrada, daughter of the former treasurer of New Spain. In 1538 Mendoza appointed the young Coronado governor of the northern province of Nueva Galicia.

These were exciting times. The famous survivor of the Narváez expedition, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, arrived at the viceregal court with stories he had heard of seven great cities in "Cíbola," far to the north. Mendoza, anxious to locate and conquer this reputedly golden land, dispatched Father Marcos de Niza and Cabeza de Vaca's companion Estevánico north. When Father de Niza returned in 1539 with a report that he had found the cities, the viceroy immediately outfitted a great expedition and named Coronado to lead it.

In February 1540 the army of more than 230 mounted Spanish gentlemen, 62 foot soldiers, several friars, and nearly 1,000 Indian allies headed north from Compostela. After a long march across northern Mexico and southern Arizona the army reached the Zuñi pueblo of Hawikuh in July. This spot Father de Niza identified as Cíbola, but to the disappointed Spaniards it was only "a little unattractive village" of mud and stone. Although discouraged by the lack of golden cities, Coronado dispatched several small exploring parties. One group marched west to the Colorado River, while another, under Pedro del Tovar, succeeded in reaching the Moqui (Hopi) pueblos north of Zuñi. A third group under García López de Cárdenas pushed northwest to the Grand Canyon. A fourth party under Hernando de Alvarado explored the upper Rio Grande. In the winter of 1540 Coronado moved his army to the Rio Grande and conquered the Tiguex pueblos near present-day Albuquerque.

At the Tiguex villages the Spaniards heard of a rich land called Quivira somewhere to the north. In the spring of 1541 Coronado set out to try to find this fabled kingdom. Marching eastward across the Pecos River, he turned north onto the Llano Estacado, the great grassland plains of North America; but when he arrived at Quivira on the Arkansas River, he discovered only a poor Indian village. Sickened by his failure to find gold and riches, Coronado left three missionaries to convert the Indians of Quivira and returned to Tiguex, where he gathered the remnants of his army and turned homeward. He arrived in Mexico in 1542, a bitter and disappointed man. For the next 2 decades the Spaniards forgot the northern lands and concentrated on developing their Mexican possessions.

In 1544 Coronado faced charges of neglect of duty and cruelty to the Indians and lost the governorship of Nueva Galicia. He returned to Mexico City, where he managed his estates and served as regidor, or member of the city council, until his death.

Further Reading

The diaries and documents pertaining to Coronado's expedition can be found in such collections as George P. Winship, ed., The Coronado Expedition, 1540-1542 (1896; repr. 1964), and George P. Hammond and Agapito Rey, eds., Narratives of the Coronado Expedition, 1540-1542 (1940). The best biography of Coronado is Herbert E. Bolton, Coronado: Knight of Pueblos and Plains (1949). Also helpful are Arthur Grove Day, Coronado's Quest: The Discovery of the Southwestern States (1940; repr. 1964), and his brief Coronado and the Discovery of the Southwest (1967). □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Francisco Vásquez de Coronado." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Mar. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Francisco Vásquez de Coronado." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/francisco-vasquez-de-coronado

"Francisco Vásquez de Coronado." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved March 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/francisco-vasquez-de-coronado

Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (fränthēs´kō väs´kāth dā kōrōnä´ŧħō), c.1510–1554, Spanish explorer. He went to Mexico with Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza and in 1538 was made governor of Nueva Galicia. The viceroy, dazzled by the report of Fray Marcos de Niza of the great wealth of the Seven Cities of Cibola to the north, organized an elaborate expedition to explore by sea (see Alarcón, Hernando de) and by land. Coronado, made captain general, set out in 1540 from Compostela, crossed modern Sonora and SE Arizona, and reached Cibola itself—the Zuñi country of New Mexico. He found neither splendor nor wealth in the native pueblos. Nevertheless he sent out his lieutenants: Pedro de Tovar visited the Hopi villages in N Arizona, García López de Cárdenas discovered the Grand Canyon, and Hernando de Alvarado struck out eastward and visited Acoma and the pueblos of the Rio Grande and the Pecos. Alvarado came upon a Native American from a Plains tribe nicknamed the Turk, who told fanciful tales of the wealthy kingdom of Quivira to the east. Coronado, still hopeful, spent a winter on the Rio Grande not far from the modern Santa Fe, waged needless warfare with Native Americans, then set out in 1541 to find Quivira under the false guidance of the Turk. Just where the party went is not certain, but it is generally thought they journeyed in the Texas Panhandle, reached Palo Duro Canyon (near Canyon, Tex.), then turned N through Oklahoma and into Kansas. They reached Quivira, which turned out to be no more than indigenous villages (probably of the Wichita), innocently empty of gold, silver, and jewels. The Spanish turned back in disillusion and spent the winter of 1541–42 on the Rio Grande, then in 1542 left the northern country to go ingloriously back to Nueva Galicia and into the terrors of the Mixtón War. In 1544, Coronado was dismissed from his governorship and lived the rest of his life in peaceful obscurity in Mexico City. He had found no cities of gold, no El Dorado; yet his expedition had acquainted the Spanish with the Pueblo and had opened the Southwest. Subsidiary expeditions from Nueva Galicia to S Arizona and Lower California make the scope of Coronado's achievement even more astonishing.

See F. W. Hodge and T. H. Lewis, ed., Spanish Explorers in the Southern United States, Vol. II (1907); A. G. Day, Coronado's Quest (1940, repr. 1964).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Mar. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/coronado-francisco-vasquez-de

"Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved March 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/coronado-francisco-vasquez-de

Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de

Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de (1510–54) Spanish explorer. He went to Mexico in 1535, and in 1540 headed an expedition to locate the seven cities of Cibola, reportedly the repositories of untold wealth. He explored the w coast of Mexico, found the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon, followed the route of the Rio Grande, and then headed n through the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma and e Kansas.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Mar. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/coronado-francisco-vasquez-de

"Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved March 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/coronado-francisco-vasquez-de

Vásquez de Coronado, Francisco

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado: see Coronado.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Vásquez de Coronado, Francisco." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Mar. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Vásquez de Coronado, Francisco." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/vasquez-de-coronado-francisco

"Vásquez de Coronado, Francisco." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved March 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/vasquez-de-coronado-francisco