Francisco Vázquez de Coronado


  • Born to a noble family in Salamanca Spain in 1510
  • Came to the Americas at the age of 25
  • Served in the Spanish military from 1535-1554
  • Married to Beatriz de Estrada, daughter of treasurer and governor Alonso de Estrada y Hidalgo, lord of Picón.
  • Inherited a large portion of a Mexican encomendero estate through Beatriz
  • Very wealthy


           Francisco received a decent education due to his family’s noble status. Due to his status as the second son of his noble family, he could not expect to inherit his family’s fortune. In Spain at the time, only the first son could expect to receive their parent’s status and money. This is most likely the reason Coronado set out to earn his fame in the Americas. In his younger years, Coronado befriended Antonio de Mendoza the son of Iñigo López de Mendoza, the governor of Granada, Spain. Eventually, Antonio was made a Viceroy in New Spain and was able to come to the Americas as his assistant. This led to many opportunities, which eventually led to his marriage of Beatriz and becoming an important military commander, as well as the governor of New Galicia. Coronado eventually became infatuated with the stories of gold and adventure, which led to his organization of the expedition. Coronado mentions that Mendoza gave men that pledged themselves to the expedition enough gold to enable them to provide necessary equipment for the journey, including arms, horses, money, lances, and arms of the country. It is also important to note that Mendoza ordered Coronado to show his Indian allies (of which there were several hundred acting as scouts, sappers, servants, herdsmen, horse wranglers, camp cooks etc…) the greatest consideration. Saying they must be dealt with as freemen and are to be permitted to turn back at any time they wished. Coronado was a well-respected man, among his own men. This was due to his background and previous services to New Spain and his wealth and status as the husband of Beatriz de Estrada. This respect also stemmed from his tendency to fight alongside his men, instead of hiding in the back as many commanders do. Coronado was injured numerous times during the expedition and nearly died from several of those injuries. Coronado was recorded in the muster to be bringing twenty-three horses, three or four suits of horse armor and other armaments (including spare armor). The list does not include the commander’s famous gilded suit and helmet with crested plume however.

Historiographic Analysis

               Much of the information regarding Coronado is easily obtained, due to his importance as a main figurehead. Also, being a nobleman and a governor, there are documents and letters that can give firsthand accounts of information. The muster roll was set up primarily by Coronado and Mendoza, who both contributed large sums of money towards, thus documentation and organization was key to the expedition’s success. Mendoza also seemed concerned about the treatment of the Indians, due to political and judicial backlash, which eventually caught up to Coronado. Meaning that documentation and evidence was important to keep as a fall back for Coronado’s eventual trial.

Sources Primary:

 “Muster Roll of the Expedition.” Narratives of the Coronado Expedition, 1540-

 1542, by George Peter Hammond and Agapito Rey, University of New Mexico Press, 1940, pp. 88–88.

[Mentions the names and all items pledged to the expedition]

Bolton, Herbert Eugene. Coronado: Knight of Pueblos and Plains. University of New Mexico Press, 2015.

[Explains and provides more details on the muster roll at Compestela]

Sources Secondary:

“The Ages of Exploration.” Ages of Exploration, Mariners Museum and Park,

[Provides general overview information on Coronado]

Schulman, Marc. “BIOGRAPHY OF FRANCISCO VAZQUEZ DE CORONADO.” Francisco Vazquez De Coronado,

[Citation for image used in post]

Tovar’s Journey

1.1: Summary

Don Pedro de Tovar, along with seventeen horsemen and several foot soldiers as well as Juan de Padilla (a Franciscan friar) journey to the province of Tusayan (modern day Hopi). The story begins as the group stealthily enters the region at night, so as to not draw attention from the natives. The group finally comes upon the edge of the village, where they hear the natives talking in their houses about the stories and rumors. As native peoples of the area had certainly heard stories of the capture of Cibola and the fierce men that road upon animals that ate people (which was a common misconception among natives who had never seen horses before). When morning came, Tovar and his men were discovered and fell into a regular order (somewhat defensive formation) to interact with the natives. Tovar is reminded of his departure from the main expedition where Coronado told him to show some level of restraint with the Indians. The village warriors came out to meet them with bows, shields and wooden clubs. The men drew lines in the sand, and Tovar’s interpreter was given the chance to speak with them. The interpreter determined that these men were very intelligent people; however they insisted that Tovar and his men not cross the line towards their village. During their conversation, some of Tovar’s men acted as if they would cross the line, and one of the native warriors lost control of himself whether out of fear or anger, and struck the conquistador’s horse across the cheek on the bridle with a club. Friar Juan (the interpreter) fretted that the time spent talking was wasted, and told Tovar, “To tell the truth, I do not know why we came here.” Upon hearing this, Tovar’s men sounded the Santiago (Spanish war cry) and killed many of the men that greeted them, and routed the rest into their village in confusion. Almost immediately the natives of the village came out with presents, asking for peace and Tovar ordered the gifts collected and his men retreat. The natives after that caused no more harm, and Tovar’s group were allowed to set up a place for their headquarters near the village and continue interacting and trading with them.

