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Came Men on Horses

The Conquistador Expeditions of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and Don Juan de Oñate

By Stan Hoig

Publication Year: 2012

Guided by myths of golden cities and worldly rewards, policy makers, conquistador leaders, and expeditionary aspirants alike came to the new world in the sixteenth century and left it a changed land. Came Men on Horses follows two conquistadors— Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and Don Juan de Oñate—on their journey across the southwest.

Driven by their search for gold and silver, both Coronado and Oñate committed atrocious acts of violence against the Native Americans, and fell out of favor with the Spanish monarchy. Examining the legacy of these two conquistadors Hoig attempts to balance their brutal acts and selfish motivations with the historical significance and personal sacrifice of their expeditions. Rich human details and superb story-telling make Came Men on Horses a captivating narrative scholars and general readers alike will appreciate.

Published by: University Press of Colorado

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi1

As do most historical studies, this work stands on the shoulders of many people: event participants, witnesses, historians, and writers, past and current. Most significant, of course, are those Spaniards who during the Era of the Conquistador wrote, reported, or testified about their experiences. ...

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Introduction: For Riches Yet Unfound

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pp. 1-10

It may seem curious to debate the question of what brought the Spanish conquistador to North America. Those who have read early accounts of the conquistador would likely answer the question in a single word—“gold.” Authoritative studies such as Rivers of Gold (2003), by the accomplished British scholar Hugh Thomas, ...

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Part 1: The Coronado Expedition

Today, archaeologists are scouring historic sites in the Southwest and Central Plains searching for clues to the drama of our Indian past and the conquistador era. Ever so gradually, more and more revelations are coming to light. It is with the discovery of an outline of a prehistoric Indian pit house, ...

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1. Of Myths and Men

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pp. 13-26

When the Spanish conquistadors came to America to conduct their conquests for the Spanish Empire, they were inspired and guided to an indefinable but significant extent by popular myths that featured fabulous cities of golden wealth or other worldly rewards. ...

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2. An Illusion Called Cibola

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pp. 27-40

Spaniards of the sixteenth century knew Tierra Nueva only as a dark, undefined landmass connected to New Spain on the north. They had learned something of its western coastal line from naval explorations, but they knew nothing of the land’s shape, its breadth or depth, its mountains and rivers, or what dire dangers might lurk there. ...

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3. Off to the Land of Treasure

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pp. 41-56

On the brisk Monday morning of February 28, 15402 (Julian calendar; March 2, Gregorian calendar), the mining town of Compostela, perched along Mexico’s west coast, stirred with excitement in witness of its moment of history. The small silver- and gold-mining village that Nuño de Guzmán had founded in 1535 ...

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4. “We Ask and Require”

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pp. 57-68

Coronado’s precise route beyond Chichilticale has never been resolved with certainty. It is clearly determined, however, that he marched north to the Zuni settlements on the Zuni River in present New Mexico just across its border with Arizona. A direct route thereto would have taken the expedition along the east side of the border ...

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5. Curse of the Golden Bracelet

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pp. 69-78

During the fall of 1540, a delegation of Indians arrived at Hawikuh to confer with Coronado. They were from a place to the east called Cicuye (Cicúique), today the site of Pecos, New Mexico. At their lead were two men, one of whom was a young warrior—tall and handsome with a fine physique. ...

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6. Terrorizing Tiguex

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pp. 79-88

When winter came, Coronado sent for a Tiguex chief he had met and declared that he needed clothing for his poorly clad, shivering troops. He demanded that he be furnished with about 300 mantas, or robes. The chief said he could not possibly provide them, suggesting that the matter be put before the various town governors. ...

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7. Swallowed by a Sea of Grass

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pp. 89-102

While Coronado was engaged in pacifying Tiguex, he could hardly wait until the Indians were quelled and warm weather came so he could continue his quest onward to the wondrous place the Turk called Quivira. Surely, Coronado reasoned, in everything the Turk told, there was enough truth to overcome the disappointments he and his men ...

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8. A Place Called Quivira

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pp. 103-116

The Teyas’s information regarding the expedition’s course received dramatic support from Sopete. The much-ignored “other” slave from the plains now caused a great commotion. Throwing himself on the ground, he made signs indicating that before he would continue to follow the Turk any further, he would let the Spaniards cut off his head. ..

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9. Winter of Disasters

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pp. 117-126

After Coronado departed, Arellano and the main army rested for fifteen days in the second ravine. While there, they killed 500 bison and dried the meat to take with them on the trip back. Famished for fresh greenery, the Spaniards feasted on the wild but not yet ripe grapes, currants, mint-flavored wild marjoram, ...

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10. End of the Conquest

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pp. 127-136

Shortly after Friar Juan Padilla’s party departed from Tiguex in April, Coronado started his army and colonists on their return to Mexico. He was still suffering from his head injury, and at times he was carried on a litter between two mules. His once grand expedition to Tierra Nueva was similarly dysfunctional, its morale broken by failure, ...

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Part 2: Post-Coronado Incursions

Written history does not know, and this book cannot say, what actually happened to Captains Francisco Leyva de Bonilla and Antonio Gutiérrez de Humaña. These two men defied Spanish law and, on their own, plunged ahead into Tierra Nueva in 1593, five years before Oñate reached Nueva Mexico. ...

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11. For Slaves and Souls

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pp. 139-146

The remains of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, as were those of his family members later, were interred at the Church of Santo Domingo in Mexico City. As time passed, participants in his grand entrada to Tierra Nueva would fade away and with them memories of the event.

