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Francisco Coronado (Watts Library)

What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer the Following Questions:
1. What were the Seven Cities of Cíbola?
A legend started around the year 1000 about seven legendary cities located somewhere in the unexplored lands north of Mexico with gold covered streets and decorated buildings.

Many people wanted to find the Seven Cities, but no one dared cross the Atlantic Ocean. Some people thought the world was flat, and they would fall off the earth. Others thought sea monsters might attack the ships. These myths were dispelled by the time Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was born around 1510. In 1492, Christopher Columbus made the first of his four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean and returned safely to Spain. On this voyage, Columbus discovered the West Indies and the Caribbean Sea.

The explorers knew the Seven Cities were not located on the islands discovered by Columbus. They continued to hope the Seven Cities would be found on the newly discovered continent, North America. Spain controlled New Spain (what today is known as Mexico). However, the Spanish explorers did not find the legendary cities in New Spain. They then decided the Seven Cities must be located north of New Spain. The area north of New Spain, however, is much larger than the Spanish realized.

In 1528, Spaniard Pánfilo de Narváez and three hundred men set out on the first major expedition to find the Seven Cities. They got lost in what is now the southern United States. Many years later, four survivors of the Narváez expedition came back to New Spain. One of these men was Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. He reported to Viceroy Don Antonio de Mendoza they had found nothing resembling the Seven Cities. Cabeza de Vaca had heard stories from American Indians (living in what is now Arizona) talk about a faraway tribe living in cities with jewels and other precious metals. Did you know a viceroy is the governor of a Spanish colony or territory?

In February, 1539, a friar named Marcos de Niza and a few men went out to investigate the tales. This group also heard stories of a tribe farther north who traded gold and other valuables. With this new information, Viceroy Mendoza put together a full-scale expedition to look for the Seven Cities. This expedition was led by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado.

Did you know another significant exploration took place in 1539? Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto became the first European to see the Mississippi River.

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2. What year was Francisco Vásquez de Coronado born?
Circa 1510. Francisco Vásquez de Coronado grew up outside of Salamanca, Spain. In Coronado's day, the first born son inherited the family fortune. Coronado was not the first born son, and he had to find another way of obtaining property and making a name for himself. At the time, the most promising way to seek fame and fortune was to travel to the new lands in the Americas.

When Coronado was twenty-four years old, his friend from Salamanca was appointed the viceroy of New Spain by King Charles V of Spain. The friend and viceroy was Don Antonio de Mendoza. In 1535, Coronado and Mendoza sailed to New Spain.

Once in New Spain, Coronado increased his social position and influence. He obtained a seat on the council governing the colonial capital, Mexico City. In 1537, he married Beatriz de Estrada, the daughter of Alonso de Estrada, a former royal treasurer of New Spain. Coronado put down a rebellion which impressed Viceroy Mendoza, and Viceroy Mendoza appointed Coronado governor of the province of New Galicia (located northwest of Mexico City).

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3. What year did Francisco Vásquez de Coronado begin his expedition to look for the Seven Cities of Gold?
1540. In February, 1540, Coronado assembled his expedition in Compostela, the capital of New Galicia. The expedition consisted mostly of three hundred military troops and eight hundred American Indians. Most of the men wore heavy metal breastplates and helmets. The military men carried crossbows and primitive guns called arquebuses. The American Indians carried bows and spears. Did you know a local Spaniard named Pedro de Castañeda later wrote a chronicle of the first few years of Coronado's explorations? Today, we know a lot about Coronado and his explorations from these chronicles.

Viceroy Mendoza told the members there were three benefits of the expedition. These benefits were: 1) the Spaniards would convert many native peoples to Christianity; 2) the expedition members would become rich after finding gold, jewels, and other valuable treasures; and 3) new territory would be added to Spain's growing empire and thereby gain the king's favor.

On Monday, February 23, 1540, the expedition set off to find the mysterious region called Cíbola. They headed northward toward what is now the southern United States. Their journey was slow and difficult, and their food was running out.

In April, 1540, Coronado divided the expedition. Coronado, eighty horsemen, and a few foot soldiers went ahead. The rest of the men were to follow at a slower pace. Coronado's group reached Chichilticali in southern Arizona. They did not find the city of several thousand people that Friar Marcos had claimed. Coronado found only a single, broken-down mud hut on the site.

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4. True or False: When Francisco Vásquez de Coronado approached Hawikuh, he thought it was the first of the Seven Cities.
True. Coronado and his men headed into what is now northern New Mexico. On the night of July 6, 1540, they approached Hawikuh, the city Friar Marcos said was the first of the Seven Cities. The next morning, the men expected to find a vast city with wide streets and towers of marble and gold. Instead, they were surprised, disappointed, and angry when the found only a small clusters of mud huts.

