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No Settlement, No Conquest: A History of the Coronado Entrada

No Settlement, No Conquest: A History of the Coronado Entrada

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No Settlement, No Conquest: A History of the Coronado Entrada

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Nov 1, 2013


Between 1539 and 1542, two thousand indigenous Mexicans, led by Spanish explorers, made an armed reconnaissance of what is now the American Southwest. The Spaniards’ goal was to seize control of the people of the region and convert them to the religion, economy, and way of life of sixteenth-century Spain. The new followers were expected to recognize don Francisco Vázquez de Coronado as their leader. The area’s unfamiliar terrain and hostile natives doomed the expedition. The surviving Spaniards returned to Nueva España, disillusioned and heavily in debt with a trail of destruction left in their wake that would set the stage for Spain’s conflicts in the future.

Flint incorporates recent archaeological and documentary discoveries to offer a new interpretation of how Spaniards attempted to conquer the New World and insight into those who resisted conquest.

Nov 1, 2013

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Richard Flint is the author of No Settlement, No Conquest: A History of the Coronado Entrada, the coauthor of A Most Splendid Company: The Coronado Expedition in Global Perspective, and the coeditor of The Coronado Expedition: From the Distance of 460 Years (all from UNM Press).

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No Settlement, No Conquest - Richard Flint


A History of the Coronado Entrada



ISBN for this digital edition: 978-0-8263-4364-2

© 2008 by the University of New Mexico Press

All rights reserved. Published 2008

Printed in the United States of America

First paperbound printing, 2013

Paperbound ISBN: 978-0-8263-4363-5

17  16  15  14  13            1  2  3  4  5

The Library of Congress has cataloged the printed edition as follows:

Flint, Richard, 1946–

No settlement, no conquest :

a history of the Coronado Entrada / Richard Flint.

     p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

     ISBN 978-0-8263-4362-8 (cloth : alk. paper)

1. Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de, 1510–1554.

2. Southwest, New—Discovery and exploration—Spanish.

3. Southwest, New—History—To 1848.

4. Indians of North America—Southwest, New—History—16th century.

5. Historic sites—Southwest, New.

6. Excavations (Archaeology)—Southwest, New.

7. Southwest, New—Antiquities.

8. Southwest, New—Discovery and exploration—Spanish—Sources.

I. Title.

     E125.V3F58 2008



Cover painting: 1541–Battle of Basalt Point Pueblo, gouache on paper, by Douglas Johnson.

With my utmost appreciation and affection to Carroll L. Riley and Brent Locke Riley

The only thing worth my writing or anyone's writing is a book that says, hey, this seems to have been left out of the picture.




Introduction: The Mechanics of the Event

CHAPTER 1:   Whys and Wherefores

CHAPTER 2:   Precious Goods of Greater India, China, and Antilia

CHAPTER 3:   Cíbola, a Name for the Goal

CHAPTER 4:   License from the King and His Council

CHAPTER 5:   Raising a Force and Paying for It

CHAPTER 6:   Avoiding Provocation, Demanding Submission

CHAPTER 7:   Almost a Highway

CHAPTER 8:   By Sea to Chichilticale

CHAPTER 9:   Inside Cíbola

CHAPTER 10:  Refusal to Submit

CHAPTER 11:  In the Wake of Disillusionment

CHAPTER 12:  Overture from Cicuique

CHAPTER 13:  The Heart of the Land of Flat-Roofed Towns

CHAPTER 14:  Vassalage Denied

CHAPTER 15:  To the Farthest Edge

CHAPTER 16:  What Was Seen and What Was Not

CHAPTER 17:  Disintegration and Withdrawal

CHAPTER 18:  Upshot

CHAPTER 19:  One of a Hundred and Thirty

CHAPTER 20:  Discontinuity at Mid-Century

CHAPTER 21:  Enduring Life of Rumor

CHAPTER 22:  Violence, Expected but Not Sought


APPENDIX 1:  Major Spanish-Led Expeditions in the Western Hemisphere, 1492–1598, by Date, Leader, and Area

