Biography of Francisco Vazquez de Coronado

Francisco Vazquez de Coronado was born into a noble family in Spain in 1510. He accompanied a family friend who had been appointed the first viceroy of New Spain. Upon his arrival in New Spain, which is now Mexico, he married the daughter of the Spanish treasurer of the territory. Coronado helped quell a major slave rebellion and subsequently became a provincial governor. However, Coronado sought more adventure. For years, rumors had circulated about seven cities of gold located to the north. Eager to find these cities, he assembled a large force of 300 Spanish soldiers and 1,000 local Indians. In the spring of 1540, they headed north into what is now northern Mexico and southern Texas.

The first Native Americans they encountered were the Zuni Pueblo. When Coronado announced that the Zuni would have to obey him or be enslaved, they responded by firing arrows at the Spanish. After defeating the Zuni, Coronado found no gold, only a relatively poor Indian tribe. He and his men then explored large parts of the Southwest, including much of what is today New Mexico and Arizona. Coronado also explored the Grand Canyon. After sending the majority of his party back to Mexico, he led a smaller group north to find the mythical city of Quivira. He traveled as far as what is today Kansas, only to find another poor Indian tribe. Coronado returned to Mexico, his expedition considered a failure since he had not found the mythical gold. He resumed his role as governor but left the position in 1544 and moved to Mexico City, where he remained until his death in 1554.