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Viceroy appoints Coronado to find Seven Cities of Cíbola


On this day in 1540, Spanish viceroy Antonio de Mendoza appointed Francisco Vázquez de Coronado to lead an expedition in search of the fabulous Seven Cities of Cíbola. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca had described the cities in his 1536 report on his wanderings through New Spain, and Marcos de Niza had confirmed Cabeza de Vaca's report in 1539. Coronado and 1,000 men set out from Culiacán in late April. There was no gold at Cíbola (the Zuñi villages in western New Mexico), but he was led on by stories told by the captive El Turco of great rewards to be found in Quivira, a region on the Great Plains far to the east. Chasing this chimera occupied Coronado until the early part of 1542. When he returned to Mexico he was subjected to an official examination of his conduct as leader of the expedition and as governor of Nueva Galicia. He was cleared of charges in connection with the expedition, but on some of the other charges was fined and lost his commission. He died in 1554.

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