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Title: The Native Races [of the Pacific states], Volume 5, Primitive History

Author: Hubert Howe Bancroft

Release date: March 31, 2014 [eBook #45268]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Melissa McDaniel and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
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Transcriber's Note:

Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

Italics in the footnote citations were inconsistently applied by the typesetter.

Footnote 1-1 has an un-opened quote ending "a very slow current."

Footnote I-219: Landnama should possibly be Landnáma.

Page 357: Words are possibly missing in the sentence starting, "We have no further details".

Many index entries could not be found in the text. Many index cross-references could not be found. A complete list of the latter can be found at the end of this volume.

Alphabetization errors in the index were not corrected.

This volume contains extensive references to the previous four volumes of this work. They can be found at:








Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1882, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

All Rights Reserved.


This volume concludes the Native Races of the Pacific States. During the year in which it has been going through the press, I have received letters of encouragement from the most eminent scholars of Europe and America, and flattering commendations from learned societies. None but an author can know the value of such cheering words. This, my first attempt, was made in a new field; the scope of the work was very extensive; the system and machinery by which alone it could be accomplished were untried; and the subject was not one of great popular interest. It was not, therefore, without misgivings that I sent it forth.

That the work had been so planned as to embody practically all information extant on what I had come to regard as an important subject, and that the plan had been faithfully executed, I thoroughly believed. But that others would, to any great extent, share my opinion; that the subject would interest so many classes of readers; that mine would be so quickly and cordially recognized by men of science and letters throughout the world as a work worth doing and well done; and that it would be at once [vi] accorded a place in literature, I had not dared to hope. The leading journals of England, France, Germany, and the United States, have deemed the volumes as issued worthy of extended reviews; and criticism for the most part has been liberal, and just—save a tendency to what might seem, to a mind less prejudiced than mine, extravagant praise. Minor defects have been fairly pointed out; and in the few instances where fault has been found, either with the plan or its execution, one critic condemns what another approves, so that I am led to believe no serious error of judgment has been committed.

I cannot here make proper acknowledgments to all to whom they are due; but let those who have manifested their kind good-will, and those who have not, so long as they feel it, accept my grateful thanks.

San Francisco, November, 1875. [vii]


Spirit of Inquiry in the Middle Ages—Unity of Origin—Flood Myths—Aboriginal Traditions of Origin—Culture Heroes—China—Japan—Hindustan—Tartary—The Egyptian Theory—The Phœnicians—Votan's Travels—The Carthaginians—The Hebrew Theory—The Mormon Story—The Visits of the Scandinavians—Celtic Origin—The Welsh—Scotch—Irish—The Greeks and Romans—The Story of Atlantis—The Autochthonic Theory 1
Origin and Earliest History of the Americans Unrecorded—The Dark Sea of Antiquity—Boundary between Myth and History—Primitive Annals of America compared with those of the Old World—Authorities and Historical Material—Traditional Annals and their Value—Hieroglyphic Records of the Mayas and Nahuas—Spanish Writers—The Conquerors—The Missionaries—The Historians—Converted Native Chroniclers—Secondary Authorities—Ethnology—Arts, Institutions, and Beliefs—Languages—Material Monuments of Antiquity—Use of Authorities and Method of treating the Subject 133
Subdivision of the Subject—Tzendal Tradition of the Votanic Empire—Votan's Book and its Contents as reported by Nuñez de la Vega, Cabrera, and Ordoñez—Testimony of Manners and Customs, Religion, Languages, and Monuments of the Civilized Nations respecting the Primitive Maya Peoples—The Quiché Record, or Popol Vuh—Civilizing Efforts of Gucumatz and his Followers—Exploits of Hunahpu and Xbalanque—Conquest of Xibalba—Migration from Tulan Zuiva, the Seven Caves—Meaning of the Quiché Tradition—Nahua Traditions—The Toltecs in [viii] Tamoanchan according to Sahagun—The Codex Chimalpopoca—Pre-Toltec Nations in Mexico—Olmecs and Xicalancas—The Quinames—Cholula and Quetzalcoatl—The Totonacs—Teotihuacan—Otomís, Miztecs, Zapotecs, and Huastecs—The Toltecs in Huehue Tlapallan—Migration to Anáhuac—The Chichimecs in Amaquemecan—Ancient Home of the Nahuatlacas and Aztecs—Primitive Annals of Yucatan—Conclusions 156
The Nahua Occupation of Mexico in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries—Condition of Anáhuac—The Mixcohuas and Chichimec Culhuas—The Toltecs at Tulancingo and Tollan—Establishment of a Monarchy and Choice of a King, 710-720 A.D.—Kingdoms of Culhuacan and Quauhtitlan—The Teoamoxtli—Prophecies and Death of Hueman—Birth of Quetzalcoatl—Foundation of the Empire, 856 A.D.—Alliance between Culhuacan, Otompan, and Tollan—Reign of Topiltzin Ceacatl Quetzalcoatl at Tollan—Excesses of Huemac II., or Tecpancaltzin—Xochitl, the King's Mistress—Fulfillment of the Prophet's Predictions—Toveyo's Adventures—Plagues sent upon the Toltecs—Famine and Pestilence—Reign of Acxitl, or Topiltzin—Debauchery of King, Nobles, and Priests—Tokens of Divine Wrath—Foreign Invaders—Final Overthrow of the Toltec Empire 237
The Chichimecs in Amaquemecan—Migration to Anáhuac under Xolotl—The Invaders at Chocoyan and Tollan—Foundation of Xoloc and Tenayocan—Xolotl II., Emperor of the Chichimecs—Division of Territory—The Toltecs at Culhuacan—Rule of Xiuhtemoc and Nauhyotl III.—Pochotl, Son of Acxitl—Conquest of Culhuacan—Death of Nauhyotl—Huetzin, King of Culhuacan—Migration and Reception of the Nahuatlaca Tribes—The Acolhuas at Coatlichan and the Tepanecs at Azcapuzalco—Nonohualcatl, King of Culhuacan—Revolt of Yacanex—Death of Xolotl II.—Nopaltzin, King of Tenayocan, and Emperor of the Chichimecs—Reigns of Achitometl and Icxochitlanex at Culhuacan—Tendencies toward Toltec Culture 289
Migration of the Aztecs—Nations of Anáhuac at Beginning of the Thirteenth Century—The Aztecs submit to the Tepanecs—Reign [ix] of the Emperor Tlotzin—Quinantzin, King of Tezcuco and Chichimec Emperor—Transfer of the Capital—Tenancacaltzin usurps the Imperial Throne at Tenayocan—The Usurper defeated by Tepanecs and Mexicans—Acolnahuacatl proclaimed Emperor—Quinantzin's Victories—Battle at Poyauhtlan—Quinantzin again Emperor—Toltec Institutions at Tezcuco—Events at Culhuacan—Mexicans driven from Chapultepec—Alliance between Mexicans and Culhuas—Religious Strife—Foundation of Mexico—Reign of the Emperor Techotl—Political Changes—Ruin of the Culhua Power—Tezozomoc, King of Azcapuzalco—Separation of Mexicans and Tlatelulcas—Acamapichtli II., King of Mexico—Quaquauhpitzahuac, King of Tlatelulco 321
Aztec History—Reigns of Acamapichtli II. and Quaquauhpitzahuac—Rebuilding of Culhuacan—Huitzilihuitl II., King of Mexico—Tlacateotzin, King of Tlatelulco—Chimalpopoca Succeeds in Mexico—Funeral of Techotl—Ixtlilxochitl, Emperor of the Chichimecs—Symptoms of Discontent—Plans of Tezozomoc, the Tepanec King—Secret Council of Rebels—Religious Toleration in Tezcuco—Conquest of Xaltocan and Cuitlahuac—Birth of Nezahualcoyotl—War between Tezcuco and Azcapuzalco—Victories of Ixtlilxochitl—Siege and Fall of Azcapuzalco—Treachery of Tezozomoc—Fall of Tezcuco—Flight and Death of Ixtlilxochitl—Tezozomoc proclaimed Emperor—Re-organization of the Empire—Adventures of Nezahualcoyotl—Death of Tezozomoc—Maxtla usurps the Imperial Throne—Murder of the Mexican Kings—Nezahualcoyotl's Victory—Itzcoatl, King of Mexico—Acolhua and Aztec Alliance—Fall of Azcapuzalco—The Tri-partite Alliance, or the New Empire 359
Outline of the Period—Revolt of Coyuhuacan—Nezahualcoyotl on the Throne of Tezcuco—Conquest of Quauhtitlan, Tultitlan, Xochimilco, and Cuitlahuac—Conquest of Quauhtitlan—Destruction of the Records—Death of Itzcoatl and Accession of Montezuma I. New Temples at Mexico—Defeat of the Chalcas—Troubles with Tlatelulco—Conquest of Cohuixco and Mazatlan—Flood and Six Years' Famine—Conquest of Miztecapan—The Aztecs conquer the Province of Cuetlachtlan and reach the Gulf Coast—Final Defeat of the Chalcas—Campaign in Cuextlan—Birth of Nezahualpilli—Improvements in Tenochtitlan—Embassy to Chicomoztoc—Death [x] of Montezuma I. and Accession of Axayacatl—Raid in Tehuantepec—Chimalpopoca succeeds Totoquihuatzin on the Throne of Tlacopan—Nezahualpilli succeeds Nezahualcoyotl at Tezcuco—Revolt of Tlatelulco—Conquest of Matlaltzinco—Defeat by the Tarascos—Death of Axayacatl 400
Reign of Tizoc—Nezahualpilli defeats the Huexotzincas—Ahuitzotl, King of Mexico—Campaigns for Captives—Dedication of Huitzilopochtli's Temple—Seventy Thousand Victims—Totoquihuatzin II., King of Tlacopan—Mexican Conquests—Conquest of Totonacapan—Aztec Reverses—Successful Revolt of Tehuantepec and Zapotecapan—Conquest of Zacatollan—Anecdotes of Nezahualpilli— New Aqueduct, and Inundation of Mexico—Montezuma II. on the Throne—Condition of the Empire—Montezuma's Policy—Unsuccessful Invasion of Tlascala—Famine—Conquest of Miztecapan—Tying-up of the Cycle in 1507—Omens of coming Disaster—The Spaniards on the Coast of Central America—Trouble between Mexico and Tezcuco—Retirement and Death of Nezahualpilli—Cacama, King of Acolhuacan—Revolt of Ixtlilxochitl—Final Campaigns of the Aztecs—The Spaniards on the Gulf Coast—Arrival of Hernan Cortés 436
Early History of the Eastern Plateau—The Chichimec-Toltecs—Arrival of the Teo-Chichimecs in Anáhuac—They Conquer and Settle the Eastern Plateau—Civil Wars—Miscellaneous Events—Wars between Tlascala and the Nations of Anáhuac—Early History of Michoacan—Wars between Wanacaces and Tarascos—Founding of Tzintzuntzan—Metamorphosis of the Tarasco Princes—Encroachments of the Wanacaces—The King of the Isles—Murder of Pawacume and Wapeani—Reigns of Curatame, Tariacuri, Tangaxoan I., Ziziz Pandacuare, Zwanga, and Tangaxoan II.—Origin of the Miztecs and Zapotecs—Wixipecocha—Rulers of Oajaca—The Huaves and Mijes—Later Kings and History of Oajaca—Wars with Mexico 483
No Chronology in the South—Outline View—Authorities—Xbalanque at Utatlan—The Migration from Tulan—Balam-Quitzé [xi] and his Companions—Sacrifices to Tohil—The Quichés on Mount Hacavitz—The Tamub and Ilocab—First Victories—Qocavib Founds the Monarchy at Izmachi—The Toltec Theory—Imaginary Empire of the East—Different Versions of Primitive History—The Cakchiquel Migration—Juarros and Fuentes—Lists of Kings—Cakchiquels under Hacavitz—Reigns of Balam-Conache, Cotuha, and Iztayul, at Izmachi—War against the Ilocab—The Stolen Tribute—Gucumatz, Quiché Emperor at Utatlan—Changes in the Government—Reigns of Cotuha II., Tepepul, and Iztayul II.—Cakchiquel History—Conquests of Quicab I.—Revolt of the Achihab—Dismemberment of the Empire—Cakchiquel Conquests—Reigns of the last Guatemalan Kings—Appearance of the Spaniards under Alvarado in 1524 540
Scarcity of Historical Data—The Tribes of Chiapas—The Founders and Heroes of the Chiapanec Nation—Wars with the Aztecs—The People of the Southern Coast—They are vanquished by the Olmecs—Their Exodus and Journey—They settle and separate—Juarros' Account of the Origin and later History of the Pipiles—Pipile Tradition—The Founding of Mictlan—Queen Comizahual—Acxitl's Empire of the East—The Cholutecs—Various Tribes of Nicaragua—Settlements of the Isthmus 603
Aboriginal Names of Yucatan—The Primitive Inhabitants from the East and West—Zamná the Pontiff-King—The Itzas at Chichen—Rules of Cukulcan at Chichen and Mayapan—His Disappearance on the Gulf Coast—The Cocome Rule at Mayapan—Appearance of the Tutul Xius—Translation of the Maya Record by Perez and Brasseur—Migration from Tulan—Conquest of Bacalar and Chichen—Itza Annals—Tutul Xius at Uxmal—Overthrow of the Cocome Dynasty—The Confederacy, or Empire, of Tutul Xius, Itzas, and Cheles—Fable of the Dwarf—Overthrow of the Tutul Xius—Final Period of Civil Wars 614
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Spirit of Inquiry in the Middle Ages—Unity of Origin—Flood Myths—Aboriginal Traditions of Origin—Culture-Heroes—China—Japan—Hindostan—Tartary—The Egyptian Theory—The Phœnicians—Votan's Travels—The Carthaginians—The Hebrew Theory—The Mormon Story—The Visits of the Scandinavians—Celtic Origin—The Welsh—Scotch—Irish—The Greeks and Romans—The Story of Atlantis—the Autochthonic Theory.

When it first became known to Europe that a new continent had been discovered, the wise men, philosophers, and especially the learned ecclesiastics, were sorely perplexed to account for such a discovery. A problem was placed before them, the solution of which was not to be found in the records of the ancients. On the contrary, it looked as if old-time traditions must give way, the infallibility of revealed knowledge must be called in question, even the holy scriptures must be interpreted anew. Another world, upheaved, as it were, from the depths of the Sea of Darkness, was suddenly placed before them. Strange races, [2] speaking strange tongues, peopled the new land; curious plants covered its surface; animals unknown to science roamed through its immense forests; vast seas separated it from the known world; its boundaries were undefined; its whole character veiled in obscurity. Such was the mystery that, without rule or precedent, they were now required to fathom.

And what were their qualifications to grapple with such a subject? Learning had been almost exclusively the property of the Church, and although from its fold many able writers and profound thinkers had been evolved, yet the teachings of science and the speculations of philosophy were ever held subordinate to the holy scriptures. Now and then it is true some gleams of important truth would flash up in the writings of some philosopher disconnected with the religious orders illuminating the path of intellectual progress, but such writings seldom made any permanent impress upon the literature of the age. It is to the priesthood almost exclusively we have to look for any advancement for many centuries in literature, science, and art. The universally adopted view of the structure of the universe was geocentric, of the world, anthropocentric. To explain such ordinary phenomena as that of day and night, preposterous schemes were invented, like that of Cosmas Indicopleustes, who asserted that in the northern parts of the flat earth there is an immense mountain, behind which the sun passes and thus produces night.[I-1] Any assertion that seemed to clash with preconceived notions of the teachings of holy writ or the writings [3] of the fathers was looked upon with doubt and disfavor. Indeed the bible was regarded as the all-sufficient manual of science, containing all that was necessary to be known, and to inquire further was thought to be prying into the secret things of the most high.[I-2] The learning of the masses consisted not in the acquisition of knowledge, but in the blind and meaningless repetition of prescribed maxims, in forms of rhetoric, in anything except that which would enlighten the mind and impart true wisdom; it was, in short, a systematic course of leading men as far as possible away from the known, and leaving them lost and bewildered in a labyrinth of uncertainty and doubt.[I-3]


When, therefore, the questions arose, whence were these new lands peopled? how came these strange animals and plants to exist on a continent cut off by vast oceans from the rest of the world? the wise men of the time unhesitatingly turned to the sacred scriptures for an answer. These left them no course but to believe that all mankind were descended from one pair. This was a premise that must by no means be disputed. The original home of the first pair was generally supposed to have been situated in Asia Minor; the ancestors of the people found in the New World must consequently have originally come from the Old World, though at what time and by what route was an open question, an answer to which was diligently [4] sought for both in the sacred prophecies and in the historical writings of antiquity.[I-4]

But if the more modern writers on this subject have been less hampered by unanswerable and impassable dogmas; if they have been able to believe that there may be some difficult questions upon which the Bible throws no light; if they have felt themselves free to discuss, without impiety, the possibility of all mankind not having sprung from one pair, their theories are scarcely less wild, their reasoning is but little sounder, their tendency to establish [5] maxims by which any given problem may be solved is no more satisfactory.


Theories in themselves are good things, for they lead us to facts; it is often through the doubtful or the false that we attain the truth; as Darwin says: "False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often long endure; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, as every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path towards error is closed, and the truth is often at the same time opened."[I-5] But the value of inquiry depends much upon the spirit in which it is made, and therefore it is that the manner in which most of the writers who have speculated on the origin of the Americans have conducted their researches, is greatly to be deplored. Their work does not impress one as being a steadfast striving to develop unstable postulates into proven facts, but rather as a reckless rushing, regardless of all obstacles, to a preconceived conclusion. They do not offer a theory as a suggestion of what might possibly be, but as a demonstration founded upon an unassailable basis. Each imagines that he has hit upon the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; he asserts that the Aztecs were of Hebrew descent—that is settled; to prove this he clutches at the lightest straws in the way of analogies, and if the facts obstinately refuse to fit his theory, then—tant pis pour les faits—he warps them till they do fit.

But analogies, even when fairly drawn, are by no means conclusive evidence. So much depends upon the environment of a people, that a similarity in that particular is of itself sufficient to account for most of the resemblances which have been discovered between the customs, religion, and traditions of the Americans, and those of Old World nations.[I-6] [6]

For my own part I have no theory upon the subject—would have no theory. The problem of the origin of the American aborigines is, in my opinion, enveloped in as much obscurity now as it ever was; and when I consider the close proximity of the north-western and north-eastern extremities of America to Asia and Europe; the unthought of and fortuitous circumstances that may at any time have cast any people upon the American coasts; the mighty convulsions that may have changed the whole face of the earth during the uncounted years that man may have dwelt upon its surface; and lastly, the uncertainty, perhaps I might say improbability, of the descent of mankind from one pair;—when I think of all these things it seems to me that the peopling of America may have been accomplished in so many ways that no more hopeless task could be conceived than the endeavor to discover the one particular manner of it.

In the following résumé I wish neither to tear down nor to build up, but simply to give an account of what has been thought and written upon the subject, and to show, with as little criticism as possible, the foundation upon which each theory stands. Of [7] the comparative value of the opinions the reader must be his own judge. Of the value of this discussion of the subject there is this to be said; as a curiosity, showing the color given to mind by its environment, showing the blind and almost frenzied[I-7] efforts of different men of different epochs, creeds, and culture, to fathom a hitherto unfathomable mystery,—this, together with the collateral light thrown upon the subject of aboriginal America, if there be no other advantage in it, will amply repay the investigation.


The earliest writers required three propositions to be taken for granted:[I-8] First, that the entire human race are descended from one original pair, and from Noah through Shem, Ham, and Japheth; second, that America was peopled from one of three sources—Asia, Africa, or Europe; third, that all knowledge arises from one of four sources—knowledge pure and absolute, from a knowledge of causes; opinion more or less uncertain; divine faith, sure and infallible, based upon the holy scriptures as interpreted by the Church; human faith, dependent upon the statements of men. The first of these four sources of knowledge throws no light upon the subject; the third is equally useless here, since the scriptures are silent after the time of Noah, though, as we shall presently see, huge endeavors have been made to make them speak; as for the fourth, Europeans, even if they conjectured the possible existence of an undiscovered continent, were certain that it was not inhabited,[I-9] while the Americans were entirely [8] ignorant of the part of the world from which they sprang.


The first of the three propositions mentioned above, namely, that all mankind are descended from one original pair, seems to have been taken for granted by almost all the writers, ancient and modern, who have had some theory to sustain respecting the origin of the Americans.[I-10] The question of the unity of the human race, as considered without bias by modern scientific men, remains, however, undetermined; though it may be fairly said that the best [9] of the argument is on the side of those who maintain the primitive diversity of man. It happens that those who are most earnest in upholding the biblical account of the creation, and consequently the unity of man, must, to be consistent, also uphold the biblical system of chronology, which teaches that man has not existed on the earth for more than six thousand years. This is unfortunate, since it is evident that the higher we believe the antiquity of man to be, the easier it is for us to admit the unity of origin of the strongly marked varieties that now exist.[I-11]

The honor of peopling America has frequently been given to Noah and his immediate descendants. But even were we sure that the tradition recorded in the Bible of Noah's strange doings is accurate in every respect, the narrative does not throw any definite light upon his subsequent proceedings, and we must invent wonders to add to wonders if we make anything more out of it. The subject cannot be discussed intelligently, [10] but I will give some of the opinions that have been held on the subject.

Noah's ark, says Ulloa, gave rise to a number of such constructions; and the experience gained during the patriarch's aimless voyage emboldened his descendants to seek strange lands in the same manner. Driven to America and the neighboring islands by winds and currents, they found it difficult to return, and so remained and peopled the land. He thinks the custom of eating raw fish at the present day among some American tribes, was acquired during these long sea voyages. That they came by sea is evident, for the north, if, indeed, the continent be connected with the old world, must be impassable by reason of intense cold.[I-12] Ulloa, although he would not for a moment allow that there could have been more than one general creation, does not attempt to account for the presence of strange animals and plants in America; and I may observe here that this difficulty is similarly avoided by all writers of his class.[I-13] Lescarbot [11] cannot see why "Noah should have experienced any difficulty in reaching America by sea, when Solomon's ships made voyages lasting three years."[I-14]


Villagutierre,[I-15] on the contrary, thinks it more probable that Noah's sons came to America by land; an opinion also held by Thompson, who believes, however, that the continents were not disconnected until some time after the flood, by which time America was peopled from the Old World.[I-16] Orrio remarks that many have supposed that Noah, in order to be able to people the New World as well as the Old, must, during his three hundred and fifty years of post-diluvian life, have had more children than are mentioned in the bible; but in his opinion there was no necessity for more progenitors, since one woman can in two hundred and ten years become the ancestor of one million six hundred and forty-seven thousand and eighty-six persons. He thinks that Ham was the father of the American race.[I-17] Montanus considers it quite in accordance with Noah's character and mission that he should have attended to the peopling of the world during his long life.[I-18] L'Estrange is of opinion that Shem and his children, who were not among the builders of Babel, moved gradually eastward, and were, further, forced in that direction even to America, by the progeny of Japheth.[I-19] We read in one of the Abbé Domenech's works,[I-20] that Ophir, one of Noah's descendants, went to Peru and settled there, [12] ruling those who went with him. Sigüenza and Sister Agnes de la Cruz, conjectured that the Americans were descended from Naphtuhim, the son of Mizraim and grandson of Ham, whose descendants left Egypt for America shortly after the confusion of tongues.[I-21] Piñeda thinks the same.[I-22] Clavigero considers it proven by the native flood-myths and traditions of foreign origin that the Americans are descendants of Noah. He quotes the tradition of Votan,[I-23] who is declared to have been closely connected with the Babel-builders, the originator of that enterprise being his uncle.[I-24]


Let us see, now, what these flood-myths are. This I may say first, however; some of them are doubtless spurious, and few have escaped the renovating touch of the Spanish priests and chroniclers, who throughout their writings seem to think it their bounden duty to make the ideas and history of the New World correspond to those of the Old. And what the old writers have added or invented, the modern writers are, in most cases, ready and glad to accept as genuine, without doubt or question. "It is impossible," says Viscount Kingsborough, "when reading what Mexican Mythology records of the war in heaven, and of the fall of Zontemonque and the other rebellious spirits; of the creation of light by the word of Tonacatecutli, and of the division of the waters; of the sin of Yztlacoliuhqui, and his blindness and nakedness; of the temptation of Suchiquecal, and her disobedience in gathering roses from a tree, and the consequent misery and disgrace of herself and all her posterity,—not to recognise Scriptural analogies. But the Mexican tradition of the Deluge is that which [13] bears the most unequivocal marks of having been derived from a Hebrew source."[I-25]

We have seen in a preceding volume how, according to the common version of the Mexican flood-myth, Coxcox and his wife Xochiquetzal were the only human beings who escaped from the great deluge which covered the face of the earth in the Age of Water. How, when the waters went down, the ark in which they had saved themselves—the hollow trunk of a bald cypress—rested upon the Peak of Culhuacan; and how the dumb children that were born to the rescued pair were taught many languages by a dove. We have also read the reputed Tarasco legend of Tezpi, which so closely resembles the biblical legend of the deluge that it cannot be discussed as a native tradition at all, but must be regarded simply as the invention of some Spanish writer who thought it his mission to show that the Hebrew traditions were familiar to the Americans.[I-26] In Guatemala, among the Miztecs, and in Nicaragua there were also traditions of great and destructive deluges.[I-27] The Pápagos tell of a mighty flood that destroyed all life on the earth, except the hero-god Montezuma and his friend the Coyote who had foretold the deluge. Each of these made for himself an ark, and when the waters subsided and they met on the small patch of dry land that first appeared, Montezuma dispatched the Coyote four times to find out exactly how the sea lay.[I-28] Very similar is the Pima legend which relates how the prophet who would not heed the thrice repeated warnings of the Eagle was destroyed by a [14] flood, and how Szeukha, the son of the Creator, saved himself by floating on a ball of gum or resin.[I-29] The Mattoles of California regard Taylor Peak as the point at which their forefathers took refuge from a destructive flood.[I-30] Other Californian tribes have a tradition of a deluge from which the Coyote, with his usual good-fortune, was the only living thing that escaped, if we except an eagle who was miraculously formed from a single feather that floated on the face of the waters.[I-31] Lake Tahoe was formed by a flood which destroyed all mankind but a very small remnant.[I-32] The Thlinkeets relate that many persons escaped the great deluge by taking refuge in a great floating building, which, when the waters fell, grounded upon a rock and was split in twain. From this moment men spake in various tongues, for there remained in one fragment of the divided ark those whose descendants speak the Thlinkeet language, and in the other those whose descendants employ a different idiom.[I-33] The Chipewyan deluge covered all the earth except the high mountain-tops, upon which many of the people saved themselves.[I-34] The Isthmians believed that the world was peopled by a man who with his wife and children escaped the great flood. The Peruvians had several flood-myths. One of them relates that the whole face of the earth was changed by a great deluge, attended by an extraordinary eclipse of the sun which lasted five days. All living things were destroyed except one man, a shepherd, with his family and flocks. It happened in this wise. Some time before the flood this shepherd, while tending his flock of llamas, remarked that the animals appeared to be oppressed with sadness, and that they passed the whole night in attentively [15] watching the course of the stars. Filled with amazement, he interrogated the llamas as to the cause of their concern. Directing his attention to a group of six stars, massed closely together, they answered that that was a sign that the world would shortly be destroyed by a deluge, and counseled him, if he wished to escape the universal destruction, to take refuge with his family and flocks on the top of a neighboring mountain. Acting upon this advice, the shepherd hastily collected his llamas and children and proceeded with them to the summit of mount Ancasmarca, where a crowd of other animals had already sought safety. The warning had not come a moment too soon, for scarcely had they reached the mountain-top, when the sea burst its bounds and with a terrible roaring rushed over the land. But as the waters rose higher and higher, filling the valleys and covering the plains, behold, the mountain of refuge rose with it, floating upon its surface like a ship upon the waves. This lasted five days, during which time the sun hid himself and the earth was wrapped in darkness. On the fifth day the waters began to subside, and the stars shone out on the desolate world, which was eventually re-peopled by the descendants of the shepherd of Ancasmarca.


According to another Peruvian legend, two brothers escaped from a great deluge which overwhelmed the world in much the same manner, by ascending a mountain which floated upon the flood. When the waters had retired, they found themselves alone in the world; and having consumed all their provisions, they went down into the valleys to seek for more food. Whether they were successful in their search, the tradition does not say; but if not, their surprise must indeed have been agreeable when on returning to the hut which they had built on the mountain, they found food ready prepared for them by unknown hands. Curious to know who their benefactor could be, they took counsel together and [16] finally agreed that one should hide himself in the hut, while the other went into the valley. The brother who remained concealed himself carefully, and his patience was soon rewarded by seeing two aras with the faces of women,[I-35] who immediately set about preparing a meal of bread and meats. But it was not long before the aras became aware of the presence of the concealed brother, and they instantly essayed flight; but the man seized one of them, and she afterwards became his wife. By her he had six children, three sons and three daughters, from whose union sprang the tribe of the Cañaris, whose descendants to this day hold the ara in great veneration.[I-36]

"The Peruvians were acquainted with the Deluge, and believed that the rainbow was the sign that the earth would not again be destroyed by water." This somewhat startling announcement is made by Lord Kingsborough, and he shows that there can be no reasonable doubt on the subject in an eminently characteristic manner. "This is plain," he says, "from the speech which Mango Capac, the reputed founder of the Peruvian empire, addressed to his companions on beholding the rainbow rising from a hill; which is thus recorded by Balboa in the ninth chapter of the third part of his Miscellanea Antarctica: 'They traveled on until a mountain, at present named Guanacauri, presented itself to their view, when on a certain morning, they beheld the rainbow rising above the mountain, with one extremity resting upon it, when Manco Capac exclaimed [17] to his companions, This is a propitious sign that the earth will not be again destroyed by water.' ... Proof having been afforded in the passage quoted from the History of Balboa, that the Peruvians were acquainted with the history of the rainbow, as given in the ninth chapter of Genesis, it may be interesting to add, that according to the account of an anonymous writer, they believed the rainbow was not only a passive sign that the earth would not be destroyed by a second deluge, but an active instrument to prevent the recurrence of such a catastrophe: the latter curious notion proceeded upon the assumption that as the water of the sea (which, like the Jews, they believed to encircle the whole earth) would have a tendency to rise after excessive falls of rain, so the pressure of the extremities of the rainbow upon its surface would prevent its exceeding its proper level."[I-37]


Many of these flood-myths are supplemented with an account of an attempt to provide against a second deluge, by building a tower of refuge, resembling more or less closely the biblical legend of the tower of Babel. Thus a Cholultec legend relates that all the giants who inhabited the country, save seven, were destroyed by a great flood, and adds that when the waters were assuaged, one of these seven began to build an artificial mountain. But the anger of the gods was aroused, and they slew many of the builders, so the work was stopped.[I-38] In like manner, in the Pápago legend to which I have referred, Montezuma, after he and the Coyote had been saved from the flood, so incensed the Great Spirit by his ingratitude and presumption, that an insect was sent flying to the east to bring the Spaniards, who, when they came, utterly destroyed Montezuma. After the deluge spoken of in the Lake Tahoe myth, the few who escaped built up a great [18] tower, the strong making the weak do the work. This, it is distinctly stated, they did that they might have a place of refuge in case of another flood. But the Great Spirit was filled with anger at their presumption, and amidst thunderings and lightnings, and showers of molten metal, he seized the oppressors and cast them into a cavern.[I-39]

These myths have led many writers to believe that the Americans had a knowledge of the tower of Babel, while some think that they are the direct descendants of certain of the builders of that tower, who, after the confusion of tongues, wandered over the earth until they reached America.[I-40]

Many of the tribes had traditions through which they claim to have originally come from various directions to their ultimate settling-place in America. It will be readily seen that such traditions, even when genuine, are far too vague and uncertain to be of any value as evidence in any theory of origin. To each tribe its own little territory was the one important point in the universe; they had no conception of the real size of the world; most of them supposed that after a few days' journey the traveler could if he chose jump off the edge of the earth into nothingness. What their traditions referred to as a 'country in the far east,' would probably mean a prairie two hundred miles away in that direction. Nevertheless, as these traditions have been thought to support this or that theory, it will be well to briefly review them here.[I-41] [19]


The tradition of the Toltecs regarding their travels before they reached Huehue Tlapallan has been the theme of much speculation, especially as connected with their descent from the Babel builders. Ixtlilxochitl writes of this tradition as follows: They say that the world was created in the year Ce Tecpatl, [20] and this time until the deluge they call Atonatiuh, which means the age of the sun of water, because the world was destroyed by the deluge. It is found in the histories of the Toltecs that this age and first world, as they term it, lasted seven hundred and sixteen years; that man and all the earth were destroyed by great showers and by lightnings from heaven, so that nothing remained, and the most lofty mountains were covered up and submerged to the depth of caxtolmoletltli, or fifteen cubits;[I-42] and here they add other fables of how men came to multiply again from the few who escaped the destruction in a [21] toptlipetlacali; which word very nearly signifies a closed chest; and how, after multiplying, the men built a zacuali of great height, and by this is meant a very high tower, in which to take refuge when the world should be a second time destroyed. After this their tongue became confused, and, not understanding each other, they went to different parts of the world. The Toltecs, seven in number, with their wives, who understood each other's speech, after crossing great lands and seas, and undergoing many hardships, finally arrived in America, which they found to be a good land, and fit for habitation; and they say that they wandered one hundred and four years in different parts of the earth before they arrived at Huehue Tlapallan, which they did in the year Ce Tecpatl, five hundred and twenty years—or five ages—after the flood.[I-43]


The Quiché traditions speak of a country in the far east,[I-44] to reach which immense tracts of land and water must be crossed. There, they say, they lived a quiet but uncivilized life, paying no tribute, and speaking a common language. There they worshiped no graven images, but observed with respect the rising sun and poured forth their invocations to the morning star. The principal names of the families and tribes at that time were, Tepeu, Oloman, Cohah, Quenech, and Ahau.[I-45] Afterwards, continue the traditions, they left their primitive country under the leadership of certain chiefs, and finally after a long journey reached a place called Tula. Where this Tula was is uncertain, but Brasseur de Bourbourg places it on the 'other side of the sea,' and asserts that it was the region from which the wanderers came, from time to [22] time, to the north-western coasts of America, and thence southwards to Anáhuac and Central America.[I-46]

The Yucatecs are said to have had a tradition that they came originally from the far east, passing through the sea, which God made dry for them.[I-47] An Okanagan myth relates that they were descended from a white couple who had been sent adrift from an island in the eastern ocean, and who floated ashore on this land, which has grown larger since then. Their long exposure on the ocean bronzed them to the color of which their descendants now are.[I-48] The Chilians assert that their ancestors came from the west. The Chepewyans have a tradition that they came from a distant land, where a bad people lived, and had to cross a large narrow lake, filled with islands, where ice and snow continually existed.[I-49] The Algonquins preserve a tradition of a foreign origin and a sea voyage. For a long time they offered an annual thank-offering in honor of their happy arrival in America.[I-50] According to Careri, the Olmec traditions relate that they came by sea from the east.[I-51]


The native traditions concerning the several culture-heroes of America have also been brought forward by a few writers to show that American civilization was exotic and not indigenous; but, though these traditions are far more worthy of serious consideration, and present a far more fascinating field for study than those which relate merely to the origin or travels of the people themselves, yet, strangely enough, they seem to have excited less comment and speculation than any of those far-fetched and trivial analogies with which all origin-theories abound. [23]

Although bearing various names and appearing in different countries, the American culture-heroes all present the same general characteristics. They are all described as white, bearded men, generally clad in long robes; appearing suddenly and mysteriously upon the scene of their labors, they at once set about improving the people by instructing them in useful and ornamental arts, giving them laws, exhorting them to practice brotherly love and other Christian virtues, and introducing a milder and better form of religion; having accomplished their mission, they disappear as mysteriously and unexpectedly as they came; and finally, they are apotheosized and held in great reverence by a grateful posterity. In such guise or on such mission did Quetzalcoatl appear in Cholula, Votan in Chiapas, Wixepecocha in Oajaca, Zamná, and Cukulcan with his nineteen disciples, in Yucatan, Gucumatz in Guatemala,[I-52] Viracocha in Peru,[I-53] Sumé[I-54] and Paye-Tome[I-55] in Brazil, the mysterious [24] apostle mentioned by Rosales, in Chili,[I-56] and Bochica in Columbia.[I-57] Peruvian legends speak of a nation of giants who came by sea, waged war with the natives, and erected splendid edifices, the ruins of many of which still remain.[I-58] Besides these, there are numerous vague traditions of settlements or nations of white men, who lived apart from the other people of the country, and were possessed of an advanced civilization.


The most celebrated of these are Quetzalcoatl and Votan. The speculations which have been indulged [25] in regarding the identity of these mysterious personages, are wild in the extreme. Thus Quetzalcoatl has been identified by some with St Thomas, by others with the Messiah. Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora[I-59] and Luis Becerra Tanco,[I-60] in support of their opinion that he was no other than the apostle, allege that the hero-god's proper name Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl closely resembles in sound and signification that of Thomas, surnamed Didymus; for to in the Mexican name, is an abbreviation of Thomas, to which pilcin, meaning 'son' or 'disciple,' is added; while the meaning of Quetzalcoatl is exactly the same as that of the Greek name Didymus, 'a twin,' being compounded of quetzalli a plume of green feathers, metaphorically signifying anything precious, and coatl, a serpent, metaphorically meaning one of two twins. Boturini tells us that he possessed certain historical memoranda concerning the preaching of the gospel in America by the 'glorious apostle' St Thomas. Another proof in his possession was a painting of a cross which he discovered near the hill of Tianguiztepetl, which cross was about a cubit in size and painted by the hands of angels a beautiful blue color, with various devices, among which were five white balls on an azure shield, 'without doubt emblems of the five precious wounds of our Savior;' and, what is more marvelous, although this relic had stood in an exposed position from the days of heathenism up to the time when it was discovered, yet the inclemencies of the weather had not been able to affect its gorgeous hues in the least. But this is not all. Boturini also possessed a painting of another cross, which was drawn, by means of a machine made expressly for the purpose, out of an inaccessible cave in Lower Mizteca, where it had been deposited in the pagan times. Its hiding-place was discovered by angelic music which issued from the mouth of the cave on every vigil of the holy apostle. [26] Besides this, the saint has left the tracks of his holy feet in many parts of New Spain. There is also a tradition that at the time of his departure he left a prophecy that in a certain year his sons would come from the east to preach among the natives; which prophecy, Boturini, following the track of the native calendars, discovered to have been 'verified to the letter.'[I-61] After this who can doubt that St Thomas preached the gospel in America?

Foremost—as being most modern—among those who have thought it possible to identify Quetzalcoatl with the Messiah, stands Lord Kingsborough, a writer and enthusiast of whom I shall speak further when I come to the supposed Hebraic origin of the Americans. To this point he has devoted an incredible amount of labor and research, to give any adequate idea of which would require at least more space than I think, as a question of fact, it deserves. In the first place it is founded mainly upon obscure passages in the Prophet and other parts of Holy Writ, as compared with the equally obscure meanings of American names, religious rites, ancient prophecies, conceptions of divinity, etc. Now, the day is past when the earnest seeker after facts need be either afraid or ashamed to assert that he cannot accept [27] the scriptures as an infallible authority upon the many burning questions which continually thrust themselves, as it were, upon the present generation for immediate and fair consideration; nor need his respect for traditions and opinions long held sacred be lessened one iota by such an assertion. It is needless to state that the analogies which Lord Kingsborough finds in America in support of his theory are based upon no sounder foundation.[I-62]


Votan, another mysterious personage, closely resembling Quetzalcoatl in many points, was the supposed founder of the Maya civilization. He is said to have been a descendant of Noah and to have assisted at the building of the Tower of Babel. After the confusion of tongues he led a portion of the dispersed [28] people to America. There he established the kingdom of Xibalba and built the city of Palenque.[I-63]

Let us turn now from these wild speculations, with which volumes might be filled, but which are practically worthless, to the special theories of origin, which are, however, for the most part, scarcely more satisfactory.

Beginning with eastern Asia, we find that the Americans, or in some instances their civilization only, are supposed to have come originally from China, Japan, India, Tartary, Polynesia. Three principal routes are proposed by which they may have come, namely: Bering Strait, the Aleutian Islands, and Polynesia. The route taken by no means depends upon the original habitat of the emigrants; thus the people of India may have emigrated to the north of Asia, and crossed Bering Strait, or the Chinese may have passed from one to the other of the Aleutian Islands until they reached the western continent. Bering Strait is, however, the most widely advocated, and perhaps most probable, line of communication. The narrow strait would scarcely hinder any migration either east or west, especially as it is frequently frozen over in winter. At all events it is certain that from time immemorial constant intercourse has been kept up between the natives on either side of the strait; indeed, there can be no doubt that they are one and the same people. Several writers, however, favor the Aleutian route.[I-64] [29]


But there is a problem which the possibility of neither of these routes will help to solve: How did the animals reach America? It is not to be supposed that ferocious beasts and venomous reptiles were brought over by the immigrants, nor is it more probable that they swam across the ocean. Of course such a question is raised only by those who believe that all living creatures are direct descendants of the animals saved from the flood in Noah's ark; but such is the belief of the great majority of our authors. The easiest way to account for this diffusion of animals is to believe that the continents were at one time united, though this is also asserted, with great show of probability, by authors who do not think it necessary to find a solid roadway in order to account for the presence of animals in America, or even to believe that the fauna of the New World need ever in any way have come from the Old World. Again, some writers are inclined to wonder how the tropical animals found in America could have reached the continent via the polar regions, and find it necessary to connect America and Africa to account for this.[I-65] [30]

The theory that America was peopled, or, at least partly peopled, from eastern Asia, is certainly more widely advocated than any other, and, in my opinion, is moreover based upon a more reasonable and logical foundation than any other. It is true, the Old World may have been originally peopled from the New, and it is also true that the Americans may have had an autochthonic origin, but, if we must suppose that they have originated on another continent, then it is to Asia that we must first look for proofs of such an origin, at least as far as the people of north-western America are concerned. "It appears most evident to me," says the learned Humboldt, "that the monuments, methods of computing time, systems of cosmogony, and many myths of America, offer striking analogies with the ideas of eastern Asia—analogies which indicate an ancient communication, and are not simply the result of that uniform condition in which all nations are found in the dawn of civilization."[I-66] Prescott's conclusions are, first: "That the coincidences are sufficiently strong to authorize a belief, that the civilization of Anahuac was, in some degree, influenced by that of Eastern Asia. And, secondly, that the discrepancies [31] are such as to carry back the communication to a very remote period; so remote, that this foreign influence has been too feeble to interfere materially with the growth of what may be regarded, in its essential features, as a peculiar and indigenous civilization."[I-67] "If, as I believe," writes Dr Wilson, "the continent was peopled from Asia, it was necessarily by younger nations. But its civilization was of native growth, and so was far younger than that of Egypt."[I-68] That "immigration was continuous for ages from the east of Asia," is thought by Col. Smith to be "sufficiently indicated by the pressure of nations, so far as it is known in America, being always from the north-west coasts, eastward and southward, to the beginning of the thirteenth century."[I-69] "That America was peopled from Asia, the cradle of the human race, can no longer be doubted," says Dupaix; "but how and when they came is a problem that cannot be solved."[I-70] Emigration from eastern Asia, of which there can be no doubt, only "took place," says Tschudi, "in the latter part of the fifth century of the Christian era; and while it explains many facts in America which long perplexed our archæologists, it by no means aids us in determining the origin of our earliest population."[I-71] "After making every proper allowance," [32] says Gallatin, "I cannot see any possible reason that should have prevented those, who after the dispersion of mankind moved towards the east and northeast, from having reached the extremities of Asia, and passed over to America, within five hundred years after the flood. However small may have been the number of those first emigrants, an equal number of years would have been more than sufficient to occupy, in their own way, every part of America."[I-72] There are, however, writers who find grave objections to an Asiatic origin, the principal of which are the absence of the horse, the "paucity and the poverty of the lactiferous animals, and the consequent absence of pastoral nations in the New World." [33] For, adds a writer in the Quarterly Review, "we can hardly suppose that any of the pastoral hordes of Tartars would emigrate across the strait of Behring or the Aleutian Islands without carrying with them a supply of those cattle on which their whole subsistence depended."[I-73]


The theory that western America was originally peopled by the Chinese, or at least that the greater part of the New World civilization may be attributed to this people, is founded mainly on a passage in the work of the Chinese historian Li yan tcheou, who lived at the commencement of the seventh century of our era. In this passage it is stated that a Chinese expedition discovered a country lying twenty thousand li to the east of Tahan, which was called Fusang.[I-74] Tahan is generally supposed to be Kamchatka, and Fusang the north-west coast of America, California, or Mexico. As so much depends upon what Li yan tcheou has said about the mysterious country, it will be well to give his account in full; as translated by Klaproth, it is as follows: In the first of the years young yuan, in the reign of Fi ti of the dynasty of Thsi, a cha men (buddhist priest), named Hoeï chin, arrived at King tcheou from the country of Fusang; [34] of this land he says: Fusang is situated twenty thousand li[I-75] to the east of the country of Tahan, and an equal distance to the east of China. In this place are many trees called fusang,[I-76] whose leaves resemble those of the Thoung (Bignonia tomentosa), and the first sprouts those of the bamboo. These serve the people of the country for food. The fruit is red and shaped like a pear. The bark is prepared in the same manner as hemp, and manufactured into cloth and flowered stuffs. The wood serves for the construction of houses, for in this country there are neither towns nor walled habitations. The inhabitants have a system of writing and make paper from the bark of the fusang. They possess neither arms nor troops and they never wage war. According to the laws of the kingdom, there are two prisons, one in the north, the other in the south; those who have committed trifling faults are sent to the latter, those guilty of graver crimes to the former, and detained there until by mitigation of their sentence they are removed to the south.[I-77] The male and female prisoners are allowed to marry with each other and their children are sold as slaves, the boys when they are eight years of age, the girls when they are nine. The prisoners never go forth from their jail alive. When a man of superior mark commits a crime, the [35] people assemble in great numbers, seat themselves opposite the criminal, who is placed in a ditch, partake of a banquet, and take leave of the condemned person as of one who is about to die. Cinders are then heaped about the doomed man. For slight faults, the criminal alone is punished, but for a great crime his children and grandchildren suffer with him; in some extraordinary cases his sin is visited upon his descendants to the seventh generation.

The name of the king of this country is Yit khi; the nobles of the first rank are called Toui lou; those of the second, 'little' Toui lou; and those of the third, Na tu cha. When the king goes out, he is accompanied by tambours and horns. He changes the color of his dress at certain times; in the years of the cycle kia and y, it is blue; in the years ping and ting, it is red; in the years ou and ki, it is yellow; in the years keng and sin, it is white; and lastly, in those years which have the characters jin and kouei, it is black.

The cattle have long horns, and carry burdens, some as much as one hundred and twenty Chinese pounds. Vehicles, in this country, are drawn by oxen, horses, or deer. The deer are raised in the same manner that cattle are raised in China, and cheese is made from the milk of the females.[I-78] A kind of red pear is found there which is good at all seasons of the year. Grape-vines are also plentiful.[I-79] There is no iron, but copper is met with. Gold and silver are not valued. Commerce is free, and the people are not given to haggling about prices.

This is the manner of their marriages: When a [36] man wishes to wed a girl, he erects his cabin just before the door of hers. Every morning and evening he waters and weeds the ground, and this he continues to do for a whole year. If by the end of that time the girl has not given her consent to their union, his suit is lost and he moves away; but if she is willing, he marries her. The marriage ceremony is almost the same as that observed in China. On the death of their father or mother, children fast for seven days; grandparents are mourned for by a fast of five days, and other relations by a fast of three days' duration. Images of the spirits of the dead[I-80] are placed on a kind of pedestal, and prayed to morning and evening.[I-81] Mourning garments are not worn.

The king does not meddle with affairs of government until he has been three years upon the throne.

In former times the religion of Buddha was unknown in this country, but in the fourth of the years ta ming, in the reign of Hiao wou ti of the Soung dynasty (A.D. 458), five pi khieou or missionaries, from the country Ki pin, went to Fusang and there diffused the Buddhist faith. They carried with them sacred books and images, they introduced the ritual, and inculcated monastic habits of life. By these means they changed the manners of the people.

Such is the account given by the historian Li yan tcheou of the mysterious land. Klaproth, in his critique on Deguignes' theory that America was known to the Chinese, uses the distances given by the monk Hoeï chin to show that Fusang, where the laws and institutions of Buddha were introduced, was Japan, and that Tahan, situated to the west of the Vinland of Asia, as Humboldt aptly calls Fusang,[I-82] was not [37] Kamchatka but the island of Tarakai, wrongly named on our maps, Saghalien. The circumstance that there were grape-vines and horses in the discovered country is alone sufficient, he says, to show that it was not situated on the American continent, since both these objects were given to the New World by the Spaniards. M. Gaubil also contradicts Deguignes' theory. "Deguignes' paper," he writes to one of his confrères in Paris, "proves nothing; by a similar course of reasoning it might be shown that the Chinese reached France, Italy, or Poland."[I-83]


Certain allusions to a Chinese colony, made by Marco Polo and Gonzalo Mendoza, led Horn, Forster, and other writers to suppose that the Chinese, driven from their country by the Tartars about the year 1270, embarked to the number of one hundred thousand in a fleet of one thousand vessels, and having arrived on the coast of America, there founded the Mexican empire. As Warden justly remarks, however, it is not probable that an event of such importance would be passed over in silence by the Chinese historians, who rendered a circumstantial account of the destruction of their fleet by the Tartars about the year 1278 of our era, as well as of the reduction of their country by the same people.[I-84]

The strongest proof upon which the Chinese theory rests, is that of physical resemblance, which, on the extreme north-western coast of America, is certainly very strong.[I-85] I think there can be no doubt of the [38] presence of Mongol blood in the veins of the inhabitants of that region, though it is probably Tartar or Japanese rather than Chinese. Indeed, when we consider that the distance across Bering Strait is all that intervenes between the two continents, that this is at times completely frozen over, thus practically connecting America and Asia, and that, both by sea and by ice, the inhabitants on both sides of the strait are known to have had communication with each other from time immemorial, a lack of resemblance, physical and otherwise, would be far more strange [39] than its presence. In spite of what may be said to the contrary, there can be no doubt that the Mongolian type grows less and less distinct as we go south from Alaska, though, once grant the Mongols a footing on the continent, and the influence of their religion, languages, or customs may, for all we know, have extended even to Cape Horn.


Analogies have been found, or thought to exist, between the languages of several of the American tribes, and that of the Chinese. But it is to Mexico, Central America, and, as we shall hereafter see, to Peru, that we must look for these linguistic affinities, and not to the north-western coasts, where we should naturally expect to find them most evident.[I-86] The similarity between the Otomí and Chinese has been remarked by several writers.[I-87] A few customs are [40] mentioned as being common to both Chinese and Americans, but they show absolutely nothing, and are scarcely worth recounting. For instance, Bossu, speaking of the Natchez, says, "they never pare their finger nails, and it is well known that in China long nails on the right hand are a mark of nobility."[I-88] "It appears plainly" to Mr Carver "that a great similarity between the Indian and Chinese is conspicuous in that particular custom of shaving or plucking off the hair, and leaving only a small tuft on the crown of the head."[I-89] M. du Pratz has "good grounds to believe" that the Mexicans came originally from China or Japan, especially when he considers "their reserved and uncommunicative disposition, which to this day prevails among the people of the eastern parts of Asia."[I-90] Architectural analogy there is none.[I-91]


The mythological evidence upon which this and other east-Asiatic theories of origin rest, is the similarity between the more advanced religions of America and Buddhism. Humboldt thinks he sees in the snake cut in pieces the famous serpent Kaliya or Kalinaga, conquered by Vishnu, when he took the form [41] of Krishna, and in the Mexican Tonatiuh, the Hindu Krishna, sung of in the Bhagavata-Purana.[I-92] Count Stolberg,[I-93] is of opinion that the two great religious sects of India, the worshipers of Vishnu and those of Siva, have spread over America, and that the Peruvian cult is that of Vishnu when he appears in the form of Krishna, or the sun, while the sanguinary religion of the Mexicans is analogous to that of Siva, in the character of the Stygian Jupiter. The wife of Siva, the black goddess Kali or Bhavani, symbol of death and destruction, wears, according to Hindu statues and pictures, a necklace of human skulls. The Vedas ordain human sacrifices in her honor. The ancient cult of Kali, continues Humboldt, presents, without doubt, a marked resemblance to that of Mictlancihuatl, the Mexican goddess of hell; "but in studying the history of the peoples of Anáhuac, one is tempted to regard these coincidences as purely accidental. One is not justified in supposing that there must have been communication between all semi-barbarous nations who worship the sun, or offer up human beings in sacrifice."[I-94] [42]


Humboldt, who inclines strongly toward the belief that there has been communication between America and southern Asia, is at a loss to account for the total absence on the former continent of the phallic symbols which play such an important part in the worship of India.[I-95] But he remarks that M. Langlès[I-96] observes that in India the Vaichnava, or votaries of Vishnu, have a horror of the emblem of the productive force, adored in the temples of Siva and his wife Bhavani, goddess of abundance. "May not we suppose," he adds, "that among the Buddhists [43] exiled to the north-east of Asia, there was also a sect that rejected the phallic cult, and that it is this purified Buddhism of which we find some slight traces among the American peoples."[I-97] I think I have succeeded in showing, however, in a previous volume that very distinct traces of phallic worship have been found in America.[I-98] An ornament bearing some resemblance to an elephant's trunk, found on some of the ruined buildings and images in America, chiefly at Uxmal, has been thought by some writers to support the theory of a south-Asiatic origin. Others have thought that this hook represents the elongated snout of the tapir, an animal common in Central America, and held sacred in some parts. The resemblance to either trunk or snout can be traced, however, only with the aid of a very lively imagination, and the point seems to me unworthy of serious discussion.[I-99] The same must be said of attempts [44] to trace the mound-builders to Hindustan,[I-100] not because communication between America and southern Asia is impossible, but because something more is needed to base a theory of such communication upon than the bare fact that there were mounds in one country and mounds in the other.

It is very positively asserted by several authors that the civilization of Peru was of Mongolian origin.[I-101] It is not, however, supposed to have been brought from the north-western coasts of America, or to have come to this continent by any of the more practicable routes of communication, such as Bering Strait or the Aleutian Islands. In this instance the introduction of foreign culture was the result of disastrous accident.


In the thirteenth century, the Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan, sent a formidable armament against Japan. The expedition failed, and the fleet was scattered by a violent tempest. Some of the ships, it is said, were cast upon the coast of Peru, and their crews are supposed to have founded the mighty empire of the Incas, conquered three centuries later by Pizarro. Mr John Ranking, who leads the van of theorists in this direction, has written a goodly volume upon this [45] subject, which certainly, if read by itself, ought to convince the reader as satisfactorily that America was settled by Mongols, as Kingsborough's work that it was reached by the Jews, or Jones' argument that the Tyrians had a hand in its civilization.

That a Mongol fleet was sent against Japan, and that it was dispersed by a storm, is matter of history, though historians differ as to the manner of occurrence and date of the event; but that any of the distressed ships were driven upon the coast of Peru can be but mere conjecture, since no news of such an arrival ever reached Asia, and, what is more important, no record of the deliverance of their fathers, no memories of the old mother-country from which they had been cut off so suddenly, seemingly no knowledge, even, of Asia, were preserved by the Peruvians. Granted that the crews of the wrecked ships were but a handful compared with the aboriginal population they came among, that they only taught what they knew and did not people the country, still, the sole foundation of the theory is formed of analogous customs and physical appearance, showing that their influence and infusion of blood must have been very widely extended. If, when they arrived, they found the natives in a savage condition, as has been stated, this influence must, indeed, have been all-pervading; and it is ridiculous to suppose that the Mongol father imparted to his children a knowledge of the arts and customs of Asia, without impressing upon their minds the story of his shipwreck and the history of his native country, about which all Mongols are so precise.