APPENDIX 2:  Chronological Context of the Coronado Entrada, A.D. 700–1609

Abbreviations Used in the Notes and References






ALTHOUGH MY NAME APPEARS as sole author of this book, and indeed I am responsible for its writing, much of the research on which it is based derives from projects undertaken during the past twenty-six years in partnership with Shirley Cushing Flint. Were she not currently at work on a book-length project of her own, this book would have been a more collaborative effort than it already is. Even so, it has benefited from her editorial scrutiny, without which it would be a different and impoverished product.

I also owe sincere appreciation to the members of the Santa Fe seminar, who read and commented on several chapters in the book. Thanks are due especially to Sandra Lauderdale Graham, Richard Graham, and Carroll Riley, who read the entire manuscript and offered many helpful suggestions. My particular gratitude goes to Suzanne Flint, who also read and commented on the entire text. I have often written with her in mind as a well-educated, non-historian reader. And I am grateful to John L. Kessell and David J. Weber for their continuing support and encouragement.

The dust jacket illustration is a painting by Douglas Johnson, who lives in Coyote, New Mexico, titled 1541—The Battle of Basalt Point Pueblo. The subject of the painting is an encounter in early 1541 between García López de Cárdenas, the second maestre de campo of the Coronado expedition, and three Pueblo men at the pueblo of Moho—possibly the ruin now known as Basalt Point Pueblo on Santa Ana Mesa, overlooking modern San Felipe Pueblo in New Mexico. After López has been persuaded to leave his weapons behind, he and the Indians approach one another on foot, at least two of the Indians concealing clubs behind their backs. As the lead Indian embraces López, the two others draw their clubs and beat him over the head. Immediately, several Spanish horsemen race from nearby to the maestre de campo's aid, narrowly preventing his being dragged off to the pueblo and, presumably, killed. This incident is recounted in


The Mechanics of the Event

IN THE COURSE OF LITTLE MORE THAN A CENTURY, from 1492 to about 1600, armed parties from the Old World, aided crucially by large cohorts of Native American men, forcibly took control of many peoples of the vast twin continents that have come to be known as the Americas. Propelled by desire for status, honor, and wealth, energized by unquestioned certainty about the principles governing the natural and social worlds, expeditionaries fanned out over the southern two-thirds of the Western Hemisphere. Toward the middle of the sixteenth century the tide of conquest reached what is today northwestern Mexico and the American Southwest in the form of the Coronado expedition.

Between 1539 and 1542, that Spanish-led expedition of some 2,000 people, mostly Indians from what is now central and western Mexico, made an armed reconnaissance of a place they knew by the name Tierra Nueva. They intended to seize control of the people who lived there, in places called Cíbola (SEEbohla), Marata (MahRAHtah), Totonteac (TohTOHNteyahc), Tiguex (TEEwesh), Tusayán (ToosighYAHN), and Quivira (KeeVEErah). In exchange for the local Indians’ surrender of control, they would offer to initiate the new vassals into the religion, economy, and way of life of sixteenth-century Spain. In return for such a priceless favor, the natives of Tierra Nueva were expected to accept and support don Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, captain general in the name of King Carlos I of Spain, as their overlord. All the nearly 400 European men who accompanied Vázquez de Coronado expected roles in running and sustaining the new Spanish provincia.

When the expedition reached Tierra Nueva, its resident peoples were exposed for the first time to the customs, beliefs, mores, and institutions of Europe and Africa. Interaction between Indians and Old World natives was not invariably confrontational, but on the whole, discord between the groups far outweighed the moments of congeniality. Fighting broke out often. Sullen stand-offs were the norm. People on both sides were killed and maimed, although American natives bore a disproportionate share of the casualties. Everyone suffered.

