General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 12 Dec 2018/2 Wind
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Professor Lori Boornazian Diel

Question for December 2018

Were there any female rulers? Asked by The Raleigh School. Chosen and answered by Professor Lori Boornazian Diel.

Tira de Tepechpan, page 14 detail. Death of Tepechpan’s ruler (below) with the installation of his wife, Ome Tochtzin (2 Rabbbit) above
Tira de Tepechpan, page 14 detail. Death of Tepechpan’s ruler (below) with the installation of his wife, Ome Tochtzin (2 Rabbbit) above (Click on image to enlarge)

Yes, though references to women acting as rulers are rather sparse. For example, the Nahua historian known as Chimalpahin records the names of two women who ruled minor towns after the deaths of their fathers. He calls them cihuatlatoque, which literally means ‘women rulers.’ Also, the Codex en Cruz and the Tira de Tepechpan include women who became rulers after the deaths of their husbands. For the Codex en Cruz, this was a woman named Azcaxochtzin, who ruled Tepetlaoztoc, and for the Tira de Tepechpan, it was Ome Tochztin who ruled Tepechpan.
The rarity of references to female rulers in the pictorial and alphabetic histories suggests that this was an extraordinary occurrence, happening only when there was not an available male heir to the throne. A woman having to act as ruler must have been seen as a dangerous rupture to a strong dynastic line, so much so that there were likely other women rulers but they were omitted from their community histories. In fact, a few sources maintain that Tenochtitlan itself was once ruled by a woman. These sources state that after the death of Moteuzcoma I, his daughter Atotoztli became Tenochtitlan’s ruler, but that she was not included in the official version of Mexica history because she was a woman. Instead, the majority of sources show Atotoztli’s son and Moteuczoma I’s grandson, Axayacatl, as the direct inheritor of the throne.

Image supplied by, and thanks to, Professor Diel.

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