But our theorists scorn to assign the parts of teachers to the wrecked Mongolians. Immediately after their arrival they gave kings to the country, and established laws. Ranking narrates the personal history and exploits of all these kings, or Incas, and even goes so far as to give a steel-engraved portrait of each; but then he also gives a "description of two [46] living unicorns in Africa." The name of the first Inca was Mango, or Manco, which, says Ranking, was also the name of the brother and predecessor of Kublai Khan, he who sent out the expedition against Japan. The first Inca of Peru, he believes was the son of Kublai Khan, and refers the reader to his "portrait of Manco Capac,[I-102] that he may compare it with the description of Kublai," given by Marco Polo. The wife of Manco Capac was named Coya Mama Oella Huaco; she was also called Mamamchic, "as the mother of her relations and subjects." Purchas mentions a queen in the country of Sheromogula whose name was Manchika.[I-103] Thus, putting two and two together, Ranking arrives at the conclusion that "the names of Mango and his wife are so like those in Mongolia, that we may fairly presume them to be the same."[I-104]


Let us now briefly review some other analogies discovered by this writer. The natives of South America had little or no beard, the Mongols had also little hair on the face. The Llatu, or head-dress of the Incas had the appearance of a garland, the front being decorated with a flesh-colored tuft or tassel, and that of the hereditary prince being yellow; it was surmounted by two feathers taken from a sacred bird. Here again we are referred to the portraits of the Incas and to those of Tamerlane and Tehanghir, two Asiatic princes, "both descended from Genghis Khan." The similarity between the head-dresses, is, we are told, "striking, if allowance be made for the difficulty the Incas would experience in procuring suitable muslin for the turban." The plumes are supposed to be in some way connected with the sacred owl of the Mongols, and yellow is the color of the imperial family [47] in China. The sun was held an especial object of adoration, as it "has been the peculiar god of the Moguls, from the earliest times." The Peruvians regarded Pachacamac as the Sovereign Creator; Camac-Hya was the name of a Hindu goddess; haylli was the burden of every verse of the songs composed in praise of the Sun and the Incas. "Ogus, Ghengis' ancestor, at one year of age, miraculously pronounced the word Allah! Allah! which was the immediate work of God, who was pleased that his name should be glorified by the mouth of this tender infant."[I-105] Thus Mr Ranking thinks "it is highly probable that this (haylli) is the same as the well-known Hallelujah." Resemblances are found to exist between the Peruvian feast of the sun, and other similar Asiatic festivals. In Peru, hunters formed a circle round the quarry, in the country of Genghis they did the same. The organization of the army was much the same in Peru as in the country of the Khans; the weapons and musical instruments were also very similar. In the city of Cuzco, not far from the hill where the citadel stood, was a portion of land called colcampata, which none were permitted to cultivate except those of royal blood. At certain seasons the Incas turned up the sod here, amid much rejoicing and many ceremonies. "A great festival is solemnized every year, in all the cities of China, on the day that the sun enters the fifteenth degree of Aquarius. The emperor, according to the custom of the ancient founders of the Chinese monarchy, goes himself in a solemn manner to plough a few ridges of land. Twelve illustrious persons attend and plough after him."[I-106] In Peruvian as in Chinese architecture, it is noticeable that great care is taken to render the joints between the stones as nearly imperceptible as [48] possible. A similarity is also said to exist between the decorations on the palaces of the Incas and those of the Khans. The cycle of sixty years was in use among most of the nations of eastern Asia, and among the Muyscas of the elevated plains of Bogota. The quipu, or knotted reckoning cord was in use in Peru, as in China. Some other analogies might be cited, but these are sufficient to show upon what foundation this theory rests. I may mention here that the Incas possessed a cross of fine marble, or jasper, highly polished, and all of one piece. It was three fourths of an ell in length and three fingers in thickness, and was kept in a sacred chamber of the palace and held in great veneration. The Spaniards enriched this cross with gold and jewels and placed it in the cathedral at Cuzco; had it been of plain wood they would probably have burnt it with curses on the emblem of 'devil-worship.' To account for this discovery, Mr Ranking says: There were many Nestorians in the thirteenth century in the service of the Mongols. The conqueror of the king of eastern Bengal, A.D. 1272, was a Christian. The Mongols, who were deists, treated all religions with respect, till they became Mohammedans. It is very probable that a part of the military sent to conquer Japan, were commanded by Nestorian officers. The mother of the Grand Khan Mangu, who was brother to Kublai, and possibly uncle to Manco Capac, the first Inca, was a Christian, and had in her service William Bouchier, a goldsmith, and Basilicus, the son of an Englishman born in Hungary. It is therefore highly probable that this cross accompanied Manco Capac.[I-107]



I have stated above that the Peruvians preserved no record of having come originally from China. They had a tradition, however, concerning certain foreigners who came by sea to their country, which may be worth repeating; Garcilasso de la Vega gives this tradition as he himself heard it in Peru. They affirm, he says, in all Peru, that certain giants came by sea to the cape now called St Helen's, in large barks made of rushes. These giants were so enormously tall that ordinary men reached no higher than their knees; their long, disheveled hair covered [50] their shoulders; their eyes were as big as saucers, and the other parts of their bodies were of correspondingly colossal proportions. They were beardless; some of them were naked, others were clothed in the skins of wild beasts; there were no women with them. Having landed at the cape, they established themselves at a spot in the desert, and dug deep wells in the rock, which at this day continue to afford excellent water. They lived by rapine, and soon desolated the whole country. Their appetites and gluttony were such that it is said one of them would eat as much as fifty ordinary persons. They massacred the men of the neighboring parts without mercy, and killed the women by their brutal violations. At last, after having for a long time tyrannized over the country and committed all manner of enormities, they were suddenly destroyed by fire from heaven, and an angel armed with a flaming sword. As an eternal monument of divine vengeance, their bones remained unconsumed, and may be seen at the present day. As for the rest, it is not known from what place they came, nor by what route they arrived.[I-108]

There is also a native account of the arrival of Manco Capac, in which he figures simply a culture-hero. The story closely resembles those told of the appearance and acts of the apostles Cukulcan, Wixepecocha, and others, and need not be repeated here.[I-109]



Mr Charles Wolcott Brooks, Japanese consul in San Francisco, a most learned gentleman, and especially well versed in Oriental lore, has kindly presented me with a MS. prepared by himself, in which are condensed the results of twenty-five years' study of the history of the eastern Asiatic nations, and their possible communication with American continent.[I-110] He recognizes many striking analogies between the Chinese and the Peruvians, but arrives at a conclusion respecting the relation between the two nations, the exact reverse of that discussed in the preceding paragraphs. His theory is that the Chinese came originally from Peru, and not the Peruvians from China. He uses, to support his argument, many of the resemblances in customs, etc., of which Ranking and others have availed themselves to prove an exactly opposite theory, and adds that, as in those early times the passage of the Pacific could only have been made under the most favorable circumstances and with the assistance of fair winds, it would be impossible, owing to the action of the SE. and NE. trade-winds for such a passage to have been made, either intentionally or accidentally, from China to Peru, while on the other hand, if a large craft were placed before the wind and set adrift from the Peruvian coast, there is a strong probability that it would drive straight on to the southern coast of China.[I-111]


A Japanese origin or at least a strong infusion of Japanese blood, has been attributed to the tribes of the north-west coasts. There is nothing improbable in this; indeed, there is every reason to believe that on various occasions small parties of Japanese have reached the American continent, have married the [52] women of the country, and necessarily left the impress of their ideas and physical peculiarities upon their descendants. Probably these visits were all, without exception, accidental; but that they have occurred in great numbers is certain. There have been a great many instances of Japanese junks drifting upon the American coast, many of them after having floated helplessly about for many months. Mr Brooks gives forty-one particular instances of such wrecks, beginning in 1782, twenty-eight of which date since 1850.[I-112] Only twelve of the whole number were deserted. In a majority of cases the survivors remained permanently at the place where the waves had brought them. There is no record in existence of a Japanese woman having been saved from a wreck. A great many Japanese words are to be found in the Chinook jargon, but in all cases abbreviated, as if coming from a foreign source, while the construction of the two languages is dissimilar.[I-113] The reasons for the presence of Japanese and the absence of Chinese junks are simple. There is a current of cold water setting from the Arctic ocean south along the east coast of Asia, which drives all the Chinese wrecks south. The Kuro Siwo, or 'black stream,' commonly known as the Japan current, runs northwards past the eastern coast of the Japan islands, then curves round to the east and south, sweeping the whole west coast of North America, a branch, or [53] eddy, moving towards the Sandwich Islands. A drifting wreck would be carried towards the American coast at an average rate of ten miles a day by this current. To explain the frequent occurrence of these wrecks Mr Brooks refers to an old Japanese law. About the year 1630, the Japanese government adopted its deliberate policy of exclusion of foreigners and seclusion of its own people. To keep the latter from visiting foreign countries, and to confine their voyages to smooth water and the coasting trade, a law was passed ordering all junks to be built with open sterns and large square rudders unfit to stand any heavy sea. The January monsoons from the north-east are apt to blow any unlucky coaster which happens to be out straight into the Kuro Siwo, the huge rudders are soon washed away, and the vessels, falling into the trough of the sea, roll their masts overboard. Every January there are numbers of these disasters of which no record is kept. About one third of these vessels, it seems, drift to the Sandwich Islands, the remainder to North America, where they scatter along the coast from Alaska to California. How many years this has been going on can only be left to conjecture. The information given by Mr Brooks is of great value, owing to his thorough acquaintance with the subject, the intelligent study of which has been a labor of love with him for so many years. And his theory with regard to the Japanese carries all the more weight, in my opinion, in that he does not attempt to account for the similarities that exist between that people and the Americans by an immigration en masse, but by a constant infusion of Japanese blood and customs through a series of years, sufficient to modify the original stock, wherever that came from.

I have already stated that traces of the Japanese language have been found among the coast tribes. There is also some physical resemblance.[I-114] Viollet-le-Duc [54] points out some striking resemblances between the temples of Japan and Central America.[I-115] It is asserted that the people of Japan had a knowledge of the American continent and that it was marked down on their maps. Montanus tells us that three ship-captains named Henrik Corneliszoon, Schaep, and Wilhelm Byleveld, were taken prisoners by the Japanese and carried to Jeddo, where they were shown a sea chart, on which America was drawn as a mountainous country adjoining Tartary on the north.[I-116] Of course the natives have the usual tradition that strangers came among them long before the advent of the Europeans.[I-117]

The theory that America, or at least the north-western part of it, was peopled by the 'Tartars' or tribes of north-western Asia, is supported by many authors. There certainly is no reason why they should not have crossed Bering Strait from Asia, the passage is easy enough; nor is there any reason why they should not have crossed by the same route to Asia, and peopled the north-western part of that continent. The customs, manner of life, and physical appearance of the natives on both sides of the straits are almost identical, as a multitude of witnesses testify, and it seems absurd to argue the question from any point. Of course, Bering Strait may have served to admit other nations besides the people inhabiting its shores into America, and in such cases there is more room for discussion.[I-118]



We may now consider that theory which supposes the civilized peoples of America to be of Egyptian origin, or, at least, to have derived their arts and culture from Egypt. This supposition is based mainly on certain analogies which have been thought to exist between the architecture, hieroglyphics, methods of computing time, and, to a less extent, customs, of the two countries. Few of these analogies will, however, bear close investigation, and even where they will, they can hardly be said to prove anything. I find no writer who goes so far as to affirm that the New World was actually peopled from Egypt; we shall, therefore, have to regard this merely as a culture-theory, the original introduction of human life into the continent in no way depending upon its truth or fallacy.

The architectural feature which has attracted most attention is the pyramid, which to some writers is of itself conclusive proof of an Egyptian origin. The points of resemblance, as given by those in favor of this theory, are worth studying. García y Cubas claims the following analogies between Teotihuacan and the Egyptian pyramids: the site chosen is the same; the structures are oriented with slight variation; the line through the centre of the pyramids is in the 'astronomical meridian;' the construction in grades and steps is the same; in both cases the larger pyramids are dedicated to the sun; the Nile has a 'valley of the dead,' as at Teotihuacan there is a 'street of the dead;' some monuments of each class [56] have the nature of fortifications; the smaller mounds are of the same nature and for the same purpose; both pyramids have a small mound joined to one of their faces; the openings discovered in the Pyramid of the Moon are also found in some Egyptian pyramids; the interior arrangement of the pyramids is analogous.[I-119]


The two great pyramids of Teotihuacan, dedicated to the sun and moon, are surrounded by several hundreds of small pyramids. Delafield remarks that the pyramids of Gizeh, in Egypt, are also surrounded by smaller edifices in regular order, and closely correspond in arrangement to those of Teotihuacan.[I-120] The construction of these two pyramids recalls to Mr Ranking's mind that of "one of the Egyptian pyramids of Sakhara, which has six stories; and which, according to Pocock, is a mass of pebbles and yellow mortar, covered on the outside with rough stones."[I-121] In some few instances human remains have been found in American pyramids, though never in such a position as to convey the idea that the structure had been built expressly for their reception, as was the case in Egypt. It is but fair to add, however, that no pyramid has yet been opened to its centre, or, indeed, in any way properly explored as to its interior, and that a great many of them are known to have interior galleries and passages, though these were not used as sepulchres. In one instance, at Copan, a vault was discovered in the side of a pyramidal structure; on the floor, and in two small niches, were a number of red earthen-ware vessels, containing human bones packed in lime; scattered about were shells, cave stalactites, and stone knives; three heads were also found, one of them "apparently representing death, its eyes being nearly shut, and the lower features distorted; the back of [57] the head symmetrically perforated by holes; the whole of most exquisite workmanship, and cut or cast from a fine stone covered with green enamel."[I-122] In the great pyramid of Cholula, also, an excavation made in building the Puebla road, which cut off a corner of the lower terrace, not only disclosed to view the interior construction of the pyramid, but also laid bare a tomb containing two skeletons and two idols of basalt, a collection of pottery, and other relics. The sepulchre was square, with stone walls, supported with cypress beams. The dimensions are not given, but no traces of any outlet were found.[I-123] There are, besides, traditions among the natives of the existence of interior galleries and apartments of great extent within this mound. Thus we see that in some instances the dead were deposited in pyramids, though there is not sufficient evidence to show that these structures were originally built for this purpose.


Herodotus tells us that in his time the great pyramid [58] of Cheops was coated with polished stone, in such a manner as to present a smooth surface on all its sides from the base to the top; in the upper part of the pyramid of Cephren the casing-stones have remained in their places to the present day. No American pyramid with smooth sides has as yet been discovered, and of this fact those who reject the Egyptian theory have not failed to avail themselves.[I-124] It is nevertheless probable that many of the American pyramids had originally smooth sides, though, at the present day, time and the growth of dense tropical vegetation have rendered the very shape of the structures scarcely recognizable.[I-125] It is further objected that while the American pyramids exhibit various forms, all are truncated, and were erected merely to serve as foundations for other buildings, those of Egypt are of uniform shape, "rising and diminishing until they come to a point,"[I-126] and are not known to have ever served as a base for temple or palace. It is, however, not certain, judging from facts visible at the present day, that all the Egyptian pyramids did rise to a point. Again, it is almost certain that the American pyramid was not always used as a foundation for a superimposed building, but that it was frequently complete in itself. In many of the ruined cities of Yucatan one or more pyramids have been found upon the summit of which no traces of any building could be discovered, although upon the pyramids by which these were surrounded portions of superimposed edifices still remained. There is, also, some reason to believe that perfect pyramids were constructed in America. As has been seen in the preceding volume, Waldeck found near Palenque two pyramids, which he describes as having been at the time in a state of perfect preservation, square at the base, pointed at the top, and thirty-one feet high, [59] their sides forming equilateral triangles. Delafield[I-127] remarks that a simple mound would first suggest the pyramid, and that from this the more finished and permanent structure would grow; which is true enough. But if we are to believe, as is stated, that the American pyramids grew from such beginnings as the Mississippi mounds, then what reason can there be in comparing the pyramids of Teotihuacan with those of Gizeh in Egypt. For if the Egyptian colonists, at the time of their emigration to America, had advanced no further toward the perfect pyramid than the mound-building stage, would it not be the merest coincidence if the finished pyramidal structures in one country, the result of centuries of improvement, should resemble those of the other country in any but the most general features? Finally, pyramidal edifices were common in Asia as well as in Northern Africa, and it may be said that the American pyramids are as much like the former as they are like the latter.[I-128]

In its general features, American architecture does not offer any strong resemblances to the Egyptian. The upholders of the theory find traces of the latter people in certain round columns found at Uxmal, Mitla, Quemada, and other places; in the general massiveness of the structures; and in the fact that the vermilion dye on many of the ruins was a favorite color in Egypt.[I-129] Humboldt, speaking of a ruined [60] structure at Mitla, says: "the distribution of the apartments of this singular edifice, bears a striking analogy to what has been remarked in the monuments of Upper Egypt, drawn by M. Denon, and the savans who compose the institute of Cairo."[I-130]


Between American and Egyptian sculpture, there is, at first sight, a very striking general resemblance. This, however, almost entirely disappears upon close examination and comparison. Both peoples represented the human figure in profile, the Egyptians invariably, the Americans generally; in the sculpture of both, much the same attitudes of the body predominate, and these are but awkwardly designed; there is a general resemblance between the lofty head-dresses worn by the various figures, though in detail there is little agreement.[I-131] These are the points of [61] analogy and they are sufficiently prominent to account for the idea of resemblance which has been so often and so strongly expressed. But while sculpture in Egypt is for the most part in intaglio, in America it is usually in relief. In the former country, the faces are expressionless, always of the same type, and, though executed in profile, the full eye is placed on the side of the head; in the New World, on the contrary, we meet with many types of countenance, some of which are by no means lacking in expression.

If there were any hope of evidence that the civilized peoples of America were descendants, or derived any of their culture from the ancient Egyptians, we might surely look for such proof in their hieroglyphics. Yet we look in vain. To the most expert decipherer of Egyptian hieroglyphics, the inscriptions at Palenque are a blank and unreadable mystery, and they will perhaps ever remain so.[I-132]

[62] Resemblances have been found between the calendar systems of Egypt and America, based chiefly upon the length and division of the year, and the number of intercalary and complementary days. This, however, is too lengthy a subject to be fully discussed here. In a previous volume I have given a full account of the American systems, and must perforce leave it to the reader to compare them with the Egyptian system.[I-133]

[63] Of course a similarity of customs has to be found to support this theory, as in the case of others. Consequently our attention is drawn to embalmment, circumcision, and the division of the people into castes, which is not quite true of the Americans; some resemblance is found, moreover, between the religions of Egypt and America, for instance, certain animals were held sacred in both countries; but all such analogies are far too slender to be worth anything as evidence; there is scarcely one of them that would not apply to several other nations equally as well as to the Egyptians.


Turning now to Western Asia, we find the honor of first settling America given to the adventurous Phœnicians. The sailors of Carthage are also supposed [64] by some writers to have first reached the New World, but as the exploits of colony and mother-country are spoken of by most writers in the same breath, it will be the simplest plan to combine the two theories here. They are based upon the fame of these people as colonizing navigators more than upon any actual resemblances that have been found to exist between them and the Americans. It is argued that their ships sailed beyond the Pillars of Hercules to the Canary Islands, and that such adventurous explorers having reached that point would be sure to seek farther. The records of their voyages and certain passages in the works of several of the writers of antiquity are supposed to show that the ancients knew of a land lying in the far west.[I-134]


The Phœnicians were employed about a thousand years before the Christian era, by Solomon, king of the Jews, and Hiram, king of Tyre, to navigate their fleets to Ophir and Tarshish. They returned, by way of the Mediterranean, to the port of Joppa, after a three-years' voyage, laden with gold, silver, precious stones, ivory, cedar, apes, and peacocks. Several authors have believed that they had two distinct fleets, one of which went to the land since known as America, and the other to India. Huet, bishop of Avranches,[I-135] and other authors, are persuaded that Ophir was the modern Sofala, situated about 21° S. lat., and that Tarshish comprised all the western coast of Africa and Spain, but particularly the part lying about the mouth of the Bœtis or Guadalquivir. According to Arius Montanus, Genebrardus, Vatable, and other writers, Ophir is the island of Hispaniola. It is said that Christopher Columbus was induced to adopt this idea by the immense caverns which he found there, from which he supposed that Solomon must have obtained his gold. [65] Postel and others have believed that the land of Ophir was Peru.[I-136] Horn[I-137] claims that the Phœnicians made three remarkable voyages to America; the first, under the direction of Atlas, son of Neptune; the second, when they were driven by a tempest from the coast of Africa to the most remote parts of the Atlantic ocean, and arrived at a large island to the west of Libya; and the third, in the time of Solomon, when the Tyrians went to Ophir to seek for gold. According to those who believe that there were two distinct fleets, that of Solomon and that of Hiram, the first set out from Eziongeber, sailed down the Red Sea, doubled Cape Comorin, and went to Taproban (Ceylon), or some other part of India; this voyage occupied one year. The other fleet passed through the Mediterranean, stopping at the various ports along the coasts of Europe and Africa, and finally, passing out through the straits of Gades, continued its voyage as far as America, and returned after three years to its starting-place, laden with gold.

[66] The Periplus of Hanno, a Carthaginian navigator of uncertain date, contains an account of a voyage which he made beyond the Pillars of Hercules, with a fleet of sixty ships and thirty thousand men, for the purpose of founding the Liby-Phœnician towns. He relates that setting out from Gades, he sailed southwards. The first city he founded was Thumiaterion,[I-138] near the Pillars of Hercules, probably in the neighborhood of Marmora. He then doubled the promontory of Soloeis,[I-139] which Rennel considers to be the same as Cape Cantin, but other commentators to be the same as Cape Blanco, in 33° N. latitude. A little to the south of this promontory five more cities were founded. After passing the mouth of the river Lixus, supposed by Rennel to be the modern St Cyprian, he sailed for two days along a desolate coast, and on the third day entered a gulf in which was situated a small island, which he named Kerne, and colonized. After continuing his voyage for some days, and meeting with various adventures, he returned to Kerne, whence he once more directed his course southward, and sailed along the coast for twelve days. Two days more he spent in doubling a cape, and five more in sailing about a large gulf. He then continued his voyage for a few days, and was finally obliged to return from want of provisions. The authenticity of the Periplus has been doubted by many critics, but it appears probable from the testimony of several ancient authors that the voyage was actually performed. But be the account true or false, I certainly can discover in it no ground for believing that Hanno did more than coast along the western shore of Africa, sailing perhaps as far south as Sierra Leone.[I-140]



Diodorus Siculus relates that the Phœnicians discovered a large island in the Atlantic Ocean, beyond the Pillars of Hercules, several days' journey from the coast of Africa. This island abounded in all manner of riches. The soil was exceedingly fertile; the scenery was diversified by rivers, mountains, and forests. It was the custom of the inhabitants to retire during the summer to magnificent country houses, which stood in the midst of beautiful gardens. Fish and game were found in great abundance. The climate was delicious, and the trees bore fruit at all seasons of the year. The Phœnicians discovered this fortunate island by accident, being driven on its coast by contrary winds. On their return they gave glowing accounts of its beauty and fertility, and the Tyrians, who were also noted sailors, desired to colonize it. But the senate of Carthage opposed their plan, either through jealousy, and a wish to keep any commercial benefit that might be derived from it for themselves, or, as Diodorus relates, because they wished to use it as a place of refuge in case of necessity.

Several authors, says Warden, have believed that this island was America, among others, Huet, bishop of Avranches. "The statement of Diodorus," he writes, "that those who discovered this island were cast upon its shores by a tempest, is worthy of attention; as the east wind blows almost continually in the torrid zone, it might well happen that Carthaginian vessels, surprised by this wind, should be carried against their will to the western islands." Aristotle tells the same story. Homer, Plutarch, and other ancient writers, mention islands situated in the Atlantic, several thousand stadia from the Pillars [68] of Hercules, but such accounts are too vague and mythical to prove that they knew of any land west of the Canary Islands. Of course they surmised that there was land beyond the farthest limits of their discovery; they saw that the sea stretched smoothly away to the horizon, uncut by their clumsy prows, no matter how far they went; they peopled the Sea of Darkness with terrors, but they hazarded all manner of guesses at the nature of the treasure which those terrors guarded. Is it not foolish to invent a meaning and a fulfillment to fit the vague surmises of these ancient minds? Are we to believe that Seneca was inspired by a spirit of prophecy because we read these lines in the second act of his Medea:

"Venient annis

Sæcula seris, quibus Oceanus

Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens

Pateat tellus, Thetysque[I-141] novos

Detegat orbes; nec sit terris

Ultima Thule."

Or that Silenus knew of the continent of America because Ælianus makes him tell Midas, the Phrygian, that there was another continent besides Europe, Asia, and Africa? A continent whose inhabitants are larger and live longer than ordinary people, and have different laws and customs. A country where gold and silver are so plentiful that they are esteemed no more than we esteem iron. Are we to suppose that St Clement had visited America when he wrote, in his celebrated epistle to the Corinthians that there were other worlds beyond the ocean? Might we not as well argue that America was certainly not known to the ancients, or Tacitus would never have written: "Trans Sueones aliud mare, pigrum ac propè immotum ejus cingi cludique terrarum orbem hinc fides." Would the theological view of the flat structure of the earth have gained credence for a moment, had antipodes been discovered and believed in?



The mysterious traveler, Votan, is once more made to do service for the theorist here. In his somewhat doubtful manuscript, entitled "Proof that I am a Serpent," Votan asserts that he is a descendant of Imox, of the race of Chan, and derives his origin from Chivim. "He states that he conducted seven families from Valum Votan to this continent and assigned lands to them; that he is the third of the Votans; that, having determined to travel until he arrived at the root of heaven, in order to discover his relations the Culebras (Serpents), and make himself known to them, he made four voyages to Chivim;[I-142] that he arrived in Spain, and that he went to Rome; that he saw the great house of God building;[I-143] that he went by the road which his brethren the Culebras had bored; that he marked it, and that he passed by the houses of the thirteen Culebras. He relates that in returning from one of his voyages, he found seven other families of the Tzequil nation, who had [70] joined the first inhabitants, and recognized in them the same origin as his own, that is, of the Culebras. He speaks of the place where they built their first town, which, from its founders, received the name of Tzequil; he affirms the having taught them refinement of manners in the use of the table, table-cloth, dishes, basins, cups, and napkins; that, in return for these, they taught him the knowledge of God and of his worship; his first ideas of a king and obedience to him; and that he was chosen captain of all these united families."[I-144]


Cabrera supposes Chivim to be the same as Hivim or Givim, which was the name of the country from which the Hivites, descendants of Heth, son of Canaan, were expelled by the Philistines some years before the departure of the Hebrews from Egypt. Some of these settled about the base of Mount Hermon, and to them belonged Cadmus and his wife Harmonia. It is probably owing to the fable of their transformation into snakes, related by Ovid in his Metamorphoses, that the word Givim in the Phœnician language signifies a snake.[I-145] Tripoli of [71] Syria, a town in the kingdom of Tyre, was anciently called Chivim. "Under this supposition, when Votan says he is Culebra, because he is Chivim, he clearly shows, that he is a Hivite originally of Tripoli in Syria, which he calls Valum Chivim, where he landed, in his voyages to the old continent. Here then, we have his assertion, I am Culebra, because I am Chivim, proved true, by a demonstration as evident, as if he had said, I am a Hivite, native of Tripoli in Syria, which is Valum Chivim, the port of my voyages to the old continent, and belonging to a nation famous for having produced such a hero as Cadmus, who, by his valour and exploits, was worthy of being changed into a Culebra (snake) and placed among the gods; whose worship, for the glory of my nation and race, I teach, to the seven families of the Tzequiles, that I found, on returning from one of my voyages, united to the seven families, inhabitants of the American continent, whom I conducted from Valum Votan, and distributed lands among them."[I-146]

The most enthusiastic supporter of the Phœnician, or Tyrian, theory, is Mr George Jones. This gentleman has devoted the whole of a goodly volume to the subject, in which he not only sustains, but conclusively proves, to his own satisfaction, whatever proposition he pleases. It is of no use to question, he demolishes by anticipation all possible objections; he "will yield to none," he says, "in the conscientious belief in the truth of the startling propositions, and the consequent historic conclusions." The sum of these propositions and conclusions is this: that after the taking of the Tyrian capital by Alexander, [72] B.C. 332, a remnant of the inhabitants escaped by sea to the Fortunate Islands, and thence to America. The author does not pretend that they had any positive foreknowledge of the existence of a western continent; though he believes "that from their knowledge of astronomy, they may have had the supposition that such might be the case, from the then known globular character of the earth." But they were mainly indebted for the success of their voyage to the favoring east winds which bore them, in the space of a month straight to the coast of Florida.[I-147] "There arrived in joyous gladness, and welcomed by all the gifts of nature,—like an heir to a sudden fortune, uncertain where to rest,—the Tyrians left the shore of Florida and coasted the gulf of Mexico, and so around the peninsula of Yucatan and into the Bay of Honduras; they thence ascended a river of shelter and safety, and above the rapids of which they selected the site of their first city,—now occupied by the ruins, altars, idols, and walls of Copan!"

The more effectually to preserve the secret of their discovery and place of refuge, they subsequently destroyed their galleys and passed a law that no others should be built. At least, this is Mr. Jones' belief—a belief which, to him, makes the cause "instantly apparent" why the new-found continent was for so many centuries unknown to Asiatics or Europeans. It is possible, however, the same ingenious author thinks, that, upon a final landing, they burned [73] their ships as a sacrifice to Apollo, "and having made that sacrifice to Apollo, fanatical zeal may have led them to abhor the future use of means, which, as a grateful offering, had been given to their deity. Thence may be traced the gradual loss of nautical practice, on an enlarged scale; and the great continent now possessed by them, would also diminish by degrees the uses of navigation."[I-148]


Jones ingeniously makes use of the similarities which have been thought to exist between the American and Egyptian pyramids, and architecture generally, to prove his Tyrian theory. The general character of the American architecture is undoubtedly Egyptian, he argues; but the resemblance is not close enough in detail to allow of its being actually the work of Egyptian hands; the ancient cities of America were therefore built by a people who had a knowledge of Egyptian architecture, and enjoyed constant intercourse with that nation. But some of the ruins are Greek in style; the mysterious people must also have been familiar with Greek architecture. Where shall we find such a people? The cap exactly fits the Tyrians, says Mr Jones, let them wear it. Unfortunately, however, Mr Jones manufactures the cap himself and knows the exact size of the head he wishes to place it on. He next goes on to prove "almost to demonstration that Grecian artists were authors of the sculpture, Tyrians the architects of the entire edifices,—while those of Egypt were authors of the architectural bases." The tortoise is found sculptured on some of the ruins [74] at Uxmal; it was also stamped upon the coins of Grecian Thebes and Ægina. From this fact it is brought home at once to the Tyrians, because the Phœnician chief Cadmus, who founded Thebes, and introduced letters into Greece, without doubt selected the symbols of his native land to represent the coin of his new city. The tortoise is, therefore, a Tyrian emblem.[I-149]

The American ruins in some places bear inscriptions written in vermilion paint; the Tyrians were celebrated for a purple dye. Carved gems have been found in American tombs; the Tyrians were also acquainted with gem-carving. The door-posts and pillars of Solomon's temple were square;[I-150] square obelisks and columns may also be found at Palenque. But it is useless to multiply quotations; the absurdity of such reasoning is blazoned upon the face of it.

At Dighton, on the bay of Narraganset, is, or was, an inscription cut in the rock, which has been confidently asserted to be Phœnician. Copies of this inscription have been frequently made, but they differ so materially that no two of them would appear to be intended for the same design.[I-151]



In the mountains which extend from the village of Uruana in South America to the west bank of the Caura, in 7° lat., Father Ramon Bueno found a block of granite on which were cut several groups of characters, in which Humboldt sees some resemblance to the Phœnician, though he doubts that the worthy priest whose copy he saw performed his work very carefully.[I-152]

The inscribed stone discovered at Grave Creek Mound has excited much comment, and has done excellent service, if we judge by the number of theories it has been held to elucidate. Of the twenty-two characters which are confessedly alphabetic, inscribed upon this stone, ten are said to correspond, with general exactness, with the Phœnician, fifteen with the Celtiberic, fourteen with the old [76] British, Anglo Saxon or Bardic, five with the old northern, or Runic proper, four with the Etruscan, six with the ancient Gallic, four with the ancient Greek, and seven with the old Erse.[I-153] An inscribed monument supposed to be Phœnician was discovered by one Joaquin de Costa, on his estate in New Granada, some time since.[I-154] The cross, the serpent, and the various other symbols found among the American ruins, have all been regarded by different authors as tending to confirm the Phœnician theory; chiefly because similar emblems have been found in Egypt, and the Phœnicians are known to have been familiar with Egyptian arts and ideas.[I-155] Melgar, who thinks there can be no doubt that the Phœnicians built Palenque, supposes the so-called Palenque medal[I-156] to represent Hercules in the Garden of the Hesperides, attacked by the dragon. Two thousand three hundred years before the worship of Hercules was known in Greece, it obtained in Phœnicia, whither it was brought from Egypt, where it had flourished for over seventeen thousand years.[I-157]



García quotes a number of analogies, giving, after his fashion, the objections to each by the Spaniards. The builders of the Central American cities, he says, are reported by tradition to have been of fair complexion and bearded. The Carthaginians, in common with the Indians, practiced human sacrifices to a great extent; they worshiped fire and water, adopted the names of the animals whose skins they wore, drank to excess, telegraphed by means of fires, decked themselves in all their finery on going to war, poisoned their arrows, offered peace before beginning battle, used drums, shouted in battle, were similar in stratagems and exercised great cruelty to the vanquished. The objections are that the language of the Indians is not corrupt Carthaginian; that they have many languages, and could not have sprung from any one nation; Satan prompted the Indians to learn various languages in order to prevent the extension of the true faith. But why are the Indians beardless if they descended from the Carthaginians? Their beards have been lost by the action of the climate as the Africans were changed in color. Then why do they not lose their hair as well, and why do not the Spaniards lose their beard? They may in time. And so he goes on through page after page.[I-158]

The theory that the Americans are of Jewish descent has been discussed more minutely and at greater length than any other. Its advocates, or at [78] least those of them who have made original researches, are comparatively few; but the extent of their investigations and the multitude of parallelisms they adduce in support of their hypothesis, exceed by far anything we have yet encountered.

Of the earlier writers on this subject, García is the most voluminous. Of modern theorists Lord Kingsborough stands preëminently first, as far as bulky volumes are concerned, though Adair, who devotes half of a thick quarto to the subject, is by no means second to him in enthusiasm—or rather fanaticism—and wild speculation. Mrs Simon's volume, though pretentious enough to be original, is neither more nor less than a re-hash of Kingsborough's labors.

García,[I-159] who affirms that he devoted more attention to this subject than to all the rest of his work,[I-160] deals with the Hebrew theory by the same systematic arrangement of 'opinions,' 'solutions,' 'objections,' 'replies,' etc., that is found all through his book. A condensed résumé of his argument will be necessary.


The opinion that the Americans are descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel, he says, is commonly received by the unlettered multitude, but not by the learned; there are, however, some exceptions to this rule. The main support of the opinion is found in the fourth book of Esdras, according to which these tribes, having been carried into captivity by Salmanassar, separated from the other tribes and went into a new region, where man had never yet [79] lived, through which they journeyed for a year and a half, until they came to a land which they called Arsareth, where they settled and have dwelt ever since.

The most difficult question is: how did they get to America? to which the most reasonable answer seems to be, that they gradually crossed northern Asia until they came to the straits of Anian,[I-161] over which they passed into the land of Anian, whence they journeyed southward by land through New Mexico into Mexico and Peru.[I-162] That they were able to make such a long journey is amply attested by parallel undertakings, of which we have historical proof. It is argued that they would not travel so far and through so many inhabited countries without finding a resting-place; but we read in the Scriptures that when they left the country of the Medes, whither they had been carried by Salmanassar, they determined to journey beyond all the gentile nations until they came to an uninhabited land. It is true some learned men assert that they are still to be found in the cities of the Medes, but a statement that disagrees with the book of Esdras is unworthy of belief; though of course some of them may have remained; besides, must not Mexico be included in the direct declaration of God that he would scatter the Jews over all the earth? The opinion that the Americans are of Hebrew origin is further supported by similarities in character, dress, religion, physical peculiarities, condition, and customs. The Americans are at heart cowardly, and so are the [80] Jews; the history of both nations proves this.[I-163] The Jews did not believe in the miracles of Christ, and for their unbelief were scattered over the face of the earth, and despised of all men; in like manner the people of the New World did not readily receive the true faith as preached by Christ's catholic disciples, and are therefore persecuted and being rapidly exterminated. Another analogy presents itself in the ingratitude of the Jews for the many blessings and special favors bestowed on them by God, and the ingratitude shown by the Americans in return for the great kindness of the Spaniards. Both Jews and Americans are noted for their want of charity and kindness to the poor, sick, and unfortunate; both are naturally given to idolatry; many customs are common to both, such as raising the hands to heaven when making a solemn affirmation, calling all near relatives brothers, showing great respect and humility before superiors, burying their dead on hills and high places without the city, tearing their clothing on the reception of bad tidings, giving a kiss on the cheek as a token of peace, celebrating a victory with songs and dances, casting out of the place of worship women who are barren, drowning dogs in a well, practicing crucifixion. Both were liars, despicable, cruel, boastful, idle, sorcerers, dirty,[I-164] swindlers, turbulent, incorrigible, and vicious. The dress [81] of the Hebrews was in many points like that of the Americans. Both are fit only for the lowest kind of labor. The Jews preferred the flesh-pots of Egypt and a life of bondage to heavenly manna and the promised land; the Americans liked a life of freedom and a diet of roots and herbs, better than the service of the Spaniards with good food.[I-165] The Jews were famous for fine work in stone, as is shown by the buildings of Jerusalem, and a similar excellence in this art is seen in the American ruins. The Mexicans have a tradition of a journey undertaken at the command of a god, and continued for a long time under the direction of certain high-priests, who miraculously obtained supplies for their support; this bears a striking resemblance to the Hebrew story of the wandering in the desert.


It has been argued, in opposition to the Hebrew theory, that the Jews were physically and intellectually the finest race in the world, while the Americans are probably the lowest. But in answer to this it may be stated that the finest among the Jews belonged to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, which were not among the so-called lost tribes; though, even if we admit that the ten tribes were physically and intellectually equal to these two, may we not fairly suppose that their temperament and physique would be changed by dwelling for a length of time in the different environment of America. True, Dr San Juan attempts to prove that the good effect of the manna on which the Israelites lived for forty years, was such that it would take four thousand years to obliterate it; but though this might hold true in the case of those Jews who went to Spain and other temperate climes, it would probably be different with those who came to America; it is, besides, likely that the change in the race was a special [82] act of God.[I-166] In answer to the assertion that the Americans are an inferior race, it may be said that there are many exceptions to this rule; for instance, the people of Mexico and Michoacan were very ingenious, and excelled in painting, feather-work, and other arts.

Again, it is objected that while the Jews were skilled in letters, and indeed are said by some to have discovered the art of writing, the Americans had no such knowledge of letters as they would have possessed had they been of Hebrew origin. But the same objection would apply to their descent from any race of Europe, Asia, or Africa. It is urged that the Americans, if of Jewish descent, would have preserved the Hebrew ceremonies and laws. It is, however, well known that the ten tribes from whom they are supposed to be descended were naturally prone to unbelief and backsliding; it is not strange, therefore, that when freed from all restraint, they should cease to abide by their peculiarly strict code. Moreover, many traces of their old laws and ceremonies are to be found among them at the present day. For instance, both Jews and Americans gave [83] their temples into the charge of priests, burned incense, anointed the body, practiced circumcision,[I-167] kept perpetual fires on their altars, forbade women to enter the temples immediately after giving birth, and husbands to sleep with their wives for seven days during the period of menstruation, prohibited marriage or sexual intercourse between relatives within the second degree, made fornication with a slave punishable, slew the adulterer, made it unlawful for a man to dress like a woman, or a woman like a man, put away their brides if they proved to have lost their virginity, and kept the ten commandments.

Another objection is, that the Americans do not speak Hebrew. But the reason for this is that the language has gradually changed, as has been the case with all tongues. Witness the Hebrew spoken by the Jews at the present time, which is much corrupted, and very different from what it originally was. There do actually exist, besides, many Hebraic traces in the American languages.[I-168] And even if this were not so, may we not suppose that the Devil prompted the Americans to learn new and various languages, that they might be prevented in after years from hearing the Catholic faith? though fortunately the missionaries learned all these strange tongues, and thus cheated the Evil One.

Acosta questions the authority of Esdras, but, answers García, although the book of Esdras is certainly apocryphal, it is nevertheless regarded by the Church as a higher authority than the Doctors. Acosta urges, moreover, that Esdras, even if reliable, states distinctly that the ten tribes fled from the [84] Gentiles for the express purpose of keeping their law and religion, while Americans are given to idolatry; which is all very true, but might not the Jews have set out with these good resolutions, and have afterwards changed their minds?

Such is the manner of García's argument; and turning now to Lord Kingsborough's magnificent folios, do we find anything more satisfactory? Scarcely. The Spanish father's impartiality and profound research does not appear in Kingsborough; and moreover, we find that the work of the former is much more satisfactorily arranged than that of the latter. García does not pretend to give his own opinions, but merely aims to present fairly, with all their pros and cons, the theories of others. Kingsborough has a theory to prove, and to accomplish his object he drafts every shadow of an analogy into his service. But though his theory is as wild as the wildest, and his proofs are as vague as the vaguest, yet Lord Kingsborough cannot be classed with such writers as Jones, Ranking, Cabrera, Adair, and the host of other dogmatists who have fought tooth and nail, each for his particular hobby. Kingsborough was an enthusiast—a fanatic, if you choose—but his enthusiasm is never offensive. There is a scholarly dignity about his work which has never been attained by those who have jeered and railed at him; and though we may smile at his credulity, and regret that such strong zeal was so strangely misplaced, yet we should speak and think with respect of one who spent his lifetime and his fortune, if not his reason, in an honest endeavor to cast light upon one of the most obscure spots in the history of man.


The more prominent of the analogies adduced by Lord Kingsborough may be briefly enumerated as follows:


The religion of the Mexicans strongly resembled that of the Jews, in many minor details, as will be presently seen, and the two were practically alike, to [85] a certain extent, in their very foundation; for, as the Jews acknowledged a multitude of angels, archangels, principalities, thrones, dominions, and powers, as the subordinate personages of their hierarchy, so did the Mexicans acknowledge the unity of the Deity in the person of Tezcatlipoca, and at the same time worship a great number of other imaginary beings. Both believed in a plurality of devils subordinate to one head, who was called by the Mexicans Mictlantecutli, and by the Jews Satan. Indeed, it seems that the Jews actually worshiped and made offerings to Satan as the Mexicans did to their 'god of hell.' It is probable that the Toltecs were acquainted with the sin of the first man, committed at the suggestion of the woman, herself deceived by the serpent, who tempted her with the fruit of the forbidden tree, who was the origin of all our calamities, and by whom death came into the world.[I-169] We have seen in this chapter that Kingsborough supposes the Messiah and his story to have been familiar to the Mexicans. There is reason to believe that the Mexicans, like the Jews, offered meat and drink offerings to stones.[I-170] There are striking similarities between the Babel, flood, and creation myths of the Hebrews and the Americans.[I-171] Both Jews and Mexicans were fond of appealing in their adjurations to the heaven and the earth.[I-172] Both were extremely superstitious, and firm believers in prodigies.[I-173] The character and history of Christ and Huitzilopochtli present certain analogies.[I-174] It is very probable that the Sabbath of the seventh day was known in some parts of America.[I-175] The Mexicans applied the blood of sacrifices to the same uses as the Jews; they poured it upon the earth, they sprinkled it, they [86] marked persons with it, and they smeared it upon walls and other inanimate things.[I-176] No one but the Jewish high-priest might enter the Holy of Holies. A similar custom obtained in Peru.[I-177] Both Mexicans and Jews regarded certain animals as unclean and unfit for food.[I-178] Some of the Americans believed with some of the Talmudists in a plurality of souls.[I-179] That man was created in the image of God was a part of the Mexican belief.[I-180] It was customary among the Mexicans to eat the flesh of sacrifices of atonement.[I-181] There are many points of resemblance between Tezcatlipoca and Jehovah.[I-182] Ablutions formed an essential part of the ceremonial law of the Jews and Mexicans.[I-183] The opinions of the Mexicans with regard to the resurrection of the body, accorded with those of the Jews.[I-184] The Mexican temple, like the Jewish, faced the east.[I-185] "As amongst the Jews the ark was a sort of portable temple in which the Deity was supposed to be continually present, and which was accordingly borne on the shoulders of the priests as a sure refuge and defence from their enemies, so amongst the Mexicans and the Indians of Michoacan and Honduras an ark was held in the highest veneration, and was considered an object too sacred to be touched by any but the priests. The same religious reverence for the ark is stated by Adair to have existed among the Cherokee and other Indian tribes inhabiting the banks of the Mississippi, and his testimony is corroborated by the accounts of Spanish authors of the [87] greatest veracity. The nature and use of the ark having been explained, it is needless to observe that its form might have been various, although Scripture declares that the Hebrew ark was of the simplest construction." And again: "it would appear from many passages of the Old Testament, that the Jews believed in the real presence of God in the ark, as the Roman Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, from whom it is probable the Mexicans borrowed the notion that He, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, and whose glory fills all space, could be confined within the precincts of a narrow ark and be borne by a set of weak and frail priests. If the belief of the Mexicans had not been analogous to that of the ancient Jews, the early Spanish missionaries would certainly have expressed their indignation of the absurd credulity of those who believed that their omnipresent god Huitzilopochtli was carried in an ark on priests' shoulders; but of the ark of the Mexicans they say but little, fearing, as it would appear, to tread too boldly on the burning ashes of Mount Sinai."[I-186]

The Yucatec conception of a Trinity resembles the Hebrew.[I-187] It is probable that Quetzalcoatl, whose proper name signifies 'feathered serpent,' was so called after the brazen serpent which Moses lifted up in the wilderness, the feathers perhaps alluding to the rabbinical tradition that the fiery serpents which god sent against the Israelites were of a winged species.[I-188]

[88] The Mexicans, like the Jews, saluted the four cardinal points, in their worship.[I-189] There was much in connection with sacrifices that was common to Mexicans and Jews.[I-190] It is possible that the myth relating to Quetzalcoatl's disappearance in the sea, indicates a knowledge of the book of the prophet Jonah.[I-191]

The Mexicans say that they wrestled at times with Quetzalcoatl, even as Jacob wrestled with God.[I-192] In various religious rites and observances, such as circumcision,[I-193] confession,[I-194] and communion,[I-195] there was much similarity. Salt was an article highly esteemed by the Mexicans, and the Jews always offered it in their oblations.[I-196] Among the Jews, the firstling of an ass had to be redeemed with a lamb, or if unredeemed, its neck was broken. This command of Moses should be considered in reference to the custom of sacrificing children which existed in Mexico and Peru.[I-197] The spectacle of a king performing a dance as an act of religion was witnessed by the Jews as well as by Mexicans.[I-198] As the Israelites were conducted from Egypt by Moses and Aaron who were accompanied by their sister Miriam, so the Aztecs departed from Aztlan under the guidance of Huitziton and Tecpatzin, the former of whom is named by Acosta and Herrera, Mexi, attended likewise by their sister Quilaztli, or, as she is otherwise named Chimalman or Malinalli, both of which latter names have some resemblance to Miriam, as Mexi has to Moses.[I-199] In the Mexican language amoxtli [89] signifies flags or bulrushes, the derivation of which name, from atl, water, and moxtli, might allude to the flags in which Moses had been preserved.[I-200] The painting of Boturini seems actually to represent Huitzilopochtli appearing in a burning bush in the mountain of Teoculhuacan to the Aztecs.[I-201] The same writer also relates that when the Mexicans in the course of their migration had arrived at Apanco, the people of that province were inclined to oppose their further progress, but that Huitzilopochtli aided the Mexicans by causing a brook that ran in the neighborhood to overflow its banks. This reminds us of what is said in the third chapter of Joshua of the Jordan overflowing its banks and dividing to let the priests who bore the ark pass through.[I-202] As Moses and Aaron died in the wilderness without reaching the land of Canaan, so Huitziton and Tecpatzin died [90] before the Mexicans arrived in the land of Anáhuac.[I-203] The Mexicans hung up the heads of their sacrificed enemies; and this also appears to have been a Jewish practice, as the following quotation from the twenty-fifth chapter of Numbers will show: "And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel."[I-204] In a Mexican painting in the Bodleian library at Oxford is a symbol very strongly resembling the jaw-bone of an ass from the side of which water seems to flow forth, which might allude to the story of Samson slaying a thousand of the Philistines with such a bone, which remained miraculously unbroken in his hands, and from which he afterwards quenched his thirst.[I-205] They were fond of wearing dresses of scarlet and of showy colors, as were also the Jews. The exclamation of the prophet, "Who is this that cometh from Bozrah?" and many other passages of the Old Testament might be cited to show that the Jews entertained a great predilection for scarlet.[I-206] It is impossible, on reading what Mexican mythology records of the war in heaven and of the fall of Tzontemoc and the other rebellious spirits; of the creation of light by the word of Tonacatecutli, and of the division of the waters; of the sin of Ytztlacoliuhqui, and his blindness and nakedness; of the temptation of Suchiquecal, and her disobedience in gathering roses from a tree, and the consequent misery and disgrace of herself and all her posterity,—not to recognize Scriptural analogies.[I-207] Other Hebrew analogies Lord Kingsborough finds in America, in the dress, insignia, and duties of priests; in innumerable superstitions concerning dreams, apparitions, eclipses, and [91] other more common-place events; in certain festivals for rain; in burial and mourning ceremonies; in the diseases most common among the people; in certain regularly observed festivals; in the dress of certain nations; in established laws; in physical features; in architecture; in various minor observances, such as offering water to a stranger that he might wash his feet, eating dust in token of humility, anointing with oil, and so forth; in the sacrifice of prisoners; in manner and style of oratory; in the stories of giants; in the respect paid to God's name; in games of chance; in marriage relations; in childbirth ceremonies; in religious ideas of all sorts; in respect paid to kings; in uses of metals; in treatment of criminals, and punishment of crimes; in charitable practices; in social customs; and in a vast number of other particulars.[I-208]



Relics unmistakeably Hebrew have been very rarely found in America. I know of only two instances of such a discovery, and in neither of these cases is it certain or even probable that the relic [93] existed in America before the Conquest. The first and best known instance is related by Ethan Smith, according to Priest,[I-209] as follows:

"Joseph Merrick, Esq., a highly respectable character in the church at Pittsfield, gave the following account: That in 1815, he was levelling some ground under and near an old wood-shed, standing on a place of his, situated on Indian Hill. He ploughed and conveyed away old chips and earth, to some depth. After the work was done, walking over the place, he discovered, near where the earth had been dug the deepest, a black strap, as it appeared, about six inches in length, and one and a half in breadth, and about the thickness of a leather trace to a harness. He perceived it had, at each end, a loop, of some hard substance, probably for the purpose of carrying it. He conveyed it to his house, and threw it into an old tool box. He afterwards found it thrown out at the door, and again conveyed it to the box.

"After some time, he thought he would examine it; but in attempting to cut it, found it as hard as bone; he succeeded, however, in getting it open, and found it was formed of two pieces of thick raw-hide, sewed and made water tight with the sinews of some animal, and gummed over; and in the fold was contained four folded pieces of parchment. They were of a dark yellow hue, and contained some kind of writing. The neighbors coming in to see the strange discovery, tore one of the pieces to atoms, in the true Hun and Vandal style. The other three pieces Mr. Merrick saved, and sent them to Cambridge, where they were examined, and discovered to have been written with a pen, in Hebrew, plain and legible. The writing on the three remaining pieces of parchment, was quotations from the Old Testament."[I-210]



The other discovery was made in Ohio, and was seen by my father, Mr A. A. Bancroft, who thus describes it: "About eight miles south-east of Newark there was formerly a large mound composed of masses of free-stone, which had been brought from some distance and thrown into a heap without much placing or care. In early days, stone being scarce in that region, the settlers carried away the mound piece by piece to use for building-purposes, so that in a few years there was little more than a large flattened heap of rubbish remaining. Some fifteen years ago, the county surveyor (I have forgotten his name), who had for some time been searching ancient works, turned his attention to this particular pile. He employed a number of men and proceeded at once to open it. Before long he was rewarded by finding in the centre and near the surface a bed of the tough clay generally known as pipe-clay, which must have been brought from a distance of some twelve miles. Imbedded in the clay was a coffin, dug out of a burr-oak log, and in a pretty good state of preservation. In the coffin was a skeleton, with quite a number of stone ornaments and emblems, and some open brass rings, suitable for bracelets or anklets. These being removed, they dug down deeper, and soon discovered a stone dressed to an oblong shape, about eighteen inches long and twelve wide, which proved to be a casket, neatly fitted and completely water-tight, containing a slab of stone of hard and fine quality, an inch and a half thick, eight inches long, four inches and a half wide at one end, and tapering to three inches at the other. Upon the face of the slab was the figure of a man, [95] apparently a priest, with a long flowing beard, and a robe reaching to his feet. Over his head was a curved line of characters, and upon the edges and back of the stone were closely and neatly carved letters. The slab, which I saw myself, was shown to the episcopalian clergyman of Newark, and he pronounced the writing to be the ten Commandments in ancient Hebrew."[I-211]


The account given by the Book of Mormon, of [97] the settlement of America by the Jews, is as follows:[I-212]

After the confusion of tongues, when men were scattered over the whole face of the earth, the Jaredites, a just people, having found favor in the sight of the Eternal, miraculously crossed the ocean in eight vessels, and landed in North America, where, they built large cities and developed into flourishing and highly civilized nations. But their descendants did evil before the Lord, in spite of repeated prophetic warnings, and were finally destroyed for their wickedness, about fifteen hundred years after their arrival, and six hundred before the birth of Christ.

These first inhabitants of America were replaced by an emigration of Israelites, who were miraculously [98] brought from Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. For some time they traveled in a south-easterly direction, following the coast of the Red Sea; afterwards they took a more easterly course, and finally arrived at the borders of the Great Ocean. Here, at the command of God, they constructed a vessel, which bore them safely across the Pacific Ocean to the western coast of South America, where they landed. In the eleventh year of the reign of this same Zedekiah, when the Jews were carried captive to Babylon, some descendants of Judah came from Jerusalem to North America, whence they emigrated to the northern parts of South America. Their descendants were discovered by the first emigrants about four hundred years afterwards.

The first emigrants, almost immediately after their arrival, separated themselves into two distinct nations. The people of one of these divisions called themselves Nephites, from the prophet Nephi, who had conducted them to America. These were persecuted, on account of their righteousness, by the others, who called themselves Lamanites, from Laman, their chief, a wicked and corrupt man. The Nephites retreated to the northern parts of South America, while the Lamanites occupied the central and southern regions. The Nephites possessed a copy of the five books of Moses, and of the prophets as far as Jeremiah, or until the time when they left Jerusalem. These writings were engraved on plates of brass. After their arrival in America they manufactured similar plates, on which they engraved their history and prophetic visions. All these records, kept by men inspired of the Holy Ghost, were carefully preserved, and transmitted from generation to generation.

God gave them the whole continent of America as the promised land, declaring that it should be a heritage for them and for their children, provided [99] they kept his commandments. The Nephites, blessed by God, prospered and spread east, west, and north. They dwelt in immense cities, with temples and fortresses; they cultivated the earth, bred domestic animals, and worked mines of gold, silver, lead, and iron. The arts and sciences flourished among them, and as long as they kept God's commandments, they enjoyed all the benefits of civilization and national prosperity.


The Lamanites, on the contrary, by reason of the hardness of their hearts, were from the first deserted of God. Before their backsliding they were white and comely as the Nephites; but in consequence of the divine curse, they sank into the lowest barbarism. Implacable enemies of the Nephites, they waged war against that people, and strove by every means in their power to destroy them. But they were gradually repulsed with great loss, and the innumerable tumuli which are still to be seen in all parts of the two Americas, cover the remains of the warriors slain in these bloody conflicts.

The second colony of Hebrews, mentioned above, bore the name of Zarahemla. They also had many civil wars, and as they had not brought any historical records with them from Jerusalem, they soon fell into a state of atheism. At the time when they were discovered by the Nephites they were very numerous, but lived in a condition of semi-barbarism. The Nephites, however, united themselves with them, and taught them the sacred Scriptures, so that before long the two nations became as one. Shortly afterwards the Nephites built several vessels, by means of which they sent expeditions towards the north, and founded numerous colonies. Others emigrated by land, and in a short time the whole of the northern continent was peopled. At this time North America was entirely destitute of wood, the forests having been destroyed by the Jaredites, the first colonists, who came from the tower of Babel; [100] but the Nephites constructed houses of cement and brought wood by sea from the south; taking care, besides, to cultivate immense plantations. Large cities sprang up in various parts of the continent, both among the Lamanites and the Nephites. The latter continued to observe the law of Moses; numerous prophets arose among them; they inscribed their prophecies and historical annals on plates of gold or other metal, and upon various other materials. They discovered also the sacred records of the Jaredites, engraved on plates of gold; these they translated into their own language, by the help of God and the Urim Thummim. The Jaredite archives contained the history of man from the creation of the world to the building of the tower of Babel, and from that time to the total destruction of the Jaredites, embracing a period of thirty-four or thirty-five centuries. They also contained the marvelous prophecies which foretold what would happen in the world until the end of all things, and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.