1.2: Objectives

  • Gain understanding of how both sides (Conquistadors and Natives) interact and react to each other
  • Demonstrate the attempted negotiation and quick aggression from both sides
  • Reveal the impact of rumors and lack of knowledge about the Europeans upon the native’s reactions
  • Provide experience through decisions built into dialogue

1.3: Primary Actors

  • Don Pedro de Tovar
  • Juan de Padilla (Basic friar model)
  • Indian warrior/chief involved in the negotiation

2.2: Environment Description

  • The environment in the Hopi/Tusayan area is very dry (Arizona climate)
  • The start of the story is night time near the village
  • The remainder of the story is early morning after sunrise (cooler temperatures, no rain)
  • Village is raised on a bluff, all sides protected by rocky ledges except the front
  • On a more in depth note, the village in this encounter is raised upon a rocky bluff. (See attached pictures and map for details). The Tovar’s group arrives at night and sets up camp directly under the edge of the native village in a blind spot below the bluff’s edge where they are obscured by the landscape. The village sits on a bluff connected to the main mesa by a decently sized natural rocky bridge. The bridge has been cleared/worn in the middle by the natives, and there are rocks lining the ledges on either side almost like a railing. This makes it easier for Tovar’s group to hide, as natives didn’t leave the village much. There is very little foliage aside from sparse shrubs and other desert plants that grow upon rock faces. It is slightly windy due to the raised nature of the village itself, and there are not many animals aside from perhaps lizards or other small animals (probably not worth including).

3.1 : Sequencing

*** For this section, any dialogue will be handled like a script. This should all appear on screen, or be paraphrased as it includes small details that help to build the narrative. Any actions are listed within parenthesis and are animations. No text should appear. Bracketed numbers are estimated time stamps…

Sequence 1: (with the main expedition/ inside Coronado’s tent) [0:00]

Coronado: Tovar, while it is disappointing that no gold was located at Zuni, I would like you to follow up on a lead to the next village before the expedition arrives. It is a region known as Tusayan. Please attempt to use discretion in your dealings with the Indians, however do not hesitate when it comes down to it…

Sequence 2: (Scene change, night time near edge of Hopi camp in Tusayan) [0:15]

(Tovar and his soldiers move silently towards the town and halt beneath the edge of the bluff)

(They begin to hear voices from the natives speaking within the village) [0:25]

Native 1: Yes, It’s true! I was told that Ciabola has fallen. Capture by fierce men travelling upon animals that eat people. We are doomed if they find us.

Native 2: That’s horrible if it is as you say, though I am unsure of these creatures. I have never heard of such an animal before.

Native 1: Be it true or not, we must tread carefully. I am weary to even venture to my farm in the morning. They are said to be heading in this direction.

(Tovar motions for his men to begin setting up camp slightly farther away, in a place that is out of line of sight of the village, hidden behind an overhang) [0:40]

(Either skip this section or show the process of the camp being built) [Skip: 0:50] [Show: 1:15]

Sequence 2.5: (Sunrise, random native villager walking along the edge of the bluff to spots the conquistador camp and runs back to the village) [1:25]

Sequence 3: (setting change: next morning slightly after sunrise, on land bridge. 15 Conquistadors and the Friar gather in a formation facing a group of 20-25 Indians who are armed with bows, clubs and shields) [2:00]

Friar: (interpreting the Hopi language) we are on a mission for gold and riches. A place where gold is abundant, something of a great city, do you know of it?

Indian leader: (steps forward and draws line in sand with his foot) Not here, we have nothing for you. You are the men that destroyed Cibola, do not approach this village. Do not cross this line or blood will be shed.

(Random Conquistador begins to edge toward the line on his horse with several other men in a mocking fashion)

(A native on the other side of the line becomes agitated and steps up to the line. The Conquistador continues to edge closer)

Native warrior: Get away~ (Warrior strikes horse on cheek across its bridle with his club)

(The negotiators notice the commotion)

Friar: (Turning to Tovar) this is a waste of time, we will get nowhere with them so it is useless to try and negotiate. To tell the truth, I do not know why we came here.

Sequence 4: The fight and reconciliation [3:00]

(Upon hearing this, the conquistadors cry the Santiago and begin to run down the Indians with their horses. The Indians are cut down quickly and most (15-20) run back to the village in confusion)

Tovar: Regroup, Regroup! And restrain yourselves.

(Almost immediately another group of unarmed natives timidly approach the regrouped Conquistadors with gifts of dressed skins and corn meal, as well as pine nuts and edible birds of the region)

Pacifist Native: We mean no harm, please let us have peace. Those of us in this province (The entire region) will submit to you. We wish to build a friendship with you and we bring gifts as a demonstration of our good will.