The promise of lucrative and prestigious colonial offices went unfulfilled. Most of the Europeans who survived the entrada, or armed reconnaissance, returned south to Nueva España disillusioned and heavily in debt. They left behind in Tierra Nueva dislocation and destruction in most places where the expedition had spent more than a few days. As a result, suspicion and wariness, even hostility, characterized each group's perception of the other. The stage was set for further friction when next the two peoples would meet.

How the Coronado entrada was conducted and why it unfolded as it did; what the responses of the natives of Tierra Nueva were to the expedition and why they pursued the options they did; what effects the expedition had on its own members and the Indians it sought to control; how the events and outcomes of the expedition fit with those of similar, contemporaneous undertakings—I explore all these subjects in this book.

Drawing from documentary and archaeological sources, I develop a chain of explanatory narratives that account in significant part for the actions of people of the Coronado expedition and of the American natives they met at critical junctures during the expedition's course. To do that, I highlight selected words and actions of many members of the Coronado expedition and of indigenous persons, in order to understand why members of each group made certain choices and why those choices produced the outcomes they did. Although evidence relating to individual people fills this book, my main intent is to tell the aggregate story.

The remainder of the book is arranged chronologically, to follow the sequence of events of the expedition. Each subsequent chapter includes, besides a narrative of events drawn from sixteenth-century documents and archaeological and ethnographic data, an explanatory argument in which I marshal evidence from those same sorts of sources that convincingly, I think, accounts for why events happened as they did, how they relate to other events of the period, and what their consequences were.

Some readers will be familiar with—indeed will have grown up imbued with—the general outline of events of the Coronado expedition of 1539–42. To others it will be a revelation. In either case, I offer evidence that will be new to both groups and interrogate old evidence for fresh purposes. I do not simply retell what has become part of the lore of the Southwest. Instead, I reconstruct that story as amended, expanded, and recolored by more than a quarter century of my own research about the expedition and that of my wife and collaborator, historian Shirley Cushing Flint, not to mention the work of scores of other historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, geographers, folklorists, and linguists.

For those familiar with earlier versions of the history of the expedition, some common misconceptions may impede the reading of this book. I talk about those misconceptions throughout the book, at scattered places where each seems most pertinent. But they are widespread and pernicious enough that going over them briefly at the beginning may be helpful. The Coronado expeditionaries have commonly been portrayed as a small army of Spanish knights in armor dispatched by the king of Spain to look for gold. Every element of that characterization is inconsistent with what is now known about the expedition and the traditions and conditions from which it sprang. The expedition was instead very large and was not an army in any modern sense. Its membership was not entirely or even predominantly Spanish, and almost no one on the expedition possessed metal armor. The idea for the expedition originated in the New World, not in Spain, and it was paid for by its members, without significant financial support from the king. The expeditionaries were not in a literal sense looking for gold.

As a historian, I do not repeat what other, earlier historians have said about the Coronado entrada without carefully reexamining the bases for their conclusions. Accounts of the past are not settled, fixed, and permanent. Researchers regularly discover new sources of information about the past, new manuscripts, new archaeological data. Each new item affects the understanding of past events, provokes new questions, may require new methodologies, and demands accommodation within an ever-growing and evolving comprehension. Collating new elements with the previous understanding of past events reshapes the outline of that understanding, reveals hitherto unimagined connections, exposes misinformation, and adds crucial information and links that previously were unknown, ignored, or slighted.

This book is no more the final answer about the Coronado expedition than its predecessors were. For one thing, Shirley and I continue to work. Unless the practice of history comes to an end, we and others after us or alongside us will continue to uncover significant information about the entrada and the human and physical context in which it took place. That new information will again necessitate reevaluation of our understanding of how and why the events of 1539–42 transpired.

Ultimately, the discipline of history concerns understanding the range of human behavior. Although the past may not precisely repeat itself, past and present often share parallel elements. Studying the past does not predict the future, but it does present us with the only real-life cases we have of attitudes, choices, actions, and outcomes similar to those in play today. We humans are fools if we willfully ignore and dismiss the examples of the past, if we insist that the past is past, get over it. The past always has ramifications in the present. The Coronado entrada and indeed the Spanish Empire of the sixteenth century as a whole offer striking parallels to circumstances and events of our own time. I have written this book with that observation as a powerful and urgent motive.