The Nephites were informed of the birth and death of Christ by certain celestial and terrestrial phenomena, which had long before been predicted by their prophets. But in spite of the numerous blessings which they had received, they fell at length from grace, and were terribly punished for their ingratitude and wickedness. A thick darkness covered the whole continent; earthquakes cast mountains into valleys; many towns were swallowed up, and others were destroyed by fire from heaven. Thus perished the most perverse among the Nephites and Lamanites, to the end that the blood of the saints and prophets might no longer cry out from the earth against them. Those who survived these judgments received a visit from Christ, who, after his ascension, appeared in the midst of the Nephites, in the northern part of South America. His instructions, the foundation of a new law, were engraved on [101] plates of gold, and some of them are to be found in the Book of Mormon; but by far the greater part of them will be revealed only to the saints, at a future time.

When Christ had ended his mission to the Nephites, he ascended to heaven, and the apostles designated by him went to preach his gospel throughout the continent of America. In all parts the Nephites and Lamanites were converted to the Lord, and for three centuries they lived a godly life. But toward the end of the fourth century of the Christian era, they returned to their evil ways, and once more they were smitten by the arm of the Almighty. A terrible war broke out between the two nations, which ended in the destruction of the ungrateful Nephites. Driven by their enemies towards the north and north-west, they were defeated in a final battle near the hill of Cumorah,[I-213] where their historical tablets have been since found. Hundreds of thousands of warriors fell on both sides. The Nephites were utterly destroyed, with the exception of some few who either passed over to the enemy, escaped by flight, or were left for dead on the field of battle. Among these last were Mormon and his son Moroni, both upright men.

Mormon had written on tablets an epitome of the annals of his ancestors, which epitome he entitled the Book of Mormon. At the command of God he buried in the hill of Cumorah all the original records in his possession, and at his death he left his own book to his son Moroni, who survived him by some years, that he might continue it. Moroni tells us in his writings that the Lamanites eventually exterminated the few Nephites who had escaped the general slaughter at the battle of Cumorah, sparing those only who had gone over to their side. He himself escaped by concealment. The conquerors slew without mercy all who would not renounce Christ. He [102] tells, further, that the Lamanites had many dreadful wars among themselves, and that the whole land was a scene of incessant murder and violence. Finally, he adds that his work is a complete record of all events that happened down to the year 420 of the Christian era, at which time, by divine command, he buried the Book of Mormon in the hill of Cumorah, where it remained until removed by Joseph Smith, September 22, 1827.[I-214]


Much has been written to prove that the north-western part of America was discovered and peopled by Scandinavians long before the time of Columbus. Although a great part of the evidence upon which this belief rests, is unsatisfactory and mixed up with much that is vague and undoubtedly fabulous, yet it seems to be not entirely destitute of historical proof. Nor is there any improbability that such daring navigators as the Northmen may have visited and colonized the coasts of Greenland, Labrador, and Newfoundland. I find in this opinion an almost exact parallel to the so-called 'Tartar theory.' It is true the distance between Europe and north-eastern America is much greater than that between Asia [103] and north-western America, but would not the great disparity between the maritime enterprise and skill of the Northmen and Asiatics, make the North Atlantic as navigable for the former as Bering Strait for the latter? It is certain that Iceland was settled by the Northmen from Norway at a very early date; there is little reason to doubt that Greenland was in turn colonized from Iceland in the tenth century; if this be conceded, then the question whether the Northmen did actually discover the country now known as America, certainly ceases to wear any appearance of improbability, for it would be unreasonable to suppose that such renowned sailors could live for a great number of years within a short voyage of a vast continent and never become aware of its existence. It would be absurd, however, to believe that the entire continent of America was peopled by Northmen, because its north-eastern borders were visited or even colonized by certain adventurous sea-rovers.

All that is known of the early voyages of the Northmen, is contained in the old Icelandic Sagas. The genuineness of the accounts relating to the discovery of America has been the subject of much discussion. Mr B. F. De Costa, in a carefully studied monograph on the subject, assures us that there can be no doubt as to their authenticity, and I am strongly inclined to agree with him. It is true that no less eminent authors than George Bancroft and Washington Irving have expressed opinions in opposition to De Costa's views, but it must be remembered that neither of these distinguished gentlemen made a very profound study of the Icelandic Sagas, indeed Irving directly states that he "has not had the means of tracing this story to its original sources;" nor must we forget that neither the author of the 'Life of Columbus,' nor he of the 'History of the Colonization of the United States,' could be expected to willingly strip the laurels from the brow of his [104] familiar hero, Christopher Columbus, and concede the honor of the 'first discovery' to the northern sea-kings, whose exploits are so vaguely recorded.[I-215]


De Costa's defence of the genuineness of the accounts referred to is simple and to the point. "Those who imagine," he writes, "that these manuscripts, while of pre-Columbian origin, have been tampered with and interpolated, show that they have not the faintest conception of the state of the question. The accounts of the voyages of the Northmen to America form the framework of Sagas which would actually be destroyed by the elimination of the narratives. There is only one question to be decided, and that is the date of these compositions." "That these manuscripts," he adds, "belong to the pre-Columbian age, is as capable of demonstration as the fact that the writings of Homer existed prior to the age of Christ. Before intelligent persons deny either of these points they must first succeed in blotting out numberless pages of well-known history. The manuscripts in which we have versions of all the Sagas relating to [105] America is found in the celebrated Codex Flatöiensis, a work that was finished in the year 1387, or 1395 at the latest. This collection, made with great care, and executed in the highest style of art, is now preserved in its integrity in the archives of Copenhagen. These manuscripts were for a time supposed to be lost, but were ultimately found safely lodged in their repository in the monastery library of the island of Flatö, from whence they were transferred to Copenhagen with a large quantity of other literary material collected from various localities. If these Sagas which refer to America were interpolations, it would have early become apparent, as abundant means exist for detecting frauds; yet those who have examined the whole question do not find any evidence that invalidates their historical statements. In the absence, therefore, of respectable testimony to the contrary, we accept it as a fact that the Sagas relating to America are the productions of men who gave them in their present form nearly, if not quite, an entire century before the age of Columbus."[I-216]

The accounts of the voyages as given in the original manuscripts are too numerous and prolix to be reproduced in their entirety here; but I will endeavor to give a résumé of them, following, to a [106] great extent, an 'abstract of the historical evidence for the discovery of America by the Scandinavians in the tenth century,' given in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society.[I-217]

Eric the Red, in the spring of 986,[I-218] emigrated from Iceland to Greenland, and founded a settlement there. One of his companions was Heriulf Bardson, whose son, Biarne, was at that time absent on a trading voyage to Norway. Biarne, on his return to Iceland, resolved "still to spend the following winter, like all the preceding ones, with his father," and to that end set sail for Greenland. But, owing to the northerly winds and fogs, and to the fact that neither he nor any of his followers had ever navigated these seas before, Biarne lost his way. When the weather cleared up they found themselves in sight of a strange land, which they left to larboard. After two days' sail they again sighted land; and once more standing out to sea, they, after three days, saw land a third time, which proved to be an island. Again they bore away, and after four days' sailing reached Greenland.


Some time after this, Leif, a son of Eric the Red, having heard of Biarne's discoveries, bought his ship, manned it with a crew of thirty men, and set out from Greenland, about the year 1000. The first land they sighted was that which Biarne had seen last; this they named Helluland.[I-219] They put out to sea [107] and soon came to another land, which they named Markland.[I-220] Again they stood out to sea, and after two days came to an island. They then sailed westward, and afterwards went on shore at a place where a river, issuing from a lake, fell into the sea. Bringing their ship up the river, they anchored in the lake. Here they settled for a time, and finding vines in the country, they named it Vinland.[I-221] In the spring they returned to Greenland.

This expedition to Vinland was much talked of, and Thorwald, Leif's brother, thought that the new country had not been thoroughly enough explored. Then Leif lent his ship to Thorwald, who set out for Vinland about the year 1002. There he and his crew wintered, and about the year 1004 they set sail to the eastward. On this voyage Thorwald was killed by the natives. At his request his followers returned to Vinland and buried his remains there. In 1005 they sailed again to Greenland, bearing the sad news of his brother's death to Leif.

Thorstein, Eric's third son, soon afterwards set out in the same ship for Vinland, to fetch his brother's body. He was accompanied by his wife Gudrida, and twenty-five strong men, but after tossing about on the ocean during the whole summer, they finally landed again on the Greenland coast, where Thorstein died during the winter.

[108] The next voyage to Vinland was made by one Thorfinn Karlsefne, a man of noble lineage, who occupied his time in merchant voyages and was thought a good trader. In the summer of 1006 he fitted out his ship in Iceland for a voyage to Greenland, attended by one Snorre Thorbrandson and a crew of forty men. At the same time another ship was fitted out for the same destination by Biarne Grimolfson and Thorhall Gamlason, and manned with a crew of forty men also. All being ready, the two ships put out to sea, and both arrived safely at Ericsfiord in Greenland, where Leif and Gudrida, the widow of Leif's late brother, Thorstein, dwelt. Here Thorfinn fell in love with the fair Gudrida, and with Leif's consent, married her that winter.

The discovery of Vinland was much talked of among the settlers, for they all believed that it was a good country, and that a voyage there would be very profitable; and Thorfinn was urged and at length persuaded to undertake the adventure. Accordingly, in the spring of 1007 he fitted out his ship, and Biarne Grimolfson and Thorhall Gamlason did the same with theirs. A third ship, commanded by one Thorward, also joined the expedition. And on Thorward's ship a man named Thorhall, 'commonly called the hunter,' who had been the huntsman of Eric in the summer, and his steward in the winter, also went.


As this is probably the most important of all the Northmen's voyages to America, I will give it in full: "They sailed first to the Westerbygd, and afterwards to Biarney. From thence they sailed in a southerly direction to Helluland, where they found [109] many foxes. From thence they sailed again two days in a southerly direction to Markland, a country overgrown with wood, and plentifully stocked with animals. Leaving this, they continued sailing in a S.W. direction for a long time, having the land to starboard, until they at length came to Kialarnes,[I-222] where there were trackless deserts and long beaches and sands, called by them Furdustrandir. When they had past these, the land began to be indented by inlets. They had two Scots with them, Hake and Hekia, whom Leif had formerly received from the Norwegian King Olaf Tryggvason, and who were very swift of foot. They put them on shore, recommending them to proceed in a S.W. direction, and explore the country. After the lapse of three days they returned bringing with them some grapes and some ears of wheat, which grew wild in that region. They continued their course until they came to a place where a firth penetrated far into the country. Off the mouth of it was an island past which there ran strong currents, which was also the case farther up the firth. On the island there were an immense number of eyderducks, so that it was scarcely possible to walk without treading on their eggs. They called the island Straumey (Stream-Isle), and the firth Straumfiördr (Stream-Firth).[I-223] They landed on the shore of this firth, and made preparations for their winter residence. The country was extremely beautiful. They confined their operations to exploring the country. Thorhall afterwards wished to proceed in a N. direction in quest of Vineland. [110] Karlsefne chose rather to go to the S.W. Thorhall, and along with him eight men, quitted them, and sailed past Furdustrandir and Kialarnes, but they were driven by westerly gales to the coast of Ireland, where, according to the accounts of some traders, they were beaten and made slaves. Karlsefne, together with Snorre and Biarne, and the rest of the ships' companies, in all 151 (CXXXI.) men, sailed southwards, and arrived at the place, where a river falls into the sea from a lake. Opposite to the mouth of the river were large islands. They steered into the lake, and called the place Hóp (í Hópe). On the low grounds they found fields of wheat growing wild, and on the rising grounds vines. While looking about one morning they observed a great number of canoes. On exhibiting friendly signals the canoes approached nearer to them, and the natives in them looked with astonishment at those they met there. These people were sallow-coloured or ill-looking, had ugly heads of hair, large eyes, and broad cheeks. After they had gazed at them for a while, they rowed away again to the S.W. past the cape. Karlsefne and his company had erected their dwelling-houses a little above the bay; and there they spent the winter. No snow fell, and the cattle found their food in the open field. One morning early, in the beginning of 1008, they descried a number of canoes coming from the S.W. past the cape. Karlsefne having held up a white shield as a friendly signal, they drew nigh and immediately commenced bartering. These people chose in preference red cloth, and gave furs and squirrel skins in exchange. They would fain also have bought swords and spears, but these Karlsefne and Snorre prohibited their people from selling them. In exchange for a skin entirely gray the Skrellings took a piece of cloth of a span in breadth, and bound it round their heads. Their barter was carried on this way for some time. The Northmen then found that their cloth was beginning [111] to grow scarce, whereupon they cut it up in smaller pieces, not broader than a finger's breadth; yet the Skrellings gave as much for these smaller pieces as they had formerly given for the larger ones, or even more. Karlsefne also caused the women to bear out milk soup, and the Skrellings relishing the taste of it, they desired to buy it in preference to everything else, so they wound up their traffic by carrying away their bargains in their bellies. Whilst this traffic was going on, it happened that a bull, which Karlsefne had brought along with him, came out of the wood and bellowed loudly. At this the Skrellings got terrified and rushed to their canoes, and rowed away southwards. About this time Gudrida, Karlsefne's wife, gave birth to a son, who received the name of Snorre. In the beginning of the following winter the Skrellings came again in much greater numbers; they showed symptoms of hostility, setting up loud yells. Karlsefne caused the red shield to be borne against them, whereupon they advanced against each other, and a battle commenced. There was a galling discharge of missiles. The Skrellings had a sort of war slings. They elevated on a pole a tremendously large ball, almost the size of a sheep's stomach, and of a bluish colour; this they swung from the pole upon land over Karlsefne's people, and it descended with a fearful crash. This struck terror into the Northmen, and they fled along the river. Freydisa came out and saw them flying; she thereupon exclaimed, 'How can stout men like you fly from these miserable caitifs, whom I thought you could knock down like cattle? If I had only a weapon, I ween I could fight better than any of you.' They heeded not her words. She tried to keep pace with them, but the advanced state of her pregnancy retarded her. She however followed them into the wood. There she encountered a dead body. It was Thorbrand Snorrason; a flat stone was sticking fast in his head. His naked sword lay by his side. [112] This she took up, and prepared to defend herself. She uncovered her breasts, and dashed them against the naked sword. At this sight the Skrellings became terrified, and ran off to their canoes. Karlsefne and the rest now came up to her and praised her courage. Karlsefne and his people were now become aware that, although the country held out many advantages, still the life that they would have to lead here would be one of constant alarm from the hostile attacks of the natives. They therefore made preparations for departure, with the resolution of returning to their own country. They sailed eastward, and came to Streamfirth. Karlsefne then took one of the ships, and sailed in quest of Thorhall, while the rest remained behind. They proceeded northwards round Kialarnes, and after that were carried to the north-west. The land lay to larboard of them. There were thick forests in all directions, as far as they could see, with scarcely any open space. They considered the hills at Hope and those which they now saw as forming part of one continuous range. They spent the third winter at Streamfirth. Karlsefne's son Snorre was now three years of age. When they sailed from Vineland they had a southerly wind, and came to Markland, where they met with five Skrellings. They caught two of them (two boys), whom they carried away along with them, and taught them the Norse language, and baptised them; these children said that their mother was called Vethilldi and their father Uvæge; they said that the Skrellings were ruled by chieftains (kings), one of whom was called Avalldamon, and the other Valdidida; that there were no houses in the country, but that the people dwelled in holes and caverns. Biarne Grimolfson was driven into the Irish Ocean, and came into waters that were so infested by worms, that their ship was in consequence reduced to a sinking state. Some of the crew, however, were saved in the boat, as it had been smeared with seal-oil tar, [113] which is a preventive against the attack of worms. Karlsefne continued his voyage to Greenland, and arrived at Ericsfiord."

During the same summer that Karlsefne returned from Vinland, a ship arrived at Greenland from Norway, commanded by two brothers, Helge and Finnboge. And Freydisa, she who had frightened the Skrellings, went to them and proposed they should make a voyage to Vinland, and she offered to go with them on condition that an equal share of what they obtained there should be hers; and they agreed to this. It was arranged between the brothers and Freydisa that each should have thirty fighting men, besides women. But Freydisa secretly brought away five men more than the allotted number. They reached Vinland and spent the winter there. During their stay Freydisa prevailed on her husband to slay the two brothers and their followers; the women that were with them she killed with her own hand. In the spring of the next year they returned to Greenland.[I-224]

In the latter part of the tenth century,[I-225] one Are Marson, of Iceland, was driven by storms to Hvitramannaland, or Land of the Whitemen. This country, which was also called Great Ireland, has been thought to be "probably that part of the Coast of North America which extends southwards from Chesapeak Bay, including North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida."[I-226] Here, also, one Biörn Asbrandson is said to have ended his days.[I-227]

[114] I do not propose to give here all that has been said about these voyages, as it would not be pertinent to the question which we are reviewing, namely, the origin of the Americans. Indeed, the entire subject of the Northmen's voyages and colonization, might almost be said to be without our province, as it is not asserted that they were actually the first inhabitants of the New World.

The relics that have been thought to prove their former presence in the continent, are neither numerous nor important. One of these is the Dighton Rock, of which I have had occasion to speak before, in connection with the Phœnician theory.[I-228] In 1824, a stone engraved with Runic characters was found on the island of Kingiktorsoak, on the western coast of Greenland.[I-229]


Priest is strongly inclined to believe that a glass [115] bottle about the size of a common junk bottle, "having a stopple in its nuzzle," an iron hatchet edged with steel, the remains of a blacksmith's forge, and some ploughed-up crucibles, all found in the town of Pompey, Onondaga County, New York, are of Scandinavian origin.[I-230]

Brasseur de Bourbourg has found many words in the languages of Central America which bear, he thinks, marked Scandinavian traces; little can be proven by this, however, since he finds as many other words that as strongly resemble Latin, Greek, English, French, and many other languages. The learned Abbé believes, moreover, that some of the ancient traditions of the Central American nations point to a north-east origin.[I-231] Viollet-le-Duc is struck with the similarity that existed between the religious customs and ideas of the ancient Northmen and of the Quichés as expressed in the Popol Vuh.[I-232]



We come now to the theory that the Americans, or at least part of them, are of Celtic origin. In the old Welsh annals there is an account of a voyage made in the latter half of the twelfth century,[I-233] by one Madoc, a son of Owen Gwynedd, prince of North Wales. The story goes, that after the death of Gwynedd, his sons contended violently for the sovereignty. Madoc, who was the only peaceable one among them, determined to leave his disturbed country and sail in search of some unknown land where he might dwell in peace. He accordingly procured an abundance of provisions and a few ships and embarked with his friends and followers. For many months they sailed westward without finding a resting-place; but at length they came to a large and fertile country, where, after sailing for some distance along the coast in search of a convenient landing-place, they disembarked, and permanently settled. After a time Madoc, with part of his company, returned to Wales, where he fitted out ten ships with all manner of supplies, prevailed on a large number of his countrymen to join him, and once more set [117] sail for the new colony, which, though we hear no more about him or his settlement, he is supposed to have reached safely.[I-234]


The exact location of Madoc's colony has only been guessed at. Baldwin says it is supposed that he settled 'somewhere in the Carolinas.' Caradoc, in his history of Wales,[I-235] has no doubt that the country where Madoc established his colony was Mexico; this he thinks is shown by three facts: first, the Mexicans believed that their ancestors came from a beautiful country afar off, inhabited by white people; secondly, they adored the cross; and thirdly, several Welsh names are found in Mexico. Peter Martyr affirms that the aborigines of Virginia, as well as those of Guatemala, celebrate the memory of an ancient and illustrious hero, named Madoc. Harcourt, in the preface to the account of his voyage to Guiana,[I-236] says that that part of America was discovered [118] and possessed by the Welsh prince, Madoc. Herbert, according to Martyr, says that the land discovered by the prince was Florida or Virginia.[I-237] Catlin is inclined to believe that Madoc entered the Mississippi at Balize and made his way up the river, or that he landed somewhere on the Florida coast. He thinks the colonists pushed into the interior and finally settled on the Ohio river; afterwards, being driven from that position by the aboriginal tribes, they advanced up the Missouri river to the place where they have been known for many years by the name of Mandans, "a corruption or abbreviation, perhaps, of Madawgwys, the name applied by the Welsh to the followers of Madawc." The canoes of the Mandans, Mr Catlin tells us, which are altogether different from those of all other tribes, correspond exactly to the Welsh coracle,[I-238] the peculiarity of their physical appearance was such that when he first saw them he "was under the instant conviction that they were an amalgam of a native, with some civilized race," and the resemblance that exists between their language and Welsh, is, in his opinion, very striking.[I-239] There have been several reports that traces of the Welsh colony and of their language have been discovered among the native tribes, but none of them seem entitled to full credit. The best known report of this kind, and the one that claims, perhaps, the most respectful consideration, is that of the Rev. Morgan Jones, written in 1686, and published in the Gentleman's Magazine for the year 1740. In 1660 the reverend gentleman, with five companions, was taken prisoner by the Tuscarora tribe, who were about to put him to death when he [119] soliloquized aloud in Welsh; whereupon they spared him and his companions, and treated them very civilly. After this Mr Jones stayed among them for four months, during which time he conversed with them familiarly in the Welsh language, "and did preach to them in the same language three times a week."[I-240]

A certain Lieutenant Roberts states that in 1801 he met an Indian chief at Washington, who spoke Welsh "as fluently as if he had been born and brought up in the vicinity of Snowdon." He said it was the language of his nation, the Asguaws, who [120] lived eight hundred miles north-west of Philadelphia. He knew nothing of Wales, but stated that his people had a tradition that their ancestors came to America from a distant country, which lay far to the east, over the great waters. Amongst other questions, Lieutenant Roberts asked him how it was that his nation had preserved their original language so perfect; he answered that they had a law which forbade any to teach their children another tongue, until they were twelve years old.[I-241]

Another officer, one Captain Davies, relates that while stationed at a trading-post, among the Illinois Indians, he was surprised to find that several Welshmen who belonged to his company, could converse readily with the aborigines in Welsh.[I-242] Warden tells a story of a Welshman named Griffith, who was taken prisoner by the Shawnee tribe about the year 1764. Two years afterwards, he and five Shawnees, with whom he was traveling about the sources of the Missouri, fell into the hands of a white tribe, who were about to massacre them when Griffith spoke to them in Welsh, explaining the object of their journey; upon this they consented to spare him and his companions. He could learn nothing of the history of these white natives, except that their ancestors had come to the Missouri from a far distant country. Griffith returned to the Shawnee nation, but subsequently escaped and succeeded in reaching Virginia.[I-243] There are many other reports [121] of a similar kind, but these will be sufficient to show on what manner of foundation the Welsh theory rests, and to justify in a measure the outspoken opinion of Mr Fiske, that "Welch Indians are creatures of the imagination."[I-244]


Lord Monboddo, a Scotchman, who wrote in the seventeenth century, quotes several instances to show that the language of the native Highlanders was spoken in America. In one of the English expeditions to discover the North Pole, he relates, there were an Eskimo and a Scotchman, who, after a few days practice, were able to converse together readily. He also states "that the Celtic language was spoken by many of the tribes of Florida, which is situated at the north end of the gulf of Mexico; and that he was well acquainted with a gentleman from the Highlands of Scotland, who was several years in Florida, in a public character, and who stated that many of the tribes with whom he had become acquainted, had the greatest affinity with the Celtic in their language."[I-245]

Claims have also been put in for an Irish discovery of the New World; St Patrick is said to have sent missionaries to the 'Isles of America,'[I-246] and early writers have gravely discussed the probability [122] of Quetzalcoatl having been an Irishman. There is no great improbability that the natives of Ireland may have reached, by accident or otherwise, the north-eastern coasts of the new continent, in very early times, but there is certainly no evidence to prove that they did.[I-247]

The nations of southern Europe have not been entirely forgotten by the theorists on the question of origin. Those who have claimed for them the honor of first settling or civilizing America, are not many, however; nor is the evidence they adduce of a very imposing nature.

Lafitau supposes the Americans to be descended from the ancient inhabitants of the Grecian archipelago, who were driven from their country by the subjects of Og, King of Bashan. In every particular, he says, the people of the New World resemble the Hellenes and Pelagians. Both were idolators; used sacred fire; indulged in Bacchanalian revels; held formal councils; strong resemblances are to be found in their marriage customs, system of education, manner of hunting, fishing, and making war, in their games and sports, in their mourning and burial customs, and in their manner of treating the sick.[I-248] García knew a man in Peru who knew of a rock on which was what looked very much like a Greek inscription. The same writer says that the Athenians waged war with the inhabitants of Atlantis, and might therefore have heard of America. That the Greeks were navigators in very early times is shown by Jason's voyage in search of the Golden Fleece. Both Greeks and Americans bored their ears and sang the deeds of their ancestors; besides which, many words are common to both peoples.[I-249] Like [123] García, Mr Pidgeon also knew a man—a farmer of Montevideo, in Brazil—who in 1827 discovered in one of his fields a flat stone, upon which was engraven a Greek inscription, which, as far as it was legible, read as follows: "During the dominion of Alexander, the son of Philip, King of Macedon, in the sixty-third Olympiad, Ptolemaios." Deposited beneath the stone were found two ancient swords, a helmet, and a shield. On the handle of one of the swords was a portrait of Alexander; on the helmet was a beautiful design representing Achilles dragging the corpse of Hector round the walls of Troy. "From this discovery, it is evident"—to Mr Pidgeon—"that the soil of Brazil was formerly broken by Ptolemaios, more than a thousand years before the discovery by Columbus."[I-250] Brasseur de Bourbourg seeks to identify certain of the American gods with Greek deities.[I-251] Jones finds that the sculpture at Uxmal very closely resembles the Greek style.[I-252]

The vastness of some of the cities built by the civilized Americans, the fine roads they constructed, their fondness for gladiatorial combats, and a few unreliable accounts that Roman coins have been found on the continent, constitute about all the evidence that is offered to show that the Romans ever visited America.[I-253]


The story of Atlantis, that is, of a submerged, lost land that once lay to the west of Europe, is very old. It was communicated to Solon, according to Plutarch, by the Egyptian priests of Psenophis, Sonchis, [124] Heliopolis, and Saïs; and if we may believe Plato, Solon did not hear of the events until nine thousand Egyptian years after their occurrence. Plato's version is as follows:

"Among the great deeds of Athens, of which recollection is preserved in our books, there is one which should be placed above all others. Our books tell that the Athenians destroyed an army which came across the Atlantic Sea, and insolently invaded Europe and Asia; for this sea was then navigable, and beyond the strait where you place the Pillars of Hercules there was an island larger than Asia (Minor) and Libya combined. From this island one could pass easily to the other islands, and from these to the continent which lies around the interior sea. The sea on this side of the strait (the Mediterranean) of which we speak, resembles a harbor with a narrow entrance; but there is a genuine sea, and the land which surrounds it is a veritable continent. In the island of Atlantis reigned three kings with great and marvelous power. They had under their dominion the whole of Atlantis, several other islands, and some parts of the continent. At one time their power extended into Libya, and into Europe as far as Tyrrhenia, and, uniting their whole force, they sought to destroy our countries at a blow; but their defeat stopped the invasion and gave entire independence to all the countries this side of the Pillars of Hercules. Afterward, in one day and one fatal night, there came mighty earthquakes and inundations, which ingulfed that warlike people; Atlantis disappeared beneath the sea, and then that sea became inaccessible, so that navigation ceased on account of the quantity of mud which the ingulfed island left in its place."[I-254]

It is only recently that any important signification has been attached to this passage. It was previously [125] regarded rather as one of those fabulous accounts in which the works of the writers of antiquity abound, than as an actual statement of facts. True, it had been frequently quoted to show that the ancients had a knowledge more or less vague of the continent of America, but no particular value was set upon the assertion that the mysterious land was ages ago submerged and lost in the ocean. But of late years it has been discovered that traditions and records of cataclysms similar to that referred to by the Egyptian priests, have been preserved among the American nations; which discovery has led several learned and diligent students of New World lore to believe that after all the story of Atlantis, as recorded by Plato, may be founded upon fact, and that in bygone ages there did actually exist in the Atlantic Ocean a great tract of inhabited country, forming perhaps part of the American continent, which by some mighty convulsion of nature was suddenly submerged and lost in the sea.


Foremost among those who have held and advocated this opinion stands the Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg. This distinguished Américaniste goes farther than his fellows, however, in that he attempts to prove that all civilization originated in America, or the Occident, instead of in the Orient, as has always been supposed. This theory he endeavors to substantiate not so much by the Old World traditions and records as by those of the New World, using as his principal authority an anonymous manuscript written in the Nahua language, which he entitles the Codex Chimalpopoca. This work purports to be on the face of it a 'History of the Kingdoms of Culhuacan and Mexico,' and as such it served Brasseur as almost his sole authority for the Toltec period of his Histoire des Nations Civilisées. At that time the learned Abbé regarded the Atlantis theory, at least so far as it referred to any part of America, as an absurd conjecture resting upon no [126] authentic basis.[I-255] In a later work, however, he more than retracts this assertion; from a sceptic he is suddenly transformed into a most devout and enthusiastic believer, and attempts to prove by a most elaborate course of reasoning that that which he before doubted is indubitably true. The cause of this sudden change was a strange one. As, by constant study, he became more profoundly learned in the literature of ancient America, the Abbé discovered that he had entirely misinterpreted the Codex Chimalpopoca. The annals recorded so plainly upon the face of the mystic pages were intended only for the understanding of the vulgar; the stories of the kings, the history of the kingdoms, were allegorical and not to be construed literally; deep below the surface lay the true historic record—hidden from all save the priests and the wise men of the West—of the mighty cataclysm which submerged the cradle of all civilization.[I-256] Excepting a dozen, perhaps, of the kings who preceded Montezuma, it is not a history of men, but of American nature, that must be sought for in the Mexican manuscripts and paintings. The Toltecs, so long regarded as an ancient civilized race, destroyed in the eleventh century by their enemies, are really telluric forces, agents of subterranean fire, the veritable smiths of Orcus and of Lemnos, of which Tollan was the symbol, the [127] true masters of civilization and art, who by the mighty convulsions which they caused communicated to men a knowledge of minerals.[I-257]

I know of no man better qualified than was Brasseur de Bourbourg to penetrate the obscurity of American primitive history. His familiarity with the Nahua and Central American languages, his indefatigable industry, and general erudition, rendered him eminently fit for such a task, and every word written by such a man on such a subject is entitled to respectful consideration. Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that the Abbé was often rapt away from the truth by excess of enthusiasm, and the reader of his wild and fanciful speculations cannot but regret that he has not the opportunity or ability to intelligently criticise by comparison the French savant's interpretation of the original documents. At all events it is certain that he honestly believed in the truth of his own discovery; for when he admitted that, in the light of his better knowledge, the Toltec history, as recorded in the Codex Chimalpopoca, was an allegory—that no such people as the Toltecs ever existed, in fact—and thereby rendered valueless his own history of the Toltec period, he made a sacrifice of labor, unique, I think, in the annals of literature.

Brasseur's theory supposes that the continent of America occupied originally the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, and extended in the form of a peninsula so far across the Atlantic that the Canary islands may have formed part of it. All this extended portion of the continent was many ages ago engulfed by a tremendous convulsion of nature, of which traditions and written records have been preserved by many American peoples.[I-258] Yucatan, [128] Honduras, and Guatemala, were also submerged, but the continent subsequently rose sufficiently to rescue them from the ocean. The testimony of many modern men of science tends to show that there existed at one time a vast extent of dry land between Europe and America.[I-259]

It is not my intention to enter the mazes of Brasseur's argument here; once in that labyrinth there would be small hope of escape. His Quatre Lettres are a chaotic jumble of facts and wild speculations that would appal the most enthusiastic antiquarian; the materials are arranged with not the slightest regard for order; the reader is continually harassed by long rambling digressions—literary no-thoroughfares, as it were, into which he is beguiled in the hope of coming out somewhere, only to find himself more hopelessly lost than ever; for mythological evidence, the pantheons of Phœnicia, Egypt, Hindostan, Greece, and Rome, are probed to their most obscure depths; comparative philology is as accommodating to the theorist as ever, which is saying a great deal; the opinions of geologists who never dreamed of an Atlantis theory, are quoted to show that the American continent formerly extended into the Atlantic in the manner supposed.

I have presented to the reader the bare outline of what Brasseur expects to prove, without giving him the argument used by that learned writer, for the reason that a partial résumé of the Quatre Lettres would be unfair to the Abbé, while an entire résumé would occupy more space than I can spare. I will, however, deviate from the system I have hitherto observed, so far as to express my own opinion of the French savant's theory.

Were the original documents from which Brasseur drew his data obtainable, we might, were we able to read and understand them, know about how far his [129] enthusiasm and imagination have warped his calmer judgment; as it is, the Atlantis theory is certainly not proved, and we may therefore reasonably decline to accept it. In my opinion there is every reason to believe that his first interpretation of the Codex Chimalpopoca was the true one, and that the 'double meaning' had no existence save in his own distorted fancy.[I-260]


It only remains now to speak of the theory which ascribes an autochthonic origin to the Americans. The time is not long past when such a supposition would have been regarded as impious, and even at this day its advocates may expect discouragement if not rebuke from certain quarters.[I-261] It is, nevertheless, an opinion worthy of the gravest consideration, and one which, if we may judge by the recent results [130] of scientific investigation, may eventually prove to be scientifically correct. In the preceding pages it will have been remarked that no theory of a foreign origin has been proven, or even fairly sustained. The particulars in which the Americans are shown to resemble any given people of the Old World are insignificant in number and importance when compared with the particulars in which they do not resemble that people.

As I have remarked elsewhere, it is not impossible that stray ships of many nations have at various times and in various places been cast upon the American coast, or even that adventurous spirits, who were familiar with the old-time stories of a western land, may have designedly sailed westward until they reached America, and have never returned to tell the tale. The result of such desultory visits would be exactly what has been noticed, but erroneously attributed to immigration en masse. The strangers, were their lives spared, would settle among the people, and impart their ideas and knowledge to them. This knowledge would not take any very definite shape or have any very decided effect, for the reason that the sailors and adventurers who would be likely to land in America under such circumstances, would not be thoroughly versed in the arts or sciences; still they would know many things that were unknown to their captors, or hosts, and would doubtless be able to suggest many improvements. This, then, would account for many Old World ideas and customs that have been detected here and there in America, while at the same time the difficulty which arises from the fact that the resemblances, though striking, are yet very few, would be satisfactorily avoided. The foreigners, if adopted by the people they fell among, would of course marry women of the country and beget children, but it cannot be expected that the physical peculiarities so transmitted would be perceptible after a generation or two [131] of re-marrying with the aboriginal stock. At the same time I think it just as probable that the analogies referred to are mere coincidences, such as might be found among any civilized or semi-civilized people of the earth. It may be argued that the various American tribes and nations differ so materially from each other as to render it extremely improbable that they are derived from one original stock, but, however this may be, the difference can scarcely be greater than that which apparently exists between many of the Aryan branches.[I-262]


Hence it is many not unreasonably assume that the Americans are autochthones until there is some good ground given for believing them to be of exotic origin.[I-263] To express belief, however, in a theory incapable of proof appears to me idle. Indeed, such belief is not belief; it is merely acquiescing in or accepting a hypothesis or tradition until the contrary [132] is proved. No one at the present day can tell the origin of the Americans; they may have come from any one, or from all the hypothetical sources enumerated in the foregoing pages, and here the question must rest until we have more light upon the subject.



Origin and Earliest History of the Americans Unrecorded—The Dark Sea of Antiquity—Boundary between Myth and History—Primitive Annals of America compared with those of the Old World—Authorities and Historical Material—Traditional Annals and their Value—Hieroglyphic Records of the Mayas and Nahuas—Spanish Writers—The Conquerors—The Missionaries—The Historians—Converted Native Chroniclers—Secondary Authorities—Ethnology—Arts, Institutions, and Beliefs—Languages—Material Monuments of Antiquity—Use of Authorities and Method of Treating the Subject.

The preceding résumé shows pretty conclusively that the American peoples and the American civilizations, if not indigenous to the New World, were introduced from the Old at a period long preceding any to which we are carried by the traditional or monumental annals of either continent. We have found no evidence of any populating or civilizing migration across the ocean from east or west, north or south, within historic times. Nothing approaching identity has been discovered between any two nations separated by the Atlantic or Pacific. No positive record appears even of communication between America and the Old World,—intentionally by commercial, exploring, or warlike expeditions, or accidentally by shipwreck,—previous to the voyages of [134] the Northmen in the tenth century; yet that such communication did take place in many instances and at different periods is extremely probable. The numerous trans-oceanic analogies, more or less clearly defined, which are observed, may have resulted partially from this communication, although they do not of themselves necessarily imply such an agency. If scientific research shall in the future decide that all mankind descended from one original pair, that the centre of population was in Asia rather than in America, and that all civilization originated with one Old World branch of the human family—and these are all yet open questions—then there will be no great difficulty in accounting for the transfer of both population and culture; in fact the means of intercontinental intercourse are so numerous and practicable that it will perhaps be impossible to decide on the particular route or routes by which the transfer was effected. If, on the other hand, a contrary decision be reached on the above questions, the phenomena of American civilization and savagism will be even more easily accounted for.


Regarding North America then, at the most remote epoch reached by tradition, as already peopled for perhaps hundreds of centuries, I propose in the remaining pages of this volume to record all that is known of aboriginal history down to the period when the native races were found by Europeans living under the institutions and practicing the arts that have been described in the preceding volumes of this work. Comparatively little is known or can ever be known of that history. The sixteenth century is a bluff coast line bounding the dark unnavigable sea of American antiquity. At a very few points along the long line headlands project slightly into the waters, affording a tolerably sure footing for a time, but terminating for the most part in dangerous reefs and quicksands over which the adventurous antiquarian may pass with much risk still farther from the firm [135] land of written record, and gaze at flickering mythical lights attached to buoys beyond. As a rule, nothing whatever is known respecting the history of savage tribes until they come in contact with nations of a higher degree of culture possessing some system of written record. Respecting the past of the Wild Tribes by whom most of our territory was inhabited, we have only a few childish fables of creation, the adventures of some bird or beast divinity, of a flood or some other natural convulsion, a victory or a defeat which may have occurred one or a hundred generations ago. These fables lack chronology, and have no definite historical signification which can be made available. The Civilized Nations, however, had recorded annals not altogether mythical. The Nahua annals reach back chronologically, although not uninterruptedly to about the sixth century of our era; the Maya record is somewhat less extensive in an unbroken line; but both extend more or less vaguely and mythically to the beginning of the Christian era, perhaps much farther. Myths are mingled in great abundance with historical traditions throughout the whole aboriginal period, and it is often utterly impossible to distinguish between them, or to fix the boundary line beyond which the element of history is absolutely wanting. The primitive aboriginal life, not only in America but throughout the world, is wrapped in mystery. The clear light of history fades gradually, as we recede from the present age, into an ever-deepening shadow, which, beyond a varying indefinable point, a border-land of myth and fable, merges into the black night of antiquity. The investigations of modern science move back but slowly this bound between the past and present, and while the results in the aggregate are immense, in shedding new light on portions of the world's annals, progress toward the ultimate end is almost inappreciable. If the human mind shall ever penetrate the mystery, it will be one of its last and most glorious [136] triumphs. America does not differ so much as would at first thought appear from the so-called Old World in respect to the obscurity that shrouds her early history, if both are viewed from a corresponding stand-point—in America the Spanish Conquest in the sixteenth century, in the eastern continent a remote period when history first began to be recorded in languages still in use. Or if we attach greater importance to Biblical than to other traditions, still America should be compared, not with the nations whose history is traced in the Hebrew record, but with the distant extremities of Asia, Europe, and Africa, on whose history the Bible throws no light, save the statement that they were peopled from a common centre, in which populating movement America has equal claims to be included. To all whose investigations are a search for truth, darkness covers the origin of the American peoples, and their primitive history, save for a few centuries preceding the Conquest. The darkness is lighted up here and there by dim rays of conjecture, which only become fixed lights of fact in the eyes of antiquarians whose lively imagination enables them to see best in the dark, and whose researches are but a sifting-out of supports to a preconceived opinion.

The authorities on which our knowledge of aboriginal history rests are native traditions orally handed down from generation to generation, the Aztec picture-writings that still exist, the writings of the Spanish authors who came in contact with the natives in the period immediately following the Conquest, and also of converted native writers who wrote in Spanish, or at least by the aid of European letters. In connection with these positive authorities the actual condition, institutions, and beliefs of the natives at the Conquest, together with the material monuments of antiquity, all described in the preceding volumes, constitute an important illustrative, corrective, or confirmatory source of information.



Oral tradition, in connection with linguistic affinities, is our only authority in the case of the wild tribes, and also plays a prominent part in the annals of the civilized nations. In estimating its historical value, not only the intrinsic value of the tradition itself, but the authenticity of the version presented to us must be taken into consideration; the latter consideration is, however, closely connected with that of the early writers and their reliability as authorities on aboriginal history. No tribe is altogether without traditions of the past, many—probably most—of which were founded on actual occurrences, while a few are wholly imaginary. Yet, whatever their origin, all are, if unsupported by written records, practically of little or no value. Every trace of the circumstances that gave rise to a tradition is soon lost, although the tradition itself in curiously modified forms is long preserved. Natural convulsions, like floods and earthquakes, famines, wars, tribal migrations, naturally leave an impression on the savage mind which is not easily effaced, but the fable in which the record is embodied may have assumed a form so changed and childish that we pass over it to-day as having no historical value, seeking information only in an apparently more consistent tale, which may have originated at a recent date from some very trivial circumstance. Examples are not wanting of very important events in the comparatively modern history of Indian tribes, the record of which has not apparently been preserved in song or story, or the memory of which at least has become entirely obliterated in little more than a hundred years. Oral tradition has no chronology that is not purely imaginary; "many moons ago," "our fathers did thus and so," may refer to antediluvian times or to the exploits of the narrator's grandfather. Among the American savages there was not even a pride in the pedigree of families or horses to induce care in this respect, as among the Asiatic hordes of patriarchal [138] times. But the traditions of savages, valueless by themselves for a time more remote than one or two generations, begin to assume importance when the events narrated have been otherwise ascertained by the records of some contemporary nation, throwing indirectly much light on history which they were powerless to reveal. Three traditions are especially prevalent in some form in nearly every section of America;—that of a deluge, of an aboriginal migration, and of giants that dwelt upon the earth at some time in the remote past. These may be taken as examples and interpreted as follows, the respective interpretations being arranged in the order of their probability.

The tradition of a flood would naturally arise, 1st, from the destruction of a tribe or part of a tribe by the sudden rising of a river or mountain stream—that is from a modern event such as has occurred at some time in the history of nearly every people, and which a hundred years and a fertile imagination would readily have converted into a universal inundation. 2d. From the finding of sea-shells and other marine relics inland, and even on high mountains, suggesting to the natives' untutored mind what it proves to later scientific research—the fact that water once covered all. 3d. From the actual submersion of some portions of the continent by the action of volcano or earthquake, an event that geology shows not to be improbable, and which would be well calculated to leave a lasting impression on the minds of savages. 4th. From the deluge of the scriptural tradition, the only one of the many similar events that may have occurred which makes any claims to have been historically recorded. The accompanying particulars would be naturally invented. Some must have escaped, and an ark or a high mountain are the natural means.

A traditional migration from north, south, east, or west may point to the local journeying of a family [139] or tribe, either in search of better hunting-grounds, or as a result of adverse fortune in war; in a few cases a general migration of many tribes constituting a great nation may be referred to; and finally, it is not quite impossible that a faint memory of an Old World origin may have survived through hundreds of generations.


So with the giant tradition, resulting, 1st, from the memory of a fierce, numerous, powerful, and successful enemy, possibly of large physique. No tribe so valiant that it has not met with reverses, and the attributing of gigantic strength and supernatural powers to the successful foe, removes among the descendants the sting of their ancestors' defeat. 2d. From the discovery of immense fossil bones of mastodons and other extinct species. It is not strange that such were deemed human remains by the natives when the Spaniards in later times have honestly believed them to be the bones of an extinct gigantic race. 3d. From the existence of grand ruins in many parts of the country, far beyond the constructive powers of the savage, and therefore in his eyes the work of giants—as they were intellectually, in comparison with their degenerate descendants. 4th. From an actual traditional remembrance of those who built the ruined cities, and intercourse with comparatively civilized tribes. 5th. From the existence in primitive times of a race of giants.

Numerous additional sources for each of these traditions might doubtless be suggested; but those given suffice for illustration, and, as I have remarked, they are arranged in each case in what would seem the natural order of probability. The near and natural should always be preferred to the remote and supernatural; and the fables mentioned should be referred to Noah's deluge, Asiatic origin, and the existence of a gigantic race, only when the previous suppositions are proved by extraneous evidence to be untenable. The early writers on aboriginal America, [140] using their reason only when it did not conflict with their faith, reversed the order of probability, and thus greatly impaired the usefulness of their contributions to history. The supposition of a purely imaginary origin, common to aboriginal legend and modern romance, should of course be added to each of the preceding lists, and generally placed before the last supposition given.

Passing from the wild tribes to the civilized nations of Mexico and Central America, we find tradition, or what is generally regarded as such, much more complete and extensive in its scope, less childish in detail, and with a more clearly defined dividing line between history and mythology. Theoretically we might expect a higher grade of tradition among a partially civilized people; but on the other hand, what need had the Nahuas or Mayas of oral tradition when they had the art of recording events? In fact, our knowledge of Aztec and Maya history is not in any proper sense traditional, although commonly spoken of as such by the writers. Previous to the practice of the hieroglyphic art—the date of whose invention or introduction is unknown, but must probably be placed long before the Christian era—oral tradition was doubtless the only guide to the past; but the traditions were recorded as soon as the system of picture-writing was sufficiently perfected to suggest if not to clearly express their import. After picture-writing came into general use, it is difficult to imagine that any historical events should have been handed down by tradition alone. Still in one sense the popular knowledge of the past among the Mexicans may be called traditional, inasmuch as the written records of the nation were not in the hands of the people, but were kept by a class of the priesthood, and may be supposed to have been read by comparatively few. The contents of the records, however, except perhaps some religious mysteries [141] which the priests alone comprehended, were tolerably well known to the educated classes; and when the records were destroyed by Spanish fanaticism, this general knowledge became the chief source whence, through the 'talk of the old men,' the earlier writers drew their information. It is in this light that we must understand the statement of many able writers, that the greater part of our knowledge of early American history is traditional, since this knowledge was not obtained by an actual examination of the records by the Spaniards, but orally from the people, the upper classes of whom had themselves read the pictured annals, while the masses were somewhat familiar through popular chants and plays with their contents. The value of history faithfully taken from such a source cannot be doubted, but its vagueness and conflicting statements respecting dates and details may be best appreciated by questioning intelligent men in the light of nineteenth century civilization respecting the details of modern history, withholding the privilege of reference to books or documents.


Of the Nahua hieroglyphic system and its capabilities enough has been said elsewhere.[II-1] By its aid, from the beginning of the Toltec period at least, all historical events were recorded that were deemed worthy of being preserved. The popular knowledge of these events was perpetuated by means of poems, songs, and plays, and this knowledge was naturally faulty in dates. The numerous discrepancies which students of the present day meet at every step in the investigation of aboriginal annals, result chiefly from the almost total destruction of the painted records, the carelessness of those who attempted to interpret the few surviving documents at a time when such a task by native aid ought to have been feasible, the neglect of the Spanish priesthood in allowing the art of interpretation to be well-nigh [142] lost, their necessary reliance for historical information on the popular knowledge above referred to, and to a certain degree doubtless from their failure to properly record information thus obtained.

But few native manuscripts have been preserved to the present time, and only a small part of those few are historical in their nature, two of the most important having been given in my second volume.[II-2] Most of the events indicated in such picture-writings as have been interpreted are also narrated by the early writers from traditional sources. Thus we see that our knowledge of aboriginal history depends chiefly on the hieroglyphic records destroyed by the Spaniards, rather than on the few fragments that escaped such destruction. To documents that may be found in the future, and to a more careful study of those now existing, we may look perhaps for much corrective information respecting dates and other details, but it is not probable that newly discovered picture-writings or new readings of old ones will extend the aboriginal annals much farther back into the past. These remarks apply of course only to the Aztec documents; the Maya records painted on skin and paper, or inscribed on stone, are yet sealed books, respecting the nature of whose contents conjecture is vain, but from which the future may evolve revelations of the greatest importance.


Closely connected with the consideration of tradition and hieroglyphic records as authorities for my present subject, is that of the Spanish and native writers through whom for the most part American traditions, both hieroglyphically recorded and orally transmitted—in fact, what was known to the natives at the Conquest of their own past history—are made known to the modern student. These were Catholic missionaries and their converts, numerous, zealous, and as a class honest writers. Through an excess of [143] religious zeal they had caused at the first irreparable harm by destroying the native records, but later they seem to have realized to a certain extent their error, and to have done all in their power to repair its consequences by zealously collecting such fragments of historical knowledge as had been preserved among the people. Their works have passed the test of severe criticism, and the defects of each have been fairly pointed out, exaggerated, or defended, according to the spirit of the critic; but the agreement of the different works in general outline, and even their differences in detail and their petty blunders, show that in their efforts to record all that could be ascertained of the history of the New World and the institutions of its people, their leading motive was the discovery of the truth, although they were swayed like other writers of their time, and all other times, by the spirit of the age, and by various religious, political, and personal prejudices.

The prevailing weakness of Spanish writers on America is well known—their religious enthusiasm and strong attachment to church dogmas, which, in view of some of its consequences, is pronounced at least mistaken zeal even by devoted churchmen of the present day. They believed in the frequent miraculous interposition of God in the work of converting the native pagans; in the instrumentality of the devil in the spiritual darkness preceding the Conquest. In their antiquarian researches a passage of scripture as commented by the Fathers brought infinitely stronger conviction to their minds than any sculptured monument, hieroglyphic record, historical tradition, or law of nature. In short, they were true Catholics of their time.[II-3] The prevalence of this [144] religious spirit among the only men who had an opportunity to clear up some of the mysteries of the American past is to be regretted. They could have done their work much better without its influence; but, on the other hand, without such a motive as religious enthusiasm there is little probability that the work would have been done at all. It is not only in American researches, however, that this imperfection prevails. As we recede from the present we find men more and more religious, and religion has ever been an imperious mistress, brooking no rivalry on the part of reason. Reliance on superstition and prejudice, rather than facts and reason, is not more noticeable perhaps in works on ancient America than in other old works. The faith of the Spaniards renders their conclusions on origin and the earlier periods of primitive history valueless, but if that were all, the defect would be of slight importance, for it is not likely that the natives knew anything of their own origin, and the Spaniards had no means not now accessible of learning anything on that subject from other sources. We may well pardon them for finding St Thomas and his Christian teachings in the Toltec traditions of Quetzalcoatl; the ten lost tribes of Israel in the American aborigines; Noah's flood and the confusion of tongues in an Aztec picture of a man floating on the water and a bird speaking from a tree; provided they have left us a correct version of the tradition, a true account of the natives and their institutions, and an accurate copy of the picture referred to. But it is not improbable that their zeal gave a coloring to some traditions and suppressed others which furnished no support to the Biblical accounts, and were invented wholly in the interests of the devil. Fortunately it was chiefly on the mythological traditions supposed to relate to the creation, deluge, connection of the Americans with the Old World peoples, and other very remote events that they exercised their faith, [145] rather than on historical traditions proper; fortunately, because the matters of origin and the earliest primitive history were entirely beyond the reach of such authorities, even had they been represented with the most perfect accuracy.

The writings of the authors in question were moreover submitted to a rigorous system of censorship by Spanish councils and tribunals under the control of the priesthood, without the approval of whose officials no work could be published. The spirit that animated these censors was the same as that alluded to above, and their zeal was chiefly directed to the discovery and expurgation of any lurking anti-Catholic sentiment. Many valuable works were doubtless suppressed, but such of them as were preserved in manuscript, or those whose contents have since been made known, have not proved that the censors directed their efforts against anything but heterodoxy and unfavorable criticism of Spanish dealings with the natives.

Spanish credulity accepted as facts many things which modern reason pronounces absurd; shall we therefore reject all statements that rest on Spanish authority? Do we reject all the events of Greek and Roman history, because the historians believed that the sun revolved about the earth, and attributed the ordinary phenomena of nature to the actions of imaginary gods? Should we deny the historical value of the Old Testament records because they tell of Jonah swallowed by a whale, and the sun ordered to stand still? Do we refuse to accept the occurrences of modern Mexican history because many of the ablest Mexican writers apparently believe in the apparition of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe? And finally, can we reject the statements of able and conscientious men—many of whom devoted their lives to the study of aboriginal character and history, from an honest desire to do the natives good—because they deemed themselves bound by their priestly vows and the fear of [146] the Inquisition to draw scriptural conclusions from each native tradition? The same remarks apply to the writings of converted and educated natives, influenced to a great degree by their teachers; more prone, perhaps, to exaggeration through national pride, but at the same time better acquainted with the native character and with the interpretation of the native hieroglyphics. To pronounce all these works deliberately executed forgeries, as a few modern writers have done, is too absurd to require refutation.

The writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries who derived their information from original sources, and on whose works all that has been written subsequently is founded, comprise, 1st, the conquerors themselves, chiefly Cortés, Diaz del Castillo, and the Anonymous Conqueror, whose writings only touch incidentally upon a few points of ancient history. 2d. The first missionaries who were sent from Spain to supplement the achievements of Cortés by spiritual conquests. Such were José de Acosta, Bernardino Sahagun, Bartolomé de Las Casas, Juan de Torquemada, Diego Duran, Gerónimo de Mendieta, Toribio de Benavente (Motolinia), Diego García de Palacio, Didaco Valades, and Alonzo de Zurita. Of these Torquemada is the most complete and comprehensive, so far as aboriginal history is concerned, furnishing an immense mass of material drawn from native sources, very badly arranged and written. Duran also devotes a large portion of his work[II-4] to history, confining himself chiefly, however, to the annals of the Aztecs. The other authorities named, although containing full accounts of the natives and their institutions, devote comparatively little space to historical traditions; Sahagun is the best authority of all, so far as his observations go in this direction. [147] All have been printed, either in the original Spanish or in translations, except Las Casas, whose great historical works exist only in manuscript. 3d. The native writers who after their conversion acquired the Spanish language and wrote on the history of their people, either in Spanish or in their own language, employing the Spanish alphabet. Most of them were thoroughly imbued with the spirit of their converters, and their writings as a class are subject to the same criticism. Domingo Muñoz Camargo, a noble Tlascaltec, wrote, about 1585, a history of his own people, which has been published only in a French translation. Fernando de Alvarado Tezozomoc, descended from the royal family of Azcapuzalco, wrote the chronicles of Mexican history from the standpoint of the Tepanecs, represented at the time of the Conquest by the kingdom of Tlacopan. Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl was a grandson of the last king of Tezcuco, from whom he inherited all that were saved of the records in the public archives. His works are more extensive than those of any other native writer, covering the whole ground of Nahua history, although treating more particularly of the Chichimecs, his ancestors.[II-5]


In this class should be included the reported but little known writings of Juan Ventura Zapata y Mendoza, Tadeo de Niza, and Alonzo Franco.[II-6] There are also many manuscripts by native authors whose names are unknown, brought to light by comparatively recent researches, and preserved for the most part in the [148] Brasseur and Aubin collections in Paris. Their contents are unknown except through the writings of the Abbé Brasseur. The Popol Vuh is another important document, of which there are extant a Spanish and a French translation. 4th. Spanish authors who passed their lives mostly in Spain, and wrote chiefly under royal appointment. Their information was derived from the writers already mentioned, from the official correspondence of the colonists, and from the narratives of returning adventurers. Most of them touched upon aboriginal history among other topics. To this class belonged Peter Martyr, Francisco Lopez de Gomara, Antonio de Herrera, and Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdés. 5th. Catholic priests and missionaries who founded or were in charge of the missions at later periods or in remote regions, as Yucatan, Guatemala, Chiapas, Oajaca, Michoacan, and the north-western provinces of New Spain. They wrote chiefly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and treat principally of the conversion of the natives, but include also in many cases their historical traditions and their explanations of the few aboriginal documents that fell into the possession of the converts. The number of such works is very great, and many of them have never been printed. Among the most important writers of this class are Diego de Landa, Diego Lopez Cogolludo, Padre Lizana, and Juan de Villagutierre Soto-Mayor, on Yucatan; Ramon de Ordoñez y Aguiar,[II-7] Fuentes y Guzman,[II-8] F. E. Arana,[II-9] Francisco García Pelaez,[II-10] and Domingo Juarros, on Guatemala; Francisco Nuñez de la Vega,[II-11] Francisco Ximenez,[II-12] and Antonio [149] de Remesal, on Chiapas; Ribas, Alegre, and Arricivita on the north-western provinces; and Francisco de Burgoa on Oajaca. To the above should be added the regular records kept in all the missions, and the numerous letters and reports of the missionaries in distant provinces, many of which have been preserved, and not a few printed. There may also be included in this class the writings of some later Mexican authors, such as Boturini, Sigüenza y Góngora, Veytia, Leon y Gama, and Clavigero. Their works were mostly founded on the information supplied by their predecessors, which they did much to arrange and classify, but they also had access to some original authorities not previously used. Clavigero is almost universally spoken of as the best writer on the subject, but it is probable that he owes his reputation much more to his systematic arrangement and clear narration of traditions that had before been greatly confused, and to the omission of the most perplexing and contradictory points, than to deep research or new discoveries.

