What Caused the Bloodless Reconquest?

Understanding the Spaniards’ 1692 Negotiated Reentry into Pueblo Lands in the Aftermath of the Successful 1680 Pueblo Revolt


  • Sahil Bathija Seattle University; Society, Policy, and Citizenship Honors Track


Bloodless Reconquest, 1692, Pueblo Revolt, Bartolomé de Ojeda, Don Diego de Vargas, Po'pay, 1680, aftermath, revolts


After the Pueblos were victorious against the Spaniards in the famous Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Spaniards’ subsequent reconquest attempts also recurringly failed. Yet, despite seemingly having the upper hand on the Spaniards, many Pueblo communities ultimately capitulated to Don Diego de Vargas’ reconquest in 1692. The reasoning behind this bizarre event, widely known as the “Bloodless Reconquest,” is examined in further detail here. Specifically, this paper answers the question of what led the many Pueblo communities to accept a negotiated compromise in 1692. I delve into the conflicts leading up to the Pueblo Revolt and its aftermath to understand what changed between these 12 years to allow for the Spaniards’ return. I find that the circumstances occasioning the reconquest’s success first base themselves on internal divisions stemming from the revolt’s leader, Po’pay, and his unfulfilled promises and repressive policies. These tensions were only exacerbated by natural events, including droughts and famines, rehashing traditional autonomy and animosity between Pueblo communities in the years before Vargas’ arrival. Additionally, I explore the crucial role of once Pueblo war hero Bartolomé de Ojeda, and Vargas’ strategic use of disunity to his advantage and of diplomacy over force. I ultimately conclude that these three key figures and the steady fractionalization of the pan-Puebloan identity once present during the 1680 revolt caused many Pueblos to side with the Spaniards at the onset of this diplomatic, mostly peaceful, Spanish reconquest of indigenous lands.