Landscape with an Episode from the Conquest of America.

by Jan Mostaert, 1535 or so. (Dutch for “John Most Art”?)

Found that while reading up on Coronado’s expedition.

Upon reaching the top they beheld a landscape unlike anything they had seen before, a vast treeless prairie, as flat as a table, and so became the first Europeans to traverse what later became the Texas Panhandle. Virtually swallowed by the trackless soft grassland, they found it an unnerving experience.

So says James L. Haley in his (excellent, readable) Passionate Nation: The Epic History of Texas, about which I hope to say more when I finish.

This is how the Coronado business got started:

On this thin evidence they set off. Native peoples they came across took the wise strategy of telling them “oh yeah, absolutely, there’s tons of gold and silver, wayyyyyy over that way, super far from here, keep going.”

The expedition was guided by a Native man they called the Turk, who finally admitted he’d deliberately led them into the plains in the hopes they’d all starve and die far away from his people.

At least one member of the expedition, Cervantes, was suspicious of this Turk, and with good reason:

I’d love to read firsthand accounts of the Coronado expedition all day, but unfortunately I’m very busy. You could spend a lifetime working on where, exactly, Quivara was. Some have!

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