I do not offer a minute and exhaustive recounting of the details of the expedition. For that, readers should consult Documents of the Coronado Expedition, 1539–1542: "They Were Not Familiar with His Majesty, nor Did They Wish to Be His Subjects" (Southern Methodist University Press, 2005) and Great Cruelties Have Been Reported: The 1544 Investigation of the Coronado Expedition (Southern Methodist University Press, 2002). Together those volumes make available most of the principal manuscript sources concerning the expedition. Moreover, readers who look for a detailed reconstruction of the route followed by the expedition will not find it here. Neither of these possibilities is uninteresting or unimportant, but my purpose is to explore why things happened as much as to reveal what happened. Either facet—explanation or narration—is sterile without the other, and I have sought to balance the two, providing enough narrative to make clear what took place but always asking, Why was this so?

History can be immensely enjoyable as entertainment, but it can be much more than that. At its best it offers the prospect of learning from the behavior of our forebears. Learning from them sometimes means rejecting, in whole or in part, their rationales and actions, being appalled and turning away. At other times it means embracing those actions and striving to follow or modify them, proudly building on what seems a wisely laid foundation. The history of the Coronado entrada that I offer here contains instances of both.

Readers who refer to the notes at the end of the book will notice the many references to Pedro de Castañeda de Nájera's Relación. They highlight the huge debt modern students of the expedition owe to that former expeditionary. For many episodes in the story, his lengthy narrative, written more than 20 years after the events it describes, provides the only contemporaneous evidence known to exist. It is always unwise, however, to rely heavily on a single source, because of the potential for error, bias, and even purposeful distortion. Whenever possible I have preferred and cited contemporaneous sources other than Castañeda de Nájera, in order to incorporate as many voices and points of view as possible. Nevertheless, Castañeda de Nájera's narrative is an extraordinary source without which historians’ understanding of the events and people of the Coronado expedition would be little more than skeletal.

People connected to and affected by the Coronado expedition, like most other people, rarely recorded or even thought about the reasons behind their actions. Moreover, their infrequent statements about their motivations are unlikely to represent full and complete lists of what moved them. Indeed, psychologists have amply shown that many human motives do not ordinarily reach the level of consciousness. And there is always the possibility that persons or groups knowingly hide or disguise their genuine motivations.

How, then, can any historian presume to specify the factors that drove thousands of persons nearly 500 years ago? Except in extraordinary instances, I cannot hope to know the purely personal drives that originated in the intimate experiences of individual expeditionaries. I assume, though, that people of a given age cohort, ethnicity, social class, vocation, and gender broadly shared goals and ambitions, although specifics varied. When important individual variations in motivation can be discerned, I make that point. I also take it for granted that the expeditionaries’ behavior, and thus their choices, like that of all people, suggests possible reasons underlying their actions.



EXAMINING THE END OF A FAILED UNDERTAKING can reveal much about its beginning. Evident in the laments and recriminations that follow failure are the aspirations and ambitions that drove the enterprise in the first place. Such is the case with the Coronado expedition, the first organized European-led penetration, from 1539 to 1542, of what is today northwestern Mexico and the U.S. Southwest. After more than two years in the field, having accomplished a prodigious journey of some 4,000 miles and having become the first European-led party to see the Grand Canyon, the immense bison herds of the Great Plains, and the great variety of people who inhabited those places, the expedition was about to begin a five-month disintegration, a ragged anticlimax of disappointment.

