Soon after Christopher Columbus come in the americas in 1492, the Spanish started to hear story of civilizations with enormous riches. Hoping to case this wealth and also territory for Spain and also themselves, conquistadors, or “conquerors,” sailed throughout the Atlantic Ocean.

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When castle ventured top top the mainland, they found an tremendous landscape the was currently home to 10s of hundreds of American Indians. Conflict in between the two teams was frequent, leading to misunderstandings, exploitation, and also violence. While your explorations provided Europeans a much better understanding the the Americas, the conquistadors that explored the floor now known as Texas often failed to discover the wealth and also resources they were in search of leading the Spanish to focus emigration efforts further south for plenty of years.


This plainly shows exactly how the design of males sometimes miscarry.Cabeza de Vaca
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Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca

When Cabeza de Vaca joined other Spanish explorer Pánfilo de Narváez on an expedition to conquer and also colonize the north American Gulf coastline in 1528, he began a journey that would take more than eight year to complete.

In 1519, the traveler Alonso Álvarez de Piñeda came to be the very first European come map the Texas Gulf Coast. However, it would certainly be an additional nine year before any kind of Spaniards explored the Texas interior.

In 1528, another expedition, led through Pánfilo de Narváez, collection sail from Spain to discover the phibìc American interior. A long series of disasters left most of the expedition dead. A team of 90 men, headed by Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, shipwrecked close to Galveston Island. The party contained Estevanico, a north African enslaved man thought to it is in the first person of afri descent to collection foot in phibìc America. In spite of receiving food and also shelter indigenous the adjacent Karankawa tribe, only fifteen that the males survived the winter.

For the following eight years, Cabeza de Vaca and also the staying survivors would come to be the first Europeans to view the diversity of the landscape and people that what us now call Texas. Moving in between the mainland and also the coast, Cabeza de Vaca worked as a trader and also healer come survive, v the ultimate goal to do it come Mexico City.

On his trip south, Cabeza de Vaca rediscovered 3 Spaniards who had actually been separated from his party quickly after their shipwreck. These men had actually been enslaved by an American Indian team known together the Mariames. When reunited, Cabeza de Vaca was additionally enslaved.

Six years after the exploration began, the 4 men escaped the Mariames one by one and also headed south, whereby they were taken in by members that the Avavares tribe. ~ recuperating for eight months, the men set out because that Mexico. They complied with a winding path that covered roughly 2,400 miles, and also took them southern of the Rio Grande, across northern Mexico, and also eventually southern to Mexico City.

In the eight year they invested in Texas, Cabeza de Vaca and also his companions failed to discover any gold or insurance claim any new territory for Spain. Instead, they returned with tales they heard from American ind of riches elsewhere in phibìc America. Rumors favor these sustained Spanish exploration of Texas and the surrounding locations for almost 70 years.


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Francisco Vásquez de Coronado

Cabeza de Vaca’s story of wide range were reinforced as soon as a Franciscan friar reported cities of yellow in present-day new Mexico. In 1540, Viceroy Antonio Mendoza bespeak Francisco Vásquez de Coronado come lead an exploration to the northern reaches the the Spanish realm to overcome the an ar and insurance claim the riches for Spain.

Coronado gathered 1,000 men and thousands that horses, mules, sheep and also cattle for the expedition. Castle marched north because that two-and-a-half months before reaching the Zuñi pueblo of Hawikuh in present-day northwestern new Mexico.

Instead the streets led with gold, the party uncovered a city of much more than 500 households living in structures constructed of sandstone and adobe. Coronado check out the Zuñis the Requerimiento, a document in Spanish the ordered castle to submit to the King the Spain’s rule and also convert come Christianity; the Zuñis comment by firing arrows at the Spanish soldiers. Coronado attacked. Despite the Zuñis ideal efforts to protect their city, the Spanish soldiers stormed Hawikuh’s walls and captured or eliminated most the the Zuñis who can not escape.

Soon after the seized Hawikuh, Coronado heard rumors of another gold kingdom, Quivira, come the east. He headed in that direction, crossing the Texas Panhandle ~ above his method to the good Plains. That sighted Palo Duro Canyon during his expedition, but found no treasure. Coronado returned to Mexico City empty-handed in 1542. His failure to find the 7 Cities the Cíbola, Quivira or any kind of other wide range discouraged additional Spanish exploration in the an ar for countless years to come.

Coronado’s interactions v the Zuñis at Hawikuh were typical of how countless conquistadors approached American Indians. The Spanish read them the Requerimiento in a international language and also if the aboriginal Americans resisted then the Spaniards take it what they wanted by force. This tactics caused conflict, suffering, and also often fatality for numerous American ind throughout the west Hempishere.


