What Are the Accomplishments of Francisco Vázquez De Coronado?

Francisco Vázquez de Coronado was a Spanish conquistador, and is best remembered for leading a large expedition that was to be one of the largest European explorations of the North American interior. The expedition team of Coronado is also believed to be the first Europeans to discover the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.

Francisco Vázquez de Coronado was born into a noble family in Salamanca, Spain, in 1510. Being a younger son, he was not entitled to any inheritance, so he decided to seek his fortune in New Spain or present day Mexico in 1535. He worked as an assistant to the Spanish viceroy Antonio de Mendoza, with whom his family had ties with. Coronado soon married into a rich family.

By the 1530s, stories about the Seven Golden Cities of Cibola began to circulate. These cities were supposedly encountered by another explorer, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. These stories were later confirmed by Spanish missionary Marcos de Niza to Mendoza in 1539. The lure of great riches spurred Coronado, with the blessing of Mendoza to embark on an expedition to search for the Seven Golden Cities of Cibola.

In 1540, Coronado led 300 Spaniards and 1,000 Tlaxcalan Indians along with herds of cattle, sheep, horses and pigs. The expedition was an unprecedented European incursion into the North American interior. Coronado and his group clashed with hostile Indians along the way. Coronado’s expedition proved that the stories about the cities of gold were merely myths.