Many of the Pueblo people harboured a latent hostility toward the Spanish, primarily due to their denigration and prohibition of the traditional religion. The traditional economies of the pueblos were likewise disrupted, the people being forced to labour on the encomiendas of the colonists. Some Pueblo people may have been forced to labour in the mines of Chihuahua. However, the Spanish had also introduced new farming implements and provided some measure of security against Navajo and Apache raiding parties. As a result, they had lived in relative peace with the Spanish since the founding of the Northern New Mexico colony in 1598.
In the 1670s, drought swept the region, which not only caused famine among the Pueblo, but also provoked increased attacks from neighboring nomadic tribes—attacks against which Spanish soldiers were unable to defend them. At the same time, European-introduced diseases were ravaging the natives, greatly decreasing their numbers. Unsatisfied with the protective powers of the Spanish crown and disenchanted with the Roman Catholic religion it had brought along, the people turned to their old religions. This provoked a wave of repression on the part of Franciscan missionaries.
For example, in 1675, Governor Juan Francisco Treviño ordered the arrest of forty-seven Pueblo medicine men and accused them of practicing witchcraft. Four medicine men were sentenced to death by hanging; three of those sentences were carried out, while the fourth prisoner committed suicide. The remaining men were publicly whipped and sentenced to prison. When this news reached the Pueblo leaders, they moved in force to Santa Fe, where the prisoners were held. Because a large number of Spanish soldiers were away fighting the Apache, Governor Treviño released the prisoners. Among those released was a San Juan Indian named "Popé" (also spelled Po'Pay).
The day for the attack had been fixed for 11 August 1680, but the Spaniards learned of the revolt after capturing two Tesuque Pueblo youths entrusted with carrying the message to the pueblos. Popé then ordered the execution of the plot on 10 August, before the uprising could be put down.
The attack was commenced by the Taos, Picuris, and Tewa Indians in their respective pueblos. They killed twenty-one of the province's forty Franciscans, and three hundred and eighty Spaniards, counting men, women and children. Spanish settlers fled to Santa Fe, the only Spanish city, and Isleta Pueblo, one of the few Pueblos that did not participate in the rebellion.
Believing themselves the only survivors, the refugees at Isleta left for El Paso del Norte on September 15. Meanwhile Popé's insurgents besieged Santa Fe, surrounding the city and cutting off its water supply. New Mexico Governor Antonio de Otermín, barricaded in the Governor’s Palace, called for a general retreat. On August 21 the remaining Spanish settlers streamed out of the capital city and headed for El Paso del Norte.
Following their success, the diversity of Pueblo Tribes, separated by hundreds of miles and eight different languages, quarreled as to who would occupy Santa Fe and rule over the country. These power struggles, combined with raids from nomadic tribes and a seven year drought, weakened the Pueblo resolve and set the stage for a Spanish reconquest.
De Vargas repossession of New Mexico is often called a "bloodless reconquest". However, de Vargas mounted several military campaigns against the Pueblo peoples in the years that followed in an attempt to maintain the peace. For instance, a Second Pueblo Revolt was attempted in 1696, resulting in the death of five missionaries and twenty-one Spaniards, but was effectively thwarted. By the end of the century, the Spanish reconquest was essentially complete.
While their independence from the Spaniards was short-lived, the Pueblo Revolt granted the Pueblo Indians a measure of freedom from future Spanish efforts to eradicate their culture and religion following the reconquest. Moreover, the Spanish issued substantial land grants to each Pueblo and appointed a public defender to protect the rights of the Indians and argue their legal cases in the Spanish courts.
In 2005, in Los Angeles, Native Voices at the Autry produced Kino and Teresa, an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet written by Taos Pueblo playwright James Lujan. Set five years after the Spanish Reconquest of 1692, the play links actual historical figures with their literary counterparts to dramatize how both sides learned to live together and form the culture that is present-day New Mexico.
 Knaut, Andrew L. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995. 14.