Francisco 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).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Coronado, Knight of Pueblos and Plains
Herbert E. Bolton.
Whittlesey House, 1949
Coronado's Quest: The Discovery of the Southwestern States
A. Grove Day.
University of California Press, 1940
The Coronado Expedition to Tierra Nueva: The 1540-1542 Route across the Southwest
Richard Flint; Shirley Cushing Flint.
University Press of Colorado, 2004
Rio del Norte: People of the Upper Rio Grande from Earliest Times to the Pueblo Revolt
Carroll L. Riley.
University of Utah Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Includes "Coronado's Failure"
The Road to Cibola
Carl Sauer.
University of California Press, 1932
Librarian’s tip: Includes "Coronado Follows the Road to the North"
The Spanish Borderlands: A Chronicle of Old Florida and the Southwest
Herbert E. Bolton.
Glasgow, Brook, 1970
Librarian’s tip: Includes "Coronado, Cabrillo, and Vizcaino"
North American Exploration
John Logan Allen.
University of Nebraska Press, vol.1, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Includes "Fray Marcos Prepares the Way for Coronado"
Desert Drums: The Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, 1540-1928
Leo Crane.
Little, Brown, 1928
Librarian’s tip: Includes information on Francisco Coronado in "The Man in the Golden Helmet"
The Pueblo Revolt
Robert Silverberg.
Weybright and Talley, 1970
Librarian’s tip: Includes information on Francisco Coronado in "The Coming of the Spaniards"
Spanish Texas, 1519-1821
Donald E. Chipman.
University of Texas Press, 1992
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