Column: Que Viva Española


Column: Que Viva Española

Submitted by Steven Lovato

Que Viva Española is an online community that promotes and explores the culture, history, and traditions around the Española Valley area. Que Viva publishes a weekly columns here in the Valley Daily Post. The objective is uniting as a community to celebrate what makes the valley beautiful and unique while changing the culture of crime and drugs. 

(#2) De Vargas and his legacy in the Española Valley

Seventy years after Oñate was recalled to Mexico and banished from Nuevo Mexico. The Pueblo natives would rebel against the Spanish authority and ultimately plan and orchestrate the “Pueblo Revolt”, spearheaded by a religious leader from the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, known as Po’Pay. In doing so their efforts would expel the Spanish from Nuevo Mexico for the next twelve years. Paving the way for a new Spaniard to enter the land and take possession.

In 1688 Don Diego de Vargas was appointed Governor of the Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico Province by King Charles II of Spain. He was assigned the task of re-entering the province and re-claiming it for the Spanish Empire. So in September of 1692 De Vargas and his company would reach the city of Santa Fe (and the site of the now Palace of the Governors) that was controlled by the Pueblo natives. He and his company would surround the city, laying siege. Calling for the natives to surrender and promising clemency if they swore allegiance to the King of Spain and return to the Catholic Faith. After several hours of verbal exchange between the two parties, the Pueblo natives would surrender, allowing De Vargas and his company to make his way into the Plaza and claiming it Spanish possession.

For years the city of Santa Fe celebrates De Vargas, his “Bloodless” Re-Conquest and the return of “La Conquistadora” at their annual Fiestas in September, leaving Santa Fe as the sole participant in the celebration of the De Vargas campaign, and even though the Española Valley is just as intertwined as that of the Capital city.

You see, after reclaiming the city of Santa Fe. De Vargas would eventually make his way northward to Oñates failed settlement of “San Gabriel”. And authorize a new settlement in the nearby area for the influx of Spanish settlers and participants of the military campaign who were making their journey up El Camino Real from Mexico City to the area. He would call this settlement: “Villa Nueva de Santa Cruz de los Españoles Mejcanos del Rey Nuestro Señor Carlos Segundo”. That site is still in existence and sits right here in the Española Valley. It is now referred to as “Santa Cruz de la Cañada”. A beautiful church now sits on the site, built in 1733. It stands as a reminder of the Spanish ancestors who made their way to the land and settled during and after the De Vargas campaign, and the Catholic Faith that has influenced their spiritual will to thrive in a new land for centuries. It’s important to understand that the Española Valley’s legacy is forever enriched with history by two Conquistadors separated nearly a century apart.