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Huitzilíhuitl was born in Tenochtitlan, and was the son of Acamapichtli, first tlatoani of the Mexica, and Queen Tezcatlan Miyahuatzin, and had a half-brother Itzcoatl. His maternal grandfather was Acacitli. Only 16 years old when his father died, Huitzilihuitl was elected by the principal chiefs, warriors and priests of the city to replace him. At that time, the Mexica were tributaries of the Tepanec city-state of Azcapotzalco.
Huitzilíhuitl, a good politician, continued the policies of his father, seeking alliances with his neighbors. He founded the Royal Council or Tlatocan and established four permanent electors to advise the new king, in his inexperience, at the beginning of each reign.
He married Ayauhcihuatl, daughter of Tezozómoc, the powerful tlatoani of Azcapotzalco, and obtained a reduction of tribute payments to the symbolic level. Their son Chimalpopoca would succeed his father as tlatoani. After the death of Ayaucíhuatl, Huitzilíhuitl married a second time, to Miahuaxihuitl. She bore him Moctezuma I, who also succeeded to the throne as the fifth tlatoani of Aztecs.
During his reign, the weaving industry grew. It provided cotton cloth not only for Tenochtitlan, but also for Azcapotzalco and Cuauhn?huac. The Mexicas no longer had to dress in coarse ayates" of maguey fibers, but were able to change to soft, dyed cotton.
Huitzilíhuitl also wanted to introduce potable water into the city, bringing it to the island from the mainland over the brackish water of the lake. But the nobles not approving the cost, he was unable to put his plan into operation. He constructed a fort on a rock on the island.
In 1409, the ruler of Texcoco, Techotlala, died and the throne passed to Ixtlilxóchitl I. In the following years, relations between Ixtlilxóchitl and Tezozómoc of Azcapotzalco deteriorated, breaking into open hostilities c. 1416.
In spite of having given his daughter Matlalchihuatzin in marriage to Ixtlilxóchitl, Huitzilíhuitl joined his father-in-law in making war on Texcoco. He assisted in the conquest and sacking of the cities of Tultitlan, Cuauhtitlan, Chalco, Tollantzingo, Xaltocan, Otompa and Acolman. Huitzilíhuitl profited from the booty of these conquests and also from the traffic of the canoes on the lakes surrounding Tenochtitlan.
Huitzilíhuitl died, probably in 1417, before the end of the war between Azcapotzalco and Texcoco. His successor, his son Chimalpopoca, continued to support Tezozómoc and Azcapotzalco.
^There is a problem with the chronology at this point. Huitzilíhuitl was 16 when he ascended to the throne. Under the more likely dating of his reign, that means he was born in 1379 or 1380. It is unlikely he was married to a close relative of Tezozómoc, a more powerful lord, before he became tlatoani, because until then his prospects were uncertain. So in all likelihood his first child was born no earlier than late 1396, probably no earlier than 1397. Matlalcihuatzin's son Nezahualcóyotl was born in 1402. If she was Huitzilíhuitl's daughter, she would have been only 5 years old (give or take 1 year) when her son was born, perhaps younger. Even under the less likely dating of Huitzilíhuitl's reign, she would have been only 11 (or younger), give or take a year. And Huitzilíhuitl himself would have been 22±1 or 28±1, quite young to be a grandfather. Since the 1402 birth of Nezahualcóyotl seems well established, this casts doubt on the dates of Huitzilíhuitl's reign, or the age at which he took power, or his relationship to Matlalcihuatzin. If she were a sister or other relative rather than a daughter, that could resolve the conflict. Enciclopedia de México says sister, but many other sources say daughter.
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León-Portilla, Miguel, ed. (1980). Native Mesoamerican Spirituality: Ancient myths, discourses, stories, doctrines, hymns, poems from the Aztec, Yucatec, Quiché-Maya and other sacred traditions. edited with a foreword, introd., and notes by Miguel León-Portilla; translations by Miguel León-Portilla [et al.] ; preface by Fernando Horcasitas. New York: Paulist Press. ISBN0-8091-0293-5. OCLC6450751.
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