Francisco Vásquez de Coronado
Born 1510 AD
Died 1554 at 54 years of age.
Categories Conquistador, Explorer
1510 – Born in Spain.
1535 – Went to Mexico with Antonio de Mendoza, the Viceroy of New Spain.
Married Beatriz de Estrada.
1539 – Sent Friar Marcos de Niza and Estevanico on expedition to find the legendary Seven Cities of Gold.
1540 – Led expedition of 335 Spaniards and over one thousand native Americans to find the Cities of Gold in what is now the United States.
1541 – Fell from horse and was injured.
1542 – Returned to Mexico with out finding cities of gold and his expedition was deemed a failure by the Viceroy.
1544 – Convicted of atrocities against the Native Americans. Removed as Governor of Nueva Galicia. Moved to Mexico City and worked in Mexico City government.
1554 – Died in Mexico City, many years before tales of his expeditions were published. His expeditions had left him bankrupt.
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado came to America when he was 25 years old. Within five years he undertook an expedition to discover the legendary “Cities of Gold” rumored to exist in the southeastern areas of North America.
In 1539 Coronado sent Friar Marcos de Niza and Estevanico, a slave from North Africa on expedition to find the fabled Cities of Gold. Estevanico, who had been on an earlier expedition to Florida, died in a battle with the Zuni Indians but Friar Marcos returned and told of a city of great wealth called Cíbola. He didn’t say he entered the city but he did say he saw it. Friar Marcos said it was on a hill and was made of gold.
Coronado and his men explored much of what is now Southwestern United States, travelling through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and as far north as Kansas.
One of his men, Don Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, is credited as the first European to see the Grand Canyon.
In his expeditions Coronado would come across native American peoples. He would ask for supplies and help and if it was not provided he would just take by force what he wanted. The advanced weaponry of the Spanish ensured his men got what they wanted.
He was guided on much of his expeditions by a Native American called "the Turk". "The Turk" told Coronado that he knew of a city called Quivira that held great riches.
After spending more than a year being guided by "the Turk" through Texas and Oklahoma and into present day Kansas, and not finding the Cities of Gold, or indeed any wealth of significant value, Coronado had him killed before returning to Mexico in 1542.
Coronado and his friend the Vicreroy had personally put up much of the money to finance the expedition out of their own pocket in the hopes of finding and pillaging the Native American “Cities of Gold”. Coronado borrowed money on his wife’s estate, also borrowing an additional 70.000 pesos more to finance the adventure to find the Seven Cities of Gold.