John Florens | May 23, 2023

Table of Content


Axayácatl (-tl, suffix') (1450-1481) huey tlatoani Mexica, successor of Moctezuma I and father of Moctezuma II. His name is related to the concept of "water mask", the lake insect of the Corixidae family from whose eggs the food ahuahuatli, formerly common in the valley of Mexico, is prepared.

First years

Axayacatl was the son of princess Atotoztli II and his cousin, prince Tezozómoc son of Itzcóatl, grandson of Moctezuma Ilhuicamina and Itzcóatl.

He was successor of Moctezuma, his brothers were the huey tlatoani Tízoc and Ahuízotl. Uncle of the huey tlatoani Cuauhtémoc and father of Moctezuma Xocoyotzin and Cuitláhuac.

Coming to power

During his youth his military prowess won him the favor of important figures in the politics of the nascent empire such as Nezahualcoyotl and Tlacaélel, thanks to this, after the death of Moctezuma, he succeeded him despite being the youngest of his brothers, which led him to have occasional conflicts with them.

The civil war against Tlatelolco

Under his rule, in 1473 Moquihuix tlatoani of Tlatelolco was accused of mistreating one of his wives, coming from the Mexica nobility and also of having usurped power, so the Tenochcas declared war on them, a bloody battle ensued where the Tlatelolcas, losing, barricaded themselves in their Templo Mayor, from where Moquihuix, defeated and killed by Axayácatl, was thrown down the stairs. The real reason behind the conflict with their neighbor and closest ally was the trade that was controlled by the Tlaltelolcas. The event caused the loss of Tlatelolco's autonomy and high tributes were imposed as well as a Mexica ruler.

Dominance of new territories

In 1475 the Matlatzinca of the Cuetlaxtlan province rebelled and Axayácatl had to subdue it again. The Matlatzinca language was the dominant language in the State of Mexico, eastern Michoacan, northern Guerrero and some parts of Morelos. The conquest of Axacáyatl had important repercussions in central Mexico, as the Matlatzinca language began to recede at the expense of Nahuatl.

Axacáyatl also achieved other new conquests, although he failed against the organized Purépechas (Tarascans), who by 1470 had advanced with their armies toward the center of present-day Mexico, so Axacáyatl decided to launch an offensive against them. The military campaign began well, conquering several cities in the Toluca Valley in 1477, but sometime between 1478 and 1479, when they advanced against the last city that opposed them, Xiquipilco, they faced fierce resistance from the Purepechas: 10,000 of their warriors against 24,000 Aztecs. The battle lasted a whole day in Taximaroa, the Purepechas did not retreat and many Mexica nobles fell in it; as well as eagle warriors of the Triple Alliance. Axacáyatl himself was seriously wounded in one leg, after which he died after months of fruitless recovery, back in Tenochtitlan.

The Mexica defeat was resounding and only a few thousand survivors managed to return to Tenochtitlan-about 20,000 were killed or taken prisoner, escaped in shameful fashion and were pursued by the Purepecha all the way back to Toluca. The Aztecs never again undertook another major campaign of conquest against the Purepecha. Axayácatl was never able to recover from his humiliating defeat, having managed to conquer only the seven capitals of the province of Tochpan (now Tuxpan, Veracruz) in 1480.

He was succeeded on the throne by his older brother, Tízoc Chalchiuhtlatona.

Axayácatl in the arts

Like all nobles of the time Axayácatl had the best education and was interested in both the science of time and poetry. He had the Sun Stone carved and composed at least two poems, one entitled Ycuic Axayacatzin, Mexico Tlatoani (Song of Axayacatl, Lord of Mexico), a defense against his critics and his brothers, and Huehue cuicatl (Song of the Elders), a lament about his defeat at the hands of the Purepecha.


  1. Axayacatl
  2. Axayácatl
  3. Frances E. Karttunen (1983). An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, p. 14. ISBN 978-0-80612-421-6.
  4. a b c d e Michael Ernest Smith (2003) [1996]. The Aztecs. Padstow: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 51. ISBN 978-0-63123-016-8.
  5. León-Portilla, Miguel (2015). Quince poetas del mundo náhuatl. México: Booket. pp. 215-239. ISBN 9786070725258. Consultado el 22 de diciembre de 2021.
  6. ^ Conrad, Geoffrey W.; Demarest, Arthur A. (1984-08-31). Religion and Empire: The Dynamics of Aztec and Inca Expansionism. Cambridge University Press. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-521-31896-9.
  7. ^ Map based on Hassig (1988)
  8. ^ Miguel Leon-Portilla (1978). Trece Poetas del Mundo Azteca [Thirteen Poets of the Aztec World] (in Spanish) (2nd, 1972 ed.). Mexico City: Universidad Nacinal Autonoma de Mexico. pp. 133–153.
  9. a b Glaoria Delgado, Historia de Mexico], Volume 1 (em castelhano) Pearson Educación, 2006 pp.211-213 ISBN 9789702607977
  10. a b c d Peter G. Tsouras , Montezuma : Warlord of the Aztecs (em inglês) Potomac Books, Inc., 2011 p 26, ISBN 9781612340654
  11. a b Axayácatl, “El de la máscara de agua” (1469-1481) (spanyol nyelven). Arqueología Mexicana. [2017. február 8-i dátummal az eredetiből archiválva]. (Hozzáférés: 2017. február 7.)

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