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Early Spanish Military
Early Spanish Military

The soldiers who followed Francisco Vásquez de Coronado into the frontier in 1540 were courageous, loyal to king and church, ambitious and restless. They stood about 5.5 feet tall and wore partial body armor, helmets and carried harquebuses, crossbows and swords. The harquebus, a fire-lock gun, changed the effective range of weapons of war. Because of its size and fragile firing mechanism it was better suited for ground warfare.

Riding unfamiliar beasts, horses, which were also armored, the Conquistadors must have presented quite a spectacle to the first Pueblo people who greeted them.

The pueblos nearest to Albuquerque were those of Puaray. Coronado asked the people of one village, called Alcanfor, to give up their quarters to house his men for the winter, which they did grudgingly. And the newcomers insisted the native people give them food and blankets. When two pueblos (Arenal and Moho) rebelled by stealing and killing horses, Coronado attacked the pueblos and burned them. Other Tiguex pueblos were abandoned by fearful residents.

The expedition of 1598, led by Juan de Oñate, reached the Tiguex Valley and saw the pueblos of Puaray and their planted fields, but the pueblos were deserted because the people feared a return of the Spanish soldiers.

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