The preceding classes include all the original authorities, that is, all founded on information not accessible to later writers. These works have been the foundation of all that has been written since, except what has been developed from linguistic and other scientific researches. All that modern authors have done may be followed step by step, their facts as well as their conclusions.

Of the secondary authorities already alluded to, the condition and institutions of the natives, with the material relics of their past, not much need be said. It is only indirectly by means of comparisons that these authorities can help us in the study of history. How little they can teach unaided is illustrated in the case of the wild tribes, for whose history they are practically the only authorities. In Mexico and Central America the state of civilization as shown in native art, religion, government, or manners and customs, [150] may indicate by resemblances or dissimilarities a connection or want of it between the different civilized tribes, and may thus corroborate or modify their written annals; it may even throw some light on the unity or diversity of its own origin by showing the nature of the connection between the Nahua and Maya cultures, in which striking resemblances as well as contrasts are observed. Outside of the regions mentioned, where there were no tangible records, we can only search among the wilder tribes for points of likeness by which to attach their past to that of the civilized nations. It may be foreseen that the results of such a search will be but meagre and unsatisfactory, yet on several important branches of the subject, such as the relation borne by the Mound-Builders and Pueblos to the southern nations, it furnishes our only light.


Of the historical aids now under consideration, ethnology proper, the study of physical and mental characteristics, has yielded and promises apparently the least important results. In fact, as has been already pointed out in another part of this work, it has hardly acquired the right to be classed among the sciences, so far as its application to the American people is concerned. Theoretically it may, in a more perfect state of development than now exists, throw some light on the route and order of American migrations, possibly on the question of origin; thus far, however, ethnological studies have been practically fruitless. Results obtained from a comparison of the miscellaneous arts and customs of various tribes have likewise furnished and will continue to furnish but very slight assistance in historical investigations. Resemblances and dissimilarities in these respects depend intimately on environment, which in comparatively short periods works the most striking changes. Strongly marked analogies are noted in tribes that never came in contact with each other, while contrasts as marked appear in people but a short time separated. Under the same circumstances, after all, men do about the same things, [151] the mind originating like inventions; and coincidences in arts and customs, unless of an extraordinary nature, may be more safely attributed to an independent origin resulting from environment, than to international identity or connection. That language is by far the best of these secondary authorities is conceded by all. No better proof of relationship between native tribes can be desired than the fact that they speak the same language, or dialects showing clear verbal and constructive resemblances. The most prominent abuse of this authority has been a disposition to connect the past of tribes in whose languages slight and forced verbal similarities are pointed out. There is also some difference of opinion about the use of the authority. That two tribes speaking the same languages or similar dialects have had a common origin, or have at least been intimately connected in the past, as tribes, is evident; but how far back that origin or connection may extend, whether it may reach back through the ages to the first division of the human race, or even to the first subdivision of the American peoples, is a disputed point. Fortunately the doubts that have been raised concern chiefly the question of origin, which for other reasons cannot yet be settled.[II-13]

[152] Having thus given a sketch of the sources to which we may look for all that is known and has been conjectured respecting the American past, I shall proceed to place before the reader in the remaining chapters of my work what these authorities reveal on the subject. I have not, I believe, exaggerated their value, but fully comprehend the unsubstantial character which must be attributed to many of them. I am well aware that aboriginal American history, like the ancient Egyptian and Hebrew annals, differs materially in its nature and degree of accuracy from the history of England since the expedition of William the Conqueror, or of Mexico since the Conquest by Hernan Cortés. I do not propose to record such events only as may be made to conform to the modern idea of chronologic exactitude, rejecting all else as fabulous and mythic. Were such my purpose, a chapter on the subject already given in the second volume would suffice, with some contraction for the earlier epochs, and a corresponding expansion, perhaps, for Aztec history during the century immediately preceding the Conquest. On the contrary, I shall tell the tale as I find it recorded, mingled as it doubtless is at many points with myth and fable, and shall recount, as others have done, the achievements of heroes that possibly never lived, the wanderings of tribes who never left their original homes. It is not in a spirit of real or feigned credulity that I adopt this course,—on the contrary, I wish to clearly discriminate between fact and fancy wherever such discrimination may be possible, and so far as an extensive study of my subject may enable me to do so—but it is in accordance with the general plan of the whole work to record all that is found, rejecting only what may be proven false and valueless rather than what may possibly be so.



I have compared the American past to a dark sea, from the bluff coast line of which projects an occasional cape terminating in precipitous cliffs, quicksands, and sunken rocks, beyond which some faint lights are floated by buoys. The old authors, as Torquemada, Clavigero, and Veytia, had but little difficulty in crossing from the headlands to the tower of Babel beyond the Sea of Darkness; they told the story, fables and all, with little discrimination save here and there the rejection of a tale infringing apparently on orthodoxy, or the expression of a doubt as to the literal acceptation of some marvelous occurrence. Of modern authors, those who, like Wilson, refuse to venture upon the projecting capes of solid rock and earth, who utterly reject the Aztec civilization with all its records, are few, and at this day their writings may be considered as unworthy of serious notice. Other writers, of whom Gallatin is a specimen, venture boldly from the main coast to the extremity of each projecting point, and acknowledge the existence of the rocks, sands, and buoys beyond, but decline to attempt their passage, doubting their security. These men, in favor of whose method there is much to be said, accept the annals of the later Aztec periods, but look with distrust upon the traditions of the Chichimec, Toltec, and Olmec epochs; and hardly see in the far distance the twinkling floating lights that shine from Votan's Empire of Xibalba. Then there are writers who are continually dreaming they have found secure footing by routes previously unknown, from rock to rock and through the midst of shifting sands. Such are the advocates of special theories of American history resting on newly discovered authorities or new readings of old ones. They carefully sift out such mythic traditions as fit their theories, converting them into incontrovertible facts, and reject all else as unworthy of notice; these, however, have chiefly to do with the matter of origin. Finally, I may speak of Brasseur de Bourbourg, [154] rather a class by himself, perhaps, than the representative of a class. This author, to speak with a degree of exaggeration, steps out without hesitation from rock to rock over the deep waters; to him the banks of shifting quicksand, if somewhat treacherous about the edges, are firm land in the central parts; to him the faintest buoy-supported stars are a blaze of noon-day sun; and only on the floating masses of sea-weed far out on the waters lighted up by dim phosphorescent reflections, does he admit that his footing is becoming insecure and the light grows faint. In other words, he accepts the facts recorded by preceding authors, arranges them often with great wisdom and discrimination, ingeniously finds a historic record in traditions by others regarded as pure fables, and thus pushes his research far beyond the limits previously reached. He rejects nothing, but transforms everything into historic facts.

In the present sketch I wish to imitate to a certain extent the writers of each class mentioned, except perhaps the specialists, for I have no theory to defend, have found no new bright sun to illumine what has ever been dark. With the Spanish writers I would tell all that the natives told as history, and that without constantly reminding the reader that the sun did not probably stand still in the heavens, that giants did not flourish in America, that the Toltec kings and prophets did not live to the age of several hundred years, and otherwise warning him against what he is in no danger whatever of accepting as truth. With Wilson and his class of antiquarian sceptics I would feel no hesitation in rejecting the shallow theories and fancies evolved by certain writers from their own brain. With Gallatin I wish to discriminate clearly, when such discrimination is called for and possible, between the historic and the probably mythic; to indicate the boundary between firm land and treacherous quicksand; but also like Brasseur, I would pass beyond [155] the firm land, spring from rock to rock, wade through shifting sands, swim to the farthest, faintest, light, and catch at straws by the way;—yet not flatter myself while thus employed, as the abbé occasionally seems to do, that I am treading dry-shod on a wide, solid, and well-lighted highway.



Subdivision of the Subject—Tzendal Tradition of the Votanic Empire—Votan's Book and its Contents as reported by Nuñez de la Vega, Cabrera, and Ordoñez—Testimony of Manners and Customs, Religion, Languages, and Monuments of the Civilized Nations respecting the Primitive Maya Peoples—The Quiché Record, or Popol Vuh—Civilizing Efforts of Gucumatz and his Followers—Exploits of Hunahpu and Xbalanque—Conquest of Xibalba—Migration from Tulan Zuiva, the Seven Caves—Meaning of the Quiché Tradition—Nahua Traditions—The Toltecs in Tamoanchan according to Sahagun—The Codex Chimalpopoca—Pre-Toltec Nations in Mexico—Olmecs and Xicalancas—The Quinames—Cholula and Quetzalcoatl—The Totonacs—Teotihuacan—Otomís, Miztecs, Zapotecs, and Huastecs—The Toltecs in Huehue Tlapallan—Migration to Anáhuac—The Chichimecs in Amaquemecan—Ancient Home of the Nahuatlacas and Aztecs—Primitive Annals of Yucatan—Conclusions.


In order to render more vivid than it would otherwise have been a picture of Nahua and Maya institutions as they were found in the sixteenth century, I have devoted one chapter of a preceding volume to an outline view of aboriginal history; to fill in so far as possible its details, is my remaining task. The sketch alluded to will prove convenient here, since it will enable me at various points to refer intelligibly and yet briefly to events somewhat in advance [157] of their chronologic order. As has been stated, the sixth century is the most remote period to which we are carried in the annals of Anáhuac by traditions sufficiently definite to be considered in a strict sense as historic records. Prior to the sixth century there were doubtless other periods of Nahua greatness, for there is little evidence to indicate that this was the first appearance in Mexico of this progressive people, but previous development cannot be definitely followed—in a historical sense—although affording occasional glimpses which supply interesting matter for antiquarian speculation.

In the southern regions, where the Maya culture flourished, or what may be considered geographically as Central America, we have seen that the chronologic record is much less extensive and perfect even than in the north, taking us back in an oft-broken line only a few centuries beyond the Conquest. Yet we have caught traditional glimpses far back in the misty past of a mighty aboriginal empire in these tropical lands, of the earlier and grander stages of Maya culture, of Votan, of Xibalba, of even the early periods of Nahua civilization and power. Palenque, Copan, and their companions in ruin, the wonderful material monuments of the ancient epoch, proving it to be no mere creation of the imagination, have been described and pictured. With the breaking-up of the Maya empire into separate nations at an unknown date, the aboriginal history of Central America as a whole ceases, and down to a period closely preceding the Conquest, we have only an occasional event, the memory of which is preserved in the traditions of two or three nations.

The history of the Native Races may be most conveniently subdivided as follows;—1st. The Pre-Toltec Period, embracing the semi-mythic traditions of the earliest civilization, extending down to a date—always preceding the sixth century, but varying in different parts of the territory—when the more properly [158] historic annals of the different nations begin, and including also the few traditions referring to pre-Toltec nations north of Tehuantepec. 2d. The Toltec Period, referring like the two following periods to Anáhuac alone, and extending down to the eleventh century. 3d. The Chichimec Period, extending from the eleventh century to the formation of the tri-partite alliance between the Aztecs, Acolhuas, and Tepanecs in the fifteenth century. 4th. The Aztec Period, that of Aztec supremacy during the century preceding the Conquest. 5th. The annals of such Nahua nations outside the limits of the Aztec Empire proper as cannot be conveniently included in the preceding divisions. 6th. Historical traditions of the Wild Tribes of the north. 7th. The Quiché-Cakchiquel nations of Guatemala. 8th. Miscellaneous nations and tribes of Central America. 9th. The Maya nations of Yucatan.

The first division, the Pre-Toltec Period, to which the present chapter is devoted, will include the few vague traditions that seem to point to the cradle of American civilization, to the Votanic empire, to Xibalba, and to the deeds of the civilizers, or culture-heroes, in Tabasco and Chiapas. Who can estimate the volumes that would be required for a full narration of all that actually occurred within this period, had the record been made or preserved;—the development, from germs whose nature is unknown, of American civilization; the struggles and misfortunes of infant colonies; the exploits of native heroes; plots of ambition, glorious success, utter failure; the rise and fall of princes and of empires; wars, triumphs, defeats; oppression and revolt; political combinations and intrigues; religious strife between the fanatic devotees of rival divinities; seasons of plenty and of famine; earthquake, flood, and pestilence—a tangled network of events spread over the centuries;—to relate all that we may know of it a chapter will suffice.



I have told in another volume the mythic tale of Votan,[III-1] the culture-hero, how he came to America and apportioned the land among the people. He came by divine command from Valum Chivim by way of Valum Votan, built a great city of Nachan, 'city of the serpents'—so called from his own name, for he was of the race of Chan, a Serpent—and founded a great empire in the Usumacinta region, which he seems to have ruled over as did his descendants or followers for many centuries. He was not regarded in the native traditions as the first man in America; he found the country peopled, as did all the culture-heroes, but by his teachings and by the aid of his companions he firmly established his own ideas of religion and government. So far as his memory was preserved by tradition he was a civilizer, a law-giver, the introducer of the Maya culture, worshiped moreover, after his disappearance, as a god. He came by sea from the east, but with the locality whence he started I have nothing to do here; neither is it necessary to indulge in speculation respecting the four mysterious visits which he paid after his arrival in America to his original home in the Old World, where it is gravely asserted he was present at the building of Solomon's temple and saw the ruins of the tower of Babel. His reported acts in the New World, whose people he came to civilize, were;—the dividing or apportioning of the lands among the people; their instruction in the new institutions they were required to adopt; the building of a great city, Nachan, afterwards the metropolis of an empire; the reception of a new band of disciples of his own race, who were allowed to share in the success already achieved by his enterprise; the subdividing of his empire after its power had become wide-spread in the land into several allied monarchies subordinate in a certain degree to Nachan, among whose capitals were Tulan, Mayapan, and Chiquimula; the construction of a subterranean [160] road or 'snake hole' from the barranca of Zuqui to Tzequil; the deposit of a great treasure with tapirs as sacred animals in a 'house of gloom' at Huehuetan in Soconusco, protected by guardians called tlapianes, at whose head was a Lady Superior; and finally the writing of a 'book' in which was inscribed a complete record of all he had done, with a defense or proof of his claims to be considered one of the Chanes, or Serpents.[III-2]


This document is the authority, indirectly, for nearly all that is known from Tzendal sources of Votan and his empire. Francisco Nuñez de la Vega, Bishop of Chiapas, claims to have had in his possession[III-3] and to have read this historical tract. He does not describe it, but from his having been able to read the contents, it would seem to have been, if genuine, not the original in hieroglyphics but an interpretation in European letters, although still perhaps in the Tzendal language. Of the contents, besides a general statement of Votan's coming as the first man sent by God to portion out the land, and some of his experiences in the Old World, this author says nothing definite. He claims to have had much knowledge of Tzendal antiquity derived from the work mentioned and other native writings, but he feared to perpetuate this knowledge lest it might "confirm more strongly an idolatrous superstition." He is the only authority for the deposit of the treasure in the Dark House at Huehuetan, without saying expressly that he derived his information from Votan's writings. This treasure, consisting of aboriginal relics, the bishop felt it to be his duty to destroy, and it was publicly burned in 1691. It is not altogether improbable that a genuine Maya document similar to the Manuscript Troano or Dresden Codex,[III-4] preserved from the early times, may [161] have found a native interpreter at the time of the Conquest, and have escaped in its disguise of Spanish letters the destruction that overtook its companions.

The next notice of this manuscript is found in the writings of Dr Paul Felix Cabrera,[III-5] who in the last part of the eighteenth century found it in the possession of Don Ramon de Ordoñez y Aguiar, a native and resident of Ciudad Real in Chiapas.[III-6] He describes the document as consisting of "five or six folios of common quarto paper, written in ordinary characters in the Tzendal language, an evident proof of its having been copied from the original in hieroglyphics, shortly after the conquest."[III-7] The manuscript, according to Cabrera, recounted Votan's arrival with seven families, to whom he apportioned the lands; his voyages to the Old World; and his reception of the new-comers. Returning from one of his voyages "he found seven other families of the Tzequil nation, who had joined the first inhabitants, and recognized in them the same origin as his own, that is, of the Culebras. He speaks of the place where they built their first town, which, from its founders, received the name of Tzequil; he affirms the having taught them refinement of manners in the use of the table, table-cloth, etc.; that, in return for these, they taught him the knowledge of God and of his worship; his first ideas of a king and obedience [162] to him; and that he was chosen captain of all these united families."

Ordoñez, at the time of Cabrera's visit, was engaged in writing his great 'History of the Heaven and Earth,'[III-8] a work, as the learned Doctor predicts, to be "so perfect in its kind, as will completely astonish the world." The manuscript was never published, part of the historical portion was lost, and the remaining fragments or copies of them fell into the hands of Brasseur de Bourbourg, whose writings contain all that is known of their contents; and it must be confessed that from these fragments little or nothing of value has been extracted by the abbé in addition to what Nuñez de la Vega and Cabrera had already made known. Ordoñez was familiar with the Tzendal language and character, with the ancient monuments of his native state, and was zealously devoted to antiquarian researches; he had excellent opportunities to collect and record such scraps of knowledge as the Tzendal tribes had preserved from the days of their ancestors' greatness;[III-9] but his enthusiasm seems rather to have led him to profitless speculations on the original population of the New World and "its progress from Chaldea immediately after the confusion of tongues." Even after rejecting the absurd theories and speculations which seem to have constituted the bulk of his writings, one cannot help looking with some distrust on the few traditional statements respecting Votan not given by other [163] authors, and thinking of possible transformations that may have been effected in Tzendal fables under the pens of two writers like Ordoñez and Brasseur, both honest investigators, but of that enthusiastic class of antiquarians who experience few or no difficulties.


The few items of information respecting the Votanic period not already mentioned, some of them not in themselves improbable, but few traceable to any very definite native source, are the following: The date of the foundation of the empire, according to Ordoñez, was about 1000 B.C. Whether he had any other reason for this supposition than his theory that the building of Solomon's temple, attributed by some writers to that period, took place during Votan's life, is uncertain. The name Tzequiles, applied to Votan's followers by the aborigines,—or rather, it would seem, by the first to the second division of the Serpents—is said to mean in Tzendal 'men with petticoats,' and to have been applied to the new-comers by reason of their peculiar dress.[III-10] To them was given, after the permanent establishment of the empire, one of the great kingdoms into which it was divided, with Tulan as their capital city. This kingdom with two others, whose capitals were Mayapan in Yucatan and Chiquimula, possibly Copan, in Honduras, were allied with, yet to a certain degree subordinate to, the original empire whose capital was Nachan, built and ruled by Votan himself and his descendants. The only names which seem to have been applied in the Tzendal traditions to the people and their capital city were Chanes, or Serpents, and Nachan, or City of Serpents; but these names acquire considerable historical importance when it is noted that they are the exact equivalents of Culhuas and Culhuacan, names which will be found so exasperatingly prevalent in the Nahua traditions of [164] the north. Ordoñez claims, however, that the name Quiché, at a later period that of a Guatemalan kingdom, was also in these earlier times applied to Votan's empire.[III-11]

Of Votan's death there is no tradition, nor is anything definite reported of his successors, save, what is perhaps only a conjecture, that their names are recorded in the Tzendal calendar as the names of days,[III-12] the order being that of their succession. In this case it is necessary to suppose that Votan had two predecessors, Igh and Imox; and in fact Brasseur claims to find in one document a statement that Igh brought the first colony to America.[III-13] Chinax, the last but two of the line, a great soldier, is said to have been put to death by a rival of another nation.[III-14] Nuñez de la Vega notes the existence of a family of Votans in his time, claiming direct descent from the great founder; and Brasseur states that a wild tribe of the region are yet known as Chanes.[III-15]


Such are the vague memories of the Chiapan past so far as they were preserved by the natives of the region, and collected by Europeans. The nature of the traditions themselves, the sources whence they sprang, the medium through which they are given to us, are not such as to inspire great confidence in the accuracy of the details related, although some of the traditions are not improbable and were very likely founded on actual occurrences. But whatever value may be [165] attached to their details, the traditions in question have great weight in establishing two general propositions—the existence in the remote past of a great and powerful empire in the Usumacinta region, and a general belief among the subjects of that empire that the beginning of their greatness was due to a hero or demi-god called Votan. They point clearly to the appearance and growth of a great race, nation, or dynasty; and they carry us no farther. Respecting the questions who or what was Votan, man or mythic creation, populator, colonizer, civilizer, missionary, conqueror, foreign or native born? When, how, and whence did he come to the central tierra caliente? Who were the people among whom he wrought his mighty deeds, and what was their past history? we are left to simple conjecture,—conjecture of a class which falls without the limits of my present purpose, and to which the first chapter of this volume has been devoted. Doubtless the Votanic was not the first period of American civilization and power, but none earlier is known to us. In addition to the Tzendal traditions there are several other authorities bearing more or less directly on this primitive empire, which I proceed to investigate.

In the second volume of this work I have described the physique, character, manners and customs, arts, and institutions of the civilized nations of our territory, dividing them into two great families or groups, the Mayas and the Nahuas, "the former the more ancient, the latter the more recent and wide-spread." The many contrasts observed between the institutions of the northern and southern nations seemed sufficiently marked to outweigh the frequently recurring resemblances, and to justify me in the opinion there expressed that their culture had either been distinct from the beginning, or—what is more probable and for my purpose practically the same thing—that it had progressed in different paths [166] for a long time previous to the coming of the Spaniards. The contrasts observed were attributed to a distinct origin of the two national groups, or, with more probability, to their long separation; while the analogies were to be referred either to unity of origin, to the tendency of humanity to like development under like circumstances, to frequent communication and friction by commerce or war, or still better, to the influence of all these causes combined.


The picture presented in the third volume of the myths and languages of the same nations favored the view previously taken. In the religious fancies, divinities, forms of worship, ideas of a future state, physical, animal, and creation myths, to which the first part of the volume was devoted, the analogies, it is true, seemed somewhat stronger and the contrasts less striking than in the characteristics previously portrayed; this was perhaps because the myths of any people point farther back into their past than do the so-called manners and customs; but in the consideration of languages which followed, the contrasts between the two groups came out more distinctly marked than at any previous stage of the investigation. A very large proportion of the tongues of the civilized nations were found to belong more or less closely to one or the other of two linguistic families. Finally, in the fourth volume a study of material relics tended very strongly to confirm the opinion before arrived at respecting the development of Maya and Nahua culture in distinct channels, at least during the historic period. I need not repeat here even en résumé the facts exhibited in the preceding volumes, nor the lessons that have at different points been drawn from them; but I may briefly mention some general conclusions founded on the preceding matter which bear on my present purpose of historical investigation. First, as already stated, the Maya and Nahua nations have been within traditionally historic times practically distinct, although [167] coming constantly in contact. Second, this fact is directly opposed to the once accepted theory of a civilized people, coming from the far north, gradually moving southward with frequent halts, constantly increasing in power and culture, until the highest point of civilization was reached in Chiapas, Honduras, and Yucatan, or as many believed in South America. Third, the theory alluded to is rendered altogether untenable by the want of ruins in California and the great north-west; by the utter want of resemblance between New Mexican and Mexican monuments; by the failure to discover either Aztec or Maya dialects in the north; and finally by the strong contrasts between the Nahuas and Mayas, both in language and in monuments of antiquity. Fourth, the monuments of the south are not only different from but much more ancient than those of Anáhuac, and cannot possibly have been built by the Toltecs after their migration from Anáhuac in the eleventh century, even if such a migration took place. Fifth, these monuments, like those of the north, were built by the ancestors of the people found in possession of the country at the Conquest, and not by an extinct race or in remote antiquity.[III-16] Sixth, the cities of Palenque, Ococingo, and Copan, at least, were unoccupied when the Spaniards came; the natives of the neighboring region knew nothing of their origin even if they were aware of their existence, and no notice whatever of the existence of such cities appears in the annals of the surrounding civilized nations during the eight or nine centuries preceding the Conquest; that is, the nation that built Palenque was not one of those found by Europeans in the country, but its greatness had practically departed before the rise of the Quiché, Cakchiquel, and Yucatan powers. Seventh, the many resemblances that have been noted between Nahua and Maya beliefs, institutions, arts, [168] and relics, may be consistently accounted for by the theory that at some period long preceding the sixth century the two peoples were practically one so far as their institutions were concerned, although they are of themselves not sufficient to prove the theory. Eighth, the oldest civilization in America which has left any traces for our consideration, whatever may have been its pre-historic origin, was that in the Usumacinta region represented by the Palenque group of ruins.[III-17]

It is not likely that Américanistes of the present day will disagree materially with the preceding conclusions, especially as they do not positively assert the southern origin of the Nahua peoples or deny their traditional migration from the north. The general theory alluded to of a great migration from north to south, and the theory of a civilized race of foreign origin extinct long before the Conquest, will find few defenders in view of the results of modern research. It is true that many writers attribute more or less positively the grand ruins of Central America to the Toltecs after their migration southward in the eleventh century; but their decision has been generally reached without even considering the possible existence of any other civilized nation in the annals of American antiquity. Their studies have shown them that Palenque was not the work of an extinct race, and they have consequently attributed the ruins to the oldest people mentioned in the popular version of American traditional history—the Toltecs, and the more naturally because that people, according to the tradition, had migrated southward. Mr Stephens, who arrived at this conclusion in the manner indicated, admits that from a study of the ruins themselves he would have assigned the foundation of the cities to a much more remote period.[III-18]



Thus the monumental relics of Central America by themselves and by comparisons with other American ruins, point directly to the existence of a great empire in the Palenque region; and the observed phenomena of myths, language, and institutions agree perfectly with such a conclusion, which, however, unaided, they could not have established. We may then accept as a reality the Votanic Maya empire on the authority of the native traditions confirmed by the tangible records of ruined cities, and by the condition of the southern civilized nations in the sixteenth century. It is more than probable that Palenque was the capital, as Ordoñez believes—the Nachan of the Votanic epoch—and not improbable that Ococingo, Copan, and some of the older Yucatec cities were the centres of contemporaneous, perhaps allied powers.[III-19]



I pass next to the traditions of the Quiché nations as preserved in the Popol Vuh, or National Book, and known to the world through the Spanish translation of Ximenez and the French of Brasseur de Bourbourg.[III-20] These traditions, the authenticity and general accuracy of which there is no reason to doubt, constitute a hopelessly entangled network of mythic tales, without chronology, but with apparent although vague references here and there, to actual events in the primitive history of the peoples whose descendants were the Quichés and Cakchiquels, and with a more continuous account in the closing chapters, of the Quiché annals of a much later period, immediately preceding the Conquest. In the introduction we read: "This is the origin of the ancient history of Quiché. Here we write the annals of the past, the beginning of all that has taken place in the city of Quiché, among the tribes of the Quiché nations. Behold we bring about the manifestation of what was in obscurity, its first dawning by the will of the Creator and of the Former, of Him who begets and of Him who gives being. Their names are Hunahpu Vuch—'shooter of the blowpipe at the opossum,' Hunahpu Utïu—'shooter of the blowpipe at the coyote,' Zaki Nima Tzyiz—'great white pricker,' Tepeu—the 'dominator,' and Gucumatz—the 'plumed serpent;' Heart of the Lakes, Heart of the Sea, Master of the Verdant Planisphere, Master of the Azure Surface. Thus it is that these also are named, sung, and celebrated—the grandmother and the grandfather, whose names are Xpiyacoc and Xmucane, preserver and protectrice; twice grandmother and twice grandfather, as it is stated in the Quiché annals; concerning whom was related all that they did afterwards in the light of life, in the light of the word, (civilization). Behold that which we shall write after the word of God, and in Christianity; we shall bring it to light because [171] the Popol Vuh, the national book, is no longer visible, in which it was clearly seen that we came from beyond the sea—'the narrative of our life in the land of shadow, and how we saw the light and life,' as it is called. It is the first book, written in olden times; but its view is hidden from him who sees and thinks. Wonderful is its appearance, and the narrative of the time when he (the Creator) finished everything in heaven and on earth."[III-21]

Then follows an account, which has already been presented in a condensed translation,[III-22] of a time when all was silent, and there was yet no earth, and no living thing, only the immobility and silence of a boundless sea, on the surface of which floated the Creator and his companion deities named above, including Gucumatz, the 'plumed serpent.' Then the light appeared and the earth with its vegetation was created by Gucumatz and the Dominator at the word of Hurakan, Heart of Heaven, the Thunderbolt. Life and fecundity were given to the animals and birds, who were distributed as guardians of the forests and mountains, and called upon to speak and praise the names of those that had made them; but the poor animals, after efforts twice repeated, could not obey, and were assigned a position far below that which they had been intended to fill. Two attempts at the creation of intelligent beings followed, both failures. First man was made of earth, and although he could speak, he was intellectually stupid and physically clumsy, unable to stand erect, and soon mingled with the water like a man of mud. He was destroyed by the disgusted creators. The sorcerers, Xpiyacoc and Xmucane, grandmothers of the sun and of the moon, were consulted in the second creation, and the 'chief of Toltecat' is mentioned in addition to the names already given. Lots were cast, all needful precautions were taken, and man was made again of [172] wood and pith; but he lacked intelligence, led a useless life, and forgot the Heart of Heaven. They became numerous on the face of the earth, but the gods were wroth and sent upon them a flood, and a resinous shower from heaven; their houses refused to cover them, the trees shook them from the branches where they sought shelter, the animals and even the household implements turned against the poor wooden men, reviling and persecuting them, until all were destroyed, save a few who remained as a memorial in the form of apes.[III-23]

At this point the character of the narrative changes somewhat, and, although an account of a third and final creation of man, given on a subsequent page,[III-24] should, in the opinion of Brasseur, be introduced here, I proceed with a résumé of the Quiché tradition in the order of its arrangement in both the Spanish and French version, devoting a paragraph to each chapter of the French translation.

There was sky and earth, but little light; and a man named Vucub Cakix, 'seven aras, or paroquets,' was puffed up with pride and said, "those that were drowned were like supernatural beings;[III-25] now will I be great above all created beings. I am their sun and their moon; great is my splendor." He was not the sun, nor did his view reach over the whole earth, but he was proud of his riches. This was when the flood destroyed the wooden manikins. Now we will tell when Vucub Cakix was defeated and man was made.


This is the cause of his destruction by two young men, Hunahpu (or Hunhunahpu) and Xbalanque, 'little tiger,' who were really gods, and thought it not good that Vucub Cakix should swell with pride and offend the Heart of Heaven; and they plotted against his life and wealth. He had two sons, Zipacna and Cabrakan, the 'earthquake,' by his wife Chimalmat. [173] Zipacna's work was to roll the great mountains which he made in a night, and which Cabrakan shook at will. The death of the father and son was resolved upon by the two young men.

Vucub Cakix was shot by them while eating the fruit called nanze in a tree-top, and his jaw broken, although in revenge he carried home the arm of Hunahpu, which he hung over the fire. But an old man and an old woman, Zaki Nim Ak and Zaki Nima Tzyiz—divinities already named, in human disguise—were induced by the two young men to volunteer their services in curing the jaw of Vucub Cakix, who seems to have been a king, for they found him on his throne howling with pain. They pulled out his broken teeth of precious stones, in which he took great pride, substituting grains of maize; they dimmed his eyes, took away his riches, and recovered the missing arm. Then the king died as did his wife, and the purpose of Hunahpu and Xbalanque was accomplished against him who was proud and regarded not the will of the Heart of Heaven.

These are the deeds of Zipacna, son of Vucub Cakix, who claimed to be creator of the mountains. Bathing at the river-side he found four hundred young men striving in vain to carry away a tree which they had cut. Generously he bore the burden for them, and was invited to join their band, being an orphan; but they soon plotted against him, casting a tree upon him in a deep pit they had employed him to dig. He cunningly took refuge in a branch gallery, cut off his hair and nails for the ants to carry up to his foes, waited until the four hundred had become intoxicated in their rejoicing at his supposed death, emerged from the pit, and toppled over their house upon them so that not one escaped.

But in his turn Zipacna was conquered by Hunahpu and Xbalanque, who were grieved that the four hundred had perished. Zipacna, bearing the mountains by night, wandered in the day by the river and [174] lived on fish and crabs; by an artificial crab his two foes enticed him in a time of hunger to crawl on all fours into a cavern at the bottom of a ravine, where the mountain, previously mined, fell upon him. Thus perished and was turned to stone, at the foot of Mt Meavan, the self-styled 'maker of the mountains,' the second who by his pride displeased the deities.

One only now remained, Cabrakan. "It is I who destroy the mountains," he said; but it was the will of Hurakan, 'the thunderbolt,' that his pride also should be humbled, and the order was given to Hunahpu and Xbalanque. They found him at his favorite employment of overturning the hills, enticed him eastward to exhibit his skill and overthrow a particularly high mountain which they claimed to have seen, killed a bird with their blowpipe on the way, and poisoned it with earth before it was given Cabrakan to eat. Thus was his strength destroyed; he failed to move the mountain, was tied, and buried.


Thus ends the first of the four divisions of the Popol Vuh.[III-26] Next we are to hear something of the birth and family of Hunahpu and Xbalanque. The recital is, however, to be covered with mystery, and only half is to be told of the relation of their father.[III-27] Xpiyacoc and Xmucane had two sons, Hunhunahpu and Vukub Hunahpu, the first being as the French translation unintelligibly renders it a sort of double personage. The former had also by his wife Xbakiyalo two sons, Hunbatz and Hunchouen, very wise, great artists, and skillful in all things; the latter never married. All four spent the day in playing at dice and at ball, and Voc, the messenger of Hurakan, came to see them, Voc who remained not far from here nor far from Xibalba.[III-28] After the death of Xbakiyalo, [175] the two played ball, journeying toward Xibalba, having left Hunbatz and Hunchouen behind, and this became known to Hun Came and Vukub Came, monarchs of Xibalba, who called together the council of the empire and sent to summon them or to challenge them to a game of ball, that they might be defeated and disgraced.

The messengers were owls, four in number; and the players, after a sad parting from their mother, Xmucane, and from the young Hunbatz and Hunchouen, followed them down the steep road to Xibalba from the ball-ground of Nimxob Carchah.[III-29] Crossing ravines and rivers, including one of blood, they came to the royal palace of Xibalba, and saluted two wooden figures as monarchs, to the great amusement of the latter and the assembled princes. Then the brothers were invited to a place on the seat of honor, which proved to be a red-hot stone, and the contortions of the guests when they sat upon it provoked a new burst of laughter which well-nigh resulted in apoplexy. Five ordeals are here mentioned as existing in Xibalba, to the first of which only, that of the House of Gloom,[III-30] were the brothers subjected; then they were sacrificed and their bodies buried together. But the head of Hunhunahpu was hung in a tree, which at once became covered with gourds from which the head could not be distinguished, and it was forbidden to all in Xibalba to approach that tree.

But Xquiq, a virgin princess, daughter of Cuchumaquiq, heard of the tree, and went alone to taste the forbidden fruit. Into her outstretched hand the head of Hunhunahpu spat, and the spittle caused the young girl to conceive, and she returned home, after a promise from the head that no harm should result to her. All this was by the order of Hurakan. [176] After six months her condition was observed by her father, and in spite of her protestations that she had known no man, the owls, the royal messengers, were ordered to sacrifice her and bring back her heart in a vase. She persuaded and bribed the royal officers, however, by the promise of future emoluments, to carry back to the kings the coagulated sap of the blood-wort instead of her blood and heart, and she escaped; thus were Hun Came and Vukub Came tricked by this young girl.

Xquiq, far advanced in pregnancy, went for protection to the place where Xmucane was living with the young Hunbatz and Hunchouen. The old woman was not disposed at first to credit the stranger's tale that she was with child by Hunhunahpu, and therefore entitled to protection as a granddaughter at the hands of Xmucane; but by calling upon the gods and gathering a basket of maize where no maize was growing, the young girl proved the justice of her claim, and was received by the great grandmother of her unborn children.


The virgin mother brought forth twin sons, and they were named Hunahpu and Xbalanque. From their very birth they were ill-treated. They were turned out of the house by their grandmother for crying, and throughout childhood and youth were abused by Hunbatz and Hunchouen, by reason of jealousy. They passed their time shooting birds in the mountains with their blowpipes, while their brothers, great musicians, painters, and sculptors, remained at home singing and playing the flute. But at last Hunbatz and Hunchouen were changed by the young heroes into monkeys. Xmucane was filled with sadness, and she was offered the privilege of beholding again the faces of her favorite grandsons, if she could do so without laughing; but their grimaces and antics were too ludicrous; the old lady failed in three interviews to restrain her laughter, and Hunbatz and Hunchouen appeared no more. Hunahpu and Xbalanque became [177] in their turn musicians and played the air of hunahpu qoy, the 'monkey of Hunahpu.'[III-31]

The first work undertaken by the twins was the clearing of a milpa or cornfield. It was not very difficult on the first day, for their enchanted tools worked by themselves while the young agriculturists went hunting, taking care to put dirt on their faces and to pretend to be at work when their grandmother brought their lunch at noon. In the night, however, the wild beasts met and replaced all the trees and shrubbery that the brothers had removed. Hunahpu and Xbalanque watched for them the next night, but in spite of their efforts the beasts all escaped—although the deer and rabbit lost their tails—except the rat, which was caught in a handkerchief. The rat's life was spared by the youths and in return this animal revealed the glorious deeds of their fathers and uncles, their games at ball, and the existence of a ball of India rubber with other implements of the game which they had left about the house. All of the implements and the ball came into their possession with the knowledge of the secret.

Joyful at their discovery Hunahpu and Xbalanque went away to play in the ball-ground of their fathers, and the monarchs of Xibalba, Hun Came and Vukub Came, heard them and were angry, and sent messengers to summon them as their fathers had been summoned to play at Xibalba. The messengers came to the house of Xmucane, who, filled with alarm, dispatched a louse to carry the summons to her grandsons. On the way the louse consented, to insure greater speed, to be swallowed by a toad, the toad by a serpent, and the serpent by the great bird Voc. On arrival a series of vomitings ensued, until the toad was free; but in spite of his most desperate efforts he could not throw up the louse, who, it seems, had played him a trick, lodged in his gums, and not been [178] swallowed at all. However, the message was delivered, and the players returned home to take leave of their grandmother and mother. Before their departure they planted each a cane in the middle of the house, the fate of which should depend upon their own, since it would wither at their death.

The ball-players set out for Xibalba by the route their fathers had followed, passing the bloody river and the river Papuhya; but they sent in advance an animal called Xan, with a hair of Hunahpu's leg to prick the kings and princes. Thus they detected the artificial men of wood, and also learned the names of all the princes by their exclamations and mutual inquiries when pricked. On their arrival at court they refused to salute the manikins or to sit upon the red-hot stone; they even passed through the first ordeal in the House of Gloom, thus thrice avoiding the tricks which had been played upon their fathers.

The kings were astonished and very angry, and the game of ball was played, and those of Xibalba were beaten. Then Hun Came and Vukub Came required the victors to bring them four bouquets of flowers, ordering the guards of the royal gardens to watch most carefully, and committed Hunahpu and his brother to the House of Lances—the second ordeal—where the lancers were directed to kill them. Yet a swarm of ants in the brothers' service entered easily the royal gardens, the lancers were bribed, and the sons of Xquiq were still victorious. Those of Xibalba turned pale, and the owls, guards of the royal gardens, were punished by having their lips split.

Hunahpu and Xbalanque were subjected to the third ordeal in the House of Cold, but warmed by burning pine-cones they were not frozen. So in the fourth and fifth ordeals, since they passed a night in the House of Tigers and in the House of Fire without suffering injury; but in the House of Bats, although the occupants did them no harm, Hunahpu's [179] head was cut off by Camazotz, 'ruler of bats,' who came from on high.

The beheading of Hunahpu was by no means fatal, but after a combination of events utterly unintelligible, including an assemblage of all the animals, achievements particularly brilliant by the turtle and rabbit, and another contest at ball-playing, the heroes came out uninjured from all the ordeals to which they were subjected in Xibalba.


At last, instructing two sorcerers, Xulu and Pacam, that those of Xibalba had failed because the brutes were not on their side, and directing them also what to do with their bones, Hunahpu and Xbalanque stretched themselves voluntarily face down on a funeral pile, still in Xibalba, and died together. Their bones were pulverized and thrown into the river, where they sank and were changed into fine young men.

On the fifth day they re-appeared, like man-fishes; and on the day following in the form of ragged old men, dancing, burning and restoring houses, killing and restoring each other to life, and performing other wonderful things. They were induced to exhibit their skill before the princes of Xibalba, killing and resuscitating the king's dog, burning and restoring the royal palace; then a man was made the subject of their art, Hunahpu was cut in pieces and brought to life by Xbalanque. Finally, the monarchs of Xibalba wished to experience personally the temporary death; Hun Came, the highest in rank, was first killed, then Vukub Came, but life was not restored to them; the two shooters of the blow-pipe had avenged the wrongs of their fathers; the monarchs of Xibalba had fallen.

Having announced their true names and motives, the two brothers pronounced sentence on the princes of Xibalba. Their ball was to appear no more in the favorite game, they were to perform menial service, with only the beasts of the woods as vassals, [180] and this was to be their punishment for the wrongs they had done; yet strangely enough, they were to be invoked thereafter as gods, or rather demons, according to Ximenez. The character of the Xibalbans is here described. They were fond of war, of frightful aspect, ugly as owls, inspiring evil and discord; faithless, hypocritical, and tyrants, they were both black and white, painting their faces, moreover, with divers colors. But their power was ruined and their domination ceased. Meanwhile, the grandmother Xmucane at home watched the growth of the canes, and was filled alternately with grief and joy, as these withered and again became green according to the varying fortunes of the grandsons in Xibalba.[III-32] Finally, to return to Xibalba, Hunahpu and Xbalanque rendered the fitting funeral honors to their fathers who had perished there, but who now mounted to heaven and took their places as the sun and moon; and the four hundred young men killed by Zipacna became stars in the skies. Thus ends the second division of the National Book of the Quichés.[III-33]


The first chapter of the third division relates another and final creation of man from maize, in Paxil, or Cayala, 'land of divided and stagnant waters,' and has already been translated in full in another volume.[III-34] According to Brasseur's opinion it should follow the account of the preceding creations,[III-35] and precede the narrative of the struggle with Xibalba; but was introduced here at the beginning of the Quiché migrations intentionally in order to attach the later Quiché [181] nations more closely to the heroic epochs of their history. The remaining chapters of the division have also been translated in substance.[III-36] In them are related the adventures of Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Agab, Mahucutah, and Iqi-Balam, the product of the final creation by Gucumatz and his companion deities, and the founders of the Quiché nations. The people multiplied greatly in a region called the East, and migrated in search of gods to Tulan-Zuiva, the 'seven caves,' where four gods were assigned to the four leaders; namely, Tohil, Avilix, Hacavitz, and Nicahtagah. Here their language was changed or divided, and the division into separate nations was established. Suffering from cold and endeavors to obtain fire while they were awaiting the sun, are the points most dwelt upon during their stay in Tulan, and in connection with these troubles the coming of an envoy from Xibalba is mentioned,[III-37] which circumstance may indicate that Tulan was in the Xibalban region. But they determined to abandon or were driven from Tulan, and after a tedious journey, including apparently a crossing of the sea, they reached Mt Hacavitz, where at last they beheld the sun. Mt Hacavitz was apparently in Guatemala, and the events mentioned in the record as having occurred subsequently to the arrival there, although many are of a mythical nature and few can be assigned to any definite epoch, may best be referred to the more modern history of the Quiché-Cakchiquel nations in Guatemala, to be treated in a future chapter.

The events preceding the rising of the sun on Mt Hacavitz, are not easily connected with the exploits of Hunahpu and Xbalanque; but to suppose that they follow in chronologic order, and that the traditions in question reflect vaguely the history of the heroes or tribes that prevailed against Xibalba is at least as consistent as any theory that can be formed. The [182] chief objection is the implied crossing of the sea during the migration from Tulan, which may be an interpolation. A lamentation which they chanted on Mt Hacavitz has considerable historical importance. "Alas," they said, "we were ruined in Tulan, we were separated, and our brothers still remain behind. Truly we have beheld the sun, but they, where are they now that the dawn has appeared? Truly Tohil is the name of the god of the Yaqui nation, who was called Yolcuat Quitzalcuat (Quetzalcoatl) when we parted yonder in Tulan. Behold whence we set out together, behold the common cradle of our race, whence we have come. Then they remembered their brothers far behind them, the nation of the Yaqui whom their dawn enlightened in the countries now called Mexico. There was also a part of the nation which they left in the east, and Tepeu and Oliman were the places where they remained."[III-38]

A Cakchiquel record of what would seem to be the same primitive traditions contained in the Popol Vuh, exists but has never been published. It is only known through an occasional reference or quotation in the writings of Brasseur de Bourbourg. From one of these references[III-39] we learn that the barbarian Utïu, Jackal, or Coyote, that conducted Gucumatz to Paxil where maize was discovered, was killed by one of the heroes or deities; hence the name Hunahpu Utïu, 'shooter of the blowpipe at the coyote.' The following quotation from the same document refers to the name Tulan, which with its different spellings occurs so perplexingly often in all the primitive traditions of American civilization. "Four persons came from Tulan, from the direction of the rising sun, that is one Tulan. There is another Tulan in Xibalbay and another where the sun sets, and it is there that we came; and in the direction of the setting sun there is another where is the god: so that there are four [183] Tulans; and it is where the sun sets that we came to Tulan, from the other side of the sea where this Tulan is, and it is there that we were conceived and begotten by our mothers and our fathers."[III-40]


Such in a condensed form are the tales that make up the primitive annals of the Quiché nations of Guatemala. We may be very sure that, be they marvelous or common-place, each is founded on an actual occurrence, and has its meaning. That meaning, so far as details are concerned, has been doubtless in most instances lost. We may only hope to extract from the tenor of the record as a whole, a general idea respecting the nature of the historic events thus vaguely recorded; and even this would be perhaps a hopeless task, were it not for the aid derived from the Tzendal traditions, with monumental, institutional, and linguistic arguments already considered, and the Nahua records yet to be examined. It is not altogether visionary to behold in the successive creations by Gucumatz, the 'plumed serpent,' and his companions, as we have done in the coming of Votan, the introduction or growth of a new civilization, new forms of government or religion, new habits of life in America; even if we cannot admit literally the arrival at a definite time and place of a civilizer, Gucumatz, or hope to reasonably explain each of his actions. It is not necessary to decide whether the new culture was indigenous or of foreign origin; or even to suppose it radically different from any that preceded or were contemporaneous with it. We need not go back to ancient times to see partisans or devotees attach the greatest importance to the slightest differences in government or religion, looking with pity or hatred on all that are indifferent or opposed. Thus in the traditions before us opponents and rivals are pictured as the powers of darkness, while tribes that cling to the freedom of the forests and are slow to accept the blessings of civilized life, [184] are almost invariably spoken of as brutes. The final creation of man, and the discovery of maize as an essential element in his composition, refer apparently to the introduction among or adoption by the new people or new sect of agriculture as a means of support, but possibly to the creation of a high rank of secular or religious rulers. Utïu, the Jackal, a barbarian, led Gucumatz and his companions to Paxil Cayala where maize was found, but was killed by the new-comers in the troubles that ensued. Early in the narrative, however, the existence of a rival power, the great empire of Xibalba, almost synonymous with the infernal regions, is explicitly indicated, and a large portion of the Popol Vuh is devoted to the struggle between the two. The princes and nations of Xibalba, symbolized in Vukub Cakix, Zipacna, Cabrakan, Hun Came, and Vukub Came, were numerous and powerful, but, since the history is written by enemies, they were of course bad. Their chief fault, their unpardonable sin, consisted in being puffed up with pride against the Heart of Heaven, in refusing to accept the views of the new sect. Consequently the nations and chiefs that had arrayed themselves on the side of Gucumatz, represented by Xbalanque and Hunahpu, of several generations, struggle long and desperately to humble their own enemies and those of the supreme god, Hurakan. The oft-repeated struggles are symbolized by games at ball between the rival chiefs. The ball grounds or halls are battle-fields. The animals of the forests often take a prominent part on one side or the other; that is, the savage tribes are employed as allies. Occasionally men are for some offense or stupidity changed to monkeys, or tribes allied with the self-styled reformers and civilizers prove false to their allegiance and return to the wild freedom of the mountains. It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the meaning of that portion of the narrative which recounts the immaculate conception of the [185] princess Xquiq; but Brasseur, not without reason, sees in the birth of Hunahpu and Xbalanque from a Xibalban mother, an indication that the rival nations became more or less mixed by intermarriage. The same author conjectures that the quarrels between the two twins and their elder half-brothers record dissensions that arose between the chiefs of pure and mixed blood. After a long series of wars with varying results, symbolized by the repeated games of ball, and the ordeals to which Xbalanque and his brother were successively subjected, the princes of Xibalba were defeated. From the terms in which the victory is described in the tradition, the general impression is conveyed that it was not a conquest involving the destruction of cities and the extermination or enslaving of the people; but rather the overthrow of a dynasty; the transfer of the supreme power to nations that formerly occupied subordinate positions. The chief feature in the celebration of the triumph was the apotheosis of the heroes who had fallen during the struggle.

After the triumph of Gucumatz' followers, the written tradition is practically silent. Of the greatness of the newly constituted empire we know nothing; the record only re-opens when misfortune has again come upon the nations and they are forced to abandon Tulan for new homes. Neither their defeats nor the names of their conquerors were thought worthy of a place in the annals of the Quiché nations, afterwards so powerful in Guatemala; yet we can hardly doubt that the princes of Xibalba contributed to their overthrow. Forced to leave Tulan, spoken of as the cradle of their race, they migrated in three divisions, one towards the mountains of Guatemala, one towards Mexico, and the third toward the east by way of Tepeu and Oliman, which the Cakchiquel manuscript is said to locate on the boundary of Peten and Yucatan.


The Quiché traditions, then, point clearly to, 1st, [186] the existence in ancient times of a great empire somewhere in Central America, called Xibalba by its enemies; 2d, the growth of a rival neighboring power; 3d, a long struggle extending through several generations at least, and resulting in the downfall of the Xibalban kings; 4th, a subsequent scattering,—the cause of which is not stated, but was evidently war, civil or foreign,—of the formerly victorious nations from Tulan, their chief city or province; 5th, the identification of a portion of the migrating chiefs with the founders of the Quiché-Cakchiquel nations in possession of Guatemala at the Conquest. The National Book, unaided, would hardly suffice to determine the location of Xibalba, which was very likely the name of a capital city as well as of the empire. Utatlan, in the Guatemalan highlands, is clearly pointed out as the place whence Xbalanque set out for its conquest, and several other names of localities in Guatemala are also mentioned, but it should be noted that the tradition comes through Guatemalan sources, and it is not necessary even to suppose that Utatlan was the centre of the forces that struggled against the powers of darkness. Yet since we know through Tzendal traditions and monumental relics, of the great Votanic empire of the Chanes, which formerly included the region of Palenque, there can hardly be room for hesitation in identifying the two powers. The description of Paxil Cayala, 'divided and stagnant waters,' "a most excellent land, full of good things, where the white and yellow maize did abound, also the cacao, where were sapotes and many fruits, and honey; where all was overflowing with the best of food," agrees at least as well with the Usumacinta region as with any other in Central America. The very steep descent by which Xbalanque reached Xibalba from Utatlan, corresponds perfectly with the topography of the country towards the Usumacinta. The statement that in the final migration from Tulan to Guatemala, two parties were left behind, one of [187] which went to Mexico, and the other was left in the east, also seems to point in the same direction. The Cakchiquel Manuscript tells us that there was a Tulan in Xibalba, evidently the one whence the final migration took place, and from the Tzendal tradition through Ordoñez we have learned that Tulha, or Tulan, was one of the great cities of Votan's Empire. Finally there is absolutely nothing in the narrative which points to any other location.


Xibalba was then the Empire of the Serpents, to which tradition assigns Votan as a founder; the same name was applied also to its capital city Nachan, probably identical with Palenque; and Tulan, or Tulha, the centre of nations which were successively subjects, allies, rivals, and conquerors of the imperial city, may be conjecturally identified with the ruined Ococingo or Copan. Vukub Cakix, the last but two of the Xibalban monarchs, was perhaps the same as Chinax who occupied the same position in the Tzendal tradition and calendar. But who were the followers of Gucumatz, the nations before whose leaders, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, the pride of Xibalba was humbled, and to whom the traditions thus far studied have assigned no name? It is most natural to identify them with the Tzequiles, who, according to the tradition, arrived during Votan's absence, gave his followers new ideas of government and religion, were assigned lands, and became a powerful people with Tulan as their capital. This makes the Tzendal tradition much more intelligible and complete, and agrees much better with the Quiché record, than the opposite one adopted without any apparent reason by Brasseur de Bourbourg. According to the Quiché chant of lamentation, one division of the refugees from Tulan went north to Mexico, where they found their 'dawn,' their greatness. This seems to point toward the Nahua nations, which alone achieved greatness in Mexico during historic times. The tribes which migrated northward are called, in the Popol Vuh, Yaqui, [188] a name which according to Brasseur de Bourbourg, has much the same signification etymologically as Nahuatl, and was commonly applied by the Maya-Quiché peoples of Central America to the Mexicans. Moreover, their god, Tohil, was called by these Yaqui tribes, even while they were yet in Tulan, Yolcuat Quitzalcuat, while the most prominent of the Nahua divinities is well known to the readers of the preceding volumes to have been Quetzalcoatl. Chanes, the only name given to the subjects of Votan and his successors, is the equivalent of Culhuas, a word which, especially in composition, is of frequent occurrence in all the native tongues. Culhuacan was one of the most celebrated cities of Anáhuac, as the Acolhuas were among the most noted peoples. Again Tulan Zuiva is defined as the Seven Caves, in the Nahua tongues Chicomoztoc, which the Aztecs are well known to have claimed as a former home. One of the divinities engaged in the creation, or in the propagation of the new doctrines in the region of Xibalba was the chief of Toltecat, another name prominent in all Nahua traditions as that of their most famous nation, the Toltecs; and finally Gucumatz, the great leader of Xibalba's conquerors, was identical with Quetzalcoatl, since both names signify equally the 'plumed serpent,' the former in Quiché, the latter in Aztec. These facts seem significant and naturally direct our attention to an examination of the early Nahua records.


The records of the Nahua nations, so far as they relate to the pre-Toltec period, if more extensive and numerous, are not less confused than those of the south. To bring into any semblance of order this mass of contradictory semi-mythical, semi-historic details, to point out and defend the historic meaning of each aboriginal tale, is an impossible task which I do not propose to undertake. The only practicable course is to present the leading points of these early traditions [189] as they are given by the best authorities, and to draw from them, as I have done from the Tzendal and Quiché records, some general conclusions respecting the most probable course of primitive history; for conclusions of a very general nature, and bearing on probabilities only, are all that we can expect to reach respecting pre-Toltec America. Sahagun, justly esteemed as one of the best authorities, speaks in substance as follows:[III-41]

Countless years ago the first settlers arrived in New Spain. Coming in ships by sea, they approached a northern port; and because they disembarked there it was called Panutla, or Panoaia, 'place where they arrived who came by sea,' now corruptly called Pantlan (Pánuco); and from this port they began to follow the coast, beholding the snowy sierras and the volcanoes, until they reached the province of Guatemala; being guided by a priest carrying their god, with whom he continually took counsel respecting what they ought to do. They came to settle in Tamoanchan, where they remained a long time, and never ceased to have their wise men, or prophets, called amoxoaque, which means 'men learned in the ancient paintings,' who, although they came at the same time, did not remain with the rest in Tamoanchan; since leaving them there, they re-embarked and carried away with them all the paintings which they had brought relating to religious rites and mechanical arts. Before their departure they spoke as follows:—"Know that our god commands you to remain here in these lands, of which he makes you masters and gives you possession. He returns to the place whence he and we came; but he will come back to visit you when it shall be time for the world to come to an end; meantime you will await him in these lands, possessing them and all contained in them, since for this purpose you came hither; remain therefore, for we go with our god." Thus they departed with their god wrapped [190] in blankets, towards the east, taking all the paintings. Of the wise men only four remained, Oxomoco, Cipactonal, Tlaltetecui, and Xuchicaoaca, who, after the others had departed, consulted together, saying:—A time will come when there will be light for the direction of this republic; but during the absence of our god, how shall the people be ruled? What order will there be in all things, since the wise men carried away their paintings by which they governed? Therefore did they invent judicial astrology and the art of interpreting dreams; they composed the calendar, which was followed during the rule of the Toltecs, Mexicans, Tepanecs, and Chichimecs. By this calendar, however, it is not possible to ascertain how long they remained in Tamoanchan,—although this was known by the paintings burned in the time of the Mexican ruler, Itzcoatl, in whose reign the lords and princes agreed that all should be burned that they might not fall into the hands of the vulgar and be unappreciated. From Tamoanchan they went to sacrifice at Teotihuacan, where they built two mountains in honor of the sun and moon, and where they elected their rulers, and buried the lords and princes, ordering the tumuli, still to be seen, to be made over their graves. Some description of the mounds follows, with the statement that they were the work of giants. The town of Teotl, or god, was called Teotihuacan, because the princes who were buried there were made gods after death, and were thought not to have died but to have waked from a sleep. From Tamoanchan certain families went to settle the provinces called Olmeca Vixtoti. Here are given some details of these Olmecs and of the Huastecs, to be spoken of later.

