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Coronado's Expedition--No Gold?

Last evening, I attended a lecture at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas that made me revise some of what I learned in high school history class at Ankeny High School. The Garry L. Nall lecture in Western Studies featured Richard and Shirley Flint presenting "To and Fro without a Road Map: Which Way the Coronado Expedition Chose to Go, and Why." What I knew to be fact from my high school days turns out to be more legend and less fact--Coronado did not go in search of the Seven Cities of Gold. In fact, the World History Encyclopedia's article, "Cibola - The Seven Cities of Gold and Coronado" written in 2021 by Joshua Mark still falsely claims that Coronado was in search of gold:


The cities were first attested to by four survivors of the disastrous Narvaez Expedition of 1527, including the explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (d. c. 1560), in 1536. De Vaca’s report was later “corroborated” by the Franciscan friar Marcos de Niza (l. c. 1495-1558) in 1539. De Niza’s colorful description of the wealthy site encouraged the 1540 expedition into North America by conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado (l. 1510-1554) who found no such cities.


The Coronado expedition did manage to kill a large number of Native Americans, however, either directly or by robbing their food supplies so they starved. Setting out from Compostela in northwest Mexico, Coronado traveled to modern-day New Mexico where he found the tales of the golden city to be a fable. After taking the city, he then destroyed other communities before being convinced of the existence of an even grander city of gold, Quivira, and his quest to find this mythical place took him as far north as modern-day Kansas. (Cibola - The Seven Cities of Gold & Coronado - World History Encyclopedia)


What I learned from the Flints' lecture was that Coronado's expedition which was privately funded by Coronado and others was in search of goods from China such as silks, spices, pottery, etc. At this time in history, Europeans believed China was connected to the western lands of the new world and that imported riches were available. Richard and Shirley Cushing Flint write, in their book, A Most Splendid Company, The Coronado Expedition that Coronado was in search of China and fully believed he and his fellow entrepreneurs would succeed in securing valuable goods which they could import, thereby becoming wealthy. They were sadly disappointed. If you're interested in unlearning what you think you know and learning what actually happened, you might check out the Flint's website at the University of New Mexico: About this Project | A Most Splendid Company (unm.edu)



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