The biography of a man hated by some, loved by
others; ruler of all.
580th anniversary of the death of the most powerful ruler of his time.
By: Miguel Angel Omaña Rojas
8-Acatl, 1-Ozomahtli, 9-Quiahuitl
Thursday March 22, 2007
Tezozomoc was the ruler of the Tecpanec nation during the 12th century
and early 13th. Its capital city was Atzcapotzalco, place of ants, located
a couple of miles from Lake Tetzcoco. He was famous for living well
over the one hundred years of age. Tezozomoc the Great did not created
Atzcapotzalco, but it sure endowed it with monumental beauty and crowned
her with overwhelming power. From being a mere participant in a Triple
Alliance with with other two nations, Colhuacan and Coatlinchan, Tezozomoc
led his nation over them, and created a model never seen before in Anahuac
(wrongfully called Mesoamerica or Mexico). The Tezozomocan model, which
mixed political wit and military muscle, had his pale imitation in the
Mexica Tenuchca nation, also known as the Aztecs.
Tezozomoc of Tlalhuacpan was born according to
Cuitlahuaca records in 10-Rabbit, which was the year 1294 in the Christian
calendar. Colhuacan registers his birth in 13-Flint, 1286. Either way,
all sources confirm the exceptional longevity of Tezozomoc. His longevity
will prove crucial to his political manoeuvres, because we was present
during the arrival of the last nations into the lake region, which he
used into his advantage. His name became synonymous of the 14th and
early 15th centuries.
His lineage was not Nahua, nor native to the
lake region of Atzcapotzalco. His family came from the Toluca region
in what is today western Estado de Mexico. His ethnicity was that of
a probable mixture of Matlatzinca and Hñahñu (Otomi).
He actually preferred to speak Nahuatl, since that language was also
being established by Chichimec rulers as the lingua franca.
During his early life he witnessed important
historical events that were preparing the stage for his future rulership.
He saw the beginning of the conflict between Cuauhtitlan and Xaltocan,
as well as the first fall of Culhuacan. He also saw how the great nation
of Chalco grew as the last tribes integrated and created new cities.
During those same times, his father Acolhua had political problems with
Quinatzin Tlaltecatzin, ruler of Texcoco. While Quinatzin was focused
in an internal civil war against Yacanex, Acolhua took some territories
that belonged to Texcoco. Tezozomoc became prince and landlord of those
newly acquired territories. But a peace accord between Texcoco and Atzcapotzalco
obligated Tezozomoc to return those territories.
As the 14th century began, Tezozomoc became tecuhtli
of Atzcapotzalco, and tlahtoani of the Tecpanecapan. He married Chalchiuhcozcatzin.
He had numerous sons and daughters, which either he put as lords in
every city, or married them to ancient ruling houses.
In 2-Reed, 1339, he declared war on Techichco,
a border city at the limits of Chalco country. The battle at Techichco
lasted many years as Tecpanec forces pushed very slowly the border to
7-Flint, 1356, Tezozomoc orders to establish
a Tecpanec city nearby Cuauhtitlan. This new semi-autonomous Tecpanec
city was named Toltitlan, today Tultitlan. It was key to have this Tecpanec
presence, because he wanted to control the north. While in the south,
the Chalco War continued. The ancient nation of Cuauhtitlan became wary
10-House, 1385, Tlahtoani Tezozomoc uses for
the first time a group of mercenaries called the Mexitin or Mexica,
which would later became the famous Aztecs. These Mexica men and women
got known for their ferocity in battle, especially in the Xochimilco
War. Tezozomoc sent the Mexica to the Chalco War. Some princes from
Cuauhtitlan, the only friendly nation to the Mexica, also went to that
War probably embedded within Mexica forces.
Tezozomoc also began using the Mexica in his
wars, because he noted that the Mexica were finally established after
many years of wandering around Lake Texcoco. But most importantly, they
already had a rulership, and therefore, it was the fastest growing village.
Tezozomoc needed the Mexica under his command, not only to not have
them as enemies, but also to use them in his conquest plans. After all,
at that time the Atzcapotzalca army single-handedly would overrun the
small Mexica contingent. What good would come if Tezozomoc would squash
the Mexica in their tiny island? Instead he wisely used them to continue
establishing his rule.
4-Flint, 1392, Tezozomoc plans and orders the
assassination of Pichatzintecuhtli, tlahtoani of the island-nation of
Cuitlahuac Tizic. Tezozomoc not only sent to kill the Cuitlahuaca ruler,
but also Cuitlahuaca high officials. The noble ones killed by orders
of Tezozomoc were Coyotliyacamiuh, Tzopallotzin, Hueiacatzin, Cuamamaztzin,
Tlahuahuanqui, and Xiuhtlapoca. In the raid, Tezozomoc also ordered
the assassination of Anahuacatl, ruler of Tecpan, who was present in
5-House, 1393, Cuitlahuac could not recover from
Tezozomoc’s “shock and awe”, when he quickly put Tepolitzmaitl
as ruler in Cuitlahuac Tizic. Tepolitzmaitl was close to him, and supported
the Tecpaneca cause. Cuitlahuac Tizic became politically adhered to
Atzcapotzalco, under the high rulership of Tezozomoc.