After the centre of power had been a long time in Tamoanchan, it was afterwards transferred to the town called Xumiltepec. Here the lords and priests and the old men discovered it to be the will of their god that they should not remain always in Xumiltepec, but that they were to go farther; thus all gradually [191] started on their migration, having first repaired to Teotihuacan to choose their leaders and wise men. In this migration they came to the valley of the Seven Caves. There is no account of the time they remained there, but finally the Toltecs were told by their god that they must return (that is towards Teotihuacan, or Anáhuac), which they did and came to Tollancingo (Tulancingo), and finally to Tulan (Tollan).


In the introduction to the same work[III-42] we are told also that the first settlers came from towards Florida, followed the coast, and landed at the port of Pánuco. They came in search of the 'terrestrial paradise,' were called Tamoanchan, which means 'we seek our house,' and settled near the highest mountains they found. "In coming southward to seek the earthly paradise, they did not err, since it is the opinion of those that know that it is under the equinoxial line."

In Sahagun's version of the tradition we find Tamoanchan,[III-43] the first home of the Nahua nations in America, definitely located down the coast from Pánuco in the province of Guatemala. The coast region of Tabasco was probably included in this author's time in Guatemala; at least it is as near Guatemala as the new-comers could get by following the coast. The location therefore agrees with that of Xibalba and the Votanic empire as derived from other sources; and in fact the whole narrative may with great plausibility be applied to the events described in the Quiché tradition—the arrival of Gucumatz and his companions (although Sahagun does not name Quetzalcoatl as the leader of the immigrants), the growth of a great power in the central region, and the final forced migration from Tulan Zuiva, the Seven Caves. The absence of the name Tulan, as [192] applied to a city or county in Central America, from the northern traditions as they have been preserved for our examination, may be very satisfactorily accounted for by the fact that another great city founded much later in Anáhuac, the capital of the Toltec monarchy, was also called Tollan; consequently such traditions as the Spaniards gathered from the natives respecting a Tulan, were naturally referred by them to the later city. It is to be noted, moreover, in this connection, that the descriptions given by the Spanish writers of Tollan, with its luxuriant vegetation, and birds of brilliant plumage, often apply much better to the southern than to the northern Anáhuac. In addition to the points mentioned in the Quiché record, we learn from Sahagun that the Toltec calendar was invented or introduced during the stay in that southern country of Tamoanchan;[III-44] that the Nahua power in the south extended north to Anáhuac and embraced Teotihuacan, a holy city and religious centre, even in those remote times; that the Olmecs, Miztecs, and Huastecs belonged to the same group of nations and their rise or appearance to the same period; and that from the Seven Caves the Toltecs migrated—that is their centre or capital was transferred—to Tulancingo, and later to Tollan. All these points we shall find confirmed more or less directly by other authorities.


A very important Nahua record, written in Aztec with Spanish letters by an anonymous native author, and copied by Ixtlilxochitl, which belonged to the famous Boturini collection, is the Codex Chimalpopoca.[III-45] Unfortunately it has never been published, [193] and its contents are only known by occasional references in the works of Brasseur de Bourbourg, who had a copy of the document. From the passages quoted by the abbé I take the following brief account, which seems of some importance in connection with the preceding:

"This is the beginning of the history of things which came to pass long ago, of the division of the earth, the property of all, its origin and its foundation, as well as the manner in which the sun divided it six times four hundred plus one hundred plus thirteen years ago to-day, the twenty-second of May, 1558." "Earth and the heavens were formed in the year Ce Tochtli; but man had already been created four times. God formed him of ashes, but Quetzalcoatl had perfected him." After the flood men were changed into dogs.[III-46] After a new and successful attempt at creation, all began to serve the gods, called Apantecutli, 'master of the rivers,' Huictlollinqui, 'he who causes the earth to shake,' Tlallamanac, 'he who presides on the earth,' and Tzontemoc, 'he whose hair descends.' Quetzalcoatl remained alone. Then they said, "the vassals of the gods are born; they have already begun to serve us," but they added, "what will you eat, O gods?" and Quetzalcoatl went to search for means of subsistence. At that time Azcatl, the 'ant,' going to Tonacatepetl, 'mount of our subsistence,' for maize, was met by Quetzalcoatl, who said, [194] "where hast thou been to obtain that thing? Tell me." At first the Ant would not tell, but the Plumed Serpent insisted, and repeated, "whither shall I go?" Then they went there together, Quetzalcoatl metamorphosing himself into a 'black ant.'[III-47] Tlaltlauhqui Azcatl, the 'yellow ant,'[III-48] accompanied Quetzalcoatl respectfully, as they went to seek maize and brought it to Tamoanchan. Then the gods began to eat, and put some of the maize in our mouths that we might become strong.[III-49] The same record implies that Quetzalcoatl afterwards became obnoxious to his companions and abandoned them.[III-50]

In this document we have evidently an account of substantially the same events that are recorded in the Tzendal and Quiché records:—the division of the earth by the Sun in the year 955 B.C., or as Ordoñez interprets the Tzendal tradition, by Votan 'about 1000 B.C.'; the formation of the earth by the supreme being, and the successive creations of man, or attempts to introduce civilization among savages through the agency of Quetzalcoatl,—acts ascribed by the Quiché tradition to the same person under the name of Gucumatz; the flood and resulting transformation of men into dogs, instead of monkeys as in the Popol Vuh, symbolizing perhaps the relapse into savagism of partially civilized tribes;—the adoption of agriculture represented in both traditions as an expedition by Quetzalcoatl, or Gucumatz, in search of maize. According to the Popol Vuh he sought the maize in Paxil and Cayala, 'divided and stagnant waters,' by the aid of Utïu, 'the coyote;' while in the Nahua tradition, aided by Azcatl, 'the ant,' he finds the desired food in Tonacatepetl, 'mount of our subsistence.' Finally, the Codex Chimalpopoca identifies [195] the home of the Nahua nations, whence the search for maize was made, with Tamoanchan, which Sahagun has clearly located in Tabasco.


Before considering the traditions that relate the migration of the Toltecs proper to Tollan in Anáhuac, it will be most convenient to give the little that is known of those nations that are supposed to have preceded the Toltecs in Mexico. The chief of these are the Quinames, Olmecs, Xicalancas, Totonacs, Huastecs, Miztecs, Zapotecs, and Otomís.[III-51] The Olmecs and Xicalancas, who are sometimes represented as two nations, sometimes as divisions of the same nation, are regarded by all the authorities as Nahuas, speaking the same language as the Toltecs, but settled in Anáhuac long before the establishment of the Toltec Empire at Tollan. As nations they both became extinct before the Spanish Conquest, as did the Toltecs, but there is little doubt that their descendants under new names and in new national combinations still lived in Puebla, southern Vera Cruz, and Tabasco—the region traditionally settled by them—down to the coming of the Spaniards. They are regarded as the first of the Nahua nations in this region and are first noticed by tradition on the south-eastern coasts, whither they had come in ships from the east. Sahagun, as we have seen, identifies them with certain families of the Nahuas who set out from Tamoanchan to settle in the northern coast region. Ixtlilxochitl tells us they occupied the land in the third age of the world, landing on the east coast as [196] far as the land of Papuha,[III-52] 'muddy water,' or in the region about the Laguna de Terminos. Veytia names Pánuco as their landing-place, and gives the date as a few years after the regulation of the calendar, already noticed in Sahagun's record.[III-53] Their national names are derived from that of their first rulers Olmecatl and Xicalancatl. Two ancient cities called Xicalanco are reported on the gulf coast; one of them, which flourished nearly or quite down to the time of the Conquest, and whose ruins are still said to be visible,[III-54] was just below Vera Cruz; the other, probably the more ancient, stood at the point which still bears the name of Xicalanco at the entrance to the Laguna de Terminos. This whole region is also said to have borne the name of Anáhuac Xicalanco.[III-55] Mendieta and Torquemada[III-56] relate that the followers of Xicalancatl peopled the region towards the Goazacoalco, where stood the two cities referred to. The people of that part of the country were generally known at the time of the Conquest as Nonohualcas. The chief development of this people, or of its Olmec branch, was, so far as recorded in tradition, in the state of Puebla further north and inland.


This tradition of the arrival of strangers on the eastern coast, and the growth of the Olmec and Xicalanca powers on and north of the isthmus, in view of the facts that these nations are universally regarded as Nahuas and as the first of the race to settle in Anáhuac, cannot be considered as distinct from that given by Sahagun respecting the Nahua race, especially as the latter author speaks of the departure of certain families from Tamoanchan to settle in the [197] provinces of Olmeca Vixtoti. It is most natural to suppose that the new power extended gradually northward to Puebla as well as inland into Chiapas, where it came more directly in contact with its great rival. This view of the matter is likewise supported by the fact that Quetzalcoatl, the culture-hero, is said to have wrought his great works in the time of the Olmecs and Xicalancas—according to some traditions to have been their leader when they arrived on the coast. Sahagun also applies the name Tlalocan, 'land of riches,' or 'terrestrial paradise,' to this south-eastern region, implying its identity with Tamoanchan.[III-57]

Our knowledge of Olmec history subsequent to their first appearance, is confined to a few events which occurred in Puebla. Here, chiefly on the Rio Atoyac near Puebla de los Angeles and Cholula, they found the Quinames, or giants, a powerful people who long kept them subordinate in rank and power, or, as the tradition expresses it, 'enslaved them.' These Quinames, as Ixtlilxochitl states, were survivors of the great destruction which closed the second age of the world. They were, according to Veytia, "more like brutes than rational beings; their food was raw meat of birds and beasts which they hunted indiscriminately, fruits and wild herbs, since they cultivated nothing; but they knew how to make pulque with which to make themselves drunk; going entirely naked with disheveled hair." They were cruel and proud, yet they received the strangers kindly, perhaps through fear of their great numbers, they being so few, and magnanimously permitted them to settle in their lands. The Olmecs were [198] treated well enough at first, although they looked with terror upon the giants. The latter, aware of the fear they inspired, became more and more insolent, claiming that as lords and masters of the land they were showing the strangers a great favor in permitting them to live there. As a recompense for this kindness they obliged the Olmecs to serve as slaves, neither hunting nor fishing themselves, but depending on their new servants for a subsistence. Thus ill-treated, the Nahuas soon found their condition insupportable. Another great cause of offence was that the Quinames were addicted to sodomy, a vice which they refused to abandon even when they were offered the wives and daughters of the newcomers. At last it was resolved at a council of the Olmec chiefs to free themselves once for all from their oppressors. The means adopted were peculiar. The giants were invited to a magnificent banquet; the richest food and the most tempting native beverages were set before the guests; all gathered at the feast, and as a result of their unrestrained appetites were soon stretched senseless like so many blocks of wood on the ground. Thus they became an easy prey to the reformers, and perished to a man. The Olmecs were free and the day of their national prosperity dawned.


The Quinames, traditionally assigned as the first inhabitants of nearly every part of the country, have been the subject of much discussion among the Spanish writers. Veytia indeed rejects the idea that a race of giants actually existed, and Clavigero considers their existence as a race very doubtful, although admitting that there were doubtless individuals of great size. Most other writers of this class accept more or less literally the tradition of the giants who were the first dwellers in the land, deeming the discovery of large bones in various localities and the scriptural tales of giants in other parts of the world, to be sufficient corroborative authority. Veytia thinks [199] the Quinames were probably of the same race as the Toltecs, but were tribes cast out for their sloth; Ixtlilxochitl records the opinion entertained by some that they were descended from the Chichimecs. The former fixes the date of their destruction as 107, the latter as 299, A.D. Oviedo adopts the conclusion of Mendoza that the giants probably came from the Strait of Magellan, the only place where such beings were known to exist. Boturini saw no reason to doubt the existence of the giants. Being large in stature, they could out-travel the rest of mankind, and thus became naturally the first settlers of distant parts of the world. Torquemada, followed by Veytia, identifies them with a similar race that traditionally appeared at a very early time in Peru, where they were destroyed by fire from heaven.[III-58]

The Quinames were of course not giants, and it is not at all probable that they were savage tribes. Such tribes are described as animals rather than giants in the American traditionary annals. The spirit of the narrative, the great power ascribed to the Quinames, their kind reception of the strangers, their growing insolence, even their vices, point clearly, here as in Chiapas, to a powerful nation, at first feared as masters, then hated as rivals, but finally ruled as subjects by the newly risen power. While it is impossible to decide authoritatively in the matter, it may be regarded as more than likely that this foe was a branch of that overthrown in the south; that the Xibalban power, as well as that of the Nahuas, extended far [200] towards Anáhuac in the early days; that the great struggle was carried on in the north as well as in the south.

About the time the Quinames were defeated, the pyramid of Cholula was erected under the direction of a chief named Xelhua. The occasion of its being built seems to have been connected in some way with a flood, probably that mentioned in the Quiché tradition, the reports of which may or may not be founded on an actual inundation more than usually disastrous in a country subject to periodical overflow. The authorities are not agreed whether the mighty mound was intended as a memorial monument in honor of the builder's salvation from a former flood, or as a place of refuge in case the floodgates of the skies should again be opened; neither is it settled whether Xelhua was an Olmec or a Quiname chieftain, although most authors incline to the former opinion. Pedro de los Rios tells us that the bricks for the construction of the pyramid were manufactured at Tlalmanalco and passed by a line of men from hand to hand for a distance of several leagues. Of course the Spanish writers have not failed to connect this pyramid in some way with the Hebrew traditions respecting the tower of Babel, especially as work on the Cholula tower was stopped by fire, sent from heaven by the irritated deities.[III-59]


During the Olmec period, that is, the earliest period of Nahua power, the great Quetzalcoatl appeared. We have seen that in the Popol Vuh and Codex Chimalpopoca this being is represented as the half-divinity, half-hero, who came at the head of the first Nahuas to America from across the sea. Other [201] authorities imply rather that he came later from the east or north, in the period of the greatest Olmec prosperity, after the rival Quinames had been defeated. To such differences in detail no great importance is to be attached; since all that can be definitely learned from these traditions is the facts that Quetzalcoatl, or Gucumatz, was the most prominent of the Nahua heroes, and that his existence is to be attributed to this earliest period, known in Mexico as Olmec, but without a distinctive name in the south. Quetzalcoatl was a white, bearded man, venerable, just, and holy, who taught by precept and example the paths of virtue in all the Nahua cities, particularly in Cholula. His teachings, according to the traditions, had much in common with those of Christ in the Old World, and most of the Spanish writers firmly believed him to be identical with one of the Christian apostles, probably St Thomas. During his stay in this region his doctrines do not seem to have met with a satisfactory reception, and he left disheartened. He predicted before his departure great calamities, and promised to return in a future year Ce Acatl, at which time his doctrines were to be fully accepted, and his descendants were to possess the land. Montezuma is known to have regarded the coming of Cortés and the Spaniards as a fulfillment of this prediction, and in his speech to the new-comers states further that after his first visit Quetzalcoatl had already once returned,[III-60] and attempted unsuccessfully to induce his followers to go back with him across the sea. The first part of the prophet's prediction actually came to pass, as traditions tell us, for only a few days after his departure occurred the earthquake which destroyed the pyramid at Cholula, the American Babel, and ushered in the new or fourth age of fire, according to Ixtlilxochitl. On the ruins of the [202] pyramid was built a temple to Quetzalcoatl, who was afterwards worshiped as a god.[III-61]

We shall find very similar traditions of another Quetzalcoatl who appeared much later, during the Toltec period, and who also made Cholula a centre of his reform. As we shall see, the evidence is tolerably conclusive that the two are not the same, yet it is more than likely that the traditions respecting them have been considerably mixed both in native and European hands. After the time of Quetzalcoatl we know nothing of Olmec or Xicalanca history down to the establishment of the Toltec empire, when these nations were still in possession of the country of Puebla and Tlascala. Boturini conjectures that, being driven from Mexico, they migrated to the Antilles and to South America. There is not, however, the slightest necessity to suppose that the Olmecs ever left the country at all. Their institutions and language were the same as that of the Toltec peoples that nominally succeeded them, and although like the Toltecs they became extinct as a nation, yet there is no reason to doubt that their descendants lived long in the land, and took part in the new political combinations that make up Nahua history down to the Conquest.[III-62]



The Totonacs are included by the authorities among the primitive, or Pre-Toltec nations in Anáhuac. At the time of the Conquest they occupied central Vera Cruz, their chief city being Zempoala; but they claimed to have migrated from the valley of Mexico, and to have lived long near the banks of Lake Tezcuco, where they built the pyramids at Teotihuacan, a place already noticed as a religious centre in this early period. Torquemada seems to be the original authority for the Totonac traditions respecting their primitive history, having obtained his information from an aged native. His brief account, quoted in substance by all others who have mentioned the subject, is as follows:—"Of their origin they say that they set out from the place called Chicomoztoc, or Seven Caves, together with the Xalpanecs; and that they were twenty divisions, or families, as many of one as of the other; and although thus divided into families, they were all of one language and of the same customs. They say they started from that place, leaving the Chichimecs still shut up there; and they directed their journey towards this part of Mexico, and having arrived at the plains on the lake, they halted at the place where Teotihuacan now is; and they affirm that they built these two temples which were dedicated to the sun and moon. Here they remained for some time, but either not contented with the place, or with a desire to pass to other places, they went to Atenamitic, where Zacatlan now stands." Thence they gradually moved eastward until at last they settled on the coast in their present location. That the pyramids of Teotihuacan[III-63] were built by the Nahuas—the Olmecs or one of their companion nations—and became their religious centre and the burial-place of their kings and priests long before the [204] establishment of the empire of Tollan, there can be but little doubt; nor is it improbable that the Totonacs were, as they claim to be, a pre-Toltec tribe in Anáhuac; but that they were in this early time a Nahua tribe, a nation contemporaneous with the Olmecs and of the same institutions, that they were the builders of Teotihuacan, is only proved by their own claim as recorded by Torquemada. This evidence must probably be regarded as insufficient in view of the fact that the Totonac language is wholly distinct from the Nahua.[III-64] It is true that, as will be seen later, all the ancient tribes, that adopted more or less the Nahua institutions, and joined in the struggle against the rival Maya powers, did not speak the same language; but it is also very probable that many nations in later times, when the Nahua power as represented by the Aztecs had become so predominant, claimed ancient Nahua affinities to which they had no right.[III-65] In addition to what has already been said respecting Teotihuacan, only one event is mentioned in its pre-Toltec history,—the apotheosis of Nanahuatzin, an event which probably preceded rather than followed the erection of the pyramids. The strange fable respecting this event, already related in a preceding volume,[III-66] is, briefly, to the effect that the gods were assembled at Teotihuacan for the purpose of inducing the sun to appear and illumine their darkness. A great fire having been kindled, and the announcement made that the honors of apotheosis would [205] be given to him who should give himself up as a living sacrifice, Nanahuatzin threw himself into the fire, was instantly devoured and transformed into the sun, which at once appeared in the east. Metztli followed the example of Nanahuatzin, and took his place in the heavens as the moon, less brilliant than his companion, since the heat of the fire had somewhat abated before his sacrifice. The true historic signification of this account we cannot hope to ascertain, yet it is of great interest, since it seems to point to the introduction in these regions of sun-worship and of human sacrifice; indeed, the Codex Chimalpopoca, according to Brasseur, expressly states that "then began divine immolation at Teotihuacan." The same authority gives this event also as the beginning of a new chronologic period called Nahui Ollin Tonatiuh, 'the sun in its four movements,' thus suggesting some connection between this assemblage and that mentioned by Sahagun as having taken place in the south, when the new calendar was invented. The remark in the same document that "on that day the kings did tremble," may point to this epoch as that of the great revolution—carried on chiefly in Chiapas, but which may have extended to Anáhuac—by which the kings of Xibalba were overthrown; especially since the narrative of the sacrifice at Teotihuacan bears a striking resemblance to the apotheosis of Hunhunahpu and his fellow-heroes at Xibalba.[III-67]

So far as the other so-called primitive nations of New Spain are concerned, little can be said, except that they claim and have always been credited with a very ancient residence in this land, dating back far beyond the beginning of the historic period. The Otomís, one division of whom are known as Mazahuas, differ entirely from the Nahua nations in language, [206] having possibly a slight linguistic affinity with the Totonacs, and although far from being savages, they have always been to a certain extent an outcast and oppressed race, the 'Jews of Anáhuac,' as one writer terms them, down-trodden in succession by Toltec, Chichimec, and Aztec. They probably occupied a very large portion of Anáhuac and the surrounding mountains, when the Toltecs proper established their power. Ixtlilxochitl, followed by Veytia, represents the Otomís, though differing in language, as having been one of the Acolhua tribes that made their appearance in Anáhuac many centuries later, but the event referred to as their coming to the country at that period, may probably be their coming down from the mountains and adopting more or less the civilized life of the Acolhuas at Tezcuco.[III-68]

The Miztecs and Zapotecs are simply mentioned by the authorities in connection with the Olmecs and Xicalancas as having occupied the south-eastern region during the primitive period. Later they became powerful nations in the country now constituting the state of Oajaca, and were probably at least the equals of the Aztecs in civilization. Their own annals do not, so far as they may be interpreted, reach back to the pre-Toltec times, and although they may very likely have come in contact with the Olmecs in Puebla, or even have been their allies, receiving from them or with them the elements of Nahua culture, yet the fact that their languages are distinct from the Nahua, shows that they like the Totonacs were not, as some authors imply, simply a branch of the Nahua people in Tamoanchan. It is [207] more natural to suppose that these three nations were either wild tribes, or, if partially civilized, connected with the Maya, Xibalban, or Quiname nations, and that they accepted more or less fully the Nahua ideas after the Olmec nations had risen to power in Anáhuac. The statement of Brasseur that the tribes of Oajaca received their civilization from the two brothers of Xibalba's conquerors, Hunbatz and Hunchouen, is probably unfounded, since nothing of the kind appears in the chapter of García's work to which the abbé refers.[III-69]


To the Huastecs of Northern Vera Cruz, the preceding remarks may also be applied, save that their language, while distinct from the Nahua, is also very evidently connected with the great Maya linguistic family of the south. Yet the ruins of Huastec and Totonac Vera Cruz,[III-70] are more like the Nahua monuments than like those of Yucatan or Chiapas, showing how powerful was the influence of the Nahua element in the north. The only historical tradition relating to the Huastecs is the following from Sahagun:—In the time of the Olmecs, after the art of making pulque had been invented in the mountain called thereafter Popoconaltepetl, 'mountain of foam,' the inventors prepared a banquet on the same mountain. All the principal old men and old women were invited, and before each guest were placed four cups of the new wine,—the quantity deemed sufficient [208] to exhibit the excellence of the newly-discovered beverage, and to cheer without inebriating the dignitaries present. But one chief, Cuextecatl by name, was so rash as to indulge in a fifth cup, and was moved thereby to discard the maxtli which constituted his court dress, and to conduct himself in a very indecorous manner; so much so that after recovering his sound sense, he was forced by very shame to flee with all his followers, and all those of his language, to the region of Pánuco, where they settled, and were called from their leader Cuextecas, afterwards Guaxtecas or Huastecs.[III-71]


I now come to what may be termed the regular annals of that branch of the Nahua nations which finally established a kingdom in Anáhuac with Tollan for a capital, and which acquired the name of Toltec. These annals will be found not more satisfactory or less mythical than the traditions that have been given in the preceding pages, although in their more salient points they seem to agree with those traditions. They were recorded in a most careless and confused manner by the native writer Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, who derived his information from the documents which survived the destruction by the Spanish priests. The comments of later writers, and their attempts to reconcile this author's statements one with another and all with scriptural traditions and with the favorite theory of a general migration from the north, have still further confused the subject. I have no hope of being able to reduce Ixtlilxochitl's statements to perfect order, or to explain the exact historical meaning of each statement; still, by the omission of a large amount of profitless conjecture, [209] scriptural comparison, and hopelessly entangled chronology, the tradition may be somewhat simplified so as to yield, as other traditions have done, some items of general information respecting the primitive Nahua period.

At the end of the first age of the world or the 'sun of waters,' as we are told by Ixtlilxochitl, the earth was visited by a flood which covered even the most lofty mountains. After the repeopling of the earth by the descendants of a few families who escaped destruction, the building of a tower as a protection against a possible future catastrophe of similar nature, and the confusion of tongues and consequent scattering of the population—for all these things were found in the native traditions, as we are informed—seven families speaking the same language kept together in their wanderings for many years; and after crossing broad lands and seas, enduring great hardships, they reached the country of Huehue Tlapallan, or 'Old' Tlapallan; which they found to be fertile and desirable to dwell in.[III-72] The second age, the 'sun of air,' terminated with a great hurricane which swept away trees, rocks, houses, and people, although many men and women escaped, chiefly such as took refuge in caves which the hurricane could not reach. After several days the survivors came out to find a multitude of apes living in the land; and all this time they were in darkness, seeing neither the sun nor moon. The next event recorded, although Veytia [210] makes it precede the hurricane, is the stopping of the sun for a whole day in his course, as at the command of Joshua as recorded in the Old Testament. "When the mosquito, however, saw the sun thus suspended and pensive, he addressed him saying, 'Lord of the world, why art thou thus motionless, and doest not thy duty as is commanded thee? Dost thou wish to destroy the world as is thy wont?' Then seeing that he was yet silent and made no response, the insect went up and stung him in the leg, whereupon he, feeling himself stung, started anew on his accustomed course."

Next occurred an earthquake which swallowed up and destroyed all the Quinames, or giants—at least all those who lived in the coast regions—together with many of the Toltecs and of their neighbors the Chichimecs. After the destruction of these Philistines, "being at peace with all this new world, all the wise Toltecs, both the astrologers and those of other arts, assembled in Huehue Tlapallan, the chief city of their dominion, where they treated of many things, the calamities they had suffered and the movements of the heavens since the creation of the world, and of many other things, which on account of their histories having been burned, have not been ascertained further than what has been written here, among which they added the bissextile to regulate the solar year with the equinox, and many other curiosities as will be seen in their tables and arrangement of years, months, weeks, days, signs, and planets as they understood them."

One hundred and sixteen years after this regulation or invention of the Toltec calendar, "the sun and moon were eclipsed, the earth shook, and the rocks were rent asunder, and many other things and signs happened, though there was no loss of life. This was in the year Ce Calli, which, the chronology being reduced to our systems, proves to be the same date when Christ our Lord suffered" (33 A.D.)

Three hundred and five years later, when the empire [211] had been long at peace, Chalcatzin and Tlacamihtzin, chief descendants of the royal house of the Toltecs, raised a revolt for the purpose of deposing the legitimate successor to the throne. The rebellious chiefs were after long wars driven out of their city Tlachicatzin in Huehue Tlapallan, with all their numerous families and allies. They were pursued by their kindred of the city or country of Tlaxicoluican for sixty leagues, to a place discovered by Cecatzin, which they named Tlapallanconco or 'little' Tlapallan. The struggle by which the rebels were conquered lasted eight years,—or thirteen, according to Veytia—and they were accompanied on their forced migration by five other chiefs. The departure from Huehue Tlapallan seems to have taken place in the fifth or sixth century.[III-73]


They remained at Tlapallanconco[III-74] three years, and towards the end of their stay the seven chieftains assembled to deliberate whether they should remain there permanently or go farther. Then rose a great astrologer, named Hueman, or Huematzin, saying that according to their histories they had suffered great persecutions from heaven, but that these had always been followed by great prosperity; that their persecutions had always occurred in the year Ce Tecpatl, but that year once passed, great blessings ensued; that their trouble was a great evil immediately preceding the dawn of a greater good, and consequently it did not behoove them to remain so near [212] their enemies. Moreover, his astrology had taught him that towards the rising sun there was a broad and happy land, where the Quinames had lived for many years, but so long a time had now passed since their destruction that the country was depopulated; besides, the fierce Chichimecs, their neighbors, rarely penetrated those regions. The planet which ruled the destinies of that new country yet lacked many years of carrying out its threats, and in the meantime they and their descendants to the tenth generation might enjoy a golden and prosperous century. Again, the threatening planet did not rule their nation, but that of the giants, so that possibly it might do no great injury even to their descendants. He advised that some colonists be left here to people the country, become their vassals, and in time to turn upon their enemies and recover their native land and original power. These and other things did Hueman counsel, and they seemed good to the seven chiefs; so that after three years were passed, or eleven years from the time when they left Huehue Tlapallan, they started on their migration. The first stopping-place, about seventy leagues distant and reached in twelve days was Hueyxalan—'great sandy' as Veytia interprets it—a place discovered by Cohuatzon where they remained four years. They next halted after a journey of twenty days at Xalisco, a country about a hundred leagues farther east—or as Veytia says west—near the seashore. They lived eight years in this land, which was discovered by Ziuhcohuatl. Other twenty days and hundred leagues took them to Chimalhuacan Atenco on the coast where there were certain islands, and here they dwelt five years. At the start they had taken a vow, under penalty of severe punishment, to have no intercourse with their wives for twenty-three years; but as the time was now expired they began here to increase and multiply. After the five years they resumed their journey eastward for eighteen days or eighty leagues to Toxpan, discovered [213] by Mezotzin, where they lived for five years also. Quiyahuitztlan Anáhuac, discovered by Acapichtzin—was twenty days' journey or a hundred leagues east of Toxpan, also on the coast, with inlets so that they were obliged to pass in boats from one place to another. They remained here six years suffering great hardships. The next halting-place was Zacatlan, distant eighteen days or eighty leagues in a direction not stated. Chalcatzin was the discoverer, and during the first of their seven years' stay here—just fifty-two years, or a xiuhtlalpilli, after their wars began—a son was born to the chief, and named from the place Zacapantzin. At Totzapan, eighty leagues distance from Zacatlan, they lived six years, in the last of which a son named Totzapantzin was born to Cecatzin, who discovered this place. This was just fifty-two years after they left their native country. Twenty-eight days or one hundred and forty leagues brought them to Tepetla, Cohuatzon being the discoverer for the second time, where they remained seven years. At Mazatepec eighteen days or eighty leagues distant, discovered by Ziuhcohuatl, they tarried eight years; at Ziuhcohuatl, at the same distance, discovered by Tlapalmetzin, also eight years; at Yztachuexucha, twenty days or one hundred leagues northward, discovered by Metzotzin, twenty-six years. Finally a journey of eighteen days or eighty leagues brought them to Tulancingo—written also Tulantzinco and Tollantzinco—discovered by Acapichtzin. Here they built a house sufficiently large to contain all the people, and remained eighteen years before transferring their capital to Tollan farther east and establishing what was afterwards known as the Toltec empire. The third year of their stay in Tulancingo completed an age, or one hundred and four years since the departure from their country.[III-75] According to Ixtlilxochitl, [214] the Toltecs reached Anáhuac in the sixth century, or according to Veytia and others who have attempted to reconstruct his chronology, near the end of the seventh century.[III-76]

This tradition of the Toltecs affords in itself no sufficient data from which to locate accurately Huehue Tlapallan, their most ancient home in America. The name is interpreted as 'ancient red land, or land of color,' and might perhaps apply as well to the north as to the south. Pedro de Alvarado writing from Santiago, or Old Guatemala, to Cortés in 1524, announces his intention to set out in a few months to explore the country of Tapalan "which is in the interior fifteen days' march from here. It is pretended that the capital is as large as Mexico."[III-77] This indicates that at the time of the Conquest the name was still applied to a region which may correspond very well to Honduras, Peten, or Tabasco. Ixtlilxochitl himself, in relating the expeditions on which his ancestor of the same name accompanied Cortés, mentions one to "Tlapalan, a province which lies toward Ihueras," or Ibueras, being the former name of Honduras.[III-78] Brasseur says that "Mexican geography at the time of the discovery applied this name only to the provinces north of Guatemala, between the tributaries [215] of the Rio Usumacinta and Honduras;" and also that the country was spoken of by authors at the time of the Conquest as Tlapallan de Cortés, on account of Cortés' expedition to Honduras, but he mentions no authors except those I have referred to.[III-79] The same author believes that the name Tlapallanconco given by Ixtlilxochitl to the first station, sixty leagues from Huehue Tlapallan, should be Tlapallantzinco. He tells us that the Guatemalan histories mentions such a city conquered by the Quichés in Soconusco on the coast, at a point not far from sixty leagues distant from the Ococingo region.[III-80] Again, according to Sahagun and Torquemada, when Quetzalcoatl, the second of the name, who flourished while the Toltecs were at Tollan, left the country, he embarked or disappeared on the gulf coast near the Goazacoalco River, announcing his intention to go to Tlapallan. This would certainly favor the idea that Tlapallan was a southern country.


On the other hand, the eastward direction attributed to the migration from Tlapallanconco to Anáhuac is not consistent with any Central American location of the starting-place; but, in connection with the fact that Xalisco is given as the second station about a hundred and seventy leagues distant from Tlapallanconco, would agree somewhat better with the theory generally adopted by the Spanish writers that the original home of the Toltecs was in the north-west, probably on the Gulf of California; yet the name Tlapallan has never been found in the north-west.[III-81] Material relics of any great empire are wanting in that region, at least beyond Quemada in Zacatecas, and the itinerary is full of inconsistencies which prove it to be unreliable as a historic record. For instance, an eastern course of a hundred [216] leagues to any point on the coast of Jalisco would be an impossibility; the next two moves led a hundred leagues down the Pacific Coast, and then across the continent to Toxpan, or Tuxpan, on the gulf coast in Vera Cruz; then, although Tuxpan is on the eastern coast, the migration continued still a hundred leagues eastward, another impossibility of course. How they returned to the states of Vera Cruz and Mexico, where the other stations would seem to be located, does not appear. In fact the tradition of this migration as it reads, so far as directions, distances, and names are concerned, is meaningless, a fact due either to the carelessness of the compiler or the scantiness of his materials. Intrinsically then the evidence, while not conclusive, favors the idea that Huehue Tlapallan was in the south.

Comparing the Toltec tradition with those that have been already given, we find, except in names, a strong resemblance in general features. In the successive creations and destructions of men; the apes that peopled the land after one of the destructions; the ancient settlement and growth to power of the Toltecs in a fertile country named Huehue Tlapallan; the destruction of a rival power, that of the Quinames; the regulation or invention of the calendar by an assemblage of wise men in Huehue Tlapallan; and a final forced migration to new homes—in all these features the tradition seems to represent a vague memory of events already familiar to us as having occurred in the central region; in the Votanic empire of the Tzendal traditions; in the Xibalba, Paxil, and Tulan Zuiva, or Seven Caves, of the Quiché record; and especially in the Tamoanchan and Tonacatepetl of the annals gathered by Sahagun.


In opposition to those analogies we have the fact that the Spanish writers locate Huehue Tlapallan in the north, as they do also the original homes of all the nations that are reported by native tradition to [217] have migrated successively into Anáhuac. It is not probable that this idea of a northern origin was a pure invention of the Spaniards; they doubtless found among the Aztecs with whom they came in contact what seemed to them a prevalent popular notion that the ancestors of the race came from the north. Yet the tradition given by Sahagun—and referring to a time long prior to the Toltec migration of the fifth or sixth century—relating to the first appearance of the Nahua civilizers on the gulf coast, whither they had come by sea from the north-east, probably from Florida, would have been perhaps a sufficient foundation for such a popular idea; and the not improbable fact that the Aztecs proper and some other nations, prominent in rank and power at the time of the Conquest, did actually come into Anáhuac from the region immediately adjoining it on the north or north-west, would certainly have contributed to confirm that idea. In other words the Aztecs when questioned by the Spaniards may have replied that they came from the north, referring in most cases to the latest move of their nation into Anáhuac, but possibly in some instances to the vague traditions of their fathers respecting the very earliest periods of their existence as a race. The Spaniards at once connected the reported northern origin with the world-peopling migration from Central Asia after the confusion of tongues; and since the old and new world were supposed to be connected or nearly so in the north, they found the native tradition strongly confirmed by the scriptures. When the theory of successive migrations from the north, thus confirmed, had once been established in their minds, nothing could overthrow it; it became in a certain sense a part of their religion. Each migration subsequently found recorded in the native annals, as means of communication between the conquerors and conquered became perfected, was at once given a north-to-south direction. The natives themselves were in many instances not unwilling to please their [218] masters by orthodox interpretations of their picture-writings. Finally the ruins of Quemada, the Casas Grandes of Chihuahua, and the adobe buildings on the Gila were discovered—doubtless traces left by migrating nations, and thus the last doubt on the subject, if any could exist, was removed even from the minds of later and more intelligent class of Spanish writers, like Clavigero and Veytia.[III-82]


In the Toltec tradition we have found the Chichimecs mentioned as a powerful and fierce people and their neighbors in Huehue Tlapallan. Since this is the first mention of that famous people, since all the best authorities insist that the Toltecs and Chichimecs were of the same blood and language, and since the Chichimecs afterwards succeeded the Toltecs in Anáhuac, we naturally turn to the Chichimec traditions of their early home for additional information respecting Huehue Tlapallan, although the Chichimec migration occurring several centuries later would come chronologically beyond the limits of this chapter. Our search in this direction for data from which to determine the location of the ancient Nahua empire is, however, fruitless. Although Ixtlilxochitl is still the chief authority, we have no mention of Huehue Tlapallan. The country—or a country, for it is not certain [219] that it was the original Chichimec home and not one located in central Mexico, although some of the traditions seem to point to primitive times—of immense extent, is called Amaquemecan; one of its chief cities seems to have borne the same name, and another city was Oyome. The names Necuametl and Nacuix are also applied to the country by Ixtlilxochitl, and he further states that the Chichimecs came like the other nations from Chicomoztoc. Some fourteen kings are named as having ruled over the kingdom, beginning with Chichimecatl who brought the people to the country and from whom they took their name. Nothing is known of the reigns of any except the last three, the first of whom is reported to have sent his son at the request of the Toltecs to become the first king in Tollan. Ixtlilxochitl in his account of the sending for this king says that the Chichimecs were at that time in the region of Pánuco, and that fear of hostility from them was the chief motive of the Toltecs in inviting a Chichimec to rule over them. It is not, however, stated that the Chichimec capital was in that part of the country. When at last the empire came into the hands of two brothers, one of whom Xolotl, with all his people, decided to migrate, not one of their halting-places is named, until they had journeyed for a whole year and reached the vicinity of Anáhuac; consequently there is no clue to the course of their migration. Besides the statement that the Chichimecs came from the Seven Caves, and another by Veytia that the kings wore quetzal-feathers, there seems to be absolutely nothing in the tradition to indicate whether Amaquemecan was in the north or south. Yet the Spanish writers have no hesitation in fixing the direction, although disagreeing somewhat about the locality. From two to three hundred leagues north of Jalisco, beyond New Mexico, and in Alaska are some of the decisions in this matter,—decisions resting on authority that the reader already understands. It seems probable that [220] the great original Nahua empire whether it be called Huehue Tlapallan, Tamoanchan, Tulan, or Amaquemecan, was the Chichimec empire—that is, that the Toltecs or revolting branch constituted but a small portion of the Chichimec or Nahua people.[III-83]


The Chichimec migration was followed by many others at irregular intervals, ending with that of the Aztecs, all of which will be spoken of in their proper place. The chronologic order attributed by tradition to these migrations is not to be relied on, giving, as may be supposed, only a vague idea of the order in which the different nations acquired some prominence in and about the valley of Mexico. In its ancient centre—not in Anáhuac, whether it was in the north or south—the primitive Nahua power was overthrown, or from that centre it was transferred to be re-established by exiled princes and their descendants on the Mexican plateaux. This transfer, whose nature we may vaguely comprehend, but of whose details we know nothing, is the event or series of events referred to by the various migration-traditions. The recollections of these events assumed different forms in the traditions of different tribes until each nation claimed or were deemed by the Spaniards to claim a distinct migration from its former home. The accounts of the migrations following the Toltec will be given in their proper place, and here we have only to notice that the Seven [221] Caves are mentioned as a starting-place or station in most if not all of these migrations, and that the only names that appear in the traditions applied to the ancient Nahua dwelling-place are Aztlan, Culhuacan or Teo Culhuacan, and Aquilasco. These names are perhaps applied to cities in the ancient home, but it is by no means certain, as will appear later, that they did not all belong to localities in central Mexico. At least neither the names nor the events of the migrations as reported afford any proof of geographical location. The analogy between Culhuacan and Culiacan is not a strong argument in favor of a north-western location, or at most does not outweigh the identity of the names Culhuacan and Nachan. A palm-tree painted on the picture-writing supposed to record one of the migrations, in connection with the starting-place, as has been remarked by several authorities, seems to favor the idea that the point of departure was in the south rather than in the north, and would certainly be a circumstance of considerable weight against an extreme northern location for Aztlan.

The Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg attempts to reconcile the general fact shown by all the earlier traditions that the primitive Nahua power was in the south, with the idea of a migration from the north apparently entertained by each of the nations of Anáhuac and by the Spanish writers. According to his idea the Nahuas, overcome by the monarchs of Xibalba, were driven from Chiapas, dwelt a few years on the Pacific coast at Tlapallantzinco, and thence migrated north-westward in different bands, following the general direction of the coast, to Sonora and Upper California. Along this route, as this author claims, distinct traces of their migration are apparent, referring perhaps, although he does not say so, to linguistic traces. In this northern region, about the Gulf of California, they established great kingdoms and built great cities, each Nahua colony becoming a [222] centre of civilization to the wild tribes with whom it came in contact. From this region, to places in which the names Teo Culhuacan, Aztlan, etc., of the traditions may be applied, the different Nahua nations descended into Anáhuac in successive migrations from the seventh to the twelfth century, impelled by civil convulsions or the pressure of outside and warlike tribes.[III-84]

I am inclined to find in the abbé's theory a statement—too definite perhaps—of a general fact. That is, the Nahua power—established in eastern and south-eastern Mexico by the Olmec tribes almost simultaneously with its growth in the south—was after its overthrow in Central America established by exiled nobles over western and north-western Mexico. I find no evidence, however, that the Nahua power ever became settled and flourishing farther north than Durango and Sinaloa, although the influence of their institutions may, not improbably, have extended to the Sonora tribes; into California and the far north-west the Nahuas never penetrated. If a Nahua empire or political power ever really existed in the north-west, its centre was probably in the region of Quemada, in Zacatecas and Jalisco. Soon, however, the valley of Mexico became the political centre, and the subsequent history of the country was essentially a history of Anáhuac. The modern aboriginal annals of each nation dated from its rise to notice in Anáhuac, and in the traditions of previous history imperfectly communicated to the Spaniards, their former greatness in the south, their defeat and exile, their life in outside provinces, and their settlement in the valley were sadly confused.



Mendieta, Torquemada, Gomara, and others, record the popular tradition of the settlement of Mexico as follows: An old man Iztac Mixcohuatl, by his wife Ilancueitl, in Chicomoztoc, or the Seven Caves, had six sons, Xelhua, Tenuch, Ulmecatl, Xicalancatl, Mixtecatl, and Otomitl. Tenuch's descendants were the Aztecs; Xelhua gave his name to no nation, but his followers settled at various points in the south-east; the others founded the nations which took their names. Mendieta adds that by another wife the same old man had a son named Quetzalcoatl.[III-85] Piñeda tells us that a nephew of Votan divided the land of Anáhuac.[III-86] According to Arlegui the Toltecs came from the west and divided New Spain between their seven families.[III-87] I believe I have now given all the important traditions that seem to belong to the pre-Toltec period in Mexico, and I deem it unnecessary to refer to the authors who merely give an abridged version of the same accounts, many of them confining themselves to the simple statement that the Toltecs, a very skillful people, came first from the north and settled in the region afterwards known as New Spain.

Returning to the south, it only remains to examine briefly the primitive Maya annals of Yucatan, which confirm in a few points those of other peoples, so far as they relate to the great American centre of civilization in the south. These annals will be given in full elsewhere; a very general view, with especial reference to the points referred to, will suffice here. A prevalent belief among the Mayas at the time of the Conquest was, that the peninsula was settled in ancient times by two races, one from the east, the other from the west. It is not implied that they [224] came at the same period, but rather that the migration from the east preceded that from the west by many centuries. Lizana tells us that in ancient times the east was called cenial, or 'little descent,' and the west nohenial, or 'great descent,' believing that these names indicate the comparative numbers of the respective colonies. Landa and Herrera record a tradition that the oldest inhabitants came from the east, the sea being divided to afford them a passage. Cogolludo concludes, contrary to the opinion of Lizana, that the colony from the east must have been much more numerous as well as more ancient than the other, because of the universal use of the Maya language and of Maya names of places throughout the peninsula—a conclusion that carries little weight, since it rests mainly on the assumption that those who came from the west spoke the Aztec language, an assumption for which there is no authority whatever.


The personage whose name appears first in the Maya tradition is Zamná, son of the chief deity, who taught the people, invented the hieroglyphic alphabet, and gave a name to each locality in Yucatan. His rôle, so far as anything is known of it, was precisely the same as that of Votan in Chiapas. Zamná is reported to have lived long in the land and to have been buried at the close of his career at Izamal. During his life he founded Mayapan, 'standard (or capital) of Maya,'—Maya being the native name of the country and signifying according to some authorities 'land without water'—a city which was several times ruined and rebuilt after its founder's time. Zamná may be most naturally connected with the traditional migration from the east. Cogolludo, it is true, states that he was at the head of the other colony, and this statement is repeated in one place by Brasseur, but as the Spanish writer directly contradicts his statement on the same page, not much importance is to be attached to it. Vague as it is, the [225] tradition of Zamná and his followers from the east seems identical with that of Votan. If we suppose that such persons as Zamná and Votan actually had an existence—a supposition which like its opposite forms no part of this chapter—it would be impossible to determine whether the two were the same, or Zamná the companion, disciple, or descendant of Votan; but we may well believe that the period, the empire, the institutions alluded to in the Maya record are the same as those connected with the Votanic or Xibalban traditions. The ancient power whose centre was in Chiapas, Tabasco, and Honduras, extended north-eastward into Yucatan as it did north-westward into Anáhuac. Ordoñez states, as usual without giving his authority, that Mayapan was one of the allied capitals, which with Nachan and Tulan constituted the Votanic empire. The fact that the name of the Cocomes, the most ancient people, or at least the oldest line of kings and nobles, in Yucatan signifies in the Nahua tongue 'serpents,' like the name Chanes applied to Votan's followers, may have some significance, although in the Maya tongue Cocome is also said to mean 'listener.'

At an unknown date, but subsequent to that of Zamná's rule, we find three brothers, the Itzaob, reigning at Chichen over a people called from them the Itzas, as the city also was called thereafter Chichen Itza. They came from the west, were just and chaste men, and their reign a long and glorious one. One of them, however, having finally left the country, the others gave themselves up to immoral practices, and were put to death. Notwithstanding the fact that the brothers came, according to the Spanish writers, from the west, there is much reason to suppose that the nation whose capital was at Chichen, was an ancient people dating back to the time of Zamná, since the most satisfactory interpretation of the name 'Itza' is that it came from 'Ytzamna,' the more ancient form of the great founder's name. Connected [226] with the three brothers in a manner not clearly defined by the tradition—either ruling conjointly with them or more probably coming into power immediately after their downfall—was Cukulcan, who also came from the west, who was also famous for the purity of his life, and whose teachings in fact were identical with those of Quetzalcoatl among the Nahua peoples. He also is credited with the founding, or re-founding of Mayapan, which under his rule became the political centre of the whole country, although Chichen still retained great prominence. Cukulcan having raised the country to a condition of the highest prosperity, finally abandoned Yucatan for some unknown motive and returned westward, disappearing at Champoton, or Potonchan, on the coast, where he dwelt for some time and where a temple in his honor was afterwards erected. After his departure the Cocome princes came into power, their capital being still Mayapan.

The identity in character, teachings, and actions between Cukulcan and Quetzalcoatl, suggests the first appearance in Yucatan, at this time, of Nahua tribes or Nahua institutions, corresponding to a certain extent with the appearance of the Olmecs and Xicalancas in Anáhuac, and indicating that the Nahua influence was exerted during its earliest period of development in the north-east as well as in the north-west. Indeed, Veytia records a tradition to the effect that Yucatan was settled by the Olmecs and Xicalancas driven from Mexico at the coming of the Toltecs; this author justly rejects the latter part of this report, but expresses his belief that bands from these nations did actually settle in the peninsula. When to the analogies already noticed between Quetzalcoatl and Cukulcan we add the fact that their names are etymologically identical, both signifying 'plumed serpent,' little reason remains to doubt that the Maya tradition refers, like the others that have been noticed, to the first coming into prominence of the Nahuas in America.



The next prominent event in Yucatan history, as it is also the last that has any special bearing upon the period now under consideration, and the most important in that connection, is the arrival of the Tutul Xius. According to the traditions of the natives as recorded by the Spaniards, this peaceful but highly cultivated people came from the south, perhaps from Chiapas, after wandering for forty years in the unsettled and mountainous portions of the country, and settled near Mayapan. The Cocomes, successors to the Itza brothers and Cukulcan, having at the time governed the country long and prosperously, received the new-comers kindly and formed an alliance with them, an alliance which continued for a long time until the Cocome kings, becoming tyrannical, were overthrown by a revolution in which the Tutul Xius were the most prominent actors. It is, however, with their arrival and not with their subsequent actions that we have to do here. The mere tradition of their arrival after a long migration from the southern highlands would at best furnish only slight grounds for the conjecture of the Spaniards that they came from Chiapas; but another document unknown to the Spanish missionary-authors throws great light upon this people, and invests their appearance in Yucatan with increased importance. The document referred to is the Maya manuscript translated by Pio Perez, first published in Mr Stephens' work on Yucatan, and later with the work of Bishop Landa, which begins as follows:—"This is the series of katunes elapsed since the four Tutul Xius departed from the house of Nonoual, which was west of Zuina, and came from the land of Tulapan. Four katunes passed after they set out before they arrived here with Holonchan Tepeuh and his companions, before they reached this peninsula; the 8 Ahau had passed, the 6 Ahau, the 4 Ahau, and the 2 Ahau—eighty-one years before they arrived in this peninsula, eighty-one years that they spent in their journey from their [228] country to this peninsula of Chacnouitan." Here we find it distinctly stated that this people came from Tulapan, 'capital of Tula,' the very place from which, according to the Quiché record, the Nahua nations migrated, and it is more than likely that Zuina should be Zuiva, defined in the Popol Vuh as the Seven Caves. This, in connection with the Quiché lamentation over that division of their brothers which they had left in the east, is amply sufficient to identify the Tutul Xius as one of the Nahua tribes that migrated from the original centre. The family of Nonoual seems to have given a name to the tribes that occupied Tabasco down to the Conquest. This document assumes to give the date of the Tutul Xiu migration, a most important date, since it is also that of the overthrow of Nahua power in Chiapas and its transfer to Anáhuac; but until the Maya system of Ahau katunes[III-88] shall have been the object of much additional research, there is little hope of arriving at an accurate interpretation of the date. Sr Perez gives it as 144 A.D. The Abbé Brasseur, relying on the same document, gives the date repeatedly as 171 A.D.; but in his translation of the document in Landa's work he concluded that it should be 401 A.D., reckoning each Ahau katun as twenty years, and remarking that this date agrees much better than the earlier one with Ixtlilxochitl's chronology. Of the Perez manuscript Mr Gallatin remarks that it contains all we know of the history and chronology of Yucatan. To ascertain dates is out of the question; but it is probable that the events are stated in their respective order.[III-89]



A Mexican document, known only through Brasseur de Bourbourg, and by him called the Codex Gondra, furnishes some additional information respecting the overthrow of the Nahua power in Central America, and especially respecting the house of Nonoual alluded to in the Perez document. I quote from the author named as follows:—"The manuscript begins with a description of the twenty wards of the great city of Tollan, or Tulhá, Huey Tollan; but it gives the names of only the first twelve, the translator, who apparently attached but little importance to names, having deemed it proper to omit the other eight. The author relates the events that precipitated the ruin of the throne, occasioned by the minority of the last Chane prince, whose guardianship was claimed by two powerful families, one called the Chichimec-Toltecs, and the other the Chichimecs of Nonohualco. The quarrel terminated in the insurrection of the latter and the assassination of the young monarch. But the prince was beloved by the people, and on account of the popular indignation, the murderers were forced to flee by night with all their followers. On their departure from Tulhà, Xelhua, the chief the Nonohualcos, went to consult the oracle of Culhuacan, [Palenque?] which enjoined him to depart. On the way he did penance for his crime, and after several defeats at the hands of the tribes through whose lands he was forced to pass, he at last founded the kingdom of the Nonohualcos, fixing the capital at Quetzaltepec in the mountains about the country of the Zoques, who were conquered by his successors. The author gives the names of the thirteen princes who occupied the throne after Xelhua with the leading events of their reigns. But while Xelhua was establishing a new empire, Ieyxcohuatl, chief of the Toltec party, who had seized upon the power after the death of the young king of [230] Tulhà, of which he had been the principal cause, was forced after a few years of power to abandon in his turn the capital, with all his followers, to avoid the vengeance of the people. He went into exile with the Toltecs, and the manuscript gives their itinerary as far as Tlachihualtepec, or Cholula, at the time occupied by the Olmecs and Xicalancas, who ruled the whole Aztec plateau."[III-90]

I have placed before the reader such historical traditions of the civilized nations as seem to bear upon the earliest period of their development. Their exact meaning, so far as details are concerned, is with the aid of existing authorities beyond the reach of the most careful study, and no attempt has been made to attach a definite significance to each aboriginal tale, or to form from all a symmetrical chronologic whole; indeed, their interpretation has not been carried so far in many cases as the authorities seemed with considerable plausibility to justify. Taking up one after another the annals of the leading nations as recorded by the best authorities, I have endeavored to point out only the apparent general significance of each. The evidence thus elicited by a separate examination of each witness has pointed—with varying force, but with great uniformity of direction—towards the Central or Usumacinta region, not necessarily as the original cradle of American civilization, but as the most ancient home to which it can be traced by traditional, monumental, and linguistic records. In obtaining this evidence there has been no occasion to resort to the sifting process of rejecting all testimony seemingly opposed to a preconceived theory. Almost the only argument against the general tenor of the traditions, monuments, and languages, [231] has been the prevalent idea among Spanish writers favoring a migration from the north; and the force of this argument has proved to be more apparent than real. Comparison of the records one with another has greatly strengthened the evidence derived from them separately; and the cumulative proof afforded by their successive examination has been deemed sufficient to confirm the general conclusions of the preceding pages, which may be expressed as follows:


Throughout several centuries preceding the Christian era, and perhaps one or two centuries following, there flourished in Central America the great Maya empire of the Chanes, Culhuas, or Serpents, known to its foes as Xibalba, with its centre in Chiapas at or near Palenque, and with several allied capitals in the surrounding region. Its first establishment at a remote period[III-91] was attributed by the people to a being called Votan, who was afterwards worshiped as a god. Whether such a person as Votan ever had an actual existence; who, or what he was; whence, or how, or among what people the civilization attributed to him was introduced—we can only form vague conjectures. America was certainly peopled before the Votanic era, and that most likely by civilized as well as savage tribes, but pre-Votanic nations have left absolutely no record.[III-92] Perhaps the most reasonable conjecture is that the Votanic power was of gradual growth, at first humble and subordinate, but constantly increasing, overcoming, absorbing, succeeding other powers as others in later times succeeded, absorbed, and overcame it. The Votanic institutions can only be known by the traces they may be supposed to have left in those of the later Maya nations. The prevailing language was doubtless either the Maya, the Tzendal, or [232] a mother-tongue from which these as well as the Quiché, Cakchiquel, and others of the same linguistic family, have sprung; although it is not unlikely that the empire embraced some nations speaking other languages. From its centre in the Usumacinta region the Votanic power was gradually extended north-westward towards Anáhuac, where its subjects vaguely appear in tradition as Quinames, or giants. It also penetrated north-eastward into Yucatan, where Zamná was its reputed founder, and the Cocomes and Itzas probably its subjects. In other regions where its influence was doubtless felt it seems to have left no definite traces.

