JESUS F. DE LA TEJA, Editor
Great Crueltzes Have Been Reported: The 1544 Investigation of the Coronado Expedztzon.
By Richard Flint. (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 2002. Pp.
xix+647. Acknowledgements, introduction, conclusion, afterword, appen-
dix, index. ISBN 0-87074-460-7. $45.00, cloth.)
In 1540 Francisco Vazquez de Coronado led an expedition in search of
wealthy native population centers rumored to exist far to the north of the valley
of Mexico. For more than two years Vizquez de Coronado moved through parts
of present-day Sonora, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas with
some 3oo Europeans, over 1,ooo Nahua and other Mexican Indian allies, and an
unidentified number of Africans. Finding only relatively small, simple, and im-
poverished Indian peoples who we today know as Opatas, Zunis, Tiwas, Keres,
Pecos, Apaches, Wichitas, and others, the disillusioned expedition returned to
Mexico City in 1542. Vizquez de Coronado was soon brought under investiga-
tion for reported cruelties committed against the Indians he encountered in the
north. Testimony from this investigation has survived, and has been used by his-
torians before-most notably by Herbert Eugene Bolton in his celebratory ac-
count Coronado, Knight of Pueblo and Plains (1949).
Richard Flint's excellent new book makes the complete record of the investi-
gation available for the first time. The core of the book consists of twenty-two
chapters with translations and transcriptions of documents from the proceed-
ings and of witness testimony, some previously unknown. These chapters begin
with concise introductions providing revealing background information on the
personalities involved. For example, by illuminating the personal connections
between witnesses for the prosecution and the main backers of the expedition,
Flint demonstrates that the investigation was carefully orchestrated to exonerate
Vizquez de Coronado (who was ultimately cleared of all charges) and his pa-
tron, Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza. The book concludes with analytic chapters
on the uses and limitations of the sources and on the consequences of the Coro-
nado expedition, and with appendices of biographical and geographical data
and a detailed index that will all be of great value to specialists.
Flint's main analytic objective is to understand better the effects of the expedi-
tion upon its participants and the native peoples it encountered. Vizquez de
Coronado's men occasionally raped women, stole skins and textiles, tortured
and mutilated men, burned captives at the stake, looted and destroyed native
towns, and, on at least one occasion, executed dozens of people who had been
promised safe passage as a condition of their surrender. While other historians
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed March 1, 2015.