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What Caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680? (Historians at Work) Paperback – February 25, 1999

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0312191740 ISBN-10: 031219174X Edition: First Edition

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About the Author

DAVID J. WEBER is Robert and Nancy Dedman Professor of History and director of the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University. He has written many books, including The Spanish Frontier in North America (1992), and was a Fulbright lecturer at the Universidad de Costa Rica. He is a past president of the Western History Association and the only American historian elected to membership in both the Mexican Academy of History and the Society of American Historians.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

(Excerpts from the Introduction) On Spanish rule in New Mexico

In 1680, in a swift and bloody revolt, Pueblo Indians overthrew the Spaniards who had occupied their lands for more than eighty years. Since 1598, when Juan de OÒate brought a small group of colonists into the mesa and canyon country of northern New Mexico, Spain had asserted its sovereignty over the Pueblo peoples. Spanish officials had demanded that Pueblos pay tribute to the Spanish Crown by working for encomenderos, a small number of privileged Spaniards to whom Spanish officials entrusted the Pueblos and their labor. At the same time, Spanish priests established missions in the Pueblos' farming villages and demanded that the Indians abandon their religion in favor of Christianity. Pueblo Indians, who vastly outnumbered their Spanish overlords, tolerated this arrangement for several generations.

On Pueblo culture and Christianity . . .
The Pueblos, whose own cultural tradition went back at least to the time that Europeans believed the son of their god, Jesus Christ, walked on the earth, seemed ideal subjects for conversion. Like the Iberians, the Pueblos lived in towns, farmed nearby fields, and wore what Spaniards recognized as clothing. Although they were not a homogeneous people and spoke several discrete languages, Spaniards named these Indians "Pueblos" because they lived in permanent towns (pueblos) of stone or adobe, in contrast to the nomads and seminomads whose lands Spaniards traversed to reach New Mexico. For Franciscans, who insisted that Indians lived like Spaniards and tried to congregate them into towns if they did not, the apartment-dwelling Pueblos seemed a godsend. Although Franciscans failed to plant missions among Apaches, Navajos, and other seminomads who surrounded the Pueblo country, they succeeded among the Pueblos.

On Spanish brutality . . .
Until 1680, Pueblos tolerated the outsiders. An agricultural people, rooted to fertile valleys in a high desert land of little rain, Pueblos had no other place to go. Some tried to rebel, but revolts remained isolated affairs easily quashed by Spaniards. The autonomous Pueblo towns, separated by several hundred miles and at least six different languages and countless dialects, had no central government to unify them. Moreover, Pueblos knew that rebellion invited hideous retaliations. How could Pueblos forget the burning of the Pueblo of ¡coma when it offered resistance in 1598 and the punishments meted out to the survivors by Spaniards with swords of steel? Treating Indian miscreants as brutally as they treated one another, Spaniards cut the right foot off every male ¡coman over twenty-five years of age.

On the events of the Pueblo Revolt . . .
Then, in a few weeks in the late summer of 1680, Pueblos destroyed the Spanish colony of New Mexico. Coordinating their efforts as they had never done before, Pueblos launched a well-planned surprise attack. From the kiva at Taos, Pueblo messengers secretly carried calendars in the form of knotted cords to participating pueblos. Each knot marked a day until the Pueblos would take up arms. The last knot was to be united on August 11, but the rebellion exploded a day early. Tipped off by sympathetic Pueblos, Spaniards had captured two of the rebel messengers on August 9. When leaders of the revolt learned that they had been betrayed, they moved the attack up a day. Despite the warning, the revolt caught Spaniards off guard. They could not imagine the magnitude of the planned assault. Scattered in isolated farms and ranches along the Rio Grande and its tributaries, Spaniards were easy prey for the rebelsÖ.Governor OtermÌn estimated that the Pueblos had killed more than four hundred of New Mexico's Hispanic residents, whose total numbers did not exceed three thousand. The rebels desecrated the churches and killed twenty-one of the province's thirty-three Franciscans, in many cases humiliating, tormenting, and beating them before taking their lives.

On historians and the Pueblo Revolt . . .
Although scholars of American history have slighted Pueblos and Spaniards, historians who study southwestern America or Latin America have long regarded the Pueblo Revolt as an important event: one of the most successful uprisings against Europeans in the New World. The Pueblo Revolt pales next to the more enduring victory of the Araucanians, who maintained autonomy for two centuries after destroying seven substantial Spanish towns in south-central Chile in 1598-1603, but the Pueblos' achievement was significant and unusual. It marked one of the rare moments in more than three hundred years of colonial rule in the Americas that Spaniards suffered a thorough defeat by natives whom they had long subjected. Moreover, most scholars believe that the Pueblos' act of defiance assured them of a measure of freedom from future Spanish efforts to eradicate their culture.


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Product Details

  • Series: Historians at Work
  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's; First Edition edition (February 25, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031219174X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312191740
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ronald T. McCoy on April 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Weber has put together a selection of informative essays by different authors, all dealing with the famed Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Given that the (for a time successful) uprising took place, the question for students of history is the standard one: Why?
As the essays in this book point out, there is no one answer to that question. There are, instead, many answers, and additional questions.
In history, it's not so much a case of arriving at the "truth." Rather, it's the journey of discovery that really counts. The essays Weber has collected run the gamut, from turgid academic writing and sniping to refreshingly clearly-stated prose. His introduction is masterly, the bibliographic references invaluable, and the overall effect one of having learned just how complex and diverse the causes of an effect can be.
Highly recommended for readers interested in this area, especially for classroom use at the college and university level.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By simpcity on June 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is precisely the type of history book advocated by James Loewen, the author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me."

Take five scholars, all discussing the same event, and end up with five quite different interpretations of that event. The editors did a great job of introducing each of the scholar's views, pointing out bones of contention, backgrounding the source material. This is how history is supposed to be taught!

I think one reviewer may have mischaracterized this book as racist. To say that only the views of the Spanish were presented, when in fact the only source material available is from the Spanish colonials, is to confuse the viewpoint of the historian with the viewpoint of the 17th century government of Spain.

I'm thinking about buying the whole series of Historians at Work if they are all this interesting.
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By Kendra Castaneda on September 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this was a nicely done, collection of essays describing the assumptions of what really happened which caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
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By SizeKing on December 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Had to read for a class. wasn't really interested
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