As the first signs of spring appeared in late February or early March 1542, Captain General Francisco Vázquez de Coronado convened a junta, or council, of captains, royal officials, and other persons of note among the expeditionary force he led. No contemporary document provides the names of those present in the captain general's rooms in an occupied pueblo beside the Río de Tiguex—the modern Rio Grande in what is now New Mexico. In keeping with common practice of the time, however, the group would certainly have included all the leaders of companies—don Tristán de Luna y Arellano, Diego López, don Rodrigo Maldonado, don Pedro de Tovar, don Diego de Guevara, Hernando de Alvarado, Pablo de Melgosa, Juan de Zaldívar, and Velasco de Barrionuevo—along with the royal contador, or accountant, Luis Ramírez de Vargas, and the royal factor, or tribute collector, Antonio de Rivero de Espinosa. Other lay persons of rank such as don Alonso Manrique de Lara and don Lope de Urrea would have been present, along with at least the superior of the cadre of Franciscan friars that accompanied the expedition, fray Juan de Padilla.

The calling of such councils was standard procedure for Spanish-led expeditions of the day when any decision of moment had to be reached and time permitted consultation. And the captain general of this expedition was no autocrat. Essentially the expedition was an imperial town seeking a site for itself. In this respect it was governed like the town it was supposed to become, by a cabildo, or town council, of leading citizens.

Certainly the question before this council in the earliest days of spring 1542 was fateful: Should the expedition persist in its search for wealthy oriental states or should it acknowledge that it had been pursuing a phantom and return to Nueva España? Would anything be gained by spending another year in the far north? Or should the expeditionaries reckon up their losses and seek other opportunities?

The captains and caballeros, men of noble status, spoke in turn, without dissent at first. Their unanimous judgment was to face about and return south, empty-handed but alive and ready perhaps for more certain ventures. All signed their names to that resolution. Likewise, the rank and file of the expedition, the tailors, shoemakers, meat cutters, scribes, hosiers, and merchants who served as horsemen and footmen, petitioned to return to Nueva España, although they were not included in the council.

As expeditionary Pedro de Castañeda de Nájera remembered it decades later, "they gave their formal opinion, [which was] that they should return to Nueva España since nothing of wealth had been found and there was no settlement in what had been reconnoitered where repartimientos could be made to the whole expedition."¹ By repartimiento, or encomienda (the two words were used interchangeably at the time), Castañeda de Nájera referred to a royal grant of the right to collect tribute from vassals. In 1544 Vázquez de Coronado and his attorney put it this way: In none of [that great amount of territory] had they seen, talked with, or had reports of civilized people among whom it would be possible to increase His Majesty's royal patrimony.² Don Pedro de Tovar testified that the party never found a land in which it would be possible to settle.³ The famous Seven Cities of Cíbola, for instance, had turned out to lack wealth and civilization.

So on or about April 1, 1542, the Coronado expedition vacated the two or three pueblos it had occupied for two winters along the Río de Tiguex and began retracing its route back toward the Ciudad de México, Mexico City, from which it had departed.


For those accustomed to think of European occupation of North America in terms of nineteenth-century homestead pioneers and gold rushers, the council's decision, ratified and enforced by the captain general, may seem puzzling. Although Coronado expedition member Juan Jaramillo, for instance, imagined that the Great Plains were very productive of every kind of fruit and Castañeda de Nájera thought that in the mountains of what is now northern New Mexico there were sources of silver, if they had been looked for, no one on the expedition prospected for precious metals, and no one attempted to cultivate the Great Plains.

It has become a mechanically repeated cliché that Spanish conquistadores suffered from an insatiable lust for gold that trumped every other motive. The sum of available evidence shows otherwise. Generally speaking, raw natural resources such as minerals and arable fertile land held, by themselves, little or no attraction for the Coronado expeditionaries and members of other Spanish-led entradas in the Americas during the first half of the sixteenth century. Although unique in many other ways, in this respect the Coronado expedition shared the object of other enterprises of conquest of the day. For the free European men who paid to go on the expedition, one generalized formulation probably covers the most widespread of their ambitions: to secure for themselves and their dependents lives of ease and honor.

How did one do that in sixteenth-century North America? Instead of the array of what are commonly considered resources today, it was the native peoples of the Americas on which the viability, prosperity, and justification of a universal Spanish empire were seen to depend.

