Francisco Coronado (Watts Library)
What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
5. Which of the following
American Indians live in the northeastern part of Arizona?
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the
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
Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the
Following Questions for Your FREE
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.
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.
c. Define ONE of the
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
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?
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
1519-1521: Spanish soldier Hernando
Cortés conquers the Aztecs and claims Mexico for the Spanish
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
1554: Coronado dies of illness in
e. Use five of the words
in Section 2 in a sentence.
A friar is another word for
My relatives were homesteaders
I go to the beach in the summer because I live about three leagues
A missionary traveled with
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.
f. Have a parent or friend give you
a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.
More Valuable Information about Francisco
Vásquez de Coronado (PBS: The West)
Vásquez de Coronado Links (PBS: The West)
Vásquez de Coronado (Lone Star Junction)
of Coronado's Route, 1540-1542 (University of Texas at Austin)