Hawikuh was one of the major settlements of the Zuni Indians. When Coronado looked down at Hawikuh from the hilltop, native warriors gathered in front of the village. Coronado did not want to fight, and he sent a peace party to inform the Zuni. The Zuni fired arrows at the peace party, and Coronado counter attacked. Eventually the Zuni surrendered. Coronado's men entered the village, restocked their food supply, and waited for the rest of the army to arrive.

Once the expedition was reunited, Coronado split up his men on small raiding parties. They captured the other six Zuni villages. Although there were seven Zuni villages, these were not the seven Cities of Gold. In late July, 1540, Coronado and his army still occupied Hawikuh. Did you know the Spaniards called this village Granada?

The Zunis told Coronado of other towns to the northwest and northeast with better houses and dishes made of gold. Coronado wanted to continue to search for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. If the stories were not true, Coronado could still explore the uncharted territory.

Coronado decided to send out small exploratory parties because he was recovering from the wounds he received during the Hawikuh battle. Each party was commanded by one of Coronado's most trusted officers.

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5. Which of the following American Indians live in the northeastern part of Arizona?
Cherokee; b) Hopi; c) Iroquois; d) Sioux
b) Hopi. Don Pedro de Tobar led one of the small exploratory parties sent by Coronado. It consisted of twenty men. They headed west for 75 miles until they found settlements in the land of Tuzan and the Hopi people. This area is now part of northeastern Arizona. Don Pedro's party returned to Coronado without finding the Seven Cities. However, the Hopis had told Don Pedro of a great river farther to the west. This was the Colorado River. Read about the Hopi.

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6. Which of the following natural wonders was seen by one of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado's search parties?
a) Yosemite Valley; b) The Redwoods; c) The Grand Canyon; d) Pacific Ocean

c) The Grand Canyon. Coronado assembled a small search party commanded by Don Garcia Lopez de Cardenas. This party traveled west to Hopi country, and then farther west to the Colorado River. At first, they could not see the river because it was very far away, and at the bottom of a deep canyon. This canyon was the Grand Canyon. Did you know Don Garcia and his men were the first Europeans to see the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and more than 5,000 feet deep in some places. The rushing waters of the Colorado River carved out the canyon over the course of millions of years.

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7. True or False: Members of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado's exploration were the first Europeans to enter what is today California.
True. Coronado sent a twenty-five member search party due west in search of the Pacific Ocean. It was led by Melchoir Diaz. They never reached the Pacific Ocean. However, they were the first Europeans to enter what is now California.

Coronado also sent a twenty member search party east into present-day northeastern New Mexico. It was led by Hernando de Alvarado. They called this region Tiguex. In September, 1540, the party found the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande is the fifth longest river in North America. Did you know Alvarado and his men were the first Europeans to see American bison? American bison are sometimes called buffalo.

By late autumn, 1540, Coronado was strong enough to travel, and he met Alvarado in Tiguex. They continued east into the Panhandle of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Coronado called this region Quivira. Today, it is called the American Midwest.

In late 1541, after traveling thousands of miles and exploring huge uncharted territories, Coronado concluded the Seven Cities did not exist and began the journey south towards New Spain.

Coronado and his men traveled back to Tiguex and spent the winter of 1541-1542 in pueblos lining the Rio Grande. Coronado re-injured himself during a horse race with one of his officers, Don Rodrigo Maldonado.

In April, 1542, the expedition began the trip back to New Spain. That summer, they reached Mexico City. Fewer than one hundred of the three hundred Spanish soldiers had returned. In 1545, Spanish authorities put Coronado on trial on a charge of mishandling his expedition. He was found not guilty.

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado died in Mexico City on September 22, 1554. He was forty-four years old.

In the late 1500's and into the 1600's, other Spaniards followed the trails explored by Coronado, began to settle in the region, and introduced the Spanish culture to the American Southwest. In 1609, Pedro de Peralto led a group of homesteaders through Tiguex, and they established Santa Fe. Today, Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico. Many other towns and sites in the American Southwest still retain Spanish names, customs, and architectural styles.

Although Viceroy Mendoza was disappointed Coronado did not bring back gold, Coronado had made many important discoveries. In the 1940's, modern historians began to give Coronado more credit for his explorations. Coronado and his expedition were the first Europeans to see the Colorado River, the Rio Grande, the Grand Canyon, California, the plains of Oklahoma and Kansas, and the vast herds of buffalo roaming the American West. The regions Coronado explored later became part of the United States.