Much of our knowledge respecting the original Maya empire is drawn from the traditions of a rival power. It is not quite certain even that any of the ruined temples or palaces in the central region were entirely the work of the ancient people before they came under Nahua influences; the differences noted in the monuments referred to suggest the effects of such influences exerted in different degrees.[III-93] The Maya empire seems to have been in the height of its prosperity when the rival Nahua power came into prominence, perhaps two or three centuries before Christ.[III-94] The origin of the new people and of the [233] new institutions is as deeply shrouded in mystery as is that of their predecessors, although the nature of the institutions themselves is well known to us in a later and doubtless somewhat modified state of development. The language of the nations among which these institutions were first established was doubtless the Nahua, or old Aztec. The Plumed Serpent, known in different tongues as Quetzalcoatl, Gucumatz, and Cukulcan, was the being who traditionally founded the new order of things. The Nahua power grew up side by side with its Xibalban predecessor, having its capital Tulan apparently in Chiapas. Like the Maya power, it was not confined to its original home, but was borne by the Olmec colonies towards Anáhuac, where it came in contact with that of the Quinames; and in the person of Cukulcan it penetrated the peninsula of Yucatan to exert its influence upon the Itzas and Cocomes. The two powers seem not to have been on unfriendly terms at first. In fact there is much reason to suspect that their respective institutions did not differ radically, and that their rivalry developed into open hostility only after the Nahuas had succeeded in introducing their ideas among so many Maya nations, and in reducing to a life of civilization so many wild tribes, that they had acquired a balance of political power. For it is certain that, whatever may have been true of the Maya culture, the Nahua institutions and power were by no means confined to nations of the Nahua language, and that some of the leading nations which accepted the Nahua ideas of religion and government spoke other and even Maya tongues. The struggle on the part of the Xibalbans seems to have been that of an old effete monarchy against a young and progressive people. Whatever its cause, [234] the result of the conquest was the overthrow of the Votanic monarchs at a date which may be approximately fixed within a century before or after the beginning of our era.[III-95] From that time the ancient empire disappears from traditional history, and there is no conclusive evidence that the Xibalban kings or their descendants ever renewed the struggle. Yet we read of no great destruction or enslavement or migration of the Chanes resulting from the Nahua victory. The result was only a change of dynasty accompanied by the introduction of some new features in government and religious rites. The old civilization was merged in the new, and practically lost its identity; so much so that all the many nationalities that in later times traced their origin to this central region were proud, whatever their language, to claim relationship with the successful Nahuas, whose institutions they had adopted and whose power they had shared.

Respecting the ensuing period of Nahua greatness in Central America nothing is recorded save that it ended in revolt, disaster, and a general scattering of the tribes at some period probably preceding the fifth century. The national names that appear in connection with the closing struggles are the Toltecs, Chichimecs, Quichés, Nonohualcas, and Tutul Xius, none of them apparently identical with the Xibalbans. Indeed there seems to be very little reason to suppose that this final struggle was a renewal of the old contest between the followers of Votan and Quetzalcoatl, although Brasseur de Bourbourg seems inclined to take that view of it; but a series of civil wars between rival Nahua tribes, or tribes that had accepted Nahua government, seems rather to have been the agency that brought about their final forced migrations. Of the subsequent history of the nations that [235] finally remained masters of their central home nothing is known; it may be conjectured that the Tzendales and Chiapanecs found by the Spaniards in that part of the country were their somewhat degenerate descendants. Of the tribes that were successively defeated and forced to seek new homes, those that spoke the Maya dialects, although considering themselves Nahuas, seem to have settled chiefly in the south and east.[III-96] Some of them afterwards rose to great prominence in Guatemala and Yucatan, and their annals will form the subject of future chapters. The Nahua-speaking tribes as a rule established themselves in Anáhuac and in the western and north-western parts of Mexico, as their companion tribes, the Olmecs and Xicalancas, had already established themselves in the south-eastern region. The valley of Mexico and the country immediately adjoining soon became the centre of the Nahuas in Mexico; its history or that of the nations that successively rose to power there, will be continued in the following chapter.

From this epoch of separation in Chiapas the Mayas of the south and the Nahuas of the north were practically distinct peoples, as they have been considered in the preceding volumes of this work. At the date of separation all were in a certain sense Nahua nations, and the Nahuas proper had doubtless been considerably affected by the ancient peoples whom they had overcome or converted, and with whom they had so long associated:—hence the analogies that appear between the institutions and monuments of the north and south. Of the contrasts that also appear, some date back to original differences between the two rival powers; others result from development and progress in different paths, during the [236] ten centuries that elapsed before the coming of the Spaniards.

Bradford, Squier, Tylor, Viollet-le-Duc, Bartlett, and Müller,[III-97] may be mentioned with Brasseur de Bourbourg among the authorities who practically agree with the conclusions expressed above, at least so far as the southern origin of the Nahua culture is concerned. It is true that the Abbé Brasseur's general conclusions differ in many points from those that I have given; that his opinions expressed in different works and even in different parts of the same work differ most perplexingly from each other; that his theories in many of their details rest on foundations that seem purely imaginary; that his style, while fascinating to the general reader, is most confusing to the student; and that his citations of authorities are often inaccurate;—yet he must be regarded as the true originator of the views advanced in this chapter, inasmuch as the material from which they are built up was largely the fruit of his investigations, and his researches have done more than those of all other writers combined to throw light on primitive American history.



The Nahua Occupation of Mexico in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries—Condition of Anáhuac—The Mixcohuas and Chichimec Culhuas—The Toltecs at Tulancingo and Tollan—Establishment of a Monarchy and Choice of a King, 710-720 A.D.—Kingdoms of Culhuacan and Quauhtitlan—The Teoamoxtli—Prophecies and Death of Hueman—Birth of Quetzalcoatl—Foundation of the Empire, 856 A.D.—Alliance between Culhuacan, Otompan, and Tollan—Reign of Topiltzin Ceacatl Quetzalcoatl at Tollan—Excesses of Huemac II., or Tecpancaltzin—Xochitl, the King's Mistress—Fulfillment of the Prophet's Predictions—Toveyo's Adventures—Plagues sent upon the Toltecs—Famine and Pestilence—Reign of Acxitl, or Topiltzin—Debauchery of King, Nobles, and Priests—Tokens of Divine Wrath—Foreign Invaders—Final Overthrow of the Toltec Empire.

The sixth and seventh centuries of our era saw the Nahua power, represented by the various Toltec Chichimec tribes, transferred from Central America to the Mexican plateaux, with its centre about the lakes of the valley. The general nature of this transfer we may comprehend from what has been said in the preceding chapter; of its details we know little or nothing. Each tribe that rose to national prominence in Anáhuac during the succeeding centuries, preserved a somewhat vague traditional memory of its past history, which took the form in every case of a long migration from a distant land. In each of these records [238] there is probably an allusion to the original southern empire, its disruption, and the consequent tribal scattering; but at the same time most of the events thus recorded relate apparently to the movements of particular tribes in and about Anáhuac at periods long subsequent to the original migration and immediately preceding the final establishment of each tribe. The Toltec version of this common record has already been given, down to the establishment of one of the many exiled tribes—the Toltecs proper—at Tulancingo just north-east of the valley of Mexico. The annals of other Nahua tribes, the Chichimecs, Nahuatlacas, Tepanecs, Acolhuas, and Aztecs—all of which may be regarded to a great extent as different versions of the same common record—will be presented in a future chapter with all their particulars, fabulous or historical, so far as they have been preserved. The migrations narrated may all be supposed to date back to a common beginning, but are arranged by the authorities chronologically according to the dates of their termination.

We have seen the Olmec tribes established for several centuries on the eastern plateaux, or in the territory now constituting the states of Puebla and Tlascala. Cholula was the Olmec capital, a flourishing city celebrated particularly for its lofty pyramid crowned with a magnificent temple built in honor of Quetzalcoatl. Teotihuacan within the valley of Anáhuac had long been as it long continued to be the religious centre of all the Nahua nations. Here kings and priests were elected, ordained, and buried. Hither flocked pilgrims from every direction to consult the oracles, to worship in the temples of the sun and moon, and to place sacrificial offerings on the altars of their deities. The sacred city was ruled by the long-haired priests of the Sun, famous for their austerity and for their wisdom. Through the hands of these priests, as the Spanish writers tell us, yearly offerings were made of the first fruits of all their fields; and each [239] year at harvest-time a solemn festival was celebrated, not unattended by human sacrifice. It is true that the Spanish authorities in their descriptions of Teotihuacan and the ceremonies there performed, refer for the most part to the Toltec rather than the pre-Toltec period; but it has been seen in the preceding chapter that this city rose to its position as the religious centre of the Nahuas in Mexico long before the appearance of the Toltecs, and there is no evidence of any essential change in its priesthood, or the nature of its theocratic rule.[IV-1] No national name is applied in tradition to the people that dwelt in Teotihuacan at this period, although the Totonacs claim to have built the pyramids before they were driven eastward by Chichimec tribes. Tabasco, Vera Cruz, and Tamaulipas were occupied by Xicalancas, Totonacs, and Huastecs, respecting whom little more than their names is known. Southward in Oajaca were already settled the Miztecs and Zapotecs. The Otomís, a very numerous people, whose primitive history is altogether unknown, occupied a large part of the valley of Mexico, and the surrounding mountains, particularly toward the north and north-west. There were doubtless many other tribes in Mexico when the later Nahua nations came, particularly in the north and west, which tribes were driven out, at least from the most desirable locations, subjected, or converted and partially civilized by the new-comers; but such tribes have left no traces in history.[IV-2]


During the sixth and seventh centuries we must [240] imagine Anáhuac and the adjoining territory on the north and west, for a broad but unknown extent, as being gradually occupied by numerous Nahua nations of varying power and numbers and of varying degrees of civilization. Some were originally or soon became in their new homes wild hunting tribes, powerful but rude, the terror of their neighbors; others settled in the fertile valleys, lived by agriculture, and retained much of their original culture. The more powerful nations, probably the most advanced in culture as well, established themselves in and about the valley of Mexico, where their capitals were soon flourishing cities, and where all branches of aboriginal art received more attention than elsewhere and were correspondingly developed. These central peoples became known, perhaps at once, but more probably at a later date, as Toltecs, a name which, whatever its original derivation and signification, became synonymous with all that is skillful and excellent in art. On the other hand the outside Nahua nations, many of which had lost in their new life something of the true Nahua polish, and all of whom were regarded more or less as barbarians by their more favored brothers of the lake shores, were from this time known as Chichimecs, whatever may have been the original application of that name.


It has been remarked that little or nothing is known of the events that occurred during these two centuries, during which the whole western section of the country came into possession of numerous Nahua tribes, as the eastern section had done long before, and as the whole country remained down to the Spanish Conquest; for there is little evidence of any subsequent migrations from or into Mexico. Ixtlilxochitl and the Spanish writers, Torquemada, Vetancvrt, Clavigero, Duran, Veytia, and the rest, confine their attention to the Toltecs proper, their migration from Huehue Tlapallan to Tulancingo, which I have already narrated, their subsequent removal to Tollan, [241] the establishment of their monarchy, and the succession of their kings. According to these authors, the Toltecs met no opposition, Tollan had no rivals nor allied capitals. Brasseur de Bourbourg, however, finds in the Codex Chimalpopoca, already alluded to,[IV-3] and the Memorial de Culhuacan,[IV-4] another similar chronologic record in the Nahua language, a slight account of some of the other nations that settled in Anáhuac at this period, even prior to the establishment of the Toltecs at Tollan. These two documents are the chief authorities for the whole Toltec period, and since neither of them has ever been published, nothing remains but to accept the version given by the abbé.[IV-5] The Mixcohuas were the first of the new tribes that came into notice in the annals. They first appear at Chalchiuhapan, afterwards Tlascala, but soon present themselves before the priests of Teotihuacan to receive their sanction and become 'vassals of the Sun.' Faithless to the vows taken at the sacred city, the new-comers, instead of establishing themselves peaceably in the land, proved at first a torment to the older inhabitants and a source of great anxiety to the priests who had encouraged their coming; but the first bands of Mixcohuas were finally subdued and forced to submit to the requirements of the priests of the Sun by the aid of other succeeding but kindred bands of Chichimecs. Thus the first epoch of Nahua occupation was one of strife, during which the name of Mixcohuatl, or Mixcohuatl Mazatzin, 'the hunter,' is most prominent; [242] together with those of Xiuhnel and Mimich, who defeat the Olmecs at Huitzilapan. The united bands under Mixcohuatl are known in the tradition as Chichimec Culhuas, the founders of the city of Culhuacan on the lake shore, who in a period of sixteen years—from 670 to 686, according to the authorities—became masters of nearly the whole region south and east of the lakes.[IV-6] At about the same time the province of Quauhtitlan, 'land of forests,' north-west of the lakes, seems to have been occupied by another Chichimec nation—for all are known in the traditions as Chichimecs whenever they are alluded to as coming from without the valley, but become good Toltecs as soon as they acquire a degree of power within its limits. Chicon Tonatiuh, 'seven suns,' is named as the leader of this nation, and the chief cities of the province were Huehuetocan, 'city of old men,' and Macuexhuacan, 'city of necklaces.'


Meanwhile the exiles from Huehue Tlapallan were tarrying at Tulancingo, where they had arrived toward the end of the seventh century,[IV-7] and where—contrary to the advice of their prophet Hueman, if we may credit the tradition—weary with their long wanderings, they lived from sixteen to twenty years in a house which they built sufficiently large to accommodate them all. During their stay they sent out parties to make settlements in the adjoining territory, as had been their custom wherever they had stopped in their long migration. Finally they listened to the counsels of the venerable Hueman, and, still under the [243] command of their seven chiefs, transferred their home to Xocotitlan on the river Quetzalatl, since called Tula, Tullanatl, or Montezuma, where they founded the city of Tollan,[IV-8] where now stands the little village of Tula, about thirty miles north-west of the city of Mexico. According to Brasseur the Otomí city that stood here before the coming of the Toltecs was called Mamhéni. It cannot be supposed that the Otomís yielded up their fertile valley to the strangers without a struggle; but the relation of this struggle like that of many a subsequent one in which the Toltecs must have engaged in order to establish and maintain their power, seems to have been intentionally omitted in the native annals as recorded by the Spanish writers.

During the first six years of their stay in the valley of the Quetzalatl, the Toltecs gave their attention to the building of the new city, and the careful cultivation of the surrounding lands; at least such is the account given by Ixtlilxochitl and those who have followed him; but, according to Brasseur's interpretation, they spent the six years in the conquest of the province and siege of the ancient city which they re-named Tollan. Up to this time the exiles from Huehue Tlapallan had lived under the command of the rebel princes Chalcaltzin and Tlacamihtzin with their five companions acting as chiefs of the different families,[IV-9] but all acting under the directions of Hueman the prophet. The great age attributed to both prophet and chiefs, who for over a century at the least had directed the wanderings of their people, does not, of course merit serious discussion, [244] since it cannot be literally accepted. The most natural, yet a purely conjectural, interpretation of the tradition is that a line or family of chieftains is represented by its founder or by its most famous member; and that by Hueman is to be understood the powerful priesthood that ruled the destinies of the Toltecs, from the earliest days to the fall of their empire. The government was a theocratic republic, each chief directing the movements of his band in war and, so far as such direction was needed, in peace, but all yielding, through fear of the gods or veneration for their representatives, implicit obedience to the counsels of their spiritual leader in all matters of national import. But in the seventh year after their arrival in Tollan, when the republic was yet in a state of peace and prosperity, undisturbed by foreign or internal foes, the chiefs convened an assembly of the heads of families and the leading men. The object of the meeting was to effect a change in the form of their government, and to establish a monarchy. The motive of the leaders, as represented by the tradition, was a fear of future disturbances in a commonwealth governed by so many independent chieftains. They recommended the election of an absolute monarch, offering to surrender their own power and submit to the rule of whatever king the people might choose. The members of the convention acquiesced in the views of the chieftains, and approved the proposed change in their form of government. An election being next in order, a majority expressed their preference for one of the seven chiefs to occupy the new throne.


At this stage of the proceedings Hueman addresses the meeting; though entertaining the highest opinion of the character, ability, and patriotism of the candidates proposed, he deems it his duty to oppose their election. He reminds the people that the main object of the proposed change was to secure a peaceable and independent possession of their new country; [245] that the Chichimecs had pursued and already caused them much trouble; that much was to be feared from their confirmed hostility; that their foes were not far distant, and would very likely invade the country at no very distant day. He recommended as the most efficient means of avoiding future strife, that an embassy with rich presents be sent to the Chichimec monarch, asking for a son or other near relative who should be crowned king of the Toltecs. An express stipulation must, however, be required on the part of the Chichimec king that the Toltecs should ever be a perfectly free and independent people, owing no allegiance whatever to the Chichimecs, although the two powers would enter into an alliance for mutual defense and assistance. The advice of the aged and venerated counsellor was of course accepted without objection; in fact, as pictured by the Spanish writers, Toltec history is for the most part but a record of sage counsels of wise rulers cheerfully acquiesced in by an appreciative and obliging people. Ambassadors of the highest rank, laden with gifts of value, were dispatched by the shortest routes to the court of Huehue Tlapallan—notwithstanding the implied vicinity of some Chichimec nations—where Icauhtzin[IV-10] occupied the throne. The mission was entirely successful. The second son of the king, still a young man, whose name in his own country is unknown, was with the required stipulations, brought back by the embassy and crowned at Tollan under the name of Chalchiuh Tlatonac,[IV-11] 'shining precious stone.'

The young king, by reason of his fine personal appearance, his character, intelligence and amiability, [246] seems to have greatly pleased from the first the people over whom he was called to rule. The events related above, the settlement at Tollan and the connection of the first king, must be attributed to the first quarter of the eighth century, between 710 and 720.[IV-12] Immediately after the accession of the young monarch, a law was established by him and his counsellors to the effect that no king should reign more than fifty-two years, but at the expiration of this term should abdicate in favor of his eldest son,[IV-13] whom he might, however, still serve as adviser. Should the king die before the allotted time had elapsed, it was provided that the state should be ruled during the unexpired term by magistrates chosen by the people. In addition to the inherent improbability of such extraordinary legislation, it should be noted that subsequent events, even as related by Ixtlilxochitl, do not in all cases agree with it. Its meaning can only be conjectured; it is noticeable, however, that the time allotted to each reign was exactly a cycle of fifty-two years, and it is not altogether unlikely that a custom prevailed of alluding in the pictured annals to each cycle by the name of the most famous king whose reign fell within the period. The next event, and the only one particularly recorded in the reign of Chalchiuh Tlatonac, was his marriage. Realizing the importance of providing for heirs that the dynasty might be perpetuated, he left the choice of a wife entirely to his subjects, much to their satisfaction, as indicating a desire on the part of royalty to please the people. The choice fell upon a beautiful daughter of Acapichtzin. The latter had himself been a favorite candidate for royal honors when a kingdom was first proposed, and was thus rewarded by seeing his daughter raised to the dignity of first Toltec queen. [247] The Olmec, Xicalanca, and other Toltec nations had voluntarily given their allegiance to the monarch of Tollan, who reigned long and prosperously for fifty-two years, when he died and was buried in the chief temple in 7 Acatl, or about 771 A.D.[IV-14]


Thus in the record preserved by the Spanish writers, all participation in the new monarchy by other Chichimec Toltec tribes than those in and about Tollan, is altogether ignored. The Olmecs and other pre-Toltec nations are represented as having voluntarily offered their allegiance, new towns founded by colonists sent out from Tollan and Tulancingo became of course tributary to the new kingdom, and it is even admitted that powerful Chichimec nations were established not far distant, and were regarded with some anxiety in view of probable future events until the danger was averted by the selection of a Chichimec prince as king, and the consequent transformation of their rivals into allies. The absence of any further mention of these allied and friendly nations throughout the whole period of Toltec history is certainly most extraordinary, and might be sufficient in itself to arouse a suspicion that in the records from which this account was drawn the kingdom of Tollan was given unmerited prominence, while its allies and rivals were intentionally denied their share in the glories of the Toltec empire. This suspicion seems to be to a considerable extent confirmed by [248] the two Nahua documents already referred to.[IV-15] These authorities relate substantially the same course of events as the others, and refer them to approximately the same date; they tell us of the original theocratic republic ruled by independent chieftains who were subordinate to a central sacerdotal power; the determination finally reached to adopt a monarchical form of government; and the choice of a king, who does not seem to have been one of the tribal chieftains. But they attribute these acts to several more or less closely allied nations, of which that established at Tollan was only one, and not the chief. The sacerdotal supremacy attributed to the priesthood of Tollan under the name of Hueman, was really exercised by the priests of the sun at Teotihuacan; there were the deliberations held; and there probably did the first king receive the rites of coronation. The leading nation in Anáhuac at the time was that of the Chichimec Culhuas under Mixcohuatl Mazatzin; those at Tollan and Quauhtitlan, and perhaps others whose name has not been preserved, having been less powerful allies. The choice of the chiefs fell upon Nauhyotl, or Nauhyotzin, as the first Toltec king, and having been crowned probably at Teotihuacan, he established his capital at Culhuacan, then, as for a long time after the metropolis of Anáhuac, in 11 Calli, or 721 A.D. Of Nauhyotl's family and previous rank nothing is known. Whether he was a prince high in rank in a foreign land, identical with the Chalchiuh Tlatonac of Ixtlilxochitl, or, as Brasseur conjectures, sprung from the union of a native princess of the pre-Toltec tribes and a Chichimec Culhua chief, we have no means of determining. He was the first, so far as can be known, to assume the titles Tlatoani and Topiltzin,[IV-16] both of which endured to the time of the [249] Conquest, the former signifying 'lord' or 'monarch,' and implying the highest rank in matters temporal, as the latter in matters spiritual, corresponding very nearly with that of 'pope' in Catholic countries. The close connection between church and state in all the Nahua nations has been frequently pointed out in this work; as the Abbé Brasseur says, "the empire and the priesthood were one, and the ritual was the base of the throne. In order to firmly establish the monarchy, and ensure the fruits of their conquests, the Toltecs must rule not only the bodies but the conscience of their subjects. Where persuasion and the imposing spectacle of religious ceremonies were of no avail, violence and terror were resorted to, and insensibly the peoples of Mexico adopted the civilization of their masters together with their superstitious rites."[IV-17]


In 725 Chicon Tonatiuh, assumed the title of Tlatoani and became king of Quauhtitlan, probably in some degree subordinate to the king at Culhuacan. The first mention by these authorities of a king in Tollan is to the effect that Mixcohuatl Mazatzin was called to that throne in 752. Meantime one of Mixcohuatl's sons, named Texcatlipocatl, afterwards deified as Tezcatlipoca, had founded the dominion of Tezcuco, and another son, named like his father Mixcohuatl, but better known and afterwards worshiped as Camaxtli, had continued the conquests of the Mixcohuas on the eastern plateau of Huitzilapan, or Tlascala.[IV-18] In 753 Chicon Tonatiuh, who had died two years before, was succeeded in Quauhtitlan by Xiuhnel; the new king was murdered soon after by his subjects, or as the tradition has it, was stabbed through the liver by [250] a native woman in whose arms he was sleeping. A revolt followed, by which the Toltec power in that province was temporarily overthrown by the aboriginal inhabitants, whoever they may have been. In 767 Nauhyotl, king at Culhuacan, died and was succeeded by Totepeuh, identical with Mixcohua Camaxtli, also known as Nonohualcatl, and whose father was at the time reigning at Tollan. Early in the reign of Totepeuh a wide-spread war is vaguely reported as having been waged chiefly in the regions outside the valley. In this war the original inhabitants of the country, the Toltec tribes already settled there, and newly arrived Chichimec bands are vaguely mentioned as the combatants; Xochitzin, a beautiful princess possessed of supernatural powers, or at least holding communication with the gods and regarded as an oracle, was the prime mover in this war; Huactli was the most prominent leader, in full sympathy apparently with the Toltec sovereign; and at the end of the strife Huactli married Xochitzin and became king of the re-established dominion of Quauhtitlan in 804. Thirteen years later after a long reign Mixcohuatl Mazatzin, king of Tollan, died. He had been a very famous warrior, one of the most prominent of all the Toltec chieftains in Anáhuac, and was in after years worshiped as one of the gods of war.[IV-19] His successor was Huetzin, whom Brasseur conjectures to have been a son of the late king and identical with Tezcatlipoca.


Returning now to the other version of Toltec history we learn that after the death of the first king of Tollan, his son Ixtlilcuechahuac mounted the throne.[IV-20] His reign, like that of his predecessor, was [251] peaceful and prosperous; but the only event recorded was a meeting of all the sages under the direction of the aged Hueman, which took place only a few years before the end of the second king's term of office. At this assembly there were brought forward all the Toltec records reaching back to the earliest period of their existence, and from these documents, after a long conference and the most careful study, the Teoamoxtli, or 'book of God,' was prepared. In its pages were inscribed the Nahua annals from the time of the deluge, or even from the creation; together with all their religious rites, governmental system, laws and social customs; their knowledge respecting agriculture and all the arts and sciences, particular attention being given to astrology; and a complete explanation of their modes of reckoning time and interpreting the hieroglyphics. To the divine book was added a chapter of prophecies respecting future events and the signs by which it should be known when the time of their fulfillment was drawing near.

After the completion of the Teoamoxtli, Hueman, now three hundred years old, announced his approaching end and made known to the Toltecs their future. After ten cycles had elapsed from the time when they left Huehue Tlapallan, they were to be ruled by a king whose right to the royal power would not be undisputed among his subjects. From his mother's womb he would have certain personal peculiarities by which he might be known; his curly hair would assume the form of a mitre or tiara. The earlier years of his reign were to be years of great prosperity; his rule would be wise, just, and able. In middle life the king would abandon the ways of wisdom and virtue, giving himself up to all manner of vice leading infallibly to disaster; and worst of all his subjects would imitate his vicious conduct and share [252] in his misfortunes. Great calamities were to come upon the Toltecs, sent by Tloque Nahuaque, the great God, and like unto these with which their ancestors were afflicted in the remote past. Finally the kingdom was to be destroyed by civil wars, and the king, driven from his possession, after nearly all his subjects had perished, was to return to the ancient home of their race, there in his later years to become once more wise and discreet. Yet a sign was not denied this fated people; for certain unnatural phenomena were to announce their destruction as drawing nigh. When the rabbit should have horns like a deer, and the humming-bird be found with spurs, and stones yield fruit; when the priests of the temples should forget their vows of chastity with noble ladies, pilgrims to the shrines of the god—then might they look for the fulfillment of Hueman's predictions; for lightnings and hail and snow, for famine and pestilence and devouring insects, to be followed by desolating wars. For such as escaped these disasters, or for their descendants, another visitation of divine wrath was reserved in the form of a foreign people from the east, who ten cycles later were to take possession of the country in fulfillment of the words of the ancient prophet Quetzalcoatl. No further information is given of Hueman's death or of Ixtlilcuechahuac's rule.

Huetzin, the third king, was crowned, according to Veytia's chronology, in 823,[IV-21] a date that very nearly agrees with that given in the other version, or 817. Totepeuh,[IV-22] the fourth, elsewhere mentioned as second king at Culhuacan, took the throne from his father after fifty-two years; and handed it down after a like period to his own son Nacaxoc,[IV-23] the fifth monarch [253] at Tollan, who was in turn succeeded by Mitl in 979.[IV-24] These reigns, the last of which lasted fifty-nine years, were marked by the occurrence of no event specially important, though in all great progress was made, new towns founded, old cities beautified, and new temples built, including one of great magnificence at Quauhnahuac (Cuernavaca, possibly Xochicalco) and another at Tollan intended to rival that of the Sun at Teotihuacan, which city is incidentally admitted to have surpassed Tollan in extent and magnificence. During this period the Toltec power was firmly established over a broad territory, and there were yet no tokens of approaching destruction.[IV-25]


In the annals of Culhuacan we left Totepeuh on the throne. His first military expedition was directed towards the eastern plateau, where Chalchiuhapan, later Tlascala, seems to have been founded at about this time, and where this king was afterwards worshiped under his name of Camaxtli. In his next expedition, to the province of Huitznahuac, he encountered, defeated after many fruitless attempts, and finally married a bold princess Chimalman, who fought entirely naked at the head of a body of amazons. The conquest of Cuitlahuac next claimed his attention, for this was the only city on the lakes that had been able to withstand the power of his father and predecessor. To this city and this period Brasseur traces back the foundation of the Nahual Teteuctin, an order of chivalry, whence proceeded the highest titles of learning and nobility, down to the coming of the Spaniards.[IV-26] Queen Chimalman, [254] becoming enceinte immediately after marriage, dreamed that she bore in her bosom a chalchiuite, or precious stone, and decided to name her son, predestined to a glorious career, Quetzalcoatl Chalchiuitl. At his birth, which occurred nine months later, the heir was named also Ceacatl, probably from the day on which he was born. In addition to his mother's dream and the auguries drawn from it, the fact that Ceacatl Quetzalcoatl united in his veins the noblest blood of the Toltecs and the pre-Toltec peoples, gave special import to his birth, and the event was celebrated with great pomp at Culhuacan, and gifts of great value were sent from all directions.[IV-27] 839 is the approximate date to which Ceacatl Quetzalcoatl's birth is referred; his mother died in childbed, and the child was entrusted to the king's sister Cohuatl, a priestess of the temple, perhaps the same as Cihuacoatl, or Cioacoatl, afterwards deified as the goddess of childbirth.[IV-28] In 845 King Totepeuh Nonohualcatl himself, now far advanced in years, was murdered by conspiring nobles under the leadership of Apanecatl, Zolton, and Cuilton; he was succeeded by Yohuallatonac, and at the same time Ihuitimal,—a name that bears no resemblance to that of Huetzin's successor according to the Spanish writers,—took Huetzin's place on the throne of Tollan. Brasseur believes that Huetzin left Tollan to become king at Culhuacan, and that he was the same as Yohuallatonac. It must be noted that the confused state of the aboriginal annals is due not only to the incompleteness of the native records—many having been destroyed—and the errors of interpreters, but also largely to the unfortunate custom of the Nahua peoples of giving many names to the same person, and multiplying names apparently in proportion [255] to fame and rank. It is recorded that Ceacatl, while yet a boy, wreaked a terrible vengeance on the murderers of his father. The latter took refuge in the fortress of Cuitlahuac on one of the lake islands deemed impregnable, but by a subterranean passage leading under the waters, the prince and his followers gained access to fort and temple. The leaders of the conspiracy were sprinkled with red pepper after a preparatory flaying and mangling, and dying in indescribable torture were sacrificed to the memory of Totepeuh, the first of the many thousand victims subsequently offered to the same divinity under his name of Camaxtli. From this time nothing whatever is recorded of Ceacatl for about twenty years, until he re-appears under his name of Quetzalcoatl as the most celebrated of the Toltec kings and high-priests, afterwards deified like most heroes of this early time.

The only event recorded before the re-appearance of Quetzalcoatl is one of great importance, a convention of the princes and wise men of Anáhuac and vicinity. At this assemblage the system of government and the laws of succession were perfected and as may be supposed given substantially the form which they preserved down to the Conquest; but the most important act was the establishment of an alliance between the crowns of Culhuacan, Otompan, and Tollan. Each king was to be perfectly independent in the affairs of his own domain; but in matters affecting the general interests the three monarchs were to constitute a council, in which the king of Culhuacan was to rank first, assuming a title nearly equivalent to that of Emperor. Otompan took the second place and Tollan the third. This is the first mention of Otompan as a capital, but since its domain seems to have included the territory of Teotihuacan and Tezcuco, its prominent position in the league is not improbable. The establishment of this alliance, or, as it may be more [256] conveniently termed, empire, is referred to the date 1 Tecpatl, 856.[IV-29]


Ceacatl Quetzalcoatl re-appears in history, still following the same authorities, about the year 870, and succeeded Ihuitimal as king of Tollan, assuming the title Topiltzin, on the death of that king in 873.[IV-30] All [257] the Spanish writers have much to say of Quetzalcoatl, although none of them—except Sahagun, who expresses himself very clearly on the subject—[IV-31] seem to have regarded him as one of the Toltec kings in the regular order of succession to the throne; and their accounts are inextricably confused by reason of their having made no distinction between Quetzalcoatl the original culture-hero, and Quetzalcoatl, the pontiff-ruler of Tollan, applying indiscriminately to one person all the traditions in which the name occurred. I will give first the regular Spanish version of these traditions.

Mendieta records the tradition that he was the son of Camaxtli and Chimalman, and also another to the effect that Chimalman became pregnant by swallowing a chalchiuite, which she found when sweeping; but other authorities, without going back to his birth, represent him as appearing on the eastern coast, most of them agreeing on the region of Pánuco as the locality. He was tall, well formed, with broad forehead and large eyes, of fair complexion, [258] with long black hair[IV-32] and a full beard. Bare as to his head and feet, he wore a long white robe ornamented with black flowers, according to Las Casas, or with black or red crosses, as other writers say, supporting his steps with a staff. He was austere in manner, but in character all that is good, and gentle, disapproving all acts of violence and blood, and withal most chaste, neither marrying nor knowing women. With him was a large company of artists and men learned in every branch of science, whom some of the authors seem to consider a colony from a foreign land. From Pánuco Quetzalcoatl, with his companions, came to Tollan after having tarried for some time, as Camargo tells us, at Tulancingo. He was at first received by the Toltecs with much enthusiasm, and during his stay in Tollan filled the position of high-priest or supreme spiritual ruler. His rule was mild, but he insisted on a strict performance of all religious duties, and subjected himself to severe penances, such as the drawing of blood from tongue and limbs by means of maguey-thorns. He was not without supernatural powers, since his announcements made by a crier from the top of a neighboring mountain could be heard for a distance of three hundred miles. He introduced many new religious rites, including the practice of fasting and the drawing of blood from their own body by penitents, also according to some authorities, the establishment of convents and nunneries, and the sacrifice of birds and animals; to human sacrifices he was ever opposed. He was a patron of all the arts and sciences, which in his time reached their highest state of development.[IV-33] Finally, Quetzalcoatl left Tollan and went to Cholula, which city with others [259] on the eastern plateau, some authors—still referring to another Quetzalcoatl, and another epoch—credit him with having founded. There are many versions of his motives for abandoning Tollan, most referring to certain troubles between him and a rival Huemac or Tezcatlipoca. Playing ball with Tezcatlipoca, the latter assumed the form of a tiger, scared the spectators so that many fell over a precipice, and pursued his opponent from town to town until he reached Cholula; or he was driven away by the tricks of a sorcerer named Titlacaâon, or Titlacahua, who appeared in the form of an old man. By dint of much persuasion the magician induced Quetzalcoatl, who was unwell, to drink a medicine which he had brought, recommended to act as a narcotic. The medicine proved to be pulque, the high-priest was soon intoxicated, and in this condition was easily persuaded that by going to the ancient country of Tlapallan he might regain his youth. The other tricks of this sorcerer are many, but they seem to belong to the final overthrow of the Toltec empire rather than to Quetzalcoatl's time. Many details are given of the high-priest's journey towards Tlapallan, of the places through which he passed, and the wonderful traces which he left. He is generally credited with having stopped a short time at Quauhtitlan, and with having lived some years at Cholula, where he was especially popular, and where in after years his doctrines found their most devoted followers. But his chief enemy, Huemac, and the necromancers followed him even to Cholula with their persecutions, and he was forced to set out again on his journey towards Tlapallan. He finally disappeared in the Goazacoalco region, after predicting the future coming of bearded white men from the east. I have given here only a brief outline of the traditions respecting Quetzalcoatl, because a full account has been presented in another volume, to which the reader is referred.[IV-34]



The supposition that Quetzalcoatl was a member of the Toltec royal family and reigned as a king at Tollan, together with the evident confounding in the traditions as recorded by the Spanish writers of two distinct persons named Quetzalcoatl,[IV-35] remove most of the difficulties connected with this famous personage, the second of the name. It seems to me most probable that the traditions relating to Quetzalcoatl's foreign origin or his long absence in distant parts of the country, his arrival at Pánuco, and his final disappearance in the south—although these are all accepted by Brasseur—should be referred to the Quetzalcoatl of primitive times. The young prince, unable for some unrevealed reason, to obtain after his arrival at years of discretion the crown of his murdered father, retired to some city in or near Anáhuac, probably Tulancingo, where he first comes into notice, to bide his time. Here he settled on his future policy including some religious reforms, communicated with powerful friends throughout Anáhuac, and perfected his plans for recovering his lost throne. Some crosses and other relics seen by the Spaniards in the mountains of Meztitlan, were attributed by native tradition to Ceacatl's residence in Tulancingo.[IV-36] Such was the force of his claim as son of Totepeuh, and such the influence of the religious dogmas zealously promulgated by him and his disciples, that at last on the death of Ihuitimal, perhaps his brother, he was raised to the throne of Tollan, as has been said, in 873, under the title of Topiltzin Ceacatl Quetzalcoatl.



There is nothing in the Spanish version of the Quetzalcoatl traditions by which to fix the epoch in which he flourished. It is merely implied that Huemac, his chief enemy, was temporal ruler at the same time that he exercised the functions of high-priest, and succeeded him in power. Huemac is identified by Brasseur, not without some reason, with Nacaxoc, the fifth king of the Spanish writers, whose reign is represented by them as having been most peaceful and uneventful. He is also known as Tezcatlipoca, and was closely related to Yohuallatonac,[IV-37] the king of Culhuacan. In the Codex Chimalpopoca he is called both Huemac and Matlacxochitl.

After Quetzalcoatl had been about ten years on the throne, opposition to his power, fomented by his enemies from the first, assumed serious proportions. Several causes are plausibly attributed by the records and their interpreters to this opposition. The new pontiff-king had effected many innovations in religious ceremonies. It does not appear that his doctrines differed very materially from those entertained by his predecessors, but the changes introduced by him had been so readily admitted by reason of the popularity and zeal of their author and his subordinates, as to excite jealousy among the ecclesiastical powers. Most prominent among his peculiar reforms, and the one that is reported to have contributed most to his downfall, was his unvarying opposition to human sacrifice. This sacrifice had prevailed from pre-Toltec times at Teotihuacan, and had been adopted more or less extensively in Culhuacan and Tollan. By Quetzalcoatl it was absolutely prohibited in the temples of the latter capital, and thus the powerful priesthood of Otompan, and Culhuacan was arrayed against him. Again it is thought that under Quetzalcoatl the spiritual power always closely connected with the temporal in Nahua governments, became so predominant as to excite the jealousy and fears of the nobility in Tollan, who were [262] restive under a priestly restraint not imposed on their brothers of corresponding rank in the other nations of the empire. Finally, under the rule of Ceacatl, Tollan had become the metropolis of the empire. It does not appear that the terms of the alliance, according to which the monarch of Culhuacan outranked the others, had been changed; but in the magnificence of her palaces and temples, and the skill and fame of her artists, if not in population, Tollan now surpassed the cities of the valley, and thus naturally was looked upon as a too successful rival. The dissatisfied element at home was headed by Huemac, or Tezcatlipoca, who had perhaps some well-founded claim to the throne, and received the support of the allied monarchs. The ensuing struggle is symbolized in the record of the Spanish writers by the successive tricks of the necromancers; and the religious strife between rival sects was continued with more or less bitterness down to the latest Aztec epoch. Such was Quetzalcoatl's repugnance to the shedding of human blood, that he seems to have voluntarily abandoned his throne against the wishes of his more warlike partisans, and after a brief stay in Quauhtitlan, to have crossed to the eastern plateau of Huitzilapan in 895. Huemac, Tezcatlipoca, or Nacaxoc succeeded immediately to the royal power in Tollan.[IV-38]


The teachings and influence of Quetzalcoatl had preceded him among the Olmec nations of the eastern region. His father, under the name of Camaxtli, had done more than any other to bring these nations under the Toltec power, had founded the city afterwards known as Tlascala, and was perhaps already worshiped as a deity. Moreover the Quetzalcoatl of old had traditionally introduced Nahua institutions in this region, where he was still the object of supreme veneration. Whether the city of Cholula was actually founded at this time or by the first Quetzalcoatl, it is [263] impossible to determine,[IV-39] but the coming of Ceacatl seems to have marked the beginning of a new era of prosperity on the eastern plateau. Temples in honor of Camaxtli were erected in Tlascala and Huexotzinco, while Cholula became the capital of what may almost be termed a new Toltec monarchy. All the southern and eastern provinces subject to the empire during Ceacatl's reign at Tollan, gave in their adhesion to him at Cholula. Large numbers of his partisans also followed him from Tollan, and all the primitive peoples, among whom human sacrifice in pre-Toltec times had been unknown, were glad to submit to the royal high-priest. His reign in Cholula lasted about ten years,[IV-40] and during this time his doctrines are thought to have been introduced by disciples dispatched from Cholula into the southern regions of Oajaca.

In 904 Yohuallatonac was succeeded in Culhuacan by Quetzallacxoyatl, and Huemac, having subdued by his strict and severe measures all open opposition to his rule at home, but looking with much uneasiness on the prosperity of Ceacatl in his new capital, and the constant emigration of his own subjects eastward, resolved again to attack his former rival. At the head of a large army he directed his march towards Cholula. Quetzalcoatl as before, notwithstanding the remonstrance of his people, refused to resist his progress, but departed before Huemac's arrival for other lands as before related. Cholula, with the neighboring cities and provinces fell an easy prey to the valiant Huemac; but so long did he remain absent in his insatiable desire to conquer new territory, that his subjects revolted and with the co-operation of the king of Culhuacan proclaimed Nauhyotl king about the year 930.[IV-41] Huemac did [264] not yield without a struggle. Returning westward to defend his throne he met Nauhyotl on the lake shores; his army was routed and he was killed, or at least disappeared. As Tezcatlipoca and under various other titles he ever after ranked among the highest in the pantheon of Nahua divinities.[IV-42]

During the ensuing era of peace among the Toltecs under Nauhyotl, or Mitl, and his allies, it seems that Cholula regained its prosperity, re-established the institutions and worship of Quetzalcoatl, and soon rivaled in magnificence Tollan, Culhuacan, and Teotihuacan. Still remaining to a certain extent a part of the Toltec empire, under the rule of the king at Tollan, Cholula seems to have preferred from this period a republican form of home rule, similar, if not identical, to that in vogue on the eastern plateau at the coming of the Spaniards.[IV-43] Four of Quetzalcoatl's chief disciples were charged with the establishment of a permanent government, which they entrusted to two supreme magistrates, one chosen from the priesthood and exercising the functions of high-priest under the title of Tlachiach or 'lord from on high,' and the other from the nobility being at the head of the civil government with the title Aquiach.


The reign of Nauhyotl, or Mitl,[IV-44] at Tollan was one of great prosperity and peace. The new king devoted all his energies to promoting the glory of his capital city, where he re-established nearly all the reforms instituted by Ceacatl and partially abolished [265] by Huemac. He is represented as having looked with some uneasiness on the growing prosperity of Cholula, and on the pilgrimages continually undertaken by residents of Tollan to the eastern shrines; but instead of resorting like his predecessor to hostile measures, he determined to eclipse the glory of Cholula by the erection of new and magnificent temples at home. The finest of these temples was that built in honor of the Goddess of Water,[IV-45] or the Frog Goddess, to which was attached a college of priests vowed to celibacy. Meantime the worship of Camaxtli and Tlaloc were more firmly established than before at Tlascala and Huexotzinco, and grand temples were built in several Toltec provinces without Anáhuac, particularly in the south, one of the most famous being near Quauhnahuac, later Cuernavaca, the ruins of which may be supposed with some plausibility to be identical with those of Xochicalco.[IV-46] After having restored Tollan to the position it had occupied under Ceacatl Quetzalcoatl, Nauhyotl died after a reign of fifteen years in 945.[IV-47]

All the authorities agree that Nauhyotl was succeeded at his death by his queen Xiuhtlaltzin,[IV-48] who reigned four years, showing great zeal and wisdom in the management of public affairs, and dying deeply regretted by all her subjects.[IV-49] The Spanish writers name Tecpancaltzin as the successor of the lamented [266] queen, referring to his reign and to that of his successor the events which brought about the overthrow of the Toltec empire. The Nahua records, however, represent queen Xiuhtlaltzin as having been followed by her son Matlaccoatl, who reigned from 949 to 973, and who in his turn was succeeded by Tlilcoatzin, ruling from 973 to 994, and preceding Tecpancaltzin, respecting whose reign these records agree to a great extent with the other authorities. We have no record of any specific events that occurred during the reign of the three sovereigns last mentioned, save that in Culhuacan Quetzallacxoyatl was succeeded in 953 by Chalchiuh Tlatonac, and the latter in 985 by Totepeuh, the second of the name.[IV-50]

I come now to the last century of the period to which this chapter is devoted, a century whose annals form a continuous record of civil and religious strife in Anáhuac, invasions by powerful bands from the adjoining regions on the north and north-west, pestilence and famine, resulting in the utter overthrow of the Toltec empire. There is somewhat less contradiction among the two classes of authorities quoted respecting the events of this century than in the case of those preceding. The Spanish writers still speak of Tollan, it is true, as if that city alone constituted the empire; but the Nahua documents also ascribe almost exclusively to Tollan the occurrences which caused the destruction of the Toltec power. The latter documents, however, still keep up the thread of historical events at Culhuacan and in other provinces, and they are doubtless much more reliable in the matter of dates than the Spanish version, besides narrating the invasions of foreign tribes, a disturbing element in Toltec politics almost entirely ignored by Ixtlilxochitl and his followers. Notwithstanding the [267] general agreement of the authorities referred to, it must be noted that the record is but a succession of tales in which the marvelous and supernatural largely predominate, conveying a tolerably accurate idea of the general course of history during this period, but throwing very little light on its details. In accordance with my plan already announced, I have but to tell the tales as they are recorded; their general meaning is sufficiently apparent, and I shall offer but rarely conjectures respecting the specific significance of each.


Huemac II., also known as Tecpancaltzin,[IV-51] the eldest son of Totepeuh II. of Culhuacan, mounted the throne of Tollan in 994,[IV-52] at a time when that city in respect of art and high culture was at the head of the empire, although Culhuacan still retained her original political supremacy, while both Teotihuacan and Cholula were rivals in the power and fame of their respective priesthood. There are no data for assigning even approximately exact limits to the Toltec empire at this period. It is probably, however, that while the Toltec was less absolute and despotic than the Aztec power in the sixteenth century, yet it was exerted throughout fully as wide an extent of territory, including Michoacan and a broad region in the north-west never altogether subjected to the Aztec kings. The Toltec domain had been enlarged gradually by the influence of the priesthood, particularly under Ceacatl Quetzalcoatl, until there were few provinces from Tehuantepec to Zacatecas, from the North to the South Sea, which did not render a voluntary allegiance to the allied monarchs of the central region. And at the same time it cannot be believed that foreign conquest by force of arms had so small a place among the events of Toltec history as the records [268] would imply. Huemac II., unlike the first of the same name, belonged to the sect of Quetzalcoatl, using his power to restrain the practice of human sacrifice if not altogether abolishing it in the temples of Tollan. He even seems to have added the name of Quetzalcoatl to his other royal and pontifical titles, or possibly had this title before his coronation, as high-priest of the sect at Culhuacan. The application of this title to Huemac, and that of Tezcatlipoca to the high-priest of the rival sect, has been productive of no little confusion in the record, since it is sometimes impossible to decide whether certain events should be attributed to this reign or to the time of Ceacatl and Huemac I. The new king was endowed with fine natural qualifications for his position, and enjoyed to a remarkable degree the confidence and esteem of the people. During the first year he ruled with great wisdom, speaking but little, attending most strictly to the performance of his religious duties, and always prompt in the administration of justice to his subjects of whatever station; but the old fire of religious strife, though smouldering, was yet alive and ready to be fanned into a conflagration which should consume the whole Toltec structure. The leaders of the rival sect, followers of the bloody Tezcatlipoca and bitter enemies to all followers of Quetzalcoatl, although now in the minority were constantly intriguing for the fall of Huemac. But they well knew the popularity of their hated foe, and bent all their energies to the task of dragging him down from his lofty pedestal of popular esteem, by tempting him into the commission of acts unworthy of himself as high-priest, king, and successor of the great Quetzalcoatl. A scandal was to be created; wine and women were naturally the agents to be employed; the tale is a very strange one.


Papantzin, a Toltec noble of high rank, presented himself one day at court, together with his daughter, [269] the beautiful Xochitl,[IV-53] bearing with other gifts to the king a kind of syrup and sugar made from maguey-juice by a process of which Papantzin was the inventor. This syrup is generally spoken of as pulque, but there seems to be little reason for making a fermented liquor of 'miel prieta de maguey.'[IV-54] Whatever the nature of the syrup, it pleased the royal palate, and the lovely face and form of the young Xochitl were no less pleasing to the royal eye. The king expressed his appreciation of the new invention, and his desire to receive additional samples of the sweet preparation, at the same time telling the father that he would be pleased to receive such gifts at the hands of the daughter, who might visit him for such a purpose unattended save by a servant. Proud of the honor shown to his family, and without suspicion of evil intentions, Papantzin only a few days later sent Xochitl, accompanied by an elderly female attendant, with a new gift of maguey-syrup. The attendant was directed to await her mistress in a distant apartment of the palace, while Xochitl was introduced alone to the presence of Huemac. Bravely the maiden resisted the monarch's blandishments and protestations of ardent love, but by threats and force was compelled to yield her person to his embrace. She was then sent to the strongly-guarded palace of Palpan near the capital, and there, cut off from all communication with parents or friends, lived as the king's mistress. Her parents were notified that their daughter had been entrusted by Huemac to the care of certain ladies who would perfect her education and fit her for a prominent position among [270] the ladies of the court and for a brilliant marriage. To Papantzin the royal manner of showing honor to his family seemed at best novel and strange, but he could suspect no evil intent on the part of the pious representative of Quetzalcoatl. New favors were subsequently shown the dishonored father, in the shape of lands and titles and promises. For three years Huemac continued his guilty amour in secret, and in the meantime, in 1002,[IV-55] a child was born, named Meconetzin, 'child of the maguey,' or at a later period Acxitl. According to the Codex Chimalpopoca the king during these three years gave himself up to the pleasures of the wine cup also, yielding to the temptations placed before him by the crafty followers of Tezcatlipoca, and during one of his drunken orgies revealed the secret of his love; but however this may have been, that secret was finally suspected; Papantzin in the disguise of a laborer visited the palace of Palpan, met his daughter with the young Meconetzin in her arms, and listened to the tale of her shame. The angry father seems to have been quieted with the promise that his daughter's son should be proclaimed heir to the throne, since the queen had borne her husband only daughters; but the scandal once suspected was spread far and wide by the priesthood of Tezcatlipoca, and the faith of the Toltecs in their saintly monarch was shaken. The queen having died, Xochitl with her young son was brought to the royal palace, and there is some reason to suppose that she was made Huemac's legitimate queen by a regular marriage. Very serious dissatisfaction, and even open hostility among the princes of highest rank, were excited by the king's actions, both on account of the shameful nature of such acts, and also because their own chance of future succession to the throne was destroyed by Huemac's avowed intention to make Acxitl his heir. Everything presaged a revolution, [271] and the foes of Quetzalcoatl were cheered with hopes of approaching triumph. Huemac's mind was filled with trouble, which all the flattery of the court could not wholly remove, and the prospects of his family were not brightened by the fact that the young Acxitl from his birth had the physical peculiarities predicted by the prophet Hueman of olden time, in connection with such wide-spread and fatal disasters. Yet it was hoped that by careful instruction and training, even the decrees of fate might be reversed and impending disaster averted, especially as in childhood and youth prince Acxitl gave most cheering promise of future goodness and ability.[IV-56]


Another event served to increase the troubles that began to gather about the throne. It appears that Huemac by his first queen Maxio had three daughters, who were much sought in marriage, rather for motives of political ambition, perhaps, than love, by the Toltec nobles. One especially was greatly beloved by her father and none of the many aspirants to her hand found favor in her eyes. One day while walking among the flowers in the royal gardens, she came upon a man selling chile. Some of the traditions say that the pepper-vender, Toveyo,[IV-57] was Tezcatlipoca who had assumed the appearance of a plebeian; at any rate he was entirely naked and awakened in the bosom of the princess a love for which her Toltec suitors had sighed in vain. So violent was her passion as to bring on serious illness, the cause of which was told by her maids to Huemac, and the indulgent father, though very angry with Toveyo at first, finally, as the only means of restoring his daughter to health, sought out the plebeian vender of pepper and forced him, perhaps not very much against his will, to be [272] washed and dressed and to become the husband of the love-sick princess. This marriage caused great dissatisfaction and indignation among the Toltecs; an indignation that is easily understood, however the legend be interpreted. In case a literal interpretation be accepted, the upper classes in Tollan may naturally have been shocked by the admission of a low-born peasant to the royal family; on the other hand the version given may have originated with the disappointed suitors, who gratified their spite by reviling the successful Toveyo. It is also possible that the legend symbolizes by this marriage the granting of new privileges to the lower classes against the will of the nobility; however this may be, the result was wide-spread discontent ready to burst forth in open revolt.[IV-58]

Among the disaffected lords who openly revolted against Tollan, Cohuanacotzin, Huehuetzin, Xiuhtenancaltzin, and Mexoyotzin[IV-59] are mentioned, by Ixtlilxochitl as rulers of provinces on the Atlantic, by Veytia as lords of regions extending from Quiahuiztlan (according to Brasseur, Vera Cruz) northward along the coast of the North Sea to a point beyond Jalisco. Respecting the events of this revolution of Toltec provinces thus vaguely located, we have only the continuation of Toveyo's adventures, which seems to belong to this war. The tale runs that Huemac, somewhat frightened at the storm of indignation which followed his choice of a son-in-law, sent him out to fight in the wars of Cacatepec and Coatepec, giving secret orders that he should be so stationed in battle as to be inevitably killed. The main body of the Toltec army yielded to the superior numbers of the foe and fled to Tollan, leaving Toveyo and his followers to their fate; but the latter, either by his superior skill or by his powers as a magician, notwithstanding the small force [273] at his command, utterly routed the enemy and returned in triumph to the capital, where the king and people received him with great honors and public demonstrations of joy. For a time the kingdom seems to have remained without disturbance, and fortune once more smiled on Huemac.[IV-60]


As to the exact order in which occurred the subsequent disasters by which the Toltec empire was overthrown, the authorities differ somewhat, although agreeing tolerably well respecting their nature. Many events ascribed by Brasseur to Huemac's reign are by Veytia and others described as having happened in that of his successor. There can, however, be but little hesitation in following the chronology of the Nahua documents often referred to, in preference to that of the Spanish writers. The latter is certainly erroneous; the former at the worst is only probably so. With his returning prosperity the king seems to have returned to his evil ways while the partizans of Tezcatlipoca resumed their intrigues against him. The sorcerer assembled a mighty crowd near Tollan, and kept them dancing to the music of his drum until midnight, when by reason of the darkness and their intoxication they crowded each other off a precipice into a deep ravine, where they were turned to stone. A stone bridge was also broken by the necromancer and crowds precipitated into the river.[IV-61] Other wonderful acts of the sorcerer against the well-being of the Toltecs as [274] related by Sahagun have been given in another volume.[IV-62] From one of the neighboring volcanoes a flood of glowing lava poured, and in its lurid light appeared frightful spectres threatening the capital. A sacrifice of captives in honor of Tezcatlipoca, was decided upon to appease the angry gods, a sacrifice which Huemac was forced to sanction. But when a young boy, chosen by lot as the first victim, was placed upon the altar and the obsidian knife plunged into his breast, no heart was found in his body, and his veins were without blood. The fetid odor exhaled from the corpse caused a pestilence involving thousands of deaths. The struggles of the Toltecs to get rid of the body have been elsewhere related.[IV-63] Next the Tlaloc divinities appeared to Huemac as he walked in the forest, and were implored by him not to take from him his wealth and his royal splendor. The gods were wroth at this petition, his apparent selfishness, and want of penitence for past sins, and they departed announcing their purpose to bring plagues and suffering upon the proud Toltecs for six years. The winter of 1018 was so cold that all plants and seeds were killed by frost, and was followed by a hot summer, which parched the whole surface of the country, dried up the streams, and even calcined the solid rocks.