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Luis de Moscoso de Alvarado

As Coronado to be returning to Mexico, one more Spanish expedition stumbled into present-day Texas.

Hernando De Soto and his men set out indigenous Florida in find of huge cities and also abundant treasure, yet the expedition discovered neither of this things. In the feather of 1542, right in the middle of his explorations, De Soto dropped ill and also died, leaving louis de Moscoso de Alvarado in charge of the expedition. After burying De Soto ~ above the Mississippi River, Moscoso and also his men abandoned the search for riches and also decided come head west come Mexico. Lock marched into Ais and also Caddo territory in present-day east Texas where the Spanish soldiers attacked Caddo towns and also stole the American Indians’ food stores to feeding themselves. One Caddo cacique, or chief, ordered his guys to guide the Spaniards right into another, less well-stocked band’s territory. When Moscoso found the trick, he had the travel guide hanged, and then turned back for the Mississippi River quickly after.There they developed several tiny boats, sailed down the Mississippi River, and also followed the Gulf shore to Mexico. Upon reaching Mexico in September 1542, Moscoso reported the expedition’s failure to locate any type of of the large, affluent cities De Soto sought. His account, linked with Coronado’s fail to locate any type of of the an alleged cities that gold, reinforced Spain’s decision no to further discover the northern frontier.


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Antonio de Espejo

It was 40 years before explorers returned to the northern boundaries of Spain’s regions again. This time the Spanish weren’t in search of gold, but for missing men.

In November 1582, Antonio de Espejo collection out indigenous Nueva Vizcaya, Mexico, to find for part friars who had traveled to northern new Mexico to transform the American ind there. Espejo learned at an early stage in his exploration that the 2 friars had actually been eliminated by members that the Tiguex tribe in present-day brand-new Mexico. Nevertheless, he continued on and explored the locations to the north and also east. He thrust north into Tiguex territory, climate headed east until he reached the Pecos River. He and his men adhered to the Pecos south and crossed right into present-day Texas, whereby they were welcomed by Jumano that acted as Espejo’s guides, leading him with the Trans-Pecos an ar and ago to the Rio Grande.

One that the members of Espejo’s expedition, Diego Pérez de Luxán, retained a everyday record that the journey. His thorough descriptions of the landscape and also American indians the Spaniards encountered motivated further exploration and, eventually, negotiation of present-day brand-new Mexico. However, his explanation of the Trans-Pecos region didn’t inspire the Spanish to discover what is now Texas further.


They cover themselves with well-tanned skins of the cibola . The hides they tan and beat with stones till they space soft. Castle fight with bows and also arrows. … They cultivate corn, beans, and calabashes.

- Diego Perez de Luxán, official diarist of the Espejo expedition


Juan de Oñate

Juan de Oñate would be the critical of the conquistadors come traverse contemporary Texas. Uneven his predecessors, his explorations would have actually a direct and also lasting affect on the region.

In early 1598, Juan de Oñate led an expedition to clear up present-day brand-new Mexico. Unlike few of his predecessors, that were just tasked with claiming land and finding resources, Oñate was ordered to create a colony. Countless of the homesteaders in his party hope to uncover their own riches mining silver. On his way north he overcome the Rio Grande at El Paso del Norte, the website of the modern-day city the El Paso. It to be there that he formally claimed Spanish possession the what is now new Mexico. After developing the colony’s brand-new headquarters near modern Santa Fe, Oñate adhered to in Coronado’s footsteps and headed east in search of the city of gold, Quivira. Prefer Coronado prior to him, that failed come find any kind of riches ~ above the great Plains.

During his short time in the region, Oñate’s expedition discovered nothing the Spanish were searching for: no urban of gold, no priceless metals, and also no jewels. However, his actions would have good impact on Texas in the coming decades. His route through El Paso del Norte—a route already well-known to aboriginal American populations who had actually used the for profession long prior to Spanish arrived—became El Camino actual del Norte. This road would serve as a an important lifeline connecting new Mexico come the funding in Mexico City. Its ar on El Camino actual del Norte made El Paso del Norte crucial trading and transportation hub in the future.

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The Story Continues

The conquistadors collected, recorded, and also published a riches of knowledge about the soil we speak to Texas, however knowledge was no the main goal the the Spanish crown. Spain wanted riches to money their political goals in Europe, and the conquistadors found none in Texas. After years of expedition that frequently led come conflict and also violence with regional American Indians, the an ar was greatly ignored for one more 100 years till the so late 1600s when an additional European presence would look for to insert itself right into the facility network the people currently living in Texas.