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Document Number: AJ-072
Author: Marco, da Nizza, ca. 1495-1558
Title: Relation of the Reverend Father Frier Marco de Nica, Touching His Discovery of the Kingdom of Ceuola or Cibola, Situate about 30. Degrees of Latitude, to the North of Nueva Espanna
Source: Bandalier, Adolph Francis (editor). The Journey of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca and His Companions from Florida to the Pacific 1528-1536. Translated from His Own Narrative by Fanny Bandelier. (New York: A.S. Barnes & Company, 1905). Pages 203-231.
Pages/Illustrations: 30 / 0
Citable URL:

Author Note

Father Marco da Nizza, c. 1495-1558, (whose name is variously found as Marco or Marcos da Niza, Nizza, or Niça) was a Franciscan friar born in Nice, then part of Italy. He became a Franciscan friar, and served the Spanish in Peru and Guatemala before going to New Spain in Mexico.

The Expedition, 1539

When the long-lost Cabeza de Vaca appeared unexpectedly in Mexico City in 1536 (see AJ-070), he kindled Spanish interest in the distant territories through which he’d wandered. After hearing Cabeza de Vaca’s story, Viceroy Mendoza (see AJ-071) sent Father Marco to explore the region. Accompanying Father Marco was Estevan, or Estevanico, the African who had traveled with Cabeza de Vaca, and an entourage of Indian companions. Starting from Culiacan on March 7, 1539, by early April they passed the limits of Spanish influence and in late May they approached Zuñi Pueblo, which Father Marco called “Cibola,” thinking it to be the fabled city of riches. Estevan went ahead to reconnoiter but, ignoring Zuñi demands not to enter the town, was captured and killed. Father Marco advanced to within sight of the pueblo when he encountered Estevan’s wounded companions and they all retreated south, reaching Mexico City in mid to late August. His report to ecclesiastical superiors was quickly prepared and delivered to Viceroy Mendoza on in September 1539. Mendoza, convinced of the potential value of the north country, set about preparing a major military expedition under the command of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado (see AJ-086). This departed early in 1540 with Marco as its guide. When Coronado failed to discover the riches that Marco’s report had suggested, Marco fell into disrepute among the Spanish authorities. His health poor after he returned, Father Marcos died in 1542.

Document Note

Two contemporary manuscripts of Father Marco’s report are known to exist, one in the Spanish Archives in Seville and one in Vienna. The first English translation was published in Richard Hakluyt’s Divers voyages touching the discovery of America and the islands adjacents, collected and published by Richard Hakluyt in the year 1582. The present document is from Bandalier, Adolph Francis (editor). The Journey of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca and His Companions from Florida to the Pacific 1528-1536. Translated from His Own Narrative by Fanny Bandelier (New York: A.S. Barnes & Company, 1905).

Other Internet and Reference Sources

A useful timeline of the years 1527-1547 that shows the relationships between the travels of Narváez, Cabeza da Vaca, DeSoto, Ulloa, and Coronado is available from the University of Arizona at

Information on the Zuñi Pueblo can be found at the website at which contains history of the relationship between the Zuni Pueblos and the Spanish explorers.

A brief biography on Nizza with suggested readings is available at the Handbook of Texas History Online at

The site "Coronado's Exploration into the American Southwest" at contains background information, maps and texts.

The Estevanico Society in Abilene, Texas, maintains a web site at with excellent primary and secondary materials, as well as useful links to other resources.

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