Understanding what drove the Coronado expedition and therefore why it was abandoned requires bridging a crucial cultural and temporal gulf. A profound divide exists between sixteenth-century Spanish conquistadores' visions of the New World and the corresponding views of the West held by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Anglo-American frontiersmen. In the later, Anglo-American case, as historian Frederick Jackson Turner so insightfully pointed out more than a century ago, it was an area of free land that lured westward migration, settlement, and exploitation during the 1700s and 1800s.⁶ By and large, the native peoples of the land were seen as obstacles and impediments to that movement.

For the members of the Coronado expedition and about 130 other entradas mounted throughout the Americas during the first half of the 1500s under the authority of the Spanish king, it was American natives themselves, rather than empty land, who constituted the attraction of the hemisphere. Key to comprehending this cultural difference are centuries-old Iberian traditions of conquest, encomienda, and tribute, which draw us back even farther into the past before we can proceed forward.

Between A.D. 711 and 722, Islamic Moors under a leader named Tariq ibn Ziyad were invited to come to the aid of one side in a civil war between Christian religious factions in the Visogothic kingdom that had held sway over the Iberian Peninsula for more than two centuries. In the end, the Moors abandoned their role as mercenaries and overran nearly the entire peninsula, defeating the presumptive Christian king Rodrigo and establishing sovereignty through Islamic states. That conquest, in turn, set off a Christian reconquest, or reconquista, that was to last sporadically for 770 years. The reconquista culminated in the capitulation of the last emir of Granada, Mahomet Abdala, better known as Boabdil, on January 2, 1492.⁷ As had been royal practice earlier during the reconquista, immediately in the wake of the fall of the last Islamic state in Iberia the Spanish monarchs granted to the most illustrious of the leaders of the triumph repartimientos, or grants of authority over Moorish vassals, on whom the newly installed Spanish lords levied increasingly onerous tribute.⁸ Indeed, it was the right to levy taxes and tribute that constituted the principal benefit of being designated lord of a reconquered territory.

The swelling ranks of semiautonomous Christian overlords finally threatened to block the Spanish monarchs' pretensions to preeminent, peninsula-wide authority. Even as early as 1480 Queen Isabel of Castilla had overseen the issuance of ordinances aimed at limiting the independence of the tribute-collecting nobility. She and her husband, Fernando, king of Aragón, undertook a program to reduce both the size and the power of the Spanish nobility.⁹ It was the monarchs' hope, in the aftermath of Christopher Columbus's revelation to Europe of a new world in the west, also in 1492, not to extend the granting of repartimientos and encomiendas to the islands and the mainland of the ocean sea, as the Western Hemisphere was known for a time. But the royal treasury and bureaucracy were not nearly large enough to fund and control the extension of Spanish dominion over what eventually proved to be two huge and populous continents.

That extension of sovereignty could be carried out only by the numerous and well-to-do hidalgo class, which comprised the range of the privileged from dukes and marqueses to petty nobility. And for such labor and expense, hidalgos expected reward in the centuries-old repartimiento tradition. Despite the monarchs' apprehension, then, from the first, repartimientos and encomiendas of Native American communities were made to deserving Spaniards. Columbus himself began the process in 1497, and Nicolás de Ovando, governor of the island of Española, formalized and made it routine by 1505.¹⁰ An encomienda- granting document from Yucatán in 1544 expresses the rationale behind New World repartimientos:

I give in encomienda and repartimiento to you…the town of Taxica…with all its lords and caciques and nobles, and all the divisions and subject villages of the said town, so that you may use and profit by them in your estates and commerce…I give it to you in remuneration for your services and hardships and expenditures, and for the services you have rendered to His Majesty in…conquest and pacification.¹¹

As a result of such a grant, a native community was obligated to pay tribute to the king through its encomendero, who in turn was to provide military protection and religious instruction to all the people of the community. On the islands of the Caribbean, tribute provided to encomenderos generally took the form of labor.¹²

