1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Marcos de Niza

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MARCOS DE NIZA (c. 1495-1558), a Franciscan friar born in Nice about 1495. He went to America in 1531, and after serving his order zealously in Peru, Guatemala and Mexico, was chosen to explore the country north of Sonora, whose wealth was pictured in the hearsay stories of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca. Preceded by Estevanico, the negro companion of Cabeza de Vaca in his wanderings and the “Black Mexican” of Zuñi traditions, Fray Marcos left Culiacan in March 1539, crossed south-eastern Arizona, penetrated to Zuñi or the “Seven Cities of Cibola,” and in September returned to Culiacan. He saw Zuñi only from a distance, and his description of it as equal in size to the city of Mexico was probably exact; but he embodied much mere hearsay in his report, the Descubrimiento de las siete ciudades, which led F. V. de Coronado to make his famous expedition next year to Zuñi, of which Fray Marcos was the guide; and the realities proved a great disappointment. Fray Marcos was made Provincial of his order for Mexico before the second trip to Zuñi, and returned in 1541 to the capital, where he died on the 25th of March 1558.

The Descubrimiento is one of the world's famous narratives of travel. It may be found in J. F. Pacheco's Documentos (vol. iii.) and Hakluyt's Voyages (vol. iii.); also in G. Ramusio, Navigazione (vol. iii.) and H. Ternaux-Compans, Voyages (vol. iii.). See A. F. A. Bandelier, The Gilded Man (El Dorado), (New York, 1893); H. H. Bancroft, Arizona and New Mexico (San Francisco, 1888), and, for critical opinions, G. P. Winship, “The Coronado Expedition,” in U.S. Bureau of Ethnology, Fourteenth Annual Report (for 1892-1893), (Washington, 1896).