Niza, Marcos de (?–1558)

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Niza, Marcos de (?–1558)

Marcos de Niza (d. 25 March 1558), Franciscan explorer and chronicler who searched for the Seven Cities of Cíbola. From the French Franciscan province of Aquitaine, Niza arrived in the Americas by 1531, serving in Peru and Guatemala before going to New Spain. In 1539, following his guide, Esteban, Niza traveled north from San Miguel de Culiacán in Sinaloa as far as Arizona and New Mexico, perhaps to within sight of the Zuni pueblo of Hawikuh. His Relación del descubrimiento de las siete ciudades (Report of the Discovery of the Seven Cities) told of seven magnificent cities on the order of Mexico City and Cuzco and of vast quantities of gold and turquoise. The account was influential in kindling interest in the exploratory expedition undertaken by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado in 1540. Though serving as minister provincial in Mexico City, Niza accompanied Coronado, but when his claims about Cíbola proved false, he returned to New Spain. Ill and depressed, Niza completed his term as minister provincial, which concluded in 1543, at San Francisco de México. For the next few years he spent time in Jalapa, Xochimilco, and Mexico City, where he died and was buried.

See alsoSeven Cities of Cíbola.


Fray Angelico Chávez, Coronado's Friars (1968).

Cleve Hallenbeck, The Journey of Fray Marcos de Niza (1987).

Additional Bibliography

Montané Martí, Julio C. Por los senderos de la quimera: El viaje de fray Marcos de Niza. Hermosillo: Instituto Sonorense de Cultura, 1995.

                                                Rick Hendricks