Hiutzilihuitl II, ruler of Mexico Tenochtitlan,
married with Tecpaneca princess Ayauhcihuatl, daughter of his high ruler,
Tezozomoc. They begot a boy named Chimalpopoca. Tezozomoc cherished
his newborn grandson. Even when he was half Mexica, he was very much
fascinated with Chimalpopoca. Many say it was because he was physically
handsome, and quite charismatic. Other believe that it may be because
all his sons and grandsons were all grownups. This overwhelming love
for Chimalpopoca led Tezozomoc to soften taxes and political pressures
over Mexico Tenochtitlan. He very much enjoyed his presence, and passionately
used any time available to see Chimalpopoca.
The Atzcapotzalco high council somewhat tolerated
Tezozomoc’s love for Chimalpopoca. But many grew envy around the
ever increasing intrusion of the Mexica into Tecpaneca politics. A group
of anti-Mexica, led by Tezozomoc’s, Maxtla, was against softening
their voice with the Mexica. Maxtla argued that after all the Mexica
remained their vassals. Tezozomoc waged such criticism, and kept doing
many things for Chimalpopoca, and his family, including Huitzilihuitl.
This less pressure over Mexico led the Mexica to grow more freely, economically
In later years, Huitzilihuitl died. The Mexica
elected Chimalpopoca given the great love Tezozomoc had for him. Maxtla
and his anti-Mexica group saw it as cheap political opportunism. Tezozomoc
again dismissed criticism, and accepted not only Chimalpopoca’s
rulership (all elections in Mexico were pre-approved in Atzcapotzalco),
but also a privileged place in his government in the high capital. At
this point, Maxtla, ruler of the princedom of Coyohuacan, called for
the execution of Chimalpopoca. He argued that Mexica blood should never
enter into Atzcapotzalco. Tezozomoc managed to thwart assassination
plots against Chimalpopoca, but his worries began creating a toll in
7-Flint, 1408, Tezozomoc creates an elaborate
plan to overthrow the government of Cuauhtitlan. He ordered a party
in the countryside to be prepared, with important guests as assistants.
Xaltemoctzin the Great, ruler of Cuauhtitlan, was especially invited
to this party. This was during Cuauhtitlan’s golden era. Xaltemoctzin
was their most important ruler, and could politically eclipse Tezozomoc
at some point. Not to mention the danger implied of a war against him,
because Cuauhtitlan and Mexico Tenochtitlan were great allies. So, during
this party, once the people were gathered, Xaltemoctzin arrived. But
he never found out that it was staged, because Tezozomoc immediately
ordered to hang him in the spot. This was a message to the known world
of things to come. Cuauhtitlan was scared of such act, that they did
not dare to elect a ruler for the next nine years. With a military government
in Cuauhtitlan, Tezozomoc psychologically adhered and controlled that
nation. Only one casualty was needed for Tezozomoc to control the northern
After the death of Xaltemoctzin, Tezozomoc ordered
Tultitlan to begin a coordinated set of skirmishes against Cuauhtitlan’s
interests. For that, he installs rulers in Tultitlan, elevating the
status of that city.
Once Cuauhtitlan remains in “darkness”,
Tezozomoc enters into the northern territories, and invades Tepotzotlan
12-House, 1413, Tezozomoc orders the assassination
of Nauhyotzin, tlahtoani of the ancient Toltec city of Culhuacan. With
this act, he breaks the Triple Alliance Atzcapotzalco had with Culhuacan
and Coatlinchan. Culhuacan, again, without being able to respond to
the Tezozomocan “shock and awe”, is annexed to Atzcapotzalco.
Tezozomoc orders Acoltzin to be the new ruler of Culhuacan.
At this point the Triple Alliance of Atzcapotzalco
– Culhuacan - Coatlinchan/Texcoco ceases to exist. Not only Nauhyotzin
was killed, but war declarations between Atzcapotzalco and Texcoco were
now unstoppable. For many years Tezozomoc waited for his trophy, Texcoco.
But he could not do any move, because Techotlalla was ruling in Texcoco.
He did not wanted to break the Alliance with Texcoco under Techotlalla.
So he patiently waited for Techotlalla’s natural death. Techotlalla’s
son, Ixtlilxochitl Ometochtli became the new ruler of Texcoco, and Netzahualcoyotl
With several political tricks, he worn Ixtlilxochitl’s
patience. It was not the intention of Tezozomoc to engage in a frontal
war against Texcoco. The Texcocan army was more prepared and disciplined.
