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Vargas, Diego de (1643–1704)

Vargas, Diego de (1643–1704)

Diego de Vargas (b. 1643; d. 8 April 1704), Spanish governor and recolonizer of New Mexico (1691–1697; 1703–1704). Heir of a proud but indebted noble house in Madrid, Vargas sailed for New Spain in 1673. Appointed by the viceroy, he was commended for his service as Alcalde Mayor of Teutila (Oaxaca) (1673–1679) and Tlalpujahua (Michoacán) (1679–1687). In 1688 he was appointed governor of New Mexico, a colony in exile since the Pueblo Rebellion of 1680, when the Spaniards fled into the El Paso area. Acceding to office in El Paso in 1691, Vargas led a determined, two-stage reconquest. With the aid of Pueblo Indian auxiliaries, he reoccupied the capital at Santa Fe, reimposing Spanish rule and putting down a second revolt in 1696. Confined by his successor in 1697 on charges of misgovernment, Vargas returned to Mexico City, stood trial, and was acquitted. The crown, meanwhile, rewarded him with a noble title of Castile—Marqués de la Nava de Barcinas. Reinstated as governor in 1703, he died the following year at Bernalillo while on a campaign against Apaches.

Although Vargas's final resting place is unknown, a shopping mall, bank, and university dormitory bear his name, and he is the central figure in Santa Fe's annual fiestas.

See alsoNew Mexico; Spanish Empire.


J. Manuel Espinosa, Crusaders of the Rio Grande: The Story of Don Diego de Vargas and the Reconquest and Refounding of New Mexico (1942; repr. 1977).

John L. Kessell et al., eds., Remote Beyond Compare: Letters of Don Diego de Vargas to His Family from New Spain and New Mexico, 1675–1706 (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Kessell, John L., ed. A Settling of Accounts: The Journals of Don Diego de Vargas, New Mexico, 1700–1704. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002.

Szasz, Margaret Connell. Between Indian and White Worlds: The Cultural Broker. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.

                                     John L. Kessell

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