When, in 1521, the great Mexica, or Aztec, capital of Tenochtitlan fell to the combined assaults of a thousand or so Europeans and many thousands of native allies led by Hernando Cortés, the victorious conquistadores expected repartimientos. Cortés, too, anticipated such recompense and forthwith assigned repartimientos, or encomiendas, as they now came to be called, to 313 of Tenochtitlan's conquerors. Because the population of the Mexica state (primarily in what is today central Mexico) was very large in 1521—perhaps as many as 3 million people and certainly at least 1 million—encomiendas granted to its conquerors averaged thousands of tributaries (adult men) apiece.¹³ A well-developed preconquest tradition of in-kind or commodity tribute among the Mexica and their neighbors resulted in the payment of the same type of tribute to Spanish encomenderos, in addition to labor. In Nueva España the most common items of in-kind tribute were gold, cotton cloth, and foodstuffs. Tribute, in effect a per capita tax, has been called the central unique economic feature of Spanish dominion over New World peoples.¹⁴

Only 18 years after the fall of Tenochtitlan and the granting of encomiendas there, the Coronado expedition was planned and organized in the Ciudad de México, which had in the meantime risen from the rubble of the Mexica capital. As historian Robert Himmerich y Valencia has written, although "it is impossible to know exactly what an entrada recruiting pitch was like, most surely it held out the promise of encomiendas for the participants."¹⁵ Even if the organizers of the Coronado expedition offered no such explicit inducement, its leading participants, as well as many of the rank and file, certainly expected to earn lucrative encomiendas in Cíbola, which was said to be even grander than Tenochtitlan.

When the rumors and reports of Cíbola's greatness and wealth proved mistaken, the aspiring encomenderos of the expedition felt betrayed. They searched energetically across hundreds of miles of territory for some other indigenous community that could supply valuable commodities in sufficient quantities to underwrite lives of ease and honor. None of them found anything.¹⁶ With the principal aim of the expedition foreclosed, there was no sensible reason to prolong the search. The captains and caballeros spoke one after another in council in support of turning back south, and the expedition started for home.

Eventually, at least 18 members of the Coronado expedition became encomenderos anyway, although elsewhere in the Americas, not at Cíbola or anywhere in Tierra Nueva.


After the junta agreed to abort the expedition, fray Juan de Padilla unexpectedly announced that he and another Franciscan, fray Luis de Úbeda, would remain in the north.¹⁷ Padilla would go to Quivira, far out on the plains, while his confrere would stay at Cicuique (SeeKWEEkay), or Pecos Pueblo, in what is now New Mexico. This, fray Juan said, they would do under license from their provincial, Marcos de Niza, since his great passion was to convert those people [of Quivira] and bring them to the Faith.¹⁸ Meanwhile, fray Luis proclaimed that "with a chisel and adze that was being left to him he would put up crosses throughout those pueblos, or communities of modest size, and would baptize infants he would find on the point of death, in order to send them to heaven."¹⁹

The captain general, though clearly displeased by the assertion of Franciscan independence and undoubtedly concerned for the friars' safety, acquiesced to their separate plans. A herd of sheep was segregated and dispatched for the friars' support. And Vázquez de Coronado and his advisors permitted fray Juan to take with him a Portuguese layman, Andrés de Campo, as well as a black man, a mestizo (an offspring of the union of an Indian and a Spaniard), and several Indians from Nueva España.²⁰ These last included two Indian donados, or lay assistants, by the names of Sebastián and Lucas, from Zapotlán in today's Jalisco, where fray Juan had been guardián, or superior, before the expedition.²¹ As Juan Jaramillo later remembered, some Indians, including one from my company, a Tarascan called Andrés, also stayed.²² Meanwhile, expeditionaries Melchior Pérez and Juan Jaramillo each provided black slaves to accompany and support fray Luis in his missionary work at Cicuique. They were a Cristóbal, a second Sebastián, and an unnamed slave of Pérez's, who also had his wife and children with him.²³

Stated most broadly, the aim of these two Franciscans and their small entourages was to bring into the Catholic faith as many American natives as they might be able to. For followers of Saint Francis of Assisi in the early 1500s, the missionary enterprise had a special urgency. Many believed their order to be one of two that, within their lifetimes, were expected to achieve the complete conversion of the world, which would culminate in the second coming of Christ.