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What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the following words:
Friar: A priest

Homesteader: A pioneer or settler who intends to build a home in an undeveloped region

League: A measurement of distance equal to about 3 miles (5 kilometers)

Missionary: A person who attempts to convert others to his or her religious beliefs

Pueblo: An American Indian village typical of the American Southwest. The houses are usually made of dried mud and packed close together

Viceroy: The governor of a Spanish colony or territory

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Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the Following Questions for Your FREE Bookmark):
a. Who was Hernando Cortés?
A Spanish soldier and adventurer who conquered most of what is now Mexico between 1519 and 1521. The Aztecs and other American Indians in the area tried to fight off the Spanish invaders, but they lost mainly because the Spanish used gunpowder, cannon, armor, and other advanced weapons. Cortés conquered the Aztecs and claimed Mexico for the Spanish king. Spain controlled Mexico from 1521 to 1821. In 1821, Mexico won its independence.

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b. During the 1500's, there were several discoveries which were a first for a European. Name ONE of these discoveries.
In 1539, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto was the first European to see the Mississippi River.

In 1540, Don Garcia and his men were the first Europeans to see the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.

In 1540, Melchoir Diaz and his men were the first Europeans to enter what is now California.

In September, 1540, Hernando de Alvarado and his men were the first Europeans to see the Rio Grande. This is the fifth longest river in North America.

In 1540, Hernando de Alvarado and his men were the first Europeans to see American bison, sometimes called buffalo.

In 1541, Coronado and his men were the first Europeans to see the plains of Oklahoma and Kansas.

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c. Define ONE of the following words:
Indian: Christopher Columbus called the natives they met Indians because he thought he had discovered India. The name stuck. In time, all native inhabitants of the Americas were called Indians.

Arquebus: The first portable gun developed by the Spanish and the French in the early sixteenth century. It worked by pulling a trigger, which brought a flaming match into contact with a small pan of gunpowder. The powder ignited, an explosion was created, and a small ball-shaped bullet was discharged.

Hawikuh: One of the major settlements of the Zuni Indians. Before Coronado reached Hawikuh, he believed this was the first of the Seven Cities of Gold. Instead, it was a small cluster of mud huts.

Maize: A kind of corn grown by the Indians in the American Southwest. Its kernels are hard and many-colored. It grows well in the hot, dry climate of the American southwest. The Zuni Indians lived in the American Southwest. They ground up the maize to make flat cakes. Did you know the Spaniards called these tortillas?

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d. Make a Francisco Vásquez de Coronado Timeline.
Circa 1000: The roots of the legend of seven Spanish bishops dates back to this era. Supposedly they sailed from Europe to the Americas, where they established seven cities, each filled with gold and other riches.

1492: Italian navigator Christopher Columbus reaches the West Indies, proving new lands exist on the far side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Circa 1510: Coronado is born in Spain.

1519-1521: Spanish soldier Hernando Cortés conquers the Aztecs and claims Mexico for the Spanish king.

1528: A Spaniard named Pánfilo de Narváez sets out to explore the mysterious lands lying north of Mexico and disappears.

1535: Coronado sails to Mexico, then called New Spain, where he becomes an important local figure.

1537: Coronado marries Beatriz de Estrada, the daughter of a wealthy Spaniard.

1539: The governor of New Spain sends Friar Marcos de Niza to search for the Seven Cities of Gold. On his return, the friar claims these cities may exist.

1540: The governor appoints Coronado leader of a full-scale expedition, which heads north into Cíbola, the area now occupied by Arizona and New Mexico. Coronado and his men find many Indian villages and discover several large rivers and the Grand Canyon. They also become the first Europeans to see herds of buffalo.

1541: Coronado explores parts of what are now Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

1542: In April, Coronado's expedition heads for home. They reach Mexico City in the summer.

1545: Spanish authorities put Coronado on trial on a charge of mishandling his expedition. He is found not guilty.

1554: Coronado dies of illness in Mexico City.

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e. Use five of the words in Section 2 in a sentence.
A friar is another word for priest.

My relatives were homesteaders in Kansas.

I go to the beach in the summer because I live about three leagues away.

A missionary traveled with Francisco Coronado.

My family and I visited a pueblo when we went to Arizona on vacation.

Christopher Columbus was a viceroy after he sailed to the New World.

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f. Have a parent or friend give you a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.

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More Valuable Information about Francisco Coronado:
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (PBS: The West)
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado Links (PBS: The West)
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (Lone Star Junction)
Map of Coronado's Route, 1540-1542 (University of Texas at Austin)

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