Diego de Vargas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Diego De Vargas Zapata y Luján Ponce De León y Contreras
Oil on canvas portrait of Diego de Vargas by Julio Barrera, date unknown, from the collection of the Palace of the Governors
30 and 32nd Spanish Governor of New Mexico
In office
1691 – 1697 (as effective) (titular 1688–91)
Preceded byDomingo Jironza Petriz de Cruzate
Succeeded byPedro Rodríguez Cubero
In office
Preceded byPedro Rodríguez Cubero
Succeeded byJuan Páez Hurtado
Personal details
Madrid, Spain
Bernalillo, Nuevo México (New Mexico)
ProfessionPolitical and military

Diego de Vargas Zapata y Luján Ponce de León y Contreras (1643 – 1704), commonly known as Don Diego de Vargas, was a Spanish Governor of the New Spain territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México, to the US states of New Mexico and Arizona, titular 1690–1695, effective 1692–1696 and 1703–1704.[clarification needed] He is most famous for leading the reconquest of the territory in 1692 following the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. This reconquest is commemorated annually during the Fiestas de Santa Fe in the city of Santa Fe.

Pueblo revolt and reconquest[edit]

On 10 August 1680, Pueblo people from various pueblos in northern New Mexico staged an uprising against Spanish colonists.[1] They laid siege to the city of Santa Fe, forcing the Spanish to retreat on 20 August. The colonists fled south to El Paso del Norte (now Ciudad Juárez, Mexico), where they remained in exile for the next 12 years.[2]

In 1688, Capitan General y Governador Don Diego de Vargas was appointed Governor of New Mexico, though he did not arrive to assume his duties until 22 February 1691.[3] He was assigned with the task of reconquering and pacifying the New Mexico territory for Spain. In July 1692, de Vargas and a small contingent of soldiers returned to Santa Fe. They surrounded the city and called on the Pueblo people to surrender, promising clemency if they would swear allegiance to the King of Spain and return to the Christian faith. After meeting with de Vargas, the Pueblo leaders agreed to surrender, and on 12 September 1692 de Vargas proclaimed a formal act of repossession.

De Vargas’ repossession of New Mexico is often called a bloodless reconquest, since the territory was initially retaken without any use of force. Later, when de Vargas returned to Mexico in early 1693 to retrieve a group of settlers, they had to fight their way into Santa Fe. Warriors from four of the pueblos sided with the colonists, but most opposed them. When the capital had been taken, Don Diego ordered some 70 of the Pueblo men killed. Women and children were distributed as servants to the colonists. Similar bloody fighting occurred at many of the other pueblos before the governor felt that the native people had truly submitted to his and the king's authority. The end of widespread hostilities did not mean an end to Pueblo resentment over continued heavy-handed treatment by the colonists. The plundering of Pueblo stocks of corn and other supplies, to sustain the struggling colony, was a periodic occurrence that inflamed animosity. By the end of the century the Spanish colonization was essentially solidified.

De Vargas had prayed to the Virgin Mary, under her title La Conquistadora (The Conqueress), for the peaceful re-entry. Believing that she heard his prayer, he celebrated a feast in her honor. Today, this feast continues to be celebrated annually in Santa Fe as the Fiestas de Santa Fe. Part of those annual fiestas is a novena of masses in thanksgiving. Those masses are also done with processions, from the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, to the Rosario Chapel. The actual statue of La Conquistadora is taken in the processions. After the novena is completed, she is taken back to the Basilica. This festival is celebrated annually by of all the people of Santa Fe and is a reflection of Diego de Vargas and his "peaceful," "bloodless" reconquest of Santa Fe. This event includes participation by local tribes as well as European descendants of individuals that now reside in the area. In the second decade of the 21st century, members of Native American tribes and pueblos protested the pageant, recalling the actually blood-filled 1692 retaking of Santa Fe.

The focus of these protests was The Entrada—a reenactment of de Vargas's re-entry into Santa Fe that has long been seen as inaccurate by historians and culturally offensive by Native Americans. The most recent round of protests against The Entrada started in 2015. That year, silent protestors raised placards citing historical facts at odds with the narrative annually given when the re-enactors reached Santa Fe's historic Plaza to portray the retaking of the city. In 2016, the protestors were quite vocal, and it became clear that The Entrada was likely headed for a serious change. In 2017, the protestors met heavy-handed police tactics resulting in 8 arrests; the charges were later dismissed. Replacing the fiesta with an "Indigenous Peoples Day" was suggested by some as a solution.[4][5][6] After months of negotiation, however, The Entrada itself was simply removed from The Santa Fe Fiesta celebration.[7]

Extensive press coverage was key to The Entrada's demise. In addition, many local screenings of the documentary film Veiled Lightning, including two screenings at Santa Fe's New Mexico History Museum—once during a Fiesta Symposium held at the Museum two days before the 2017 protests—did much to educate the public and various stakeholders about the real issues surrounding The Entrada controversy, especially from the Native American perspective.[8][9][10][11][12][13]

The original picture of D. Diego de Vargas century XVII, is in the custody of the Real Muy Ilustre y Primitiva Congregación de san Isidro de Naturales de Madrid, (Spain).

Notable soldiers who traveled with de Vargas[edit]



  1. ^ Warren A. Beck, New Mexico; a History of Four Centuries, University of Oklahoma Press, 1962
  2. ^ Warren A. Beck, New Mexico; a History of Four Centuries, University of Oklahoma Press, 1962
  3. ^ Warren A. Beck, New Mexico; a History of Four Centuries, University of Oklahoma Press, 1962
  4. ^ Chacón, Daniel J.; Oxford, Andrew (8 September 2017). "At least eight arrested during Entrada clash at Fiesta de Santa Fe". Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  5. ^ Chacón, Daniel J. "Offended by Entrada, activists to protest". Press Reader.com. PressReader. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  6. ^ Balwit, Natasha (15 September 2016). "In Santa Fe, Tradition and Identity Clash Over an Annual Festival". The Atlantic Monthly. City Lab. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  7. ^ Bennett, Megan. "Santa Fe ends contentious Entrada pageant". Albuquerque Journal. Hearst. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  8. ^ Madeson, Frances (3 June 2017). "Pueblo Revolt of 1680 Documentary Pressures Santa Fe to Stop Annual Fiesta Entrada". Indian Country Today. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  9. ^ Cantu, Aaron (3 July 2017). "Entrada Trouble". Santa Fe Reporter. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  10. ^ Bennett, Megan (13 October 2017). "Taking Back the Narrative". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  11. ^ Last, T.S. (9 September 2016). "Native rights groups plan protest march for Entrada". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  12. ^ Last, T.S. (29 January 2019). "Protestors plan to return for Entrada".
  13. ^ Poris, Mia Rose (14 September 2018). "Impactful film inspires monumental social change". Gallup Sun. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  14. ^ Chávez, Fray Angélico; Origins of New Mexico families: a genealogy of the Spanish colonial period. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1992. ISBN 0-89013-239-9


See also[edit]