Much of the enthusiasm for evangelism among the early New World Franciscans, including fray Juan de Padilla, can be traced to their acceptance of the ideas of the twelfth-century apocalyptic cleric Joachim of Fiore.²⁴ Joachim and his followers preached the imminent end of the world, to be ushered in by the worldwide spread of a reborn Catholicism effected by two new religious orders. Many Franciscans of the early 1500s were sure theirs was one of those two evangelical orders destined to bring about the renewal of the Church and the conversion of the world.²⁵ The Joachimites' view of human history divided it into three great eras: the Age of the Patriarchs (the Old Testament), the Age of the Apostles (the New Testament), and the final era, the Age of the Missionaries, which would culminate in the millennium. For many Franciscans, the beginning of the third age was signaled by the revelation to Europe of unproselytized multitudes in the Western Hemisphere.²⁶

An indication of the influence of Joachimite millenarianism in the early evangelization of Nueva España is that all 16 of the first Franciscan missionaries to Nueva España—including Los Doce, the first twelve, led by fray Martín de Valencia—were millenarians, as was the first bishop of Mexico, fray Juan de Zumárraga.²⁷ Fray Juan de Padilla's adherence to Joachimite ideals seems all but certain, given his close association with several of Los Doce and the bishop.²⁸ Padilla must have considered his return to Quivira a glorious duty and a fortunate opportunity to hasten the return of Christ.

The members of his small ecclesiastical company were not the only people who voiced a desire to remain in Tierra Nueva once the decision to return south was announced. Others reversed themselves and decided to try to stay, given the friars' resolve. Testifying two years after the end of the expedition, Alonso Sánchez, a cobbler and small merchant who was on the entrada, certified that he, his wife and son, and another 60 persons wanted to stay in that land with fray Juan de Padilla.²⁹ Castañeda de Nájera amplified that story, writing in the 1560s that a group requested that the general leave seventy chosen men. They would stay there and hold the land until the viceroy sent them aid or summoned them [to return]. In addition, some of the caballeros who had previously put their signatures to the agreement to turn south now changed their minds and even tried to retrieve and destroy the document recording the junta's formal decision.³⁰ According to Juan Jaramillo, 10 or 12 of us were not party to [abandoning Tierra Nueva], arguing with [the captain general] about it in order to keep him from doing it.³¹ These lay members of the expedition who expressed a desire to stay in the north were forbidden to do so and were compelled to retreat southward with the rest of the expedition, minus most of its ecclesiastical contingent.

If Alonso Sánchez and his wife, Francisca de Hozes, were typical of those who sought to remain behind the expedition, then that group was composed of people whose prospects in the Ciudad de México or elsewhere in Nueva España were unpromising. Certainly there were many among the expeditionaries who had been without profitable employment before their departure for the north. As Cristóbal de Oñate put it after reviewing the muster of the expedition, many of those going were licentious and had no [means] by which to sustain themselves in the Ciudad de México or elsewhere.³² When the Sánchez couple mustered into the expedition early in 1540, observers in the Ciudad de México said that Alonso was in debt and had been unsuccessful in his trade. Serván Béjarano, for example, stated that he knew Alonso Sánchez "to be a small merchant, and because he is very short of funds and does not have [anything] with which to sustain himself, he is going to the land to seek

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  • (5/5)
    Well written, informative, and provocative. What else can a reader ask for? The authors tackle the issue of the Entrada by thinking outside the box....I like that. Did the conquistadors focus on gold/silver or was a life of honor/wealth through having a continuous source of income via a constrained native population that was somewhat like bonded serfs more what they were aiming at? Good stuff....