There have been many revolts down through the centuries, but one of the most infamous and controversial was the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Although many critics have endeavored to study this particular event in American history, one of the most noted and a foremost voice on the topic is the book by David J. Weber, ‘What Caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680’. In this book, a unique perspective from five leading historians is given, and their discussion centered around the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 offers interesting insights into the cause of the revolt and the force behind it. These five views are analyzed, and the main force of conflict will be highlighted and discussed herein.
Firstly, the view of historian Henry Warden Bowden is presented, particularly with an emphasis on religion. According to his view, much of the traditional views on religion held by the Pueblos were being threatened by the Spanish clergy, and this led to a revolt. He further expands on the cause that religion was the ‘heart of both Spanish and Pueblo cultures and the primary cause of the Pueblo Revolt’ (Bowden, 21). The dispute over religion became the catalyst that sparked the rebellion. This was mainly due to the fact that the Pueblos saw the Spanish clergy as imposters, trying to undermine and destroy the belief that was rooted in the lifestyle of the Pueblo people.
Bowden also mentions that the economic and political self-determination of the Pueblo people had very little emphasis on the Pueblo Revolt. According to him, this major theme in historical writing has been overemphasized. The Pueblo people of the time were fiercely independent, valued cultural traditions and practices, and placed their religious beliefs at the highest point of their existence. Therefore, it was natural that any threat to their beliefs was to be guarded with their lives.
For this reason, many of the Spanish clergy were the first to die at the hands of the Pueblos. This later led to the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, as argued by Bowden. In addition, one of the reasons why the Pueblos rejected the clergy’s instruction is because they saw their religion as ‘foreign’, whereas the Pueblos saw their religion as ‘local’. Since most of the Pueblos had been brought up with their particular religious beliefs, they did not see the Spanish as aiding them, but rather opposing them, leading to the major confrontation when the revolt began.
Although arguing along a similar vein, Ramon A. Guiterrez presents the view that the Franciscans were responsible for purposely becoming martyrs and stirring up dissension amongst the Pueblo people in retaliation for their work amongst them. Furthermore, these Franciscans monks encountered the Pueblo people with a wrong motive, culminating in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, as seen through the view of Guiterrez.
Taking their efforts to the extreme seemed to be the cause of the Franciscan monks, as many died when trying to reach the Pueblo people. Guiterrez claimed that some of the leading Franciscan monks ventured into the thick of the battle in order to become martyrs. He also notes that many of the Franciscan monks were ‘anxious to die’ (Guiterrez, 43). One such example mentioned is the Franciscan monk Fray Jose Trujillom, who had a lifelong quest for martyrdom, culminated in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
Many of these Franciscan monks were seen to view martyrdom as the road to a better life, going so far to consider this their destiny. However, the Pueblo people did not seem to view the Franciscan monks as infiltrators to their religion, unlike the Spanish, but rather members of the opposition who happened to be killed in the thick of the revolt. Therefore, the Franciscan view as shown by Guiterrez was an indirect cause of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, unlike Bowden’s argument, which held that the Spanish sparked the uprising.
One of the most unique views, as argued by Van Hastings Garner, attributes the cause of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, not merely on one particular event, but rather on what is known as a multi-causation event, or a variety of causes. According to him, the revolt was caused by ‘immediate events’ (Garner, 55). There are five major causes that Garner points to, including: antagonistic imperialism, a disintegrating alliance between the Pueblos and Spaniards, famine and drought, native suppression, and the role of the Mestizos.
Firstly, the imperialism of the Americans ultimately gave rise to the revolt of the Pueblo people, mainly due to the fact that it was of an antagonistic nature. Due to the dominance of the people in command, the people in servitude could not freely live in their own country, and longed to return to the lifestyle that they once enjoyed. For this reason, according to Garner, the Pueblo people, although the weaker power, challenged the American dominating power during the revolt.
Secondly, the alliance that the Pueblos and Spaniards once upheld began to disintegrate, mainly due to the clergy of the latter undermining the religion of the former, as aforementioned by Bowden. Although once having friendly relations, both sides experienced turmoil and increasing opposition based on religious matters, and the Spaniards were the first causalities at the hands of the Pueblos, resulting in the revolt, as shown by Bowden.
Thirdly, one of the additional indirect causes of the revolt as attributed to natural causes was due to famine and drought in the land inhabited by the Pueblo people. As the dominating people were enjoying much trade and supplies as a result of importation and exportation, the Pueblo people resented them even more, as they were suffering at their hands. Therefore, the Pueblo Revolt was indirectly caused by famine and drought, and the longing for food and other supplies from the hands of the dominating people, resulting in the uprising.
Fourthly, the actual suppression of the native people, the Pueblos, was a significant force in the cause of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. As discussed before, the Pueblo people were an extremely fierce and independent people in the land. When different nations started to invade and dominate the natural landscape, there was obvious resentment and an impending uprising of the Pueblo people against them. Therefore, this led to the revolt of the Pueblos, as the suppression of the people could no longer be maintained.