To complicate things, the Texcocan tlaccatecatl (general) was his grandson
the charismatic Cihuacuecuenotzin. And even when Tezozomoc’s followers
perceived Cihuacuecuenotzin as a traitor, he preferred to wait for the
That moment arrived when Tezozomoc pretended
to be naïve by sending cotton merchandise to Texcoco. The pochteca
who arrived to Texcoco ordered Ixtlilxochitl to manufacture the cotton
and then return it to Tezozomoc in the form of beautiful blankets and
clothing. Ixtlilxochitl wanted peace at all cost, even when such insult
continued several times. In those times, to outsource your manufacturing
into other countries was seeing as a sign of power to those orders it,
and submission to those that do the job. Ixtlilxochit could not tolerate
the situation, and declared war on Atzcapotzalco for such insults. But
before sending his army against Atzcapotzalco, in Huexotla Ixtlilxochitl
declared his son Netzahualcoyotl as ruler in case of his death. This
ceremony in which Netzahualcoyotl was declared ruler in the eyes of
Tezcatlipoca, would become the biggest problem for Tezozomoc until his
Ixtlilxochitl succeded invading Atzcapotzalco,
but after a long siege, Tezozomoc surrendered and pleaded submission.
Everyone in Texcoco, including his general Cihuacuecuenotzin, advised
him that this was probably another tricky move by Tezozomoc.
5-Reed, 1419, And indeed it was. After Ixtlilxochitl
returned his troops to their towns and villages, Tezozomoc released
a full-scale conquest of Texcoco. Tezozomoc order his best warriors
to follow and assassinate Ixtlilxochitl and Netzahualcoyotl. While fleeing,
Nezahualcoyotl was hidden in a tree-top, while Ixtlilxochitl was killed.
Texcoco, capital of Acolhuacan, fell to the Atzcapotzalca.
For the next years he puts some of his sons as
lords and rulers in the most important cities of Acolhuacan, leaving
Texcoco as a lame-duck, for the new high capital for them was Atzcapotzalco.
Tezozomoc gave orders to be passed in all cities to capture and kill
Netzahualcoyotl. Which many followed, if it wasn’t that Nezahualcoyotl
also possessed the same intelligence as Tezozomoc.
11-House, 1425, Tezozomoc orders a remapping
of taxation to benefit his grandson city, Mexico Tenochtitlan, and Mexico
Tlatelolco. For the first time Mexica enjoys taxing others.
After knowing that Netzahualcoyotl survived the
war, Tezozomoc orders Coyohua (Netzahualcoyotl’s aide) and his
sons (including Maxtla) to assassinate Netzahualcoyotl. It was not accomplished.
Coyohua was faithful to his lord, and his sons missed to locate him
Tezozomoc at some point receives a captured prisoner
from the Chalco War from Nezahualcoyotl as a present. The now weak Tezozomoc
began having nightmares that were later interpreted by priests as a
warning that Netzahualcoyotl was a danger for his nation should he die.
Tezozomoc needed Nezahualcoyotl dead, or else Atzcapotzalco could face
his wrath of vengeance. The only loose-end Tezozomoc left was worrying
him until his final days. So Tezozomoc made a will, in which he says
that any of his sons that murders Nezahualcoyotl would become the high
ruler of Atzcapotzalco. Since no one could accomplish it, he named Quetzalayatzin
as his heir and successor. But he still ordered that when death came
to him, Netzahualcoyotl should be killed during his funerary ceremony,
because of his political knowledge he knew the young Netzahualcoyotl
would be present.
Tezozomoc also green-lights a Mexica project
to build an aqueduct in order to bring water from Chapultepec to Mexico
Tenochtitlan. At this point, opposition against the Mexica becomes unstoppable
by Tezozomoc. Which fall ill because of it.
13-Reed, 1427, Tezozomoc dies in his palace of
Atzcapotzalco. During his funerary ceremony, Netzahualcoyotl did assisted.
What followed was the result of the power vacuum
left by Tezozomoc the Great. No one could fill his place in the tlahtoicpalli
of Atzcapotzalco. A World War exploded after the coup d’etat of
Maxtla, known as the Tecpanec War. The political machinery and astute
policies were left only for the new Triple Alliance to appropriate.
Until the holocaust of the Spanish Conquest, the Mexica used this same
machinery inherited by Tezozomoc to go out and conquer.
8-Reed, 2007, 580th anniversary of the death
As a director and his crew shoot a controversial
film about Christopher Columbus in Cochabamba, Bolivia, local people
rise up against plans to privatize the water supply. While filming,
it becomes apparent that the events that occured during the American
Holocaust were so horrendous and inhumane that they are often too
difficult to imagine.The film masterfully
illustrates the fact that 519 years later, indigenous people still
endure oppression at the hands of the european invaders proving that
only time separates the 16th century european invaders from their
Watch the movie, leave a comment
Academia Semillas del Pueblo
"If Brown (vs. Board
of Education) was just about letting Black people into a White
school, well we don’t care about that anymore. We don’t
necessarily want to go to White schools. What we want to do is
teach ourselves, teach our children the way we have of teaching.
We don’t want to drink from a White water fountain...We
don’t need a White water fountain. So the whole issue of
segregation and the whole issue of the Civil Rights Movement is
all within the box of White culture and White supremacy. We should
not still be fighting for what they have. We are not interested
in what they have because we have so much more and because the
world is so much larger. And ultimately the White way, the American
way, the neo liberal, capitalist way of life will eventually lead
to our own destruction. And so it isn’t about an argument
of joining neo liberalism, it’s about us being able, as
human beings, to surpass the barrier."
- Marcos Aguilar (Principal,
Academia Semillas del Pueblo)