Here seem to belong the series of plagues described by the Spanish writers, although attributed by them to the following reign.[IV-64] The plagues began with heavy storms of rain, destroying the ripening crops, flooding the streets of towns, continuing for a hundred days, and causing great fear of a universal deluge. Heavy gales followed, which leveled the finest buildings [275] to the ground; and toads in immense numbers covered the ground, consuming everything edible and even penetrating the dwellings of the people. The next year unprecedented heat and drought prevailed, rendering useless all agricultural labor, and causing much starvation. Next heavy frosts destroyed what little the heat had spared, not even the hardy maguey surviving; and then came upon the land great swarms of birds and locusts and various insects. Lightning and hail completed the work of devastation, and as a result of all their afflictions Ixtlilxochitl informs us that nine hundred of every thousand Toltecs perished. Huemac and his followers were held responsible for disasters that had come upon the people; a hungry mob of citizens and strangers crowded the street of Tollan and even invaded the palace of the nobles, instigated and headed by the partizans of Tezcatlipoca; and the king was even forced at one time to abandon the city for a time. The Codex Chimalpopoca represented the long rain already referred to as having occurred at the end of six years' drought and famine, and to have inaugurated a new season of plenty. Ixtlilxochitl refers to bloody wars as among the evils of the time. All we may learn from the confused accounts, is that the Toltec empire at that period was afflicted with war, famine, and pestilence; and that these afflictions were attributed to the sins of Huemac II., by his enemies and such of the people as they could influence.

After the plagues were past, and prosperity had again begun to smile upon the land, Huemac abandoned his evil ways and gave his whole attention to promoting the welfare of his people; but he still clung with fatal obstinacy to his purpose of placing his son on the throne, and determined to abdicate immediately in favor of Acxitl. His father, king of Culhuacan, died in 1026, and the crown, to which Huemac himself, as the eldest son would seem to have been entitled, passed to Totepeuh's second son, [276] Nauhyotl II. It is possible that Huemac consented to this concession in consideration of the support of the new king in his own projects at Tollan. After thoroughly canvassing the sentiments of his vassal lords, and conciliating the good will of the wavering by a grant of new honors and possessions, he publicly announced his intention to place Acxitl on the throne. The immediate consequence was a new revolt, and from an unexpected source, since it was abetted if not originated by the followers of Quetzalcoatl, who deemed Acxitl, the child of adulterous love, an unworthy successor of their great prophet. Maxtlatzin was the most prominent of the many nobles who espoused the rebel cause, and Quauhtli was the choice of the malcontents for the rank of high-priest of Quetzalcoatl. To such an extremity was the cause of Huemac and his son reduced that they were forced to a compromise with the two leaders of the revolt, who consented to support the cause of Acxitl on condition of being themselves raised to the highest rank after the son of Huemac, and of forming with him a kind of triumvirate by which the kingdom should be ruled. All the authorities agree respecting this compromise, although only the documents consulted by Brasseur speak of open revolt as the cause which led to it. It is evident, however, that nothing but the most imminent danger could have induced the king of Tollan to have entered into so humiliating an arrangement. Immediately after the consummation of the new alliance, the 'child of the maguey' was crowned king and high-priest with great ceremony in 1029, under the title of Topiltzin Acxitl Quetzalcoatl. Topiltzin is the name by which he is usually called by the Spanish writers, although it was in reality, like that of Quetzalcoatl, a title held by several kings. Acxitl is the more convenient name, as distinguishing him clearly from his father and from Ceacatl Quetzalcoatl. Huemac [277] and Queen Xochitl retired ostensibly from all connection with public affairs.[IV-65]


The three lords of distant provinces, Huehuetzin, Xiuhtenancaltzin, and Cohuanacotzin, who had once before rebelled against the king of Tollan, now refused their allegiance to Acxitl; but at first they for some reason, perhaps their own difficulties with the wild tribes about them, engaged in no open hostilities. The new monarch, then about forty years of age, justified the high promise of his youth, and guided by the sage counsels of his reformed father, ruled most wisely for several years, gradually gaining the confidence of his subjects. But the decrees of the gods were infallible, and Acxitl, like his father before him, yielded to temptation and plunged into all manner of lasciviousness and riotous living. So low did he fall as to make use of his position of high-priest to gratify his evil passions. His inciters and agents were still Tezcatlipoca and his crafty partisans, who persuaded ladies of every rank that by yielding to the king's embraces they would merit divine favor. The royal example was followed by both nobles and priests. High church dignitaries and priestesses of the temples consecrated to life-long chastity forgot all their vows; force was employed where persuasion failed. So openly were the requirements of morality disregarded, that the high-priestess of the Goddess of the Water, a princess of royal blood, on a pilgrimage to the temple of Quetzalcoatl at Cholula, lived openly with the chief pontiff of that city and bore him a son, who afterwards succeeded to the highest ecclesiastical rank. Vice took complete possession of society in all its classes, spreading to cities and provinces not under the immediate authority of Tollan. Public affairs were [278] left to be managed by unscrupulous royal favorites; the prayers of the aged Huemac and Xochitl to the gods, like their remonstrances with Acxitl, were unavailing; crimes of all kinds remained unpunished; robbery and murder were of frequent occurrence; and the king was justly held responsible for all.

But Acxitl was at last brought to his senses, and his fears if not his conscience were thoroughly aroused. Walking in his garden one morning, he saw a small animal of peculiar appearance, with horns like a deer, which, having been killed, proved to be a rabbit. Shortly after he saw a huitzilin, or humming-bird, with spurs, a most extraordinary thing. Topiltzin Acxitl was familiar with the Teoamoxtli, or 'divine book,' and with Huemac's predictions; well he knew, and was confirmed in his opinion by the sages and priests who were consulted, that the phenomena observed were the tokens of final disaster. The king's reformation was sudden and complete; the priests held out hopes that the prodigies were warnings, and that their consequences might possibly be averted by prayer, sacrifice, and reform. The Spanish writers introduce at this period the series of plagues, which I have given under Huemac's reign; and Brasseur adds to the appearance of the rabbit and the humming-bird two or three of the wonderful events attributed by Sahagun to the necromancer Titlacaâon, without any reason that I know of for ascribing these occurrences to this particular time. Such were the appearance of a bird bearing an arrow in its claws and menacingly soaring over the doomed capital; the falling of a great stone of sacrifice near the present locality of Chapultepec; and the coming of an old woman selling paper flags which proved fatal to every purchaser.[IV-66] These events occurred in 1036 and the following years. The king was wholly unable to check the torrent of vice which was flowing over the land; indeed, in his desire to atone for his past faults, [279] he seems to have resorted to such severe measures as to have defeated his own aims, converting his former friends and flatterers into bitter foes.


In the midst of other troubles came the news that Huehuetzin was marching at the head of the rebel forces towards Tollan, and was already most successful on the northern frontier. The other two lords from the gulf coasts, who had refused to acknowledge the power of Acxitl, were in league with Huehuetzin. Unable to resist this formidable army, the Toltec king was compelled to send ambassadors bearing rich presents to sue for peace,—according to the Spanish writers at the capitals of the distant rebellious provinces; but as Brasseur says to the headquarters of the hostile army not very far from Tollan. The presents were received, but no satisfactory agreement seems to have been made at first. Veytia and Ixtlilxochitl speak vaguely of a truce that was concluded as a result of this or a subsequent embassy, to the effect that the Toltecs should not be molested for ten years, an old military usage requiring that ten years should always intervene between the declaration of war and the commencement of hostilities; and the latter states that the army was withdrawn in the meantime, because sufficient supplies could not be obtained in the territory of the Toltecs. Brasseur, without referring to any other authorities than those named, tells us that after remaining a whole year near Tollan, Huehuetzin was forced to return to his own province to repel the invasions of hostile tribes, which tribes, it is implied, were induced to come southward and to harass the Toltec nations.[IV-67]

Taking advantage of the precarious condition of the Toltecs, many of the tribes even in and about Anáhuac shook off all allegiance to the empire, and became altogether independent; and at the same [280] time numerous Chichimec tribes from abroad took advantage of the favorable opportunity to secure homes in the lake region. These foreign tribes are all reported to have come from the north, but it is extremely doubtful if any accurate information respecting the invaders has been preserved. For the conjecture that all or any of them came from the distant north, from California, Utah, or the Mississippi Valley, there are absolutely no grounds; although it is of course impossible to prove that all came from the region adjoining Anáhuac. By far the most reasonable conjecture is that the invaders were the numerous Nahua bands who had settled in the west and north-west, in Michoacan, Jalisco, and Zacatecas, about the same time that the nations called Toltecs had established themselves in and about Anáhuac. Brasseur finds in his authorities, the only ones that give any particulars of the invaders, that among the first Chichimec bands to arrive were the Acxotecas and Eztlepictin, both constituting together the Teotenancas. The Eztlepictin settled in the valley of Tenanco, south of the lakes, while the Acxotecas took possession of the fertile valleys about Tollan. A war between Nauhyotl II. of Culhuacan and the king of Tollan is then vaguely recorded, in which Acxitl was victorious, but is supposed to have suffered from the constant hostility of Culhuacan from that time forward, although that kingdom soon had enough to do to defend her own possessions. The Eztlepictin introduced a new divinity, and a new worship, which Acxitl, as successor of Quetzalcoatl made a desperate effort to overthrow. He marched with all the forces he could command to Tenanco, but was defeated in every battle. What was worse yet, during his absence on this campaign, the Acxoteca branch of the invaders were admitted, under their leader Xalliteuctli, by the partisans of Tezcatlipoca into Tollan itself. Civil strife ensued in the streets of the capital between the three rival [281] sects, until Tollan with all her noble structures was well-nigh in ruins. At the same time wars were waged between the three allied kingdoms, and pest and famine came once more upon the land. These events occurred between 1040 and 1047.[IV-68]


It was evident that the gods were very angry with this unhappy people. To avert their wrath, as Torquemada relates, a meeting of all the wise men, priests, and nobles, was convened at Teotihuacan, where the gods from the most ancient times had been wont to hear the prayers of men. In the midst of the propitiatory feasts and sacrifices a demon of gigantic proportions with long bony arms and fingers appeared dancing in the court where the people were assembled. Whirling through the crowd in every direction the demon seized upon the Toltecs that came in his way and dashed them lifeless at his feet. Multitudes perished but none had the strength to fly. A second time the giant appeared in a slightly different form and again the Toltecs fell by hundreds in his grasp. At his next appearance the demon assumed the form of a white and beautiful child sitting on a rock and gazing at the holy city from a neighboring hilltop. As the people rushed in crowds to investigate the new phenomena, it was discovered that the child's head was a mass of corruption, exhaling a stench so fatal that all who approached were stricken with sudden death. Finally the devil or god appeared in a form not recorded and warned the assembly that the fate of the Toltecs in that country was sealed; the gods would not listen to further petitions; the people could escape total annihilation only by flight. The assembly broke up, and the members returned to their homes utterly disheartened.[IV-69]

Large numbers of the Toltec nobles had already [282] abandoned their country and departed for foreign provinces, and this emigration was constantly on the increase even before it was definitely determined by the ruler to migrate. In the meantime, if Brasseur's authorities may be credited, a new sect, the Ixcuinames or 'masked matrons,' introduced their rites, including phallic worship and all manner of sorcery and debauchery, into Tollan, thus adding a new element of discord in that fated city. The Ixcuinames originated in the region of Pánuco among the Huastecs, and began to flourish in Tollan about 1058.[IV-70] To civil and religious strife, with other internal troubles, was now added the peril of foreign invasion. According to the Spanish writers the ten years' truce concluded between Acxitl and his foes under the command of Huehuetzin, was now about to expire, and the rebel prince of the north appeared at the head of an immense army, ready to submit his differences with the Toltec king to the arbitration of the battle-field. According to Brasseur, the Teo-Chichimecs invaded the rest of Anáhuac, while the former foes of Huemac and his son, under Huehuetzin, from the provinces of Quiahuiztlan and Jalisco, threatened Tollan. I may remark here that I have little faith in this author's division into tribes of the hordes that invaded Anáhuac at this period and in the following years. We know that many bands from the surrounding region, particularly on the north, most of them probably Nahua tribes, did take advantage of internal dissensions among the Toltec nations to invade the central region. For a period of many years they warred unceasingly with the older nations and among themselves; but to trace the fortunes of particular tribes through this maze of inter-tribal conflict is a hopeless task which I shall not attempt. Many of these so-called Chichimec invading tribes afterwards became great nations, and played a prominent part in the annals to be given in future chapters; [283] and while it is not improbable that some of them, as the Teo-Chichimecs, Acolhuas, or Tepanecs, were identical with the invading tribes which overthrew the Toltec empire, there is no sufficient authority for attempting so to identify any one of them. Neither do I find any authority whatever for the conjecture that the invaders were barbarian hordes from the distant north, who broke through the belt of Nahua nations which surrounded Anáhuac, or were instigated by those nations from jealousy of Toltec power to undertake its overthrow. Yet it would be rash to assume that none of the wild tribes took part in the ensuing struggle; as allies, or under Nahua leaders, they probably rendered efficient aid to the Chichimec invaders, and afterwards in many cases merged their tribal existence in that of the Chichimec nations.


The other Toltec cities, Otompan, Tezcuco, Culhuacan, seem to have fallen before the invaders even before Tollan, although it is vaguely reported that after the destruction of Otompan the king of Culhuacan formed a new alliance for defense with Azcapuzalco and Coatlichan, excluding Tollan. All the cities were sacked and burned as fast as conquered except Culhuacan, which seems to have escaped destruction by admitting the invaders within her gates and probably becoming their allies or vassals. This was in 1060.[IV-71] Meantime Huehuetzin's forces were threatening Tollan. By strenuous efforts a large army had been raised and equipped for the defense of the royal cause. The princes Quauhtli and Maxtlatzin, lately allied to the throne, brought all their forces to aid the king against whom they had formerly rebelled. The aged Huemac came out from his retirement and strove with the ardor of youth to ward off the destruction which he could but attribute to his indiscretions of many years ago. Even Xochitl, the king's mother, is reported to have enlisted an army of amazons from the [284] women of Tollan and to have placed herself at their head. Acxitl formed his army into two divisions, one of which, under a lord named Huehuetenuxcatl, marched out to meet the enemy, while the other, commanded by the king himself, was stationed within intrenchments at Tultitlan. The advance army, after one day's battle without decisive result, fell back and determined to act on the defensive. Reinforced by the division under Huemac, and by Xochitl's amazons, who fought most bravely, General Huehuetenuxcatl carried on the war for three years, but was at last driven back to join the king. At Tultitlan a final stand was made by Acxitl's orders. For many days the battle raged here until the Toltecs were nearly exterminated, and driven back step by step to Tollan, Xaltocan, Teotihuacan, and Xochitlalpan successively. Here Huemac and Xochitl were slain, also Quauhtli and Maxtlatzin. Acxitl escaped by hiding in a cave at Xico in Lake Chalco. In a final encounter General Huehuetenuxcatl fell, and the small remnant of the Toltec army was scattered in the mountains and in the marshes of the lake shore.[IV-72]


From his place of concealment at Xico, Topiltzin Acxitl secretly visited Culhuacan, gathered a few faithful followers about him, announced his intention of returning to Huehue Tlapallan, promised to intercede in their behalf with the Chichimec emperor of their old home, and having committed his two infant [285] children Pochotl and Xilotzin to faithful guardians to be brought up in ignorance of their royal birth, he left the country in 1062.[IV-73] He is supposed to have gone southward accompanied by a few followers. Other bodies of Toltecs had previously abandoned the country and gone in the same direction, and large numbers are reported to have remained in Culhuacan, Cholula, Chapultepec and many other towns that are named. Veytia, Ixtlilxochitl, Torquemada, and Clavigero tell us that of these who fled some founded settlements on the coasts of both oceans, from which came parties at subsequent periods to re-establish themselves in Anáhuac. Others crossed the isthmus of Tehuantepec and passed into the southern lands. The other authors also agree that of those who escaped destruction part remained, and the rest were scattered in various directions. None imply a general migration en masse towards the south.[IV-74] Lists are given of the [286] Toltec nobles that remained in Anáhuac and of the cities where they resided. The larger number were at Culhuacan, under Xiuhtemoc, to whom the king's children were confided. These remaining Toltecs were afterwards called from the name of their city Culhuas.[IV-75]

Brasseur finds in his two Nahua records data for certain events that took place after the flight of Topiltzin Acxitl. Maxtlatzin, as he claims, escaped from the final battle and intrenched himself in one of the strong fortresses among the ruins of Tollan. The Chichimecs soon took possession of the city in two divisions known as Toltec Chichimecs and Nonohualcas. They even went through the forms of choosing a successor to Acxitl, selecting a boy named Matlacxochitl, whom they crowned as Huemac III. To him the chiefs rendered a kind of mock allegiance, but still held the power in their own hands. Desperate struggles ensued between the two Chichimec bands led by Huehuetzin and Icxicohuatl, the followers of Tezcatlipoca under Yaotl, and the forces of Maxtlatzin in the fortress. The result was the murder of the mock king about 1064, and the final abandonment of Tollan soon after. It is claimed by the authorities which record these events that Huemac II. survived all these troubles and died at Chapultepec in 1070.[IV-76]



It is not difficult to form a tolerably clear idea of the state of affairs in Anáhuac at the downfall of the Toltec empire, notwithstanding the confusion of the records. There is, as we have seen, no evidence of a general migration southward or in any other direction. It is true the records speak of a large majority of the Toltecs as having migrated in different directions as a result of their disasters, but it must be remembered that in America, as elsewhere, historical annals of early periods had to do with the deeds and fortunes of priests and kings and noble families; the common people were useful to fight and pay taxes, but were altogether unworthy of a place in history. It is probable that the name Toltecs, a title of distinction rather than a national name, was never applied at all to the common people. When by civil strife and foreign invasion their power was overthrown, many of the leaders, spiritual and temporal, doubtless abandoned the country, preferring to try their fortunes in the southern provinces which seem to have suffered less than those of the north from the Toltec disasters. Their exiles took refuge in the Miztec and Zapotec provinces of Oajaca, and some of them probably crossed to Guatemala and Yucatan, where they were not without influence in molding future political events. The mass of the Toltec people remained in Anáhuac; some of them kept up a distinct national existence for a while in Culhuacan, and perhaps in Cholula; but most simply became subjects of the invading chiefs, whose language and institutions were for the most part identical with those to which they had been accustomed. The population had been considerably diminished naturally by the many years of strife, famine, and pestilence; but this diminution was greatly exaggerated in the records. The theory that the population was reduced to a few thousands, most of whom left the country, leaving a few chiefs with their followers in a desolate and barren land, from which even the invading hordes had retired immediately [288] after their victory, is a very transparent absurdity. The Toltec downfall was the overthrow of a dynasty, not the destruction of a people. The ensuing period was one of bitter strife between rival bands for the power which had been wrested from the Toltec kings. The annals of that period cannot be followed; but history recommences with the success of some of the struggling factions, and their development into national powers.



The Chichimecs in Amaquemecan—Migration to Anáhuac under Xolotl—The Invaders at Chocoyan and Tollan—Foundation of Xoloc and Tenayocan—Xolotl II., Emperor of the Chichimecs—Division of Territory—The Toltecs at Culhuacan—Rule of Xiuhtemoc and Nauhyotl III.—Pochotl, Son of Acxitl—Conquest of Culhuacan—Death of Nauhyotl—Huetzin, King of Culhuacan—Migration and Reception of the Nahuatlaca Tribes—The Acolhuas at Coatlichan and the Tepanecs at Azcapuzalco—Nonohualcatl, King of Culhuacan—Revolt of Yacanex—Death of Xolotl II.—Nopaltzin, King at Tenayocan, and Emperor of the Chichimecs—Reigns of Achitometl and Icxochitlanex at Culhuacan—Tendencies toward Toltec Culture.

The Chichimec occupation of Anáhuac begins with the traditional invasion under Xolotl, but in order to properly understand that important event, it will be necessary to glance at the incidents which preceded and led to it.

The little that is known of the early history of the Chichimecs has been told in a former chapter; I will therefore take up the narrative at the time of King Tlamacatzin's death at Amaquemecan,[V-1] which [290] event occurred in the same year as the final destruction of Tollan. As I have already explained sufficiently my idea of the nature of the migrations by which Anáhuac is represented as having been re-peopled, I may relate these migrations literally, as they are given by the authorities, without constantly reminding the reader of their general signification. Tlamacatzin left two sons, Acauhtzin[V-2] and Xolotl,[V-3] who, after wrangling about the succession for some time, finally agreed to divide the kingdom between them.[V-4]

Now, for a great number of years a harassing system of border warfare had been carried on between the Chichimecs and the Toltecs; the former doubtless raided upon their rich and powerful neighbors for purposes of plunder, and the latter were probably not slow to make reprisals which served as an excuse for extending their already immense territory. When the Toltec troubles arose, however, and the direful prophecies of Hueman began to be fulfilled, the people of Anáhuac found that they had enough to do to take care of themselves, and that their legions could be better employed in defending the capital than in waging aggressive wars upon the [291] distant frontiers of the empire. They therefore recalled their troops, and the Chichimec border was left undisturbed. It was not long before the brother monarchs of Amaquemecan began to wonder at this sudden cessation of hostilities, and determined to find out the cause, for they were ignorant of the struggles and final overthrow of the Toltec empire. They at once dispatched spies into the Toltec territory. In a short time these men returned with the startling announcement that they had penetrated the enemy's country for a distance of two hundred leagues from Amaquemecan, and had found all that region deserted, and the towns, formerly so strong and populous, abandoned and in ruins.


Xolotl, who seems to have been of a more ambitious and enterprising disposition than his brother, listened eagerly to this report, which seemed to promise the fulfillment of his dreams of independent and undivided sway. Summoning his vassals to the capital, he told them what his spies had seen, and in an eloquent speech reminded them that an extension of territory was needed for their increasing population, expatiated on the richness and fertility of the abandoned region, pointed out to his hearers how easy it would be to avenge on their crippled enemies the injuries of many years, and concluded by requiring them to be ready to accompany him to conquest within the space of six months.[V-5]

[292] It is difficult to credit the statements of the old authors respecting the number of Chichimecs that espoused Xolotl's cause. Ixtlilxochitl and Veytia state that no less than three million two hundred and two thousand men and women, besides children, rallied to his standard, leaving one million six hundred thousand subjects of Acauhtzin, and thus making it not a mere expedition, but a decided emigration. Torquemada, who fears he will not be believed if he states the actual number who took part in the exodus, takes pains to assure us that the historic paintings mention over a million warriors, commanded by six great lords, and over twenty (two?) thousand inferior chiefs and captains, and as each of these had under him more than a thousand men, the total number would approach nearer to the larger numbers than to Torquemada's unwontedly modest statement. The number was ascertained by census, taken at five different places to check the increase or decrease caused by leaving colonists along the route, by new arrivals, and especially by deserters. The counting was effected by each plebeian casting a small stone into a heap set apart for his class, and each lord or officer a larger stone into another heap. Ixtlilxochitl mentions two of these nepohualcos, or 'counting-places,' one near Oztotipac in Otompan district, and another three leagues from Ecatepec, near Mexico; while Torquemada refers to twelve similar hillocks near Tenayocan.[V-6]



Having taken leave of his brother Acauhtzin, Xolotl started on his journey. Halts were made at a number of stations to gather supplies, and when camp was broken, settlers were left—generally selected from among the old and feeble—and their places filled by fresh recruits. Owing to these detentions it took the army some time to reach Chocoyan, or 'place of tears,' in Anáhuac, where many Toltec ruins were found. After proceeding some distance farther, and making several halts, Xolotl dispatched the six principal chiefs of his army, each with an appropriate force, in various directions, with instructions to explore the country, and reduce the inhabitants, if they found any, to subjection; at the same time he recommended these officers to use the people kindly, except where they offered resistance, in which case they were to be treated as enemies.[V-7]

Xolotl himself proceeded with the body of the army, and after halting in several places, he finally reached Tollan. But the ancient splendor of the Toltec capital was departed, its streets were deserted and overgrown with vegetation, its magnificent temples and palaces were in ruins, and desolation reigned where so lately had been the hum and bustle of a mighty metropolis.[V-8] The site of Tollan being too important to be abandoned, Xolotl established [294] some families there, which formed the nucleus of a future population. He then continued his march to Mizquiyahualan and Tecpan, and finally came to Xaltocan, on the shore of the lake of the same name, where he and his followers abode for a long time in the caves that abounded in that region, and where they subsequently founded the town of Xoloc or Xolotl, which afterwards became a city of considerable importance in Anáhuac.[V-9]

The narrative becomes somewhat confused at this point, owing to the conflicting accounts of the various authorities. It seems, however, that the Chichimecs remained for a long time, several years perhaps, at the settlement of Xoloc, doing little but sending out scouting parties to reconnoitre the immediately surrounding country. Finally, according to the majority of the Spanish writers, Xototl dispatched certain chiefs on regular exploring expeditions, and set out himself with his son Nopaltzin and a large force; journeying by way of Cempoala, Tepepulco, Oztolotl, Cohuacayan, and Tecpatepec, until he reached the hill of Atonan. Here he descried a goodly region lying to the south and east, which he at once sent his son Nopaltzin to take possession of, while he returned to Xoloc.[V-10]


Nopaltzin wandered for some time from place to place, seemingly making it his object rather to search for an inhabited country than to take possession of an uninhabited one. At first his efforts met with no success, notwithstanding he ascended several high mountains for the purpose of seeing afar off. At last he came to Tlalamoztoc, whence his view extended over [295] the country toward Tlazalan, and Culhuacan valley,[V-11] and Chapultepec, on the other side of the lake; throughout this region smoke arose in various places, denoting the presence of human inhabitants. Without loss of time, the prince returned to his father with the news of his discovery, passing the ruined city of Teotihuacan on his way. Xolotl had in the meantime visited the large Toltec city of Cuhuac (Culhuacan?), and had also received information of Toltec settlements on the coast and in the interior. A consultation was held, and it was decided that Tultitlan was the most eligible site for a capital. Accordingly Xolotl left Xoloc in the care of a governor and proceeded to that region and there founded Tenayocan opposite Tezcuco, on the other side of the lake.[V-12]

Brasseur's version of these events is somewhat different. He does not mention Xolotl's expedition to the hill of Atonan, though he does not omit to relate that Toltec settlements were described from that elevation by the reconnoitering parties sent out from the Chichimec camp at Lake Xaltocan; neither does he in any way refer to Nopaltzin's journey, at his father's command, to Tlalamoztoc. The reason of this difference is that according to Brasseur's version Nopaltzin was not the son of Xolotl, the first Chichimec emperor but of Amacui, one of six great chiefs, who were the first to follow in the successful invaders' wake, this they did not do, however, until after Xolotl had established himself at Tenayocan.[V-13] It seems that this Amacui has been confounded throughout with Xolotl by the majority of the Spanish chroniclers; in their version of the events which followed the founding of Tenayocan, during a period of nearly two hundred [296] years, the deeds of the former are all ascribed to the latter, or at least the narrative is continued without any break, and no mention is made of any change of kings.[V-14]

The Spanish writers relate that the chiefs of whom Amacui was one were attracted to Anáhuac by the reports which reached them of Xolotl's unopposed invasion, and of the richness of the land that he had appropriated.[V-15] Upon their arrival in Anáhuac they respectfully asked the Chichimec king's permission to settle near him, and to hunt in his newly acquired territory. Xolotl evinced no jealousy, but welcomed the new-comers with generous hospitality; doubtless the politic monarch saw that such arrivals could not fail to strengthen his position, as all who came were pretty sure to acknowledge his supremacy and ally themselves to him, as chief of all the Chichimecs. From what source Amacui derived the influence which he afterwards used for his own aggrandizement is not known; it could scarcely have been from his personal power as a prince, because we are told that the number of his followers was small; but at all events, whatever were the means he used, he succeeded, at Xolotl's death, in getting elected to the throne.[V-16] This being in all probability the true version, the events that are now to be recorded may be regarded as happening in the reign of Amacui, or Amacui Xolotl, as he was styled on his accession.


One of the first acts of the new king, whom we may call Xolotl II., was to remove from his capital at Tenayocan and take up his residence at Quauhyacac, at the foot of the mountains of Tezcuco. Calling [297] his chiefs together, he next proceeded to take formal possession of the country. The ceremony, which consisted in discharging arrows towards the cardinal points, and in burning wreaths of dry grass, and scattering the ashes towards the four quarters, was performed in the royal presence at a great number of places; the spots selected being generally the summits of mountains. He also dispatched four lords, with the necessary forces, in the direction of the four quarters, instructing them to take possession of the country along their route, but not to disturb the Toltecs, except those who offered resistance, who were to be subjected by force. Either the progress made by these four expeditions must have been very slow, or the extent of country traversed by them must have been very great, for we are told that they did not return until four years after their setting-out. The most populous Toltec settlements were found at Culhuacan, Quauhtitenco, Chapultepec, Totoltepec, Tlazalan, and Tepexomaco, all ruled by lords, and at Cholula, where two priests held the reigns of government.[V-17] The name of the ruler at Chapultepec was Xitzin, with his wife Oztaxochitl and a son;[V-18] at Tlazalan was Mitl with his wife Cohuaxochitl,[V-19] and two sons, Pixahua and Axopatl,[V-20] who, instructed by their father, afterwards revived the art of working in metals; at Totoltepec were Nacaxoc, his wife, and his son Xiuhpopoca; at Tepexomaco were Cohuatl, his wife, and his son Quetzalpopoca; at Cholula ruled Ixcax, the issue of the adulterous connection of the pontiff with the high-priestess of the Goddess of Water. All these princes hastened to acknowledge [298] the supremacy of Xolotl II., though without actually paying him homage. Besides this, the four lords who had been dispatched to the four quarters, announced on their return that they had visited a great number of places, among which were Tehuantepec, Guatemala, and Goazacoalco.[V-21]

The invaders had hitherto met with no opposition from the few Toltecs who were left in Anáhuac; their plans had all been effected deliberately and slowly, but surely and without any trouble. Matters having now begun to assume a settled aspect, the Chichimec king at once turned his attention to a partition of lands among the nobles who had accompanied him and assisted his enterprise, and, as is usual in such cases, he dispensed with a free hand that which of right was not his to give. To each lord he assigned a defined section of the territory and a certain number of dependents, with instructions to form a town, to be named after its founder.[V-22] Toltec cities retained their original names, and orders were issued that their inhabitants should not be interfered with, nor intruded upon by Chichimec settlers. One of the most thickly settled districts was that lying north and north-east of Tenayocan, named Chichimecatlalli, or 'land of Chichimecs.' Within its boundaries were the towns of Zacatlan, Quauhchinanco, Totoltepec, Atotonilco. Settlements were also formed on the coast, the whole extent of country appropriated by the Chichimecs being, according to Ixtlilxochitl, over two hundred leagues in circumference.[V-23] It was about this time that Xolotl II., as supreme [299] ruler, assumed the title of Huey Tlatoani Chichimecatl Tecuhtli, 'great lord and king of the Chichimecs.'[V-24]


At this juncture it will be necessary to glance at the state of affairs in Culhuacan.[V-25] It has been related how Topiltzin, when he fled from Anáhuac, left Culhuacan, the most populous of the Toltec settlements at the time of the fall of the empire, to the care of Xiuhtemoc, an old relative, who was to act as a kind of honorary king, or regent, and as such receive obedience and tribute. The Toltec monarch also entrusted to Xiuhtemoc the charge of his son Pochotl, then an infant, with instructions that the young prince should be sent to the village of Quauhtitenco, situated in a forest near the ancient capital, and there brought up in secrecy and in ignorance of his royal birth. Another of Topiltzin's relatives named Cocauhtli, who was married to Ixmixuch and had a son called Acxoquauh, seems also to have assisted Xiuhtemoc in governing Culhuacan, or at least to have had great influence there.[V-26]

For a number of years Xiuhtemoc continued to govern Culhuacan with much wisdom, and the province flourished wonderfully under his prudent administration. He never attempted to claim any other title than 'father,' and was well beloved by his subjects. In the meantime Pochotl, Topiltzin's son, grew to be a young man, of a suitable age to be associated with Xiuhtemoc, according to his father's directions. [300] Xiuhtemoc seems, however, to have been in no hurry to draw the prince from his obscurity. What his object was in this delay, is unknown; it would appear at first sight as if he was scheming for the succession of his own son Nauhyotl, but his patriotic conduct and loyal character seems to render such a cause improbable. At all events Pochotl was still at Quauhtenanco where Xiuhtemoc died.

His son Nauhyotl, a prince well liked by the people, immediately seized the throne, and being of a more ambitious disposition than his father, lost no time in assuming the royal titles and in causing himself to be publicly proclaimed king and crowned with all the rites and ceremonies sacred to the use of the Toltec monarchs, being the third of the name on the throne of Culhuacan. According to Brasseur, two princes, Acxoquauh and Nonohualcatl, were admitted in some way to a share in the government.[V-27]

This bold act of usurpation[V-28] met with little or no outward opposition, notwithstanding it was well known that Pochotl still lived. This was doubtless due to the critical state of affairs in Culhuacan at the time of Xiuhtemoc's death. The Chichimecs were steadily increasing in power; Xolotl seemed disposed to adopt a more decided policy toward the Toltecs than his predecessor, and it might at any moment be necessary to check his encroachments. In this condition of things it was natural that the energetic [301] Nauhyotl, who had been brought up at court under the immediate care and instruction of his politic father, should be a more acceptable and fitting king than Pochotl, who had been brought up in total ignorance of the duties of a prince, and even of his own rights. Nevertheless, there were some who murmured secretly on seeing Topiltzin's son defrauded of his rights, and Nauhyotl being aware of this discontent, determined to set the public mind at rest. He accordingly sent for Pochotl, publicly acknowledged him as the descendant of the Toltec kings, declared his intention of leaving the crown to him at his death, and gave him the hand of his young and beautiful daughter Xochipantzin[V-29] in marriage, all of which proceedings met with general approval both from the people and from Pochotl himself, whose unexpected elevation does not seem to have rendered him very exacting.[V-30]


Favored by the peaceful, non-interfering policy of Xolotl I., the Toltecs at Culhuacan had increased rapidly in wealth and population. Xolotl II. seems to have grown impatient of this rivalry, and to have determined to define the position of Culhuacan and assert his own supremacy in Anáhuac without farther delay. Of the way in which he accomplished this end there is more than one version.

According to Veytia and others, he informed Nauhyotl that by right of the cession of the land of Anáhuac made to the monarch of Amaquemecan by Topiltzin,[V-31] he should require him to do homage and pay a small tribute to the Chichimec empire in recognition of its supremacy; this done, he would recognize [302] him as king of the Toltecs. To this demand Nauhyotl answered haughtily that Toltec kings acknowledged no superiors but the gods, and paid tribute to no earthly sovereign. Xolotl I., he added, had been permitted to enter Anáhuac and people it, because he had done so peaceably. Topiltzin's cession was invalid, and he, Nauhyotl, merely governed during the minority of the rightful heir of Pochotl, now deceased, and had no power to dispose of any rights to the land.[V-32]

Such a reply could have but one effect on the fierce Chichimec. He resolved to crush his rival at once before he became too strong, and for this purpose gave orders to Nopaltzin to advance without delay against Culhuacan. In the meantime Nauhyotl was not idle. A number of canoes were brought out to defend the water-line, and he himself issued forth at the head of a force which, though greatly inferior to the Chichimec army in point of numbers, attacked the enemy without hesitation, and succeeded in maintaining the field valorously until evening. Gradually, however, Nopaltzin's numbers began to tell, until at length the Toltecs were routed. The Chichimecs then entered Culhuacan without difficulty, despite its advantageous position. The carnage was immediately suspended and no disorder allowed. The Toltecs had suffered great loss, and among the slain was Nauhyotl, whose death was deeply deplored by his subjects and regretted by the conquerors.


Nopaltzin gave orders that the dead king should be buried with all the usual honors, and after leaving a garrison in the town, departed to carry the news of his success to his father. This battle was the first [303] in which the Chichimecs had engaged since their arrival in Anáhuac, and Nopaltzin was much praised for its successful issue by Xolotl. The Chichimec emperor now proceeded in person to Culhuacan, to assure the inhabitants of his good will and to receive their homage. Pochotl's first-born, Achitometl, then only five years of age, was solemnly proclaimed king, with the condition that he should pay yearly a small tribute in fish to the Chichimec government. After this amicable arrangement, the intercourse between the two nations became daily stronger, to the no small benefit of the Chichimecs.[V-33]

Torquemada gives another account of the events which led to the war. Itzmitl, who succeeded to the lordship of Coatlichan on the death of his father Tzontecoma, had a son named Huetzin by Malinalxochitl, daughter of Cozcaquauhtli of Mamalihuasco,[V-34] for whom he was anxious to secure a temporary regency until he should in natural course succeed to the government of Coatlichan. Relying on a promise made by Xolotl I. to Tzontecoma, Itzmitl asked Xolotl II. to award his son a lordship, and pointed to Culhuacan as available since it was an unappropriated Toltec settlement, to which he had a certain right from the marriage of Tzontecoma with a member of its royal family. Xolotl informed Achitometl, a grandson of Nauhyotl, of his wish that Huetzin should stay with the king of Culhuacan until he succeeded to his own inheritance.[V-35] Achitometl, pretending to favor the project, immediately sent information to Nauhyotl, who at once took steps to secure himself. Xolotl paid a visit to Culhuacan to make formal [304] arrangements for the reception of his protégé, and was received with the most friendly assurances. But when Huetzin arrived, after the departure of Xolotl, an armed force opposed his entrance, and he precipitately retreated. This breach of faith caused a war, which resulted in the death of Nauhyotl, and the elevation of Huetzin to the throne.[V-36]

Brasseur's relation of these events, partly derived from the manuscripts to which he had access, differs from the others in some particulars, though it generally agrees with Torquemada's account. According to this writer, Huetzin, who, it is here stated, was Pochotl's grandson on the mother's side,[V-37] coveted and endeavored to obtain the crown of Culhuacan prior to the arrangement made between his father and Xolotl. To gain this end he had, on account of his descent, the assistance of the Acolhuas, who were at all times disposed to reëstablish the original Toltec dynasty, and the sympathy of Xolotl II. and his son Nopaltzin, who were of course inclined to favor any scheme that would cripple Nauhyotl. The king of Culhuacan defeated Huetzin's plans for the time, however, by proclaiming Achitometl—Pochotl's eldest son, by the princess Xochipantzin, and consequently Nauhyotl's grandson—as his successor, thus restoring the ancient dynasty, and doing away with the pretext under which the pretender had won so much sympathy. It seems that the claims of Huetzin met with no farther notice until the death of Quauhtexpetlatl, a son of Nauhyotl II., who had accompanied his father into exile, and after his death had returned to Culhuacan and been [305] associated with Nauhyotl III., the present king. Upon the death of this prince, which occurred in 1129, Xolotl entered into an agreement with the lord of Coatlichan to procure for Huetzin, the son of the latter, Quauhtexpetlatl's share in the government of Culhuacan. Hence followed the struggle, detailed by Torquemada, which resulted in Huetzin's elevation to the throne he had so long coveted.[V-38]


A digression is necessary at this point, in order to refer to the traditional arrival in Anáhuac of the Nahuatlaca tribes, which occurred at irregular intervals during a period extending from the early years of the Chichimec occupation down to, and a little beyond, the events recorded above.


The original home of the Nahuatlacas was Aztlan, the location of which has been the subject of much discussion.[V-39] The causes that led to their exodus [306] from that country can only be conjectured;[V-40] but they may be supposed, however, to have been driven out by their enemies, for Aztlan is described as a land too fair and bounteous to be left willingly in the mere hope of finding a better.[V-41] The native tradition relates that a bird was heard for several days constantly repeating the word tihui, tihui, meaning 'let us go,' 'let us go.' This, Huitziton, foremost and wisest among the Nahuatlaca chiefs, took to be a message from the gods directing the people to seek a new home. In making a declaration of such moment he needed the support of another influential man. He accordingly persuaded another chief called Tecpatzin, who at first seemed sceptical, that the [307] bird's note was nothing less than a divine message, and the two announced it as such to the people.[V-42]

Whether all the numerous tribes into which the Nahuatlacas were divided, left Aztlan at the same time, or, if not, in what order they left, it is impossible to tell. It seems, however, that after several years' wandering, a number of them were together at a place called Chicomoztoc, the famous 'seven caves.'[V-43] The little that is known of their wanderings before reaching this point will be found in the next chapter, in connection with the Aztec migration.

The list of tribes settled at Chicomoztoc at this time comprises only seven according to most authors. They are named for the most part after the locality in which they subsequently settled in and about Anáhuac, and are as follows: the Xochimilcas, Chalcas, Tepanecs, Acolhuas, Tlahuicas, Tlascaltecs, and Aztecs or Mexicans; to which some writers add the Tarascos, Matlaltzincas, Malinalcas, Cholultecs, Huexotzincas, Cuitlahuacs, Mizquicas, and Cohuixcas.[V-44] Some authors [308] do not include the Acolhuas and Tepanecs; no importance is, however, to be attached to the traditional tribal divisions of the invading hordes before they settled in Anáhuac.

It was at Chicomoztoc that the separation of the Aztecs from the rest of the Nahuatlacas took place. The tradition relates that while the people were seated beneath a great tree partaking of a meal, a terrible noise was suddenly heard to issue from the summit of the tree; the idol which stood upon the altar at its foot then called the chiefs of the Aztec tribe aside and commanded them to order the other tribes to depart in advance, leaving the Aztecs at Chicomoztoc. The number of tribes that were thus sent in advance is not known; Torquemada says eight, Acosta and Duran say six,[V-45] and others greater or smaller numbers.


From the time of the separation we hear little more of the Nahuatlaca tribes until we find them coming into Anáhuac and settling in various parts of the country. In this manner we hear of the Xochimilcas, 'cultivators of flowers,' coming into the valley and occupying a district south of Tezcuco Lake, where [309] they founded Xochimilco; but all we know of their former history is that they left Aquilazco, their original home, which we may suppose to have been a district of Aztlan, under a chief named Huetzalin,[V-46] who, dying on the journey, was succeeded by Acatonal, who conducted the tribe as far as the ruined city of Tollan and there died, after having ruled twenty-three years. The tribe then proceeded under the conduct of Tlahuil Tecuhtli[V-47] to the Culhuacan territory and attempted to settle there, one year after the accession of Huetzin.[V-48] But the people of Culhuacan were suspicious of the new comers and drove them to the other side of the lake to a place called Teyahualco, at the same time forbidding them to settle on any part of the lands belonging to the capital. For some years the Xochimilcas remained quietly at Teyahualco, but in 1141 Tlahuil Tecuhtli pounced suddenly upon Culhuacan, and before its defenders could gain their arms he penetrated into the heart of the city and sacked it remorselessly. The inhabitants soon rallied, however, and not only drove the marauders out of the city, but pursued them as far as the site of the ancient city of Ocopetlayuca. Here Tlahuil Tecuhtli resolved to establish himself and, with the permission of the king of Culhuacan, he forthwith founded the city of Xochimilco, which subsequently became one of the principal places in Anáhuac.[V-49] The Chalcas settled on the east side of the lake of Chalco and founded a number of towns of [310] which the principal was Chalco. For the Tlahuicas no room could be found about the lake; they therefore proceeded to a district south of Mexico, where before long a number of settlements rose around their capital Quauhnahuac.[V-50] Of the other tribes included by some authors among the Nahuatlacas, we find the Tarascos settled in Michoacan, the Matlaltzincas in the province of that name, and extending towards Michoacan; the Malinalcas in the province of Malinalco; the Cuitlahuacs in the province of Cuitlahuac; the Mizquicas in Mizquic; the Cohuixcas in Guerrero.[V-51]


The Tepanecs and Acolhuas become prominent in the affairs of Anáhuac at this period, that is, during the reign of the Chichimec emperor Xolotl II. They were among the numerous bands that contributed to the overthrow of the Toltec empire, and are classed by several writers among the Nahuatlaca tribes.[V-52] One of their chiefs, Tzontecoma of Coatlichan, was, as we have seen, the grandfather of Huetzin, the present king of Culhuacan. The event that brings them into prominent notice at this time is their tendering allegiance to Xolotl II. In doing this they claimed descent from the Citin,[V-53] illustrious for nobility of race and for heroic deeds. According to many of the Spanish writers the Otomís [311] came into Anáhuac and tendered their allegiance to Xolotl II. in company with the Acolhuas and Tepanecs. We have already seen, however, that the Otomís were one of the most ancient nations of Anáhuac, and were there long before the Toltecs; this reputed entry of theirs was perhaps nothing more than their coming in from the mountains and adopting, to a certain extent, a civilized life.[V-54] The story goes that Xolotl II. and his son Nopaltzin were flattered by the propositions of these powerful chiefs and entertained their guests right royally. Nor did the Chichimec monarch delay to confer upon the three principal chiefs substantial marks of his favor and consideration. To the lord Acolhua with the Tepanecs he assigned several districts south of Tenayocan, with Azcapuzalco for a capital, and gave him the hand of his eldest daughter, Cuetlaxochitl, in marriage; the lord of the Otomís received the emperor's second daughter, and a district four or five leagues north of Azcapuzalco, with Xaltocan for its capital; Tzontecoma, the third chief, a young man, was awarded for the Acolhua home a district one league south of Tezcuco, with Coatlichan for a capital, and, as Xolotl had no more daughters, he was given for a wife the princess next in rank.[V-55] It was in compensation for this inferior marriage that Xolotl afterwards obtained the throne of Culhuacan for Tzontecoma's grandson, Huetzin, according to Torquemada's account given on a preceding page. The three marriages [312] were celebrated at Tenayocan with extraordinary pomp, and were followed by a succession of public games, gladiatorial exhibitions, and amusements of all sorts, which lasted sixty days.

It is difficult to say in what relation the Acolhua and Tepanec princes stood towards the Chichimec emperor. According to most of the Spanish authorities, they swore allegiance to Xolotl, and took rank as the first vassals of the empire, though they were exempted from payment of tribute. It is Brasseur's opinion, however, that this statement must not be accepted too literally. Nothing was more jealously guarded by all these peoples than their independence and sovereign rights in the land they occupied. At the same time, the right of first occupation being held sacred by them, it was natural that the tribes that came in after the Chichimecs, should address themselves to Xolotl, before attempting any formal settlement. The act of the new tribes was, therefore, an observance of international etiquette rather than an acknowledgment of vassalage.[V-56]


The settlement of the Acolhuas and Tepanecs in Anáhuac resulted in an improved order of things, and in the rapid advance of culture throughout the country. Their comparatively high state of civilization was not slow to impart itself to the ruder Chichimecs, who were proud to ally themselves by marriage to the polished strangers, and eager to emulate their refinement. For the same reasons the name Acolhua soon came to designate the Chichimecs of the capital and surrounding districts. Nor was it the people alone who received this impulse from the new-comers. Xolotl began to perceive that if he wished to establish a permanent and hereditary monarchy it would be necessary to cure his fierce nobles of their nomadic tastes and habits by giving them possessions, and thus making it to their interest to lead an orderly and settled life. To this end he [313] created a number of fiefs, and distributed them among his lords, according to their rank and quality. Those lying nearest to the centre of the empire were granted to the princes of the royal family, or to chiefs of undoubted loyalty; while to the more turbulent nobles distant provinces were assigned.[V-57]

For some time after the accession of Huetzin to the throne of Culhuacan, where, the reader will recollect, he had been placed by Xolotl II. after the defeat and death of Nauhyotl, it seems that Nonohualcatl, Nauhyotl's eldest son,[V-58] and Ameyal, Pochotl's eldest son by Nauhyotl's daughter, were permitted to retain their position as heirs to the throne which they had enjoyed during the reign of the late king. But this did not last very long; the ruse by which Ameyal had endeavored to frustrate Xolotl's designs upon the throne of Culhuacan was not forgotten, and before many months had elapsed the young prince was despoiled of his dignities and cast into prison, where he was kept closely confined for several years.

Although the Toltec element in Anáhuac was growing weaker every year, and threatened to totally disappear in a short time, yet what little there was left of it possessed great importance in the eyes of Xolotl II. The Chichimec emperor, partly perhaps from motives of pride, partly because he saw that it would tend to ensure his son's succession, desired nothing so much as to ally his family by blood with the ancient Toltec dynasty. With this end in view, the old monarch had for some time been looking about for a suitable bride for his son Nopaltzin. At length the lady was found in the person of Azcatlxochitl, sister of Ameyal, and therefore daughter of Pochotl, the son of Topiltzin, the last Toltec king. This princess, who was then about twenty-five years of age, was possessed of singular beauty and rare [314] accomplishments, and was withal a model of modesty. Her father being dead, and her brother in captivity, she lived in seclusion with her mother at Tlaximaloyan, a town on the frontier of Michoacan. Whatever dislike the Chichimec nobles may at first have had for this alliance, was speedily overcome; the hand of the Toltec princess was formally demanded and given, and soon afterwards the marriage was celebrated with great magnificence. By this union Nopaltzin had three sons, Tlotzin Pochotl,[V-59] who subsequently succeeded his father as Chichimec emperor, Huizaquen Tochin Tecuhtli, and Coxanatzin Atencatl.[V-60] When these came of age, their father obtained Tlazatlan from Xolotl for the eldest son to rule, until he should succeed to the imperial throne; for the second son he obtained a grant of Zacatlan, and for the third Tenamitec. Before departing to his fief, Tlotzin was married to Tocpacxochitzin, daughter of the lord of Quahuatlapal, one of the great chiefs that came with Xolotl from Amaquemecan.[V-61]

Brasseur states that the tributes of the seigniory of Oztoticpac, in the province of Chalco, were granted to Tlotzin at his birth,[V-62] and there the prince [315] usually resided during his youth, under the able instruction of a noble Toltec named Tecpoyo Acauhtli, who, it is said, accompanied his pupil to Tlazatlan, whither he went after his marriage, and continued to educate him there.[V-63] It was at this latter place that Tlotzin's son Quinantzin, who afterwards became emperor, was born.


About this time Xolotl's peace was much disturbed by a conspiracy which nearly put an end to his life. It seems that for a long time a number of powerful Chichimec nobles had regarded with growing disfavor the civilization which the emperor, his son, and his grandson, were so anxious to advance, though whether this was their only reason for conspiring against the old monarch's life is not clear. Of course any plot which tended to weaken the Chichimec empire called for the sympathy of the people of Culhuacan and the Toltecs generally throughout the country,[V-64] and thus the discontented faction grew to be quite formidable. At first the conspirators confined themselves to grumbling, and made no active demonstration; but as time went on and the aged emperor showed no signs of failing, their impatience for his death grew unbearable, and finally they deliberately plotted his assassination.

During the later years of his life Xolotl left the government almost entirely in the hands of his son Nopaltzin, and passed the greater part of his time in the royal gardens at Tezcuco. He had several times expressed a wish to have an additional supply of water brought into these grounds, and it was in gratifying his desire that the traitors attempted to take his life. The new supply having been introduced from a neighboring mountain stream, the conspirators waited until a time when the emperor was supposed to be reposing in a low-lying part of the gardens, and then suddenly breaking down a dam which had been [316] constructed for the purpose, they let the water overflow the grounds. But their design was happily frustrated. It happened that Xolotl had not lain down in the usual spot, but had sought an elevation, where the flood could not reach him. From his conduct it would seem that he had been apprised of the plot, for instead of being disconcerted, he made merry over the disaster, saying: "I have long been convinced of the love of my subjects; but I now perceive that they love me even more than I imagined; I wished to increase the supply of water for my gardens, and, behold, they even exceed my wishes; therefore I will commemorate their devotion with feasts." And he accordingly gave orders that the next few days should be devoted to public rejoicing, to the great confusion of his enemies. But the old monarch's heart was sore within him, nevertheless, and the treachery of his subjects weighed heavily upon him.[V-65]

But the disaffection that had given rise to this iniquitous plot was not quelled by its failure, and received a new impulse from a love-quarrel which led to serious consequences. Before narrating this event, it should be stated that Ameyal, henceforth known as Achitometl,[V-66] had been released from captivity, probably through the influence of his sister, Nopaltzin's wife, and that Nonohualcatl[V-67] had succeeded to the throne of Culhuacan by reason of Huetzin's falling heir to his father's seigniory of Coatlichan.[V-68]


Now, Achitometl had a daughter named Atotoztli, whose exceeding beauty and high rank brought countless admirers to her feet. Most favored among these, or most daring, it is not clear [317] which, was Yacanex,[V-69] lord of Tepetlaoztoc, and vassal of Huetzin. This noble presented himself before Achitometl, and imperiously demanded his daughter's hand. Angered at his insolence, the Culhua prince responded that Atotoztli was promised to Huetzin, but that if she were not he could never entertain a request made in such a manner. Yacanex, furious at this rebuff, but not in a position to proceed to extremes at the moment, returned to his fief and set about stirring up a rebellion against his rival and suzerain, Huetzin. His own people rose to a man at his call, and he was soon joined by several powerful neighboring chiefs.[V-70] According to Brasseur, Yacanex, having gathered his forces, marched to Culhuacan, and there repeated his demand to Achitometl; but that prince reminded the rebellious noble of his promise to Huetzin, and declared his determination to yield his daughter's hand to no one else. Upon this Yacanex returned, with threats, to Tepetlaoztoc.[V-71] There his army was swelled by a number of malcontents, among whom were two of Huetzin's sons, who thought themselves robbed of their inheritance, because their father had left the crown of Culhuacan to Nonohualcatl when he succeeded his father at Coatlichan. The provinces of Otompan and Tezcuco also broke out into open revolt, and before long there [318] was danger that the whole of Anáhuac would be involved in war.

Xolotl and Nopaltzin now began to feel seriously alarmed. Tochin Tecuhtli, who, as we have seen, had been previously disgraced,[V-72] and who had therefore joined the rebels, was secretly sent for, and induced by fair promises to desert Yacanex and take command of the imperial troops. He immediately proceeded to join Huetzin, and the two with their united forces then marched against the rebels. But Yacanex had taken up an unassailable position in the mountains, and for some months could not be drawn into an engagement. At length, his strength being greatly increased by the numbers that flocked to his standard, he decided to risk a battle and descended into the plain. The engagement, which lasted an entire day and was attended with great loss on both sides, ended in the rout and almost total annihilation of the rebels. Yacanex, with his ally Ocotox and a small remnant of his followers, escaped to the mountains in the east; and Huetzin's two sons[V-73] fled to Huexotzinco.[V-74]


At this time Nopaltzin, with his son Tlotzin and his grandson Quinantzin, then about nine or ten years old, were sojourning in the forest of Xolotl, near Tezcuco. Ocotox, who had escaped with Yacanex, conceived the bold idea of capturing this royal party. But the princes were secretly informed of the plot, and, gathering what men they could, they rushed suddenly upon the concealed enemy with such fury that but few escaped. Quinantzin, though so young, is said to have been foremost in the melée and to have fought so valorously that Xolotl rewarded him with [319] the lordship of Tezcuco, and ceded him its revenues.[V-75] Tochin Tecuhtli was well rewarded for his services; he received in marriage the hand of Tomiyauh, daughter or grand-daughter of Upantzin, king of Xaltocan, and was made lord of the seigniory of Huexotla, which comprised the towns of Teotihuacan and Otompan; Huetzin returned to Coatlichan and there married the Helen of the war, Atotoztli, daughter of Achitometl.[V-76] Thus was this rebellion brought to an end in the year 1151.[V-77]

A few years after these events Xolotl II. expired at Tenayocan in the arms of his son Nopaltzin, to whom he left the crown, exhorting him to maintain peace in the empire if possible.[V-78]

After the body of the late emperor had been interred with the customary ceremonies, Nopaltzin was crowned Chichimecatl Tecuhtli, and formally received the homage of his vassals. The coronation fêtes were on a scale of unusual magnificence, and lasted forty days.[V-79]

In spite of the wishes of the late emperor, Nopaltzin's reign was anything but a peaceful one. Anáhuac was at this time divided into a great number of states, many of which had their peculiar languages, [320] manners, and customs. The principal of these divisions were Tenayocan, Coatlichan, Azcapuzalco, Xaltocan, Quauhtitlan, Huexotla, and Culhuacan. Each of these communities was exceedingly watchful of its own interests and regarded all the others with more or less jealousy. In the early part of his reign the people of Tulancingo rebelled, and Nopaltzin marched in person to subdue them; it is doubtful, however, if he would have succeeded had not Tlotzin opportunely come to his aid, when, after a campaign of nineteen days, victory was obtained.[V-80] On another occasion, Aculhua, King of Azcapuzalco, usurped the lands of Chalchiuhcua, lord of Tepotzotlan, at a time when Nopaltzin was too busy to prevent it.

In 1171 Nonohualcatl, king of Culhuacan, died and was succeeded by Achitometl, or Ameyal.[V-81] This prince, whose life had been such an eventful one, labored hard to advance civilization, and during his life the city of Culhuacan made great progress. But his reign was a short one, and he had been on the throne but a few years, when he died, and was succeeded by his son Icxochitlanex.

Nopaltzin, following the example set by his father, did all in his power to further Toltec culture. Great attention was paid to agriculture; masters were appointed in the several towns to teach the various arts, new laws were made and old ones revised, and civilization began to assume a higher phase than it had hitherto done since the fall of the Toltec empire.



