Niza, Marcos De
Niza, Marcos De an Italian missionary, discoverer of Sonora, lived between 1510 and 1570. He was trained at Nice, and belonged to the Order of Franciscans when he was sent as missionary to New Spain, then governed by don Antonio de Mendoza. This viceroy, yielding to the entreaties of his friend, the venerable bishop of Chiapa, Bartolome de Las Casas, consented to send some missionaries into New Galicia to assure the natives that the Spaniards wished neither to make war upon them nor reduce them to slavery, but only to convert them to the Roman Catholic religion. Marcos de Niza was appointed chief of this peaceful mission, and departed for Mexico, March 7,1539. The expedition encountered many hardships, and was only partially successful; yet Niza sent to the viceroy a marvelous recital of his discoveries. He boasted of the fertility and richness of the countries he had traversed, as well as of the civilization of their inhabitants. He thus excited the ambition and cupidity of Cortes and Mendoza, who resolved the conquest of them; but each wished to appropriate it to himself to the exclusion of the other. Mendoza, however, was the most diligent; and while Cortds was soliciting in Spain, he gave the order to don Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, governor of New Galicia, to march upon Cibola at the head of one hundred and fifty cavaliers, two hundred foot-soldiers, and several field-pieces. Marcos de Niza guided the expedition, which departed from Culiacan in April, 1540. This expedition was still more disastrous and unprofitable than the former; and Niza returned with Coronado to Culiacan, after a voyage, estimated by Gomara, of three thousand miles. According to the relation of Niza, "he had seen along the coast vessels with prows ornamented with figures of gold and silver, whose captains made them understand by signs that they had been- over the sea thirty days;" which shows, he adds, that they came from China, and had known America for a long time. The following year Niza and another Franciscan made a new voyage into Sonora, but they have left no detail upon this third excursion. The expeditions of Niza and Coronado, while extending the known limits to the north-east of New Spain, produced no serious results, and destroyed, none of the fables which were circulated about the countries situated between the Rio Gila and the Colorado. The false recitals of these travelers of the existence of the great kingdom of Tatarrax; of the immense city of Quivira, upon the shore of the fantastical lake of Teguayo, rapidly found credence: They doubted the existence of the El Dorado, which they placed under the 41st degree of latitude. Other adventurers also were eager to renew the attempts of Niza. Numerous catastrophes alone could discourage them. We find the Relacione del reverendo Frad. Marcos de Nizza in the collection of Remusio (3:298); and Hacklunyt, in his Voyages, etc. (3:363-373), has also published A Relation of the Rev. Father Friar Manrcos de' Vioa touching his Discovery of the Kingdome of Cevola, or Civola, situated about 30° of Lat. to the North of New Spain. Ramusio has also given the Relacione che mando Francesco D. Vasquez di Coronado, capitano generale della gente, chefu mandata in nome di sua maeta al paese novamente scoperto, quel che successe nel viaggio dall ventidmue d'Aprile di questo anno MDXL) que parti da Culiacan per innanzi et di quel chen trovo nelpaese dove andava (Venice, 1606,3 vols. fol.), 3:301- 303. 'Before going to New Spain, Niza had lived in Peru; he has written several works upon that country. We will quote 'the following works of his which have never been published: Ritos y ceremonias de los Indios: — Las dos Cineas de los Incas y de los Scyris en lasprovincias del Peru y de Quito: — Cartas informativas de lo obrado en lcas provincias del Peru y de Quito: -Relation de frere Marcos de Niza; translated into French (Paris, 1838, 8vo). See P. de Castafieela de Nagera, Relation du Voyage de Cibola (Collection de docunents inedits sur l'histoire ancienne de l'Amarique [pub. par M. Henri Ternaux-Compans]); Herrera, Historia general de has Indias, dec. vi, lib. vii, xi, et xii; Gomara* La Historia de has Indias, lib. vi, cap. 22, 19 (edit. de Medina del Campo, 1553); — Antonio Galvam, Tractado dos descabrirmentos nmtigos e nodernos, etc., anno 1542; Torquemada, Moinarquia Indiana, lib. iv, cap. xi (Seville, 1614, 3 vols. fol.); Jean Laet, Novus orbis, etc. (Leyd. 1633, fol.); De la Renaudibre, Mexique, dans l'Univers pittoresque, p. 145, Prescott, History of the Conquest of Mexico, vol iii.