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Fray Marcos de Niza

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Short Biography of the life of Fray Marcos de Niza - Missionary & Explorer

The following biography information provides basic facts about the life Fray Marcos de Niza:

  • Nationality - Born in Italy but closely associated with Spain

  • Lifespan - 1495 - 1558
  • Career - Franciscan Friar who became a Missionary & Explorer in the New Wordl
  • Famous for : Discovering the Pueblo tribe called the Zuni indians. Duped into believing the myth of the "Seven Golden Cities of Cibola" - the mythical Seven Cities of Gold in New Mexico

Facts, Timeline & History about the life of Fray Marcos de Niza - Missionary & Explorer
The following are additional facts and a timeline about the life and history of Fray Marcos de Niza:

  • 1495: Marcos De Niza was born in Savoy in Italy and became a Franciscan friar
    • Background: Pope Julius had awarded the Spanish monarchs the privilege of converting the "heathens" of the New World to Christianity and the Catholic religion
    • Franciscan and Dominican priests therefore accompanied the Spanish Conquistadors to the New World
    • The friars who were selected to accompany the Spanish conquistadors to the New World were an elite group whowere given the divine power of the Pope with "full authority...in matters relating to the conversion of the indians"
    • These Friars were given training in the conversion of natives in the New World
    • Marcos De Niza was selected to accompany the conquistadors to the New World
    • 1531: Marcos De Niza sailed to the Americas in 1531 and travelled to Peru in the expedition headed by Francisco Pizarro which also included Hernando De Soto. He witnessed the conquest of the Incas before moving on to Guatemal
    • 1536: Fray Marcos de Niza was appointed Provincial of the Santo Evangelico province
  • July 1536: The presence of Fray Marcos de Niza in Mexico coincided with the arrival of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Estevanico, Alonso del Castillo and Andres Dorantes from their eight year exploration of Florida
  • 1536 - 1539: Fray Marcos de Niza explores areas of Mexico where he frees some Native American slaves at Culiacan and discovers the Pueblo tribe called the Zuni indians
  • Fray Marcos de Niza learns about the "Seven Golden Cities of Cibola" from native Indians
  • 1539: The black explorer Estevanico accompanies Fray Marcos de Niza as a guide in search of the Seven Cities of Cibola in western New Mexico
  • 1539: Estevanico is killed by the natives in Hawikuh, New Mexico and Fray Marcos de Niza is forced to return to Mexico City where he publishes an account of his journey, relating what he had heard of the "Seven Golden Cities of Cibola"
  • 1539: Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza is told of the Seven Cities of gold. Marcos de Niza who tells of a gleaming city called Cibola that local Indians described as only the smallest of the seven which holds more gold than that of the Incas
  • 1539: The Viceroy tasks Francisco Vazquez de Coronado  with searching the South West for Cibola and the Seven Cities of Gold
  • 1540 Feb 23: Francisco Vazquez de Coronado begins his exploration of south-western North America in search of the Seven Cities of Gold
    • The expedition leaves from Compostela (Senora) and Fray Marcos accompanies the expedition as a guide
    • Francisco Vazquez de Coronado leads the expedition which consist of 340 Spanish, 300 Indians, 1000 horses, 1000 slaves and six swivel guns indicating that the purpose was to colonise as well as explore
  • 1540: Coronado reaches Cibola but it was not El Dorado the gleaming city of wealth described by Fray Marcos
  • 1540: Fray Marcos de Niza is dismissed as guide and sent back in disgrace and branded as a liar by Coronado
  • 1542: The Viceroy brands the expedition of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado an abject failure but Coronado retains his post of Governor
  • Fray Marcos was only temporarily disgraced and holds the highest local office in the Franciscans and continues his explorations
  • 1549: Friar Marcos de Niza is the first white man to visit Arizona
  • 1558: Friar Marcos de Niza dies on March 25, 1558
The Age of Exploration
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