Francisco Vázquez de Coronado

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]

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