The Hispanic-American History Timeline
1692 Diego de Vargas Leads
'Bloodless Reconquest" of Santa Fe
Don Diego de Vargas, the Spanish Governor of New Mexico, leads a military expedition to reconquer Santa Fe and other territory that was taken by Native Americans during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Leading a 200-men army, he peacefully gains control over numerous pueblos without firing a single shot.
Twelve years after the Pueblo people drove Spanish settlers out of New Mexico, and forced them to retreat to present-day northern Mexico and southern Texas, De Vargas conducts a "bloodless reconquest" that turns many former enemies into allies. He uses Catholic rituals to persuade the natives that he wants peace.
But De Vargas' repossession of New Mexico doesn't remain peaceful. When some natives refuse to submit to his rule, he retaliates violently and in many ways, from cutting off their water supply to having 70 opposing Pueblo warriors executed. Many natives side with the Spanish, but violent skirmishes with rebelling natives continue until 1694.
A devout follower of the Virgin Mary, De Vargas prays to her as "La Conquistadora" (The Conqueress). He believes that it was her who granted his initial peaceful re-entry into Santa Fe, and he celebrates a feast in her honor.
That feast is still celebrated nowadays by the descendants of the reconquest, both Native Americans and Hispanics who come together to commemorate peace between the two groups. The city's annual "Fiestas de Santa Fe," is a novena of thanksgiving masses and a procession, usually in mid-September, carrying a wooden statue of La Conquistadora from her permanent home in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi to the Rosario Chapel. These "Fiestas de Santa Fe" are said to be the oldest civic and religious celebrations of their kind in North America. De Vargas is also recognized with a statue in Cathedral Park, adjoining the Basilica, in downtown Santa Fe.
By Jonell Payamps, Lehman College