(Tovar takes a moment to consider)

Tovar: Indeed, there is no need for more blood to stain this land. We accept. (To his men) dismount and accept their offerings. We will set up a headquarters here, and continue interactions with this village; it may be beneficial in the future.

(The men spend some time collecting the gifts, then turn and leave the village in peace)

Sequence 5: Afterword: [6-7] (Summary after note that appears on screen)

            The conflict at Tusayan opened peaceful interaction with the natives. After the conflict, the natives presented turquoises (not a huge amount) to Tovar as a display of friendship. The people of the province all gathered and submitted themselves to the conquistadors that day. They also allowed Tovar to enter their village freely to visit, buy, sell and barter. Later, they also provided guides for the expedition and told of a large river, and people with large bodies that lived there…

Lope de Samaniego


Samaniego pledged 16-17 horses, two buckskin coats, a coat of mail with all ccouterments. Many of Samaniego’s belongings were destroyed in a fire, which he replaced with native equipment.

Common Spanish Morion helmet


Samaniego was a rich man. Appointed to the expedition as maestre de campo, or the second in command of the army. He served as keeper of the royal arsenal in Mexico City before the expedition. Described as “a responsible person and very good Christian…” by Mendoza. He had accompanied Guzman on the Nueva Galicia frontier. Samaniego was killed by an arrow to the eye near Chiametla shortly after the expedition set out. Buried in a field, and eventually moved to the church at Compostela.

Samaniego’s Death:

Due to a lack of food for the army, Coronado had dispatched a force into the mountains to procure provisions. The party was put under the command of Lope de Samaniego. Upon entering a dense thicket, one soldier was separated from their group. Native warriors attacked the lone soldier, and commander Samaniego rushed to his side after hearing his cries. With the natives routed, Samaniego felt safe enough to raise his visor and speak with the soldier. He was then struck by an arrow through the eye, killing him instantly. His death so early in the expedition was a major loss to the army. He was avenged by Coronado who captured a number of natives and hung them from trees in the vicinity. Samaniego was the first to die on the expedition.

Sources Primary:

“Muster Roll of the Expedition.” Narratives of the Coronado Expedition, 1540- 1542, by George Peter Hammond and Agapito Rey, University of New Mexico Press, 1940, pp. 88–88.

[Mentions the names and all items pledged to the expedition]

“Surviving Examples of the Elegant Morion Helmet Used from the Middle 16th to Early 17th Centuries.”

The Vintage News, The Vintage News, 4 Oct. 2016,

[Similar armor to what Samaniego may have worn, since there are no pictures of him specifically]

Sources Secondary:

Twitchell, Ralph Emerson. “The Leading Facts of New Mexican History, Vol. I (Hardcover).”

Google Books, 2007,

[Describes Samaniego’s last moments pg 177]

Don Pedro De Tovar


Don Pedro De Tovar was a wealthy captain in the expedition. Pledging 13 horses, a full coat of mail, and an assortment of native accouterments and weapons.


Tovar was one of the first settlers of Guadalajara along with Nuño de Guzmán in 1531. Tovar was also one of the founders of Culiacan, and eventually succeeded Melchior Diaz after his death, in the encomienda. Later he was named alcalde mayor of new Galicia in 1549 for 2 years by Viceroy Mendoza. His money comes mainly from his family ties, especially with his brother Sancho de Tovar, the regidor of Sahagún. Tovar’s importance comes into play mainly in his role as a leader under Coronado. Upon finding no gold at Zuni, Coronado sent a small party of soldiers under Tovar to explore Hopi (Tusayan). Tovar led his men quickly and quietly into the region. They came upon a village and had an interaction with the natives. The natives drew lines in the dirt and said not to cross. They attempted to negotiate peace until a native attacked one of the Spaniards horses. After which they killed/routed many of the armed Indians that greeted them. The village responded with a quick peace offering of presents, which Tovar ordered his men to collect. They then retreated and set up headquarters near the village, which they eventually began to trade with. Tovar was not commissioned to go any farther along the river he was following at this point, and instead rode back to deliver his information to Coronado. Tovar was a well respected member of the expedition and became someone that Coronado relied heavily upon throughout the expedition.

Sources Primary:

“Muster Roll of the Expedition.” Narratives of the Coronado Expedition, 1540- 1542, by George Peter Hammond and Agapito Rey, University of New Mexico Press, 1940, pp. 88–88.

[Mentions the names and all items pledged to the expedition]

Sources Secondary:

Winship, George Parker. “‘How Don Pedro De Tovar Discovered Tusayan.’” Southwest Crossroads- Letter to Captain Ben C. Cutler, Headquarters, Navajo Expedition, Fort Canby, NM, January 23, 1864, Kit Carson’s Letters,

[Description of Tovar’s miniature expedition into Tusayan]

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Francisco Vázquez De Coronado.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 5 Nov. 2018,

[Source of the photo of Coronado’s route, since there are no pictures of Tovar]