Monthly Meeting

July 2019

WHY WERE THE CORONADO EXPEDITIONARIES ENRAGED BY WHAT THEY FOUND AT CÍBOLA IN 1540?

Richard Flint and Shirley Cushing Flint

7:30 PM, Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Albuquerque Museum of Art and History

2000 Mountain Road NW

The Coronado expeditionaries were indeed so furious when they arrived at Cíbola in July 1540 that they threatened to murder their guide, Fray Marcos de Niza. To save Marcos from that fate, the expedition’s young leader quickly sent him back to Mexico City with an armed bodyguard. But that did not assuage the expeditionaries’ outrage. The reason was that Cíbola had turned out to be not at all what they expected it to be.

For months before the expedition had launched in late 1539, the talk had been about camels and elephants and yaks; and about silk, porcelain, spices, and dyes. By the time the expeditionaries left the Basin of Mexico heading west and north, they were sure of where they were headed: China or some other nearby land in East Asia. They had, after all, a standing invitation from the Great Khan!

This talk, and the book on which it is based, A Most Splendid Company: The Coronado Expedition in Global Perspective, spell out the seemingly compelling evidence upon which the expeditionaries’ trust was based. And why almost everyone spent their own money to be a part of the expedition, the first and least risky of three projected routes by which to reach the Far East by an all-Spanish passage. The talk concludes with a brief summary of some of the other major themes from this 15-year book project.

After nearly forty years of research and publication on the Coronado expedition into northwest Mexico and the American Southwest and related subjects, Richard Flint and Shirley Cushing Flint are widely recognized as leading authorities on the expedition and its context and aftermath. Beginning in 1980 from curiosity over an old footnote, the Flints have followed a whole series of resulting questions to dozens of archives in Spain, Mexico, and elsewhere, as well as to archaeological sites in Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Kansas. They have immersed themselves in the language, culture, and thought of Early Modern Spain and early colonial Mexico. That immersion has recently culminated in the publication of the major new book on the Coronado expedition, A Most Splendid Company: The Coronado Expedition in Global Perspective

The Flints live in Albuquerque and are Research Associates at both the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico and Archaeology Southwest in Tucson. They are also happy to claim Sevilla, Spain, as their segunda patria. Their award-winning publications include Documents of the Coronado Expedition, 1539-1542; Great Cruelties Have Been Reported: The 1544 Investigation of the Coronado Expedition; No Settlement, No Conquest: A History of the Coronado Entrada; and No Mere Shadows: Faces of Widowhood in Early Colonial Mexico, as well as dozens of chapters and journal articles.

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The Albuquerque Archaeological Society is an avocational group that advocates preserving archaeological and other cultural resources by informing members and the public about archaeological and ethnological subjects through our meetings, presentations, newsletter, other electronic media, field trips, volunteer efforts, field surveys, and studies. Membership is only $25 for an individual or family, and it’s free to students with a Student ID or current class schedule. Membership puts you on our mailing list for our monthly newsletter, and gives you access to our field trips, volunteering endeavors, and our seminars. However, our meetings are always free and open to the public, with a guest lecturer and refreshments, great conversation, and the chance to socialize with those who share an interest in archaeology, both professionals and avocational members. Come see what we’re all about! We’d love your company!

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