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12. Renegade Conquistadors

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pp. 147-154

Even as Antonio de Espejo was exploring in present New Mexico, King Philip II had issued his decree authorizing the viceroy in Mexico to search for the proper person to lead a colonization effort into Tierra Nueva. It was mandatory that the person have his own wealth to finance the venture.

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Part 3: The Oñate Expedition

In 1605, one of the last of the Spanish conquistadors, Don Juan de Oñate, left posterity a personal note inscribed around an Indian petroglyph on the great cliff rock known today as El Morro in western New Mexico. In Spanish it reads: “Paso por aqui el adelantado don juan de onate del descubrimiento de la mar del sur a 16 de April de 1605.” ...

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13. Contract with Destiny

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pp. 157-166

In 1595, Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar had everything he had ever wanted in life—almost. He was very wealthy; he had a palatial home near Zacatecas, a solid military reputation as an Indian fighter, a proud Basque heritage, and a sound social and political position in Mexico stemming from the families of both his father and his mother ...

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14. Cavalcade of Conquest

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pp. 167-174

Lope de Ulloa y Lemos and his staff arrived at the mines at Casco and began their inspection and inventory of the expedition on December 9, 1596. Don Juan de Oñate opened the event by presenting a large amount of steel and iron rods and plate, which he promised to make into goods. ...

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15. The Devil’s Doing

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pp. 175-184

As it had been for the Coronado Expedition, New Mexico quickly proved a harsh and difficult land for the Spaniards who came north with Oñate. Their provisions had been exhausted well before they reached the pueblo settlements in the fall of 1598. The expedition arrived not only destitute of food but poorly supplied with clothes ...

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16. Death on a High Plateau

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pp. 185-192

With Villagrá chasing down the deserters and Vicente de Zaldívar away on his buffalo hunt, Oñate became anxious to explore the land and discover its still mysterious potential. Leaving his maestre de campo Juan de Zaldívar in charge at San Juan, he led a detachment of thirty-four mounted soldiers ...

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17. Pacification of Acoma

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pp. 193-200

The defeat of the Spaniards at Acoma presented the ominous threat that the pueblo villages might unite in a general insurrection against their Spanish intruders. With the loss of so many men, Oñate’s fighting strength was precariously low, at fewer than 120 men.2 ...

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18. To Sail a Scuttled Ship

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pp. 201-210

With the Acoma affair settled to his satisfaction, Oñate could now turn to other matters. In his report on the buffalo, Vicente had mentioned that during his visit to the prairies, campfire ashes and horse dung had been found that, so Jusepe said—though it may be hard to believe—had been left behind by the Antonio Gutiérrez de Humaña ...

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19. So Bloody the Sword

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pp. 211-220

The records are vague, but sometime after he wrote his letter to Viceroy Monterrey from San Juan de los Caballeros on March 2, 1599, and prior to July 28, 1600, Oñate moved his capital to the pueblo of San Gabriel.2 He had wanted to establish a town at San Juan with an alcalde mayor, but his Spanish colonists were weary of the privations they were enduring. ...

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20. Rediscovering Quivira

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pp. 221-242

There is no mention in the Spanish records that the Oñate Expedition was advantaged by accounts of the Coronado Expedition sixty years earlier. In taking a direct course from San Gabriel eastward to the Canadian River, Oñate avoided the hazard of becoming lost on the prairies of the Texas Panhandle. ...

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21. The Colonists Revolt

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pp. 243-252

When the Quivira expedition returned to San Gabriel, Oñate found to his great dismay that during his absence a sizable number of colonists, officers, soldiers, and churchmen had banded together and returned to Mexico. When he departed for the plains in June, he had left behind seventy people, including a number of families.2 ...

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22. Tales Too Tall

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pp. 253-260

At virtually the same time the Mexico City theologians were deciding against him, Don Juan de Oñate’s power was enhanced considerably when King Philip appointed him adelantado of the provinces of New Mexico. Philip declared: “You shall have the power to exercise this office in all the cases and matters pertaining thereto, ...

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23. The Discovery Ends

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pp. 261-268

When all was said and done, Don Juan de Oñate had conducted the first colonization of New Mexico, one of the earliest within the present United States. He had done so at great personal and financial sacrifice, proffered at the altar of conquistador glory. Like Coronado, he essentially failed in his efforts, ...

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24. Oñate’s Reckoning

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pp. 269-274

On June 1, 1613, King Philip III, who had been kept advised of the charges against Oñate, wrote to Diego Fernández de Córdoba—the marquis of Guadalcázar and a relative of the king—explaining why an investigation of Don Juan de Oñate, his captains, and others had been delayed. ...

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25. The Conquistador Legacy

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pp. 275-278

Individuals who have been differently persuaded, as well as organized groups formed to honor Coronado and Oñate, will naturally resent any challenge to the idea that the two men were noble leaders who exercised benevolent oversight of those under their authority. Most of us have been trained early in our school years to see certain historical figures in a purified, heroic sense. ...

Appendix A: Coronado’s March: As the Spaniards Tried to Tell Us

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pp. 279-290

Appendix B: Oñate’s Family

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pp. 291-294

Appendix C: A New Look at Oñate’s Route

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pp. 295-306

Appendix D: The Oñate Maps

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pp. 307-314

Appendix E: The Sword and the Stone: Conquistador Artifacts?

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pp. 315-322


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pp. 323-332


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pp. 333-344

E-ISBN-13: 9781607322061
E-ISBN-10: 1607322064
Print-ISBN-13: 9781607321941
Print-ISBN-10: 1607321947

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 5 B&W photos, 16 line illustrations, 9 maps, 2 tables
Publication Year: 2012