Lastly, the Mestizos were a group of people who became the leaders amongst the Pueblo people of the time. As descendents of an interracial mix between the Europeans and the Indians, they were the prominent people of the rebellion, held in high honor by the Pueblo people and were often found at the forefront of the battles. Ultimately, many of the Mesitzos became important instigators of the revolt.
To expand on the last view mentioned, Angelico Chavez, the fourth historian highlighted in Weber’s book, maintained that a particular mestizo was responsible for leading the Pueblo people in the revolt. As supported by other notable voices on the subject, this particular leader, being a Mestizo, or mixed-blood Pueblo, has particularly significant leadership abilities, utilizing them to assemble the Pueblo people to revolt against the dominating power of the time.
Chavez in particular highlighted the importance of the mestizo in convening en masse the Pueblo people. According to him, the Mestizo stirred up the Pueblo people by claiming that they were being persecuted to gain ‘power and revenge’ (Chavez, 81). In particular, the one Mestizo responsible for this was an individual by the name of Domingo Naranjo, who was a representative of the Pueblo people and was considered to hold a divine status by them. As such, he was able to command power and presence, leading to the revolt.
Finally, Andrew L. Knaut, in closing the historians’ views of how the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was caused, states that the Spaniards loss of authority contributed to the rise of the Mestizos, ultimately leading to the rebellion. According to his view, the Spanish allowed the natives to intermarry with the Europeans, and thus caused a new wave of the population to gain control of the Pueblo people, namely being the Mestizos.
In particular, Knaut refers to a particular Mestizo, Aguliar, who was a key figure in the population known as the Hispanics. They were known as an ‘increasingly violent people, whose nature led to social pressures and deep-seated confrontation, spilling over in the revolt’ (Knaut, 8). Furthermore, as the Mestizos continued to increase in number, the welcome stance of the Europeans was replaced by animosity.
For this reason, the Mestizos were treated harshly and also developed a hatred for the European people, which were important factors which led to the rise of the rebellion. The Mestizos were also difficult to control by Europeans, mainly because they joined the cause of the Pueblos, and became their leaders. As the Pueblo people were led by the Mestizos into battle, they were quickly able to gain a significant hand in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
Due to the varying arguments and the competing evidence, it is difficult to determine if any one factor or explanation is correct. Rather, it is clear that each has view, as presented by the five historians shown above, sheds some light on the cause of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. However, each interpretation is not necessarily representative of either side of the rebellion, as each group had both its successes and shortcomings.
That being said, there are a number of causes highlighted by Van Hastings Garner that specifically and systematically underlines the factors involved before, during, and after the revolt, and mention the force, or cause, of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. In particular, these include the five major causes of the revolt, including: antagonistic imperialism of the Europeans, a disintegrating alliance between the Pueblos and Spaniards, famine and drought, native suppression, and the role of the Mestizos.
Interestingly, each of the views as held by the five historians surveyed in Weber’s book are mentioned as a key cause by Garner, except for the role of religion, as mentioned by Bowden. This shows the breadth of the researched view of Garner, as supported by the evidence and concurrence of many of the noted voices on the topic of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Therefore, Garner’s argument is shown as the most significant of arguments amongst the other five historian views, as presented in Weber’s book.
In summary, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 has been attributed to many causes in the past, as shown by five of the most noted historians on the subject. However, it is clear that Garner’s view that no singular cause can be seen to spark the revolt, but rather a multi-causation event. These include, but are not limited to five major causes that Garner points to, including: antagonistic imperialism spearheaded by the Europeans, a disintegrating alliance between the Pueblos and Spaniards, famine and drought by natural causes, native suppression of the Pueblo people, and the role of the Mestizos in leading the revolt.
Bowden, Henry Warner. “Spanish Missions, Cultural Conflicts, and the Pueblo Revolt of 1680”. What Caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Weber, David. Bedford: St. Martin’s, 1999. 21. Print.
Guiterrez, Ramon A. “Franciscans and the Pueblo Revolt”. What Caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Weber, David. Bedford: St. Martin’s, 1999. 43. Print.
Garner, Van Hastings. “Seventeenth Century New Mexico, the Pueblo Revolt, and its Interpreters”. What Caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Weber, David. Bedford: St. Martin’s, 1999. 55. Print.
Chavez, Angelico. “Pohe-yemo’s Representative and the Pueblo Revolt of 1680”. What Caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Weber, David. Bedford: St. Martin’s, 1999. 81. Print.
Knaut, Andrew L. “Acculturation and Miscegenation: The Changing Face of the Spanish Presence in New Mexico”. What Caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Weber, David. Bedford: St. Martin’s, 1999. 8. Print.