Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de

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Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de

(fränthēs`kō väs`kāth dā kōrōnä`thō), 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 NizaMarcos de Niza
, c.1495–1558, missionary explorer in Spanish North America. A Franciscan friar, he served in Peru and Guatemala before going to Mexico. There he headed an expedition (1539) planned by Antonio de Mendoza, who had been excited by Cabeza de Vaca's stories of
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 of the great wealth of the Seven Cities of Cibola to the north, organized an elaborate expedition to explore by sea (see Alarcón, Hernando deAlarcón, Hernando de
, fl. 1540, Spanish explorer in the Southwest. He was given command of a fleet that was supposed to support the land expedition of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado.
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) 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 QuiviraQuivira
, land sought and reached by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in 1541 and explored by later Spanish expeditions (1593 and 1601). The records do not make it entirely clear exactly where Quivira was located.
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 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 WarMixtón War
, 1541, revolt of indigenous peoples against Spanish rule in Nueva Galicia, W Mexico. The conquest under Nuño de Guzmán had been particularly harsh and the encomienda system established obvious injustice.
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. 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 PuebloPueblo,
name given by the Spanish to the sedentary Native Americans who lived in stone or adobe communal houses in what is now the SW United States. The term pueblo is also used for the villages occupied by the Pueblo.
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 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).

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Coronado, Francisco Vàsquez de


Born 1510; died 1547 or 1554. Spanish conquistador.

In 1540, while he was governor of Nueva Galicia (the north-western part of Mexico), Coronado led a large expedition aimed at conquering the mythical country of the “Seven Cities” to the north. The expedition discovered the mouth and lower course of the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon, the southeastern spurs of the Rocky Mountains, the upper course of the Rio Grande River, and the Pecos, a tributary of the Rio Grande. In 1541, Coronado was the first to cross the Great Plains, traveling as far as 40° N lat. During this trip he crossed the Arkansas and Kansas rivers and may have reached the lower bounds of the Missouri.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.