General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 21 Sep 2017/10 Eagle
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Dr. Elizabeth Baquedano

Question for November 2004

Did the Aztecs have kings and queens? Asked by Woodville Primary School. Chosen and answered by Dr. Elizabeth Baquedano.

A list of Aztec rulers with their name glyphs and approximate dates (from Elizabeth Baquedano’s book ‘Aztec Sculpture’, British Museum Publications, 1984)
A list of Aztec rulers with their name glyphs and approximate dates (from Elizabeth Baquedano’s book ‘Aztec Sculpture’, British Museum Publications, 1984) (Click on image to enlarge)

Yes, the Aztecs had kings and queens. There were nine kings. The king was known as Tlahtoani which means ‘He who Speaks’ in Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs.

The nine kings were:-
ACAMAPICHTLI (meaning”Handful of Reeds”)
HUITZILIHUITL (“Hummingbird Feather”)
CHIMALPOPOCA (“Smoking Shield”)
ITZCOATL (“Obsidian Serpent”)
MOTECUHZOMA (“Angry Lord”)
AXAYACATL (“Face of Water”)
TIZOC (“The Bled One”)
AHUITZOTL (a mythical water opossum)
MOTECUHZOMA XOCOYOTZIN or MOTECUHZOMA THE YOUNGER (he was the ruling king when Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico)/li/olpAfter the death of Motecuhzoma the Younger two other people ruled Tenochtitlan but they were not crowned as kings. They were Cuitlahuac and Cuauhtemoc respectively.

Women played major roles in the founding of Tenochtitlan. One of them called Atotoztli (“Water-Bird”) became a queen and Ilancueitl (“Old Woman Skirt”) was the wife of the first Aztec king. Women were very important for the institution of kingship at Tenochtitlan.

Dr. Elizabeth Baquedano has answered 2 questions altogether:

Did the Aztecs have kings and queens?

What was the point of the skull rack?

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Here's what others have said:

Mexicolore replies: Big question. What about their lives? What would you like to know...?!
Mexicolore replies: Whilst his name does have ‘chalk’ at its root, some interpret his name glyph as a scarred leg - ie ‘He who does penance’. See, for instance, the Moctezuma exhibition catalogue at the British Museum.