Migration of the Aztecs—Nations of Anáhuac at Beginning of the Thirteenth Century—The Aztecs submit to the Tepanecs—Reign of the Emperor Tlotzin—Quinantzin, King of Tezcuco and Chichimec Emperor—Transfer of the Capital—Tenancacaltzin usurps the Imperial Throne at Tenayocan—The Usurper defeated by Tepanecs and Mexicans—Acolnahuacatl proclaimed Emperor—Quinantzin's Victories—Battle at Poyauhtlan—Quinantzin again Emperor—Toltec Institutions at Tezcuco—Events at Culhuacan—Mexicans driven from Chapultepec—Alliance between Mexicans and Culhuas—Religious Strife—Foundation of Mexico—Reign of the Emperor Techotl—Political Changes—Ruin of the Culhua Power—Tezozomoc, King of Azcapuzalco—Separation of Mexicans and Tlatelulcas—Acamapichtli II., King of Mexico—Quaquauhpitzahuac, King of Tlatelulco.

The last of the so-called foreign tribes that came into notice in Anáhuac, from out the confusion that followed the downfall of the Toltecs, was the Aztec, or Mexican, which settled at Chapultepec in the last years of the twelfth century.[VI-1] According to their traditions they set out on their migration from Aztlan together with the Nahuatlaca tribes, whose arrival has already been noticed; but were left behind by those tribes at Chicomoztoc, one of their first stopping-places. The migration of the Aztecs [322] from Chicomoztoc is described much more fully than that of the tribes that preceded them; but in the details of this journey, so far as dates, names, and events are concerned, the traditions are inextricably confused. I have already expressed my opinion that some of these traditions may refer very vaguely to the pre-Toltec events in Nahua history, but that they chiefly refer to the movements of the Nahua, or Chichimec, tribes which occupied the Toltec provinces during the continuance of the empire, and which after a long struggle became powerful in and about the Valley of Mexico. We have no means of determining in a manner at all satisfactory whether Aztlan and Chicomoztoc were in Central America or in the region of Zacatecas and Jalisco; nor indeed of proving that they were not in Alaska, New Mexico, or on the Mississippi, although there is absolutely no evidence in favor of the latter locations; but we know at least that all the halting-places of the migrating tribes after Chicomoztoc were in the immediate vicinity of Anáhuac. The record as a whole is exactly what might be expected, were the traditions of half a dozen kindred bands respecting their wanderings about the central plateau, and efforts to establish themselves in permanent homes, united in one consecutive narrative; and I have little doubt that such was substantially the process by which the Spanish version of the Aztec migration was formed. Whatever the cause of the confusion that reigns in that version, it is utterly useless to attempt its clearing-up; and I dispose of the whole matter by simply presenting in a note the dates and successive halting-places attributed to this migration by the principal authorities; the opinions of these authorities respecting the location of Aztlan and Chicomoztoc have been previously given.[VI-2]



Some of the events and circumstances connected with the migration, however, must be noticed, although there is little agreement as to the place or date of their occurrence. At Aztlan the Aztecs are said to have crossed each year a great river or channel to Teo-Culhuacan, to make sacrifices in honor of [324] the god Tetzauh. Prompted by the cry of a bird, as has already been related, they left their home under command of Huitziton, or Huitzilopochtli, probably identical with Mecitl, or Mexi, whence was derived their name of Mexicas, or Mexicans. They seem to have left Aztlan about 1090, and to have settled in [325] Chicomoztoc, after several halts, in 1116.[VI-3] Chicomoztoc, to which Brasseur adds the name Quinehuayan, was also on the bank of a river, and the Aztecs continued the profession of boatmen which they had practiced at Aztlan, being subject to a tyrannical monarch to whom the name of Montezuma is applied by some of the traditions. After the other Nahuatlaca tribes had separated themselves from the Aztecs by divine command, the leader, or high-priest, or god,—Huitzilopochtli—for the exact epoch of his death and deification it is impossible to determine—informed the latter that he had selected them as his peculiar people, for whom he destined a glorious future. He ordered them to abandon the name of Aztecs and adopt that of Mexicas, and to wear upon their forehead and ears a patch of gum and feathers, as a distinguishing mark, presenting them at the same time with arrows and a net as insignia.[VI-4] This separation at Chicomoztoc, or the Seven Caves, presents strong analogies to that which took place in Tulan Zuiva; it is not impossible that the events related are identical, the earlier portions of this tradition referring vaguely back to the primitive epochs of Nahua history, while the later portions relate the events which followed the Toltec destruction. After the separation, and while the Aztecs were yet at Chicomoztoc,[VI-5] an event occurred to which is traditionally referred the origin of the differences that in later years divided this people into two rival parties, the Mexicans and Tlatelulcas. Two small bundles mysteriously appeared among them one day when all were assembled; the first opened contained an emerald of extraordinary size and beauty, for the possession of which a quarrel ensued. The second bundle proved to contain nothing [326] more attractive than a few common sticks, and the party into whose possession it fell deemed themselves most unfortunate, until Huitziton made known to them a novel process of producing fire by rubbing two sticks together.[VI-6] According to Brasseur's authorities one of the princes of Chicomoztoc, named Chalchiuh Tlatonac, was induced to depart with the Aztecs, assuming a rank second only to that of the high-priest Huitziton. It is also claimed that certain Toltec nobles with their followers, who had been driven from Chapultepec by the Chichimecs, joined their fortunes with those of the Aztecs at an early period of their migration, perhaps, however, before they left Aztlan.[VI-7]


After leaving Chicomoztoc, and while in Michoacan according to most authorities, although by some of them Huitzilopochtli is spoken of as a god long before, the aged high-priest Huitziton died or disappeared suddenly during the night. It is hinted that he was foully disposed of by the priesthood, through jealousy of his popularity and power; but whether responsible or not for his death, the priests resolved to take advantage of it to advance their own interests. Consequently the next morning a report was circulated that Huitziton had been called to take his place among the gods with the great Tetzauh, or Tezcatlipoca, who on his arrival had addressed to him the following craftily prepared speech: "Welcome brave warrior, and thanks for having so well served me and governed my people. It is time that thou take thy rest among the gods; return, then, to thy sons the priests and tell them not to be afflicted at thy absence; for although they may no longer behold thee, thou wilt not cease to be in their midst to guide and rule them from on high. For I will [327] cause thy flesh to be consumed, that thy skull and bones may remain to thy sons as a consolation, that they may consult thee respecting the routes they have to follow and in all the affairs of government, and that thou mayest direct them and show unto them the land which I have chosen for them, where they will have a long and prosperous empire." Brasseur adds to the speech, "where they shall find a nopal growing alone on a rock in the midst of the waters, and on this nopal an eagle holding a serpent in his claws, there they are to halt, there will be the seat of their empire, there will my temple be built," although this is not given by Veytia or Torquemada, the authorities referred to by the abbé. The god also gave directions that the bones of Huitzilopochtli should be carried in an urn by the priests on their migration, or according to some authorities that an idol should be made and carried in an ark on the shoulders of four priests. The four priests were of course designated for the important position of teomama, or 'god-bearers,' who were to constitute the medium through which the idol should make known his commands to the people. The people dared make no opposition to the will of their god, and the plans of the crafty priests were most successfully carried out.

But an episode that is related of this period, indicates that the plots of the priests were perfectly comprehended by at least one person. This was Malinalxochitl, the sister, friend, or mistress of Huitziton, a brave princess who rendered great aid to the high-priest against the machinations of his foes. She was charged, however, probably by the hostile priests, with the possession of the black art. She could kill with a glance, turn the course of rivers, and transform herself into any form at will. After the death of Huitziton the priests, whose tricks she very likely tried to expose, resorted to their new divinity to rid themselves of Malinalxochitl. The [328] idol from its ark was made to issue an order that the sorceress should be abandoned while asleep. With her followers she went to Mt Texcaltepec, where she afterwards founded the town of Malinalco, and bore a son named Copil, or Cohuitl, to whom she entrusted her revenge on the Mexicans.[VI-8]

While they were yet in Michoacan, on the banks of Lake Patzcuaro, a trouble is said to have occurred which resulted in the separation of the Tarascos from the Aztecs, and their settlement in this region. The tale, to which very little importance is to be attached, from the fact that the Tarascan language was different from the Aztec, is as follows: A number of men and women were bathing together, when the rest, at the instigation of the priests, took their clothing and departed. The bathers were obliged to improvise a dress, which pleased them so much that they retained it ever after in preference to the maxtli; but they never forgave the Aztecs, resolved to remain where they were, and even changed their language that they might have nothing in common with that people. Camargo's version is that in crossing a river a part of the travelers used their maxtlis to fasten together their rafts, and were forced to borrow the women's huipiles to cover their nakedness; and Veytia adds that so imperfectly did these garments perform their office that the rest of the tribe, shocked at the appearance of their companions, abandoned them in disgust, calling them Tarascos from a circumstance that has been already given.[VI-9]



Quauhtlequetzqui seems to have been the priest who of the four assumed the highest rank after the death of Huitziton; and coming under his command or that of their idol through him expressed, to Coatepec in the vicinity of Tollan, the Mexicans, at the order of their god, stopped the current of the river so as to form a kind of lake surrounding the mountain. Their stay in this place was one of great prosperity and increase in population and wealth; here they placed the sacred ark in a grand temple; and here they were taught to make balls of india-rubber and initiated by the gods into the mysteries of the tlachtli, or game of ball, which afterward became their national diversion.[VI-10] But the will of Huitzilopochtli was made known that this fair land must be abandoned, and their wanderings recommenced. The people murmured and showed signs of revolt, but the god appeared before them in so frightful an aspect as to fill them with terror; some of the malcontents were found dead near the temple with their hearts cut out; the dam was broken, thus destroying the great charm of their new home; and finally the will of the leader was obeyed, though not apparently until several revolting chiefs with their followers had separated themselves from the main body.[VI-11]

At Tzompanco, now Zumpango on the northern lake, the Mexicans—not perhaps the main body, judging from the names given to the leaders—were most kindly received, possibly as allies in the wars waged by Tochpanecatl, the lord of that city. This lord's son Ilhuicatl married Tlacapantzin, a Mexican girl, and, as Brasseur states, the same lord gave his daughter Tlaquilxochitl as a wife to Tozcuecuex, the [330] Aztec leader, at the same time giving to the Mexicans through her the possession of Tizayocan their next halting-place. From one of these marriages sprung Huitzilihuitl, who afterwards became, according to many authors, the first king, or ruler, of the Mexicans.[VI-12]

Several other intermarriages with tribes in Anáhuac are reported, and also some hostilities during the subsequent frequent changes of residence, but no important events are definitely reported before the arrival and settlement at Chapultepec in 1194 as already stated, although there is but little agreement in the dates, many traditions assigning the arrival to a much later period. As has been before stated, these traditions refer to different bands, and the disagreement in dates would be natural even if the chronology of the records had been correctly interpreted by the Spanish writers, which is not probable. There can be little doubt of the comparative accuracy of Brasseur's dates.


At this period Nopaltzin was still on the throne of Tenayocan, but was succeeded in 1211 by Tlotzin Pochotl.[VI-13] Acolnahuacatl, called by the Spanish writers Acolhua II., reigned over the Tepanecs at Azcapuzalco; Culhuacan was governed successively after Achitometl by Icxochitlanex, Quahuitonal, Mazatzin, Cuetzal, Chalchiuh Tlatonac II., Tziuhtecatl, Xihuiltemoc, and Coxcoxtli, down to about the end of the thirteenth century; the Teo-Chichimecs, one of the invading bands that have so vaguely appeared in preceding annals together with the Nahuatlaca tribes, were settled at Poyauhtlan in the vicinity of Tezcuco, a source of great uneasiness to all the nations, although nominally friends of the emperor [331] Tlotzin; and Quinantzin, the son of Tlotzin, was chief lord at Tezcuco and heir to the imperial throne.[VI-14] The Aztecs meantime fortified their naturally strong position at Chapultepec, and in 2 Acatl, 1195, celebrated the completion of their cycle.[VI-15] Huitzilihuitl, in spite of the sacerdotal opposition was made chief, or as some say, king; the scattered Mexican bands, and even the main body of the Mexicans under the high priest Quauhtlequetzqui, or his successor of the same name, came to join those of Chapultepec; and the colony began to assume some importance in the eyes of the surrounding monarchs. The king of Azcapuzalco sought to make the Mexicans his vassals, desiring their aid as warriors, but Huitzilihuitl proudly refused to pay tribute. Their first war, something over thirty years after their arrival, was with Xaltocan, against which province they had aided the lord of Zumpango when first they entered the valley. The armies of Xaltocan, under Huixton, attacked and defeated the Aztecs near Chapultepec, forcing them to retreat within their fortifications, acting probably by the encouragement of the Tepanecs.[VI-16] According to Brasseur's authorities, the Tepanecs again proposed an alliance, and on refusal, marched with their own army, and soldiers from other nations, against Chapultepec, and at last forced Huitzilihuitl to submit to the payment of tribute.[VI-17] Before yielding, however, the Mexican chief sent ambassadors to Quinantzin at Tezcuco, offering him the [332] allegiance of his people and asking aid; but the Tezcucan lord was not in condition to help them, and advised them to submit temporarily to Acolnahuacatl,[VI-18] which they did about 1240.


The reign of Tlotzin, the Chichimec emperor, was, for the most part, one of great prosperity, although his enemies were constantly on the watch for an opportunity to overthrow his power. He seems to have used his influence against a tendency exhibited by the Chichimecs to a rudeness of manners, and independence of all control, which threatened, in his opinion, a relapse into comparative barbarism. He favored rather the elegance of Toltec manners, and the strictness of Toltec discipline. In his efforts for reform he was seconded, or even excelled, by his son, Quinantzin, lord of Tezcuco. Ixtlilxochitl tells us that Tlotzin, soon after his ascension, made a long tour of inspection through his territory, correcting abuses and enforcing the laws, but exciting thereby the enmity of some vassal lords. Tenayocan was properly the Chichimec capital, but the emperor spent much of his time at Tezcuco, which had become one of the finest cities in Anáhuac. For the embellishment of this city, many Toltecs are said to have been called in from various towns, by the orders of Quinantzin. Some of the officers placed in charge of the parks and public works of Tezcuco, particularly Icuex and Ocotox, abused their trust, were banished, headed revolts, and were defeated by Quinantzin. About this time Tlotzin formed a new monarchy at Tezcuco, abdicating his own rights there and giving the crown to his son, Quinantzin. Another son, Tlacateotzin, was given the province of Tlazalan, subject to the crown of Tezcuco, and still other sons, Tochintecuhtli and Xiuhquetzaltzin, were made by Tlotzin, rulers of Huexotzinco and Tlascala, indicating [333] that the eastern plateau was at this time a part of the empire, though it is not probable that a very strict allegiance was enforced. As monarch, Quinantzin, from his royal palace of Oztoticpac, labored more earnestly and successfully than before for a return to the old Toltec civilization, thus exciting the opposition of many Chichimec nobles, and preparing the way for future disasters. Tlotzin became, at last, so fond of his son's beautiful home, that he practically abandoned Tenayocan, appointing Tenancacaltzin, probably his brother, to rule in his stead. The newly appointed lieutenant had no fondness for Toltec reform, became secretly the chief of the opposition to the emperor, and only awaited an opportunity to declare his independence. Tlotzin Pochotl, at last, after an illness whose chief feature is said to have been a profound melancholy, was carried, at his request, to Tenayocan, where he died in 1246, after appointing Quinantzin as his heir. His funeral was accompanied with great pomp and display; all the kings of Anáhuac, both friends and foes, assisting in the ceremonies, and eulogizing his character.[VI-19]

Taking the title of Chichimecatl Tecuhtli, or Emperor of the Chichimecs, Quinantzin transferred the capital to Tezcuco, re-appointing, it would seem, Tenancacaltzin as ruler of Tenayocan. He immediately annexed the powers of Huexotla and Coatlichan to his dominion, forcing the princes of those cities, Tochintecuhtli, or Ihuimatzal, and Huetzin II., to reside in his capital, and forming from the three kingdoms that of Acolhuacan. As emperor, he gave freer vent than ever to his old inclinations to pomp and ceremony. Whenever he appeared in public he caused himself to be borne in a magnificent royal palanquin on the shoulders of four Chichimec nobles. The [334] ill-will which Quinantzin's strict discipline and Toltec inclinations had previously excited; the fears aroused by his annexation of Huexotla and Coatlichan, and other decided political measures; displeasure of those of Tenayocan at the change of capital; and the humiliation of the Chichimec nobles, in being obliged to bear the royal palanquin, soon resulted in a revolution. By the support of the Tepanec king at Azcapulzalco, Tenancacaltzin was proclaimed emperor at Tenayocan, and all Anáhuac, save Culhuacan, Coatlichan, Xaltocan, and Huexotla, were arrayed against the Tezcucan monarch, many of his own relatives joining in the movement against him, and his brother, Tlacateotzin, being driven from the dominion of Tlazalan. In so unequal a struggle Quinantzin seems to have made no effort to overthrow the usurper, but rather to have employed all the force that could be furnished by his remaining vassals in fortifying his position at Tezcuco, where he patiently awaited future opportunities for revenge and recovery of his imperial throne.[VI-20]


Acolnahuacatl, the Tepanec king, seems to have supported the usurpation of Tenancacaltzin not from any feelings of friendship, but from ambitious motives for his own interests. He took no steps to accomplish the conquest of Tezcuco, but on the contrary soon began to plot against the usurping emperor. He made use of the Mexicans, who had suffered much from the people of Tenayocan and were eager for vengeance, to accomplish his purpose. Reinforced by some Tepanec troops in Aztec dress, they made several raids for plunder against Tenayocan and the adjoining towns. Thus provoked, Tenancacaltzin marched with an army to punish the robbers, but was met at Tepeyacac, where now the church of Guadalupe stands, by the Mexicans and Tepanecs combined, [335] and utterly defeated. The conquered emperor fled to Xaltocan, expecting aid from the enemies of the Mexicans, but the princes of Xaltocan were also friends of Quinantzin, to whom they delivered Tenancacaltzin, but who refused to revenge his wrongs upon his uncle, and permitted him to leave the country. The Tepanec king took possession of Tenayocan and had himself declared emperor of the Chichimecs, Quinantzin apparently making at first no opposition, but awaiting a more favorable opportunity to regain his power.[VI-21]


I now come to the chain of events by which Quinantzin regained the imperial throne and a power surpassing that of any preceding monarch. The northern provinces of Meztitlan, Tulancingo, and Totoltepec, excited by the rebels Icuex and Ocotox, formerly banished by Quinantzin, raised the standard of revolt and marched to attack the capital. They were even joined by the four eldest sons of the king, according to Brasseur and Ixtlilxochitl, although other authorities make this rebellion a distinct and later affair, and disagree somewhat as to the time of the northern rebellion. Dividing his available force into four divisions, Quinantzin took command of one division, entrusting the others to his brothers Tochintzin, or Tochintecuhtli, and Nopaltzin, and to Huetzin II. of Coatlichan, while his son Techotl remained in command at Tezcuco. All the divisions were equally successful and the rebels were driven back with great loss. Nopaltzin killed Ocotox in personal combat but was himself killed later in the battle. The king's rebel sons had not actually taken part in the fight, and on offering their submission were, at the intercession of their mother, pardoned, on condition of leaving Anáhuac and joining the Teo-Chichimecs [336] on the eastern plateau. This success in the north was not without its effect in the valley. Many cities that had declared their independence, or had become subjects of Acolnahuacatl, now offered anew their allegiance to the monarch of Acolhuacan at Tezcuco. Congratulations flowed in from Culhuacan and other friendly powers, with various plausible excuses for not having aided Quinantzin in his time of trouble. Prisoners taken during the war were released, and some of the lords of the northern provinces were even restored to their former positions on promise of future loyalty. Thus the wise king laid the foundations of future success. The pardoned sons of Quinantzin, before proceeding to Tlascala and Huexotzinco, joined the Teo-Chichimecs at Poyauhtlan. This people, by their encroachments, had made enemies of all the nations of Anáhuac; it is even said that they had instigated the northern revolt in the hope that the formation of a league against themselves might be prevented. But this hope was vain, and soon after Quinantzin's victory, they were attacked before their city by the united forces of the Tepanecs, Culhuas, Xochimilcas, and Mexicans. A battle ensued described as the most terrible ever fought in the valley, in which the Teo-Chichimecs held their ground, but which so exhausted the forces on both sides that it was long before any nation concerned was in condition to renew hostilities. The king of Acolhuacan seems not to have taken part in this struggle, perhaps because of the presence of his sons at Poyauhtlan and the fact that his relatives were ruling the Teo-Chichimecs in Tlascala. The state of affairs was now altogether favorable to Quinantzin, and after, as some authors state, another campaign against the northern provinces, he began to turn his attention toward his lost dominions about the lakes. The emperor Acolnahuacatl, at Tenayocan, seems to have clearly perceived that fortune favored his rival, and that in his exhausted condition [337] since the battle at Poyauhtlan, he could not possibly defend either the imperial crown or even that of Azcapuzalco, and craftily resolved to voluntarily abandon his claims to the former in the hope of retaining the latter. His plans, as usual, were successful; Quinantzin accepted his proposition without any manifestation of ill-will, and was crowned emperor with the most imposing ceremonies in 1272, forming a friendly alliance with the kings of Culhuacan and Azcapuzalco, and becoming practically the master of Anáhuac. The Teo-Chichimecs soon after, by the advice of their god, and with the consent of the emperor, migrated eastward to Tlascala.[VI-22]

In his efforts to embellish his capital, and to restore his empire to the glory and his subjects to the culture of the ancient times, it has been stated that Quinantzin called in the aid of many Toltecs, showing them great favor. A few years after his accession, two of the Toltec tribes that had left the valley [338] at the fall of the empire and settled on the coast of the Pacific in Oajaca, the Tailotlacs and Chimalpanecs, are said to have returned and to have been received by the emperor and granted lands in Tezcuco, after having stayed some time in Chalco. The new chiefs were even allowed to become allied by marriage to the royal family. The new-comers seem to have belonged to the partisans of Tezcatlipoca. Additional bands of Huitznahuacs, Tepanecs, Culhuas, and Mexicans, from distant lands, are also vaguely alluded to as having settled in Tezcuco, Azcapuzalco, and Mexico.[VI-23] About the same time the northern province of Tepepulco revolted, according to Torquemada,[VI-24] and was conquered by Quinantzin, spoken of as Tlaltecatzin by this and several other writers. The province was joined to the dominions of Tezcuco under a royal governor, its lord having been put to death. Another source of prosperity for Tezcuco seems to have been a fresh out-burst in Culhuacan of the old religious dissensions between the partisans of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, causing many of the inhabitants to make their homes in the Acolhua capital where they were gladly received; although Ixtlilxochitl tells us that Quinantzin erected no temples in his capital, and permitted the erection of none, being content, and obliging all the citizens to be so, with the simple religious rites of his Chichimec ancestors.[VI-25] Xihuiltemoc, a descendant of Acxitl, the last king of Tollan, was on the throne of Culhuacan at this time, and seems to have formed some kind [339] of an alliance with the Mexicans at Chapultepec, and to have admitted to his city the worship of Huitzilopochtli—a fact that leads Brasseur to think that the Culhua king was a partisan of Tezcatlipoca, almost identical with Huitzilopochtli so far as the bloody rites in his honor are concerned.[VI-26] In the last years of the thirteenth century, about 1281, Xihuiltemoc was succeeded by Coxcoxtli whose mother is said to have been a Mexican, but who was a devoted partisan of Quetzalcoatl.[VI-27]


The Aztecs had, in the meantime, gained much in power, and although few in numbers, compared with the other nations, had, by their skill as warriors and the ferocity of their character, made themselves hated by all, becoming, indeed, the pests of Anáhuac, although nominally the allies of the Culhuas and Tepanecs. The story of their overthrow at Chapultepec is a brief one, as told by the Spanish writers. Copil, son of Huitziton's sister, the sorceress Malinalxochitl, had, as has been already related,[VI-28] been sworn by his mother to vengeance on the Mexicans. He now came to the lake region and used all his influence to excite the surrounding nations against his enemies, denouncing them as everything that is bad, and urging their extermination. Hearing of his plots, the priest Quauhtlequetzqui went with a party to Tepetzingo, where Copil was, killed him, tore out his heart and threw it into the lake. The place was known as Tlalcocomocco, and here afterwards sprang up the tunal which guided the Aztecs in founding their city; here was also a hot spring, called Acopilco. Immediately after this the Aztecs were attacked by many nations, chiefly the Culhuas and Chalcas, driven to Acoculco, amid the reeds of the [340] lake, and many of their number carried captives to Culhuacan, among whom was their chief, Huitzilihuitl, who was sacrificed. Afterwards they were given, by the Culhuas, the district of Tizaapan, which abounded in snakes, lizards, etc., on which chiefly they lived, paying heavy tribute to the king of Culhuacan, and leading a very hard life for many years.[VI-29]

Brasseur throws much light upon the events of this period. It seems that the Aztecs provoked Copil's efforts for their destruction by two raids against Malinalco, which belonged to Culhuacan, and that the Mexicans treacherously drew the son of Malinalxochitl into their power by offering him the position of high-priest, according to a pretended revelation of Huitzilopochtli's will. His daughter, Azcaxochitl, was forced to become the mistress of Quauhtlequetzqui; all his nobles were taken prisoners, and a band of Culhuas who came to Tlalcocomocco soon after, were massacred. All the rulers of the valley, save, perhaps, Quinantzin, were soon leagued together for the destruction of these marauders and butchers. Huitzilihuitl made a valiant and long-continued defence, defeating the Tepanecs in a fierce battle, but exciting renewed horror by murdering and cutting in pieces Acolnahuacatl, king of Azcapuzalco, and formerly emperor. They were at last conquered through their rash bravery, since, while their army was fighting the Culhuas whom they had been challenged to meet, another body of the enemy took and burned Chapultepec, carrying off the surviving inhabitants as prisoners. The Mexican army was then defeated, nearly exterminated, and the remnants scattered in the lake marshes, while Huitzilihuitl was taken, and, with his daughter and sister, put to death in revenge [341] for the murder of Copil and the Tepanec king. These events occurred about 1297. For two years the scattered Mexican remnants were subjected to every indignity, but in 1299, perhaps through the influence of Acamapichtli, his son and heir, Coxcoxtli was induced to grant this unfortunate people the small, barren, and serpent-infested isle of Tizaapan.[VI-30]


The Spanish writers do not imply that Acolnahuacatl, king of the Tepanecs, was killed by the Aztecs, or that he even fell in battle. His son, Tezozomoc, was heir to the throne, but as he was very young, his mother seems to have ruled as regent during his minority, and as she was the wife of Coxcoxtli, the power was practically in the hands of the Culhua monarch.[VI-31] Coxcoxtli thus saw his power in Anáhuac largely increased, but he was continually annoyed with petitions from the Mexicans for larger territory and permission to settle at various points in his dominions, and at the same time harassed by the encroachments of the Xochimilcas, particularly in the lake fisheries. He at last proposed to grant the requests of the Aztecs on condition that they would aid him in chastising the insolent and powerful Xochimilcas. The services of the followers of Huitzilopochtli were always in demand when there was fighting to be done. The secret plan of the king was to place the new allies in the front to receive the force of the attack; the heavier their loss the better, for his troops would have an easy victory, and a dead Aztec was a much less troublesome neighbor or subject [342] than a live one. No arms were supplied to the allies, but their priests taught them to make shields of reeds, and arm themselves with clubs and obsidian knives. By a strange freak of fancy they resolved to retain no captives, though a reward was offered for them, but to disarm and release all they captured after having marked them by cutting off the right ear of each. The fury of their attack and their novel method of warfare struck terror into the hearts of the enemy, who were defeated and driven back to their capital in confusion, the Mexicans obtaining much plunder, and the Culhuas an extraordinary number of prisoners. Returning to Culhuacan, the Culhua braves proudly displayed their captives, ridiculing their allies, until the latter pointed out the lack of ears among the victims of Culhua valor, and calmly produced the missing features from their sacks; the effect was complete, and they carried off the honors of the day. Coxcoxtli was proud of such allies, their petitions were granted, and the two nations were also connected by intermarriage.[VI-32]


The history of the Mexicans and Culhuas, during the early part of the fourteenth century, down to the founding of the city of Tenochtitlan in 1325, presents a confusion unequaled, perhaps, in any other period of the aboriginal annals. A civil war on the eastern plateau at Cholula, in which king Coxcoxtli was involved to a certain extent, will be mentioned elsewhere, as it only slightly concerns the general history of Anáhuac. Torquemada, Clavigero, and others, relate that after the battle with the Xochimilcas, the Aztecs had secreted four captives destined for sacrifice, and had, besides, asked the Culhua king to provide them with a suitable offering and to be present at the ceremonies. They were sent a dead body and a mass of filth which the Mexicans, restraining [343] their anger at the insult, placed upon the altar and said nothing. When Coxcoxtli and his suite appeared, the priests, after a religious dance, brought out the four captives and performed the bloody rites of sacrifice before the guests. The Culhuas left the place in disgust, and orders were immediately given that the Mexicans should be driven from the territories of Culhuacan.[VI-33] As Acosta and Duran tell the story, the Aztecs sent from Tizaapan, where it seems many of them were still living, to the Culhua king, requesting him to give them his daughter to rule over them and be the mother of their god. The request was cheerfully granted and the young princess conducted with great pomp to the town of her future subjects. A great festival was prepared, the princess was privately sacrificed to Huitzilopochtli, who, it seems, had signified his intention of adopting her as his mother; her body was flayed, and her skin placed as a garment on a youth, or an idol, which was set up in the temple to receive the offerings of visitors. Among those who came to make such offerings, as a compliment to their allies, were Coxcoxtli and his nobles. Their rage at the sight that met their eyes may be imagined. The bloody followers of Huitzilopochtli were driven from their homes, and the allies their bravery had gained were lost to them.[VI-34] Ixtlilxochitl, without mentioning their return to Culhua favor by the Xochimilco war, says that the Aztecs escaped from their bondage at Culhuacan on hearing that king Calquiyauhtzin intended to massacre them, and resided, for a time, at Iztacalco, whence they made inroads upon Culhua territory, but finally retreated to the island where Tenochtitlan was founded.[VI-35] I append in a note an abstract of Veytia's version of Nahua history during [344] this and the immediately preceding period, since this version agrees with others at but few points.[VI-36]

Hardly more can be gathered from the preceding records than that the Mexicans, after living for a time in Culhuacan, were forced, on account of their bloody religious rites and of their turbulent disposition, to leave that city, and to wander for several years about the lake before settling where the city of Mexico afterwards stood. Coxcoxtli is said to have been a devoted follower of Quetzalcoatl, and a zealous persecutor of all other sects, so much so, that many families were forced to abandon Culhuacan, and were gladly received at Tezcuco, as has been stated. It seems to have been an ineradicable Toltec tendency to indulge in religious controversy to the prejudice of their national prosperity. Brasseur[VI-37] finds in his documents many additional details of some importance respecting the period in question. The religious strife in Culhuacan broke out into open war between the sects of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, the former headed by the king and his son Achitometl, the latter under another son, Acamapichtli, and seconded by the Mexicans, who had been driven by persecution from the city. This is the alliance alluded to by [345] Veytia, when he states that Acamapichtli, of Culhuacan, was chosen king of the Mexicans. The rebellious son, at the head of the Mexicans, was victorious, and compelled his father to flee from his capital, but did not at once assume the title of king, and was, not long after, in his turn defeated and driven from the city. This was the final departure of the Mexicans, most of whom gathered at Iztacalco, where a band of their nation had been for some years residing, under the chief Tenuch. Many, however, settled at other points near at hand on the lake shores and islands, and to this period is attributed also their invention of the Chinampas, or floating gardens.


The localities thus occupied at this period, simultaneously or successively, besides Iztacalco, were Mexicaltzinco, Acatzintitlan, Mixiuhtlan, and Temazcaltitlan. At last the priests selected what they deemed a suitable place for permanent settlement, the same spot where Copil had been sacrificed, an island, or raised tract in the lake marshes, and pretended to find there the nopal, eagle, and serpent which had been promised by their god as a token that the proper location had been found. The nopal grew on a rock in the midst of a beautiful pool, into which one of the two discoverers was instantly drawn, and admitted to an interview with the Tlalocs, who confirmed the belief that here was to be their permanent home. According to some authorities, a title to this site was obtained from the king of Azcapuzalco. The first task was to erect a rude temple of rushes for the ark of the idol Huitzilopochtli, which was located exactly over the stone which bore the famous nopal; the huts of the people were built around this as a centre, divided by divine command into four wards, or districts. Then all set industriously to work, the men leveling and filling in the site of their town, or fishing and killing wild ducks on the lakes, the products being mostly bartered by the women in the cities of the main land, for stone and wood for building [346] material. The first victim sacrificed to the god in his new temple was a Culhua noble, of hostile sect, opportunely captured.[VI-38] Thus was founded, in 1325,[VI-39] the city named—probably from Mexi, the original name of Huitziton, and Tenuch, their chief leader at the time the city was formed—Mexico Tenochtitlan.[VI-40]


Quinantzin continued in his glorious career at Tezcuco, allowing the surrounding kings to weaken their power by their intrigues and contentions one with another, while he devoted all his energies as a diplomatist, and all the strength of his armies to the strengthening of his imperial power, the enlargement and embellishment of his capital, where refugees from all directions were kindly welcomed, the quelling of rebellion in various provinces, and the conquest of new lands. Not only did he promptly put down every attempt at revolt in his own dominions, but insisted that the kings of Culhuacan and Azcapuzalco should check the attempts of their revolting vassals. Huehuetlan, Mizquic, Cuitlahuac, Zayollan, Temimiltepec, and Totolapan, are named as the rebellious provinces thus subdued during the last years of this emperor's reign. No monarch in Anáhuac [347] could have resisted Quinantzin's power, but he seems to have had no disposition to encroach on what he deemed the legitimate domains of his brother sovereigns. In spite of the opposition of the Chichimec nobles to his reforms, his tendency to Toltec usages, and his fondness for display, the emperor after his power had become firmly established enjoyed the love and respect of all his subjects. His surname, Tlaltecatzin, 'he who lords the earth,' is said to have been given him in consideration of his success in subduing so many provinces. He died in 8 Calli, 1305,[VI-41] at an advanced age, and his funeral ceremonies were conducted with all the pomp that had been characteristic of him in life. Seventy rulers of provinces are said to have assisted. His body, embalmed, was seated in full royal apparel on the throne, an eagle at the feet, a tiger at the back, and the bow and arrows in his hands. All the people crowded to the palace to take a last look upon their emperor, and after eighty days, according to Torquemada, his body was burned, and the ashes, in an emerald urn with a golden cover, placed in a cave near Tezcuco; or, as Veytia and Ixtlilxochitl say, buried in a temple of the Sun in the Tezcocingo forest.[VI-42]


Quinantzin's elder sons having proved rebellious during their father's reign, and having, therefore, been banished, his youngest son, Techotl, Techotlalatzin, or Techotlala, was chosen as his successor. Techotl reigned from 1305 to 1357, a period during which the dominions attached to the crown of Tezcuco were almost entirely undisturbed by civil or foreign wars. Only one war is recorded, by which the province of Xaltocan, peopled chiefly by Otomís, with the aid of the chiefs of Otompan, Quahuacan, and Tecomic, attempted to regain her [348] independence of Chichimec imperial authority. The revolt was, however, promptly repressed by the emperor and his allies after a campaign of two months. Tezozomoc had now succeeded to the throne of Azcapuzalco, and with his Tepanec forces, took a very prominent part in this war against Xaltocan and the northern provinces. The Mexicans also sent an army to this war, and received some territory as a result, the rest of the provinces being joined to the domains of Tezcuco and Azcapuzalco.[VI-43] Techotl's tastes and ambitions were similar to those of his father, and his fifty-two years of peaceful and prosperous reign enabled him to successfully carry out his projects. To him, as emperor, belonged the allegiance of the kings of Culhuacan, Azcapuzalco, and Mexico in the latter part of his rule, when the latter power had risen to some prominence; but no tribute was paid by these kings, and their allegiance was probably only nominal.[VI-44] Over the provinces that belonged to Tezcuco, or rather the kingdom of Acolhuacan, Techotl ruled in precisely the same manner as the other kings over their respective territories. The lord of each province acknowledged his allegiance to his king, paid tribute according to the wealth of his people, and was bound to aid his sovereign, if so requested, in time of war; in other respects he was perfectly independent, and governed his dominion with almost absolute sway. The long list of vassal provinces and lords given by the records[VI-45] show that the authority [349] of the Chichimec emperor extended far beyond Anáhuac, but do not enable us to fix definitely its limits; it probably was but little less extensive than that of the emperor at Culhuacan, in Toltec times, and was very similar to the Toltec rule in its nature.[VI-46] Techotl's efforts seem to have been directed to the complete re-establishment of Toltec culture; to the building-up and embellishment of his capital; to the enacting of just laws and their strict enforcement by the appointment of the necessary courts and officials; to the work of attracting new settlers into his kingdom and capital, by kind treatment of all new-comers, and a toleration of all their religious beliefs and rites; and above all, to the centralization of his imperial power, and the gradual lessening of the prerogatives of his vassal lords. The refugees [350] from different nations were given separate wards of Tezcuco for a residence, and were permitted to erect temples, and to perform all their various rites. Human sacrifice and religious strife were alone prohibited. The different creeds and ceremonials of Toltec times became almost universal in his kingdom,[VI-47] although the emperor himself is said to have ridiculed all these creeds and sacrifices, contenting himself with the worship of one god, of whom he deemed the sun a symbol. He is credited with having entertained sentiments on religious topics several centuries in advance of his time.

In his efforts for the centralization of the Chichimec power, he first summoned the chief lords of his provinces, some twenty-six in number, to Tezcuco, and practically compelled them to live there, although heaping upon them honors and titles which made it impossible for them to refuse obedience to his wishes. All together constituted a royal council, consulted on matters of national import; and from them were selected sub-councils, to whose management were entrusted the superintendence of various branches, such as the administration of justice, military regulations, art and science, agriculture, etc. Five of the leading lords were entrusted with the most important and honorable positions, and placed at the head of the chief councils.[VI-48] As an offset to the favors granted [351] these lords at the capital and in the general government, their prerogatives at home were greatly diminished. The twenty-six provinces were subdivided into sixty-five departments; the lords retained their original titles and the absolute command of twenty-six of the departments, but over the other thirty-nine governors were placed who were supposed to be wholly devoted to the interests of the emperor. Techotl is even said to have gone so far as to transfer the inhabitants belonging to different tribes from one province to another, so that the subjects of each chief, although the same in number as before, were of different tribes, and, as the emperor craftily imagined, much less easily incited to revolt in the interests of ambitious chieftains, who were ever ready to take advantage of favorable circumstances to declare their independence. If the Chichimec nobles objected to these extraordinary measures, their opposition is not recorded.


At one of the grand assemblies of kings and lords, held at Tezcuco, to deliberate on the general interests of the empire, in 1342, Techotl announced his intention to leave his crown to his eldest son, Ixtlilxochitl, and caused that prince to be formally acknowledged as heir apparent to the imperial throne. It does not appear that any opposition to his succession was made at the time,[VI-49] although as we shall see, his right was not undisputed at the death of his [352] father. At one of these assemblies, as all the authorities agree, it was ordered that the Nahua language should be employed exclusively at court, in the tribunals, and in the transaction of all public affairs. It has been inferred from this, by many writers, that the language of the Chichimec nations was different from that of the Toltecs;[VI-50] but such a supposition would be inconsistent with the whole tenor of the aboriginal annals, and cannot be admitted. Among the new tribes that occupied Anáhuac after the Toltecs, there were doubtless some that spoke another tongue; the enforced use of the Nahua at court was aimed at the chiefs of such tribes, and was a part of the emperor's general policy. Of course it is just possible that one of the tribes of foreign tongue had become powerful and constituted a large part of the population of Tezcuco, but such a state of affairs is not probable, and the statement of some writers that the many learned Culhuas and Mexicans gathered at the Chichimec capital during this period, came as teachers of the Nahua language at the court of Techotl, cannot be accepted. Brasseur's idea, as implied throughout this period of aboriginal history, that the Chichimecs were barbarians, gradually civilized by the few Toltecs that remained in the country, and forced by their kings to adopt Nahua language and institutions, I regard as wholly imaginary. The struggles of Quinantzin and his successors were directed, not to the introduction of Toltec usages, but to the preservation of their culture, threatened by the spirit of anarchy and independence that followed the downfall of the Toltec empire.


Feeling, at last, that his end was drawing near, and that the work to which he had devoted his energies must be committed to other hands, the aged monarch is reported to have held a long interview [353] with his son and heir, Ixtlilxochitl. Most earnestly he instructed his son concerning his future duties, and warned him against dangers whose occurrence he already foresaw. He feared, above all, the projects of Tezozomoc, the Tepanec king, who had already, although nominally loyal to Techotl, shown tokens of far-reaching ambition and the possession of great executive ability, and who evidently remembered that Acolnahuacatl, his predecessor, had once been emperor. Special advice was given to Ixtlilxochitl, who was probably a very young man, although there is some disagreement about the date of his birth,[VI-51] as to the best policy to be followed with the king of Azcapuzalco, and after jealously striving to imbue his successor with the spirit that had made his own reign so glorious, the emperor died, as has been stated, in 8 Calli, 1357.[VI-52]


Having traced the glorious, though peaceful career of the emperor Techotl, I have to close this chapter by narrating the events of Culhua and Mexican history during a corresponding period; a period most fatal to Culhuacan, the metropolis of Anáhuac in Toltec times, and the only Toltec city that had retained its prominence through the dark days of Chichimec invasion. We have seen the Mexicans expelled from Culhuacan at the triumph of Achitometl over his brother Acamapichtli; and, after a series of wanderings [354] about the lake, founding their city of Mexico Tenochtitlan in 1325. One year before the city was founded, however, Acamapichtli seems to have regained his power, and this time, his father Coxcoxtli having died, he assumed the title of king. His rule was probably very advantageous to the Mexicans, his friends, during their first years in their new city, while they were strengthening their position; but in 1336 he died, murdered, as some of the records imply, and was succeeded by his brother Achitometl II., the avowed enemy of the Mexicans and their religious rites. His accession drove many of the rival sect to Mexico, and he thus aided, involuntarily, in building up the new power. The infant son of the dead king, also named Acamapichtli, was saved either by his mother, or, as others say, by the princess Ilancueitl.[VI-53] During the troubles between the rival sects headed by Acamapichtli and Achitometl, large numbers of Culhuas had left their city and either taken refuge in Tezcuco, or had joined kindred tribes in different localities. On the final accession of Achitometl this depopulating movement was continued to a greater extent than ever before. According to Brasseur's documents, a war with Chalco in 1339, fomented by Tezozomoc, who had succeeded to the Tepanec throne eight years before, gave the finishing blow to the power of Culhuacan, which was practically abandoned by king and people about 1347, her weaker tributary provinces being in part appropriated by the stronger, which now became independent of all save imperial [355] power, although a large portion fell into the hands of the kings of Azcapuzalco and Acolhuacan. The larger part of the Culhuas proper were divided between Quauhtitlan,—which soon became practically a Culhua, or Toltec, city, under Iztactototl, grandson of Coxcoxtli, who succeeded in 1348,—and Mexico.[VI-54]

The territory on which Mexico Tenochtitlan was built seems to have belonged to the domain of Azcapuzalco, and the Mexicans were obliged to pay to the Tepanec king a certain amount of tribute in fish and other productions of the lake. Their prosperity, the improvements they were constantly making in their city, and their strong position in the lake, taken in connection with their well-known valor and ambition, excited much jealousy among the surrounding nations. Possibly this jealousy is alluded to in the fable of a fatal epidemic which prevailed at this time, ascribed in the popular tradition to the fumes of fried fish and other delicacies, wafted from the island town, which created so violent a longing as to occasion illness.[VI-55] The Tepanecs were the only people that had the power to oppress the Aztecs, which they are said to have done, not only by the exaction of the regular tribute due them, but by imposing special taxes, to be paid in articles of no value to the receivers, but which could be obtained by the Mexicans only with great difficulty or danger.[VI-56] Brasseur says that Tezozomoc even went so far as to send his son Tlacotin to rule in Mexico after Tenuch's death, and he dying after a short time, another son, Teuhtlehuac, became governor.[VI-57] I find nothing in the Spanish writers respecting Tepanec governors in Mexico, although none of them give any very definite idea how the city was governed in the early period of its existence. [356] Some authors mention Tenuch as one of the chiefs that directed the original Aztec migration; others, as we have seen, make him the chief of an Aztec band at Iztacalco, just before the founding of the city, and imply that he was the leader under the priesthood at the time of its foundation, and for some time after; while still other writers state that he was elected chief three years after the foundation.[VI-58]

At this period took place the division of the Aztecs into Mexicans and Tlatelulcas, although Veytia dates it back before the foundation of the city, and before many of the events already related. It was caused by a quarrel between the priests and nobles, and was a secession of the latter when unable to check the growing power of the former. Torquemada attributes the separation merely to the overcrowded state of the city; and the fable of the two bundles which originated the dissension in early times has already been related.[VI-59] Brasseur sees in this division the inevitable Nahua tendency to struggle bravely and unitedly against misfortune, but at the first dawn of prosperity to indulge in internal strife. The priesthood used their influence to excite the lower classes against the nobility, and particularly against their Tepanec governor, whom they denounced as a tyrant. They finally succeeded in raising such a storm that Teuhtlehuac was driven out, and his party, including most of the nobility, determined to seek a new home. The connection of a Tepanec governor with the matter, removes some of the difficulties involved in other versions, but it is not easy to understand why Tezozomoc permitted his son to be driven from Tenochtitlan. Whatever the circumstances which led to the secession, the location of the new [357] establishment was miraculously pointed out. The nobles were attracted by a whirlwind to a sandy spot among the reeds of the lake, about two miles from Tenochtitlan, and found there the shield, arrow, and coiled serpent, which they deemed a most happy augury. They obtained a title of the land from the Tepanec king, on condition of a yearly tribute,[VI-60] and called their new home Xaltelulco, afterwards, Tlatelulco.[VI-61]


Both cities grew rapidly, and acquired much prosperity and power, notwithstanding the separation, by reason of the large immigration that they received, and of the rivalry that sprang up between the two divisions. The additions to the population in Tenochtitlan were chiefly Culhuas, who came in so large numbers as to outnumber, perhaps, the original Mexicans; while Tlatelulco received a corresponding influx of Tepanecs, and many from other neighboring nations. We have no further details of their history down to the death of the emperor Techotl, at Tezcuco, except that the establishment of a monarchy in each of the two cities. The Mexicans were at first ruled by the priests, with certain chiefs not definitely named; although by some Tenuch is still spoken of as alive and ruling down to 1357. It was finally decided, in an assembly of priests and wise men of the nation, to choose a king, and the choice fell upon Acamapichtli II., son of Acamapichtli of Culhuacan. The large Culhua element in Tenochtitlan doubtless had a great influence in this choice; and other [358] motives were the friendship of the candidate's father for the Mexicans in past times, the possibility of reconquering the old Culhua possessions and joining them to the Aztec domain, and possibly the extreme youth of Acamapichtli, which offered to the priesthood a prospect of easily controlling his actions. The young candidate was summoned from Tezcuco, where he had taken refuge, together with the princess Ilancueitl, who had rescued him, who seems to have been regent during his minority, and who is even said to have become his wife. 1350 was the date of the accession of Acamapichtli II., the first king of Mexico Tenochtitlan.[VI-62] Soon after, probably the following year, 1351, the Tlatelulcas also determined to establish a monarchical form of government. They also sent abroad for a king, and received a son of the Tepanec king, Tezozomoc, named Quaquauhpitzahuac.[VI-63]



Aztec History—Reigns of Acamapichtli II. and Quaquauhpitzahuac—Rebuilding of Culhuacan—Huitzilihuitl II., King of Mexico—Tlacateotzin, King of Tlatelulco—Chimalpopoca Succeeds in Mexico—Funeral of Techotl—Ixtlilxochitl, Emperor of the Chichimecs—Symptoms of Discontent—Plans of Tezozomoc, the Tepanec King—Secret council of Rebels—Religious Toleration in Tezcuco—Conquest of Xaltocan and Cuitlahuac—Birth of Nezahualcoyotl—War between Tezcuco and Azcapuzalco—Victories of Ixtlilxochitl—Siege and Fall of Azcapuzalco—Treachery of Tezozomoc—Fall of Tezcuco—Flight and Death of Ixtlilxochitl—Tezozomoc proclaimed Emperor—Reorganization of the Empire—Adventures of Nezahualcoyotl—Death of Tezozomoc—Maxtla usurps the Imperial Throne—Murder of the Mexican Kings—Nezahualcoyotl's Victory—Itzcoatl, King of Mexico—Acolhua and Aztec Alliance—Fall of Azcapuzalco—The Tri-partite Alliance, or the New Empire.

The next and final chapter of the Chichimec annals covers a period of three quarters of a century, extending from the death of the emperor Techotl in 1357, to the formation of the tri-partite alliance between the Acolhuas, Aztecs, and Tepanecs, in 1431. It embraces the reigns of three emperors, Ixtlilxochitl, Tezozomoc, and Maxtla; and is a record of continued struggles for the imperial power between the Acolhuas and Tepanecs, resulting in the humiliation [360] of the latter and the triumph of the former, through the aid of a third power, which is admitted as an equal to the victor in the final reconstruction of the empire. The rôle of the other nations of Anáhuac during this period, is that of allies to one or the other of the powers mentioned, or, occasionally, of rebels who take advantage of the dissensions of the ruling powers to declare their independence, enjoyed as a rule only until such time as the masters may have an opportunity to reduce them to their old allegiance. We find the aboriginal record more and more complete as we approach the epoch of the conquest, with much less confusion in chronology, so far as leading events are concerned, although perfect agreement among the authorities is yet far from being attained in the minor details with which the narrative is crowded. A new source of disagreement is, moreover, reached as we approach the final century of the native annals—national prejudices on the part of the native historians through whom those annals have been handed down, and a constant tendency among such writers as Ixtlilxochitl, Tezozomoc, Chimalpain, and Camargo, to exhibit in their highest colors the actions of the nations from which they have descended, while ever disposed to cloud the fame of rival powers. Fortunately, one authority serves, generally, as an efficient check upon another in such cases.


Before relating the general history of Anáhuac during the successive reigns of the emperors Ixtlilxochitl and Tezozomoc, in which history the Mexicans took a prominent part as allies of the latter, it will be well to glance, briefly—for there is little to say on the subject—at the course of events in the new cities on the lake marshes. We left Tenochtitlan under the rule of its Culhua king, Acamapichtli II., or rather under the regency of his queen, Ilancueitl; while Quaquauhpitzahuac, son of the Tepanec king Tezozomoc, was on the throne of Tlatelulco, both kingdoms being tributary to that of Azcapuzalco. [361] One of the last acts of the queen was the re-settlement of Culhuacan in 1378, by means of a colony sent from Mexico under Nauhyotl, the fourth of that name who had ruled in the Culhua city. This was done partly from motives of pride in restoring the capital of her own and her husband's ancestors, and partly to serve as a check on the encroachments of the Chalcas in the south.[VII-1] In 1383 the queen died. Ixtlilxochitl states that she bore her husband three sons, one of whom was Huitzilihuitl; Clavigero tells us she was barren, but took charge of the education of two of her husband's sons, Huitzilihuitl and Chimalpopoca, by another wife; Torquemada confounds the two Acamapichtlis, and is, consequently, greatly puzzled about Ilancueitl's children; and finally, Brasseur shows that she was espoused at an advanced age by the king solely for political motives, and that she lived harmoniously with his other two wives, one of whom bore him Huitzilihuitl, and the other Chimalpopoca.[VII-2] The reign of Acamapichtli II. dates, in a certain sense, from the death of his queen, who for many years had, at least, ruled jointly with him. The beginning of the wars between the Mexicans and Chalcas, which were waged so bitterly for many years, is attributed to Acamapichtli's reign, as are the conquests of Quauhnahuac, Mizquic, and Xochimilco; but it must be understood that it was only as the allies of the Tepanec king that the Mexicans engaged in these wars. Torquemada and Acosta assert that Acamapichtli's reign was a very peaceful one.[VII-3] It was after the conquest of Quauhnahuac, [362] later Cuernavaca, that the first gold-workers came to ply their art in Tenochtitlan.[VII-4] After having ruled wisely and justly, greatly enlarging and improving his capital, he died in 1403, leaving the choice of a successor wholly to his nobles and priests.[VII-5] There is great disagreement among the authorities respecting the length of his reign, some dating it from his first call to the throne, and others from the death of the queen. Immediately after the funeral of Acamapichtli, an assembly of the wise men of the nation was held to deliberate on the choice of a successor. The priests made an effort to acquire the control by discontinuing the monarchy. They wished the temporal affairs of the state to be managed by a senate or council, with a military chieftain to lead their armies in war; but the majority believed that their only hope of national safety and future power was in a monarchy, and Huitzilihuitl II., the eldest son of the late king was called to the throne during the same or the following year. The speeches by which the old men convinced the assembly that their yet precarious condition, considering their isolated position and the powerful nations surrounding them, made it necessary to call to their throne a wise, prudent, and powerful king, are recorded by Duran, Tezozomoc, and Torquemada; as are the addresses of advice to the new king at his coronation, in which he was reminded that his position was no sinecure, but that on him depended the future greatness of the Mexicans foretold by the gods. The choice of the people was ratified by king Tezozomoc of Azcapuzalco; and at the same time it is reported that Itzcoatl, a natural son of the late king, by a woman of rank, was appointed commander of the Mexican armies. One of [363] the means by which the Aztecs struggled to attain to their predestined greatness, was by contracting foreign matrimonial alliances with powerful nations; and as Huitzilihuitl had yet no wife, an embassy was sent to Tezozomoc with a most humble and flattering petition, begging that all-powerful sovereign to favor his most obedient vassal by sending one of his daughters, "one of his pearls, emeralds, or precious feathers," as Torquemada expresses it, to share with the new king his poor home in the marshes. The petition was granted, the princess Ayauhcihuatl was given to Huitzilihuitl, and the following year his brother Chimalpopoca won the hand of the beautiful princess Miahuaxochitl, daughter of the lord of Quauhnahuac, who became the mother of Montezuma.[VII-6] By the alliance with Quauhnahuac, the city of Tenochtitlan received a large accession of artists and skilled workmen; while from Tezozomoc, who is said by Veytia to have personally visited the city at the birth of his grandson, the Mexicans obtained the removal of the tribute which they had so long been obliged to pay, or, at least, its reduction to a merely nominal amount, including a few wild fowl and fishes for the royal table. From this time the Mexicans are said to have felt more at their ease, to have paid more attention to the arts and sciences, and to have abandoned their coarse garments of nequen for more sumptuous apparel.[VII-7]



Very soon after Huitzilihuitl's accession to the throne, the Tlatetulcan king Quaquauhpitzahuac died, and was succeeded by his son Tlacateotzin, according to Brasseur's authorities; although Veytia places at about this date the succession and marriage of Quaquauhpitzahuac, soon followed by Tlacateotzin's birth, the latter becoming king only in 1414. This subject of the Tlatetulcan succession is inextricably confused, since some authors make Mixcohuatl precede Quaquauhpitzahuac as first king; and Ixtlilxochitl, in one of his relations, even puts another king, Amatzin, between the two. The matter is not one of great importance, since it is certain that Tlacateotzin reigned after 1414 during a most exciting period, being one of the chief military leaders in Tezozomoc's army.[VII-8] The two cities had by this time been extended greatly beyond their original limits, and were separated only by a narrow tract of marsh, which was dry at low water. Notwithstanding the fair promises made by the Tepanec king to his vassals and allies on the lake, some of his tyrannical acts seem to have been directed at them even at this early time, if we may credit the statement that Nauhyotl IV., in command [365] of the Aztec-Culhua colony at Culhuacan for the past thirty-five years, was murdered by Tezozomoc's orders in 1413.[VII-9] Tlatelulco was yet in its buildings and some other respects superior to its rival, perhaps by reason of being less under priestly control, or through the greater favor shown its people by the Tepanecs. But Huitzilihuitl had done much to build up and embellish Tenochtitlan, and particularly to promote her commercial industries, by digging canals, multiplying the number of chinampas, and by a wise system of trade regulations. He is also accredited with a new code of laws, and with the introduction of war canoes and the training of his soldiers in their skillful management.[VII-10] Mendieta states that this king conquered Tultitlan, Quauhtitlan, Chalco, Tulancingo, Xaltocan, Otompan, Tezcuco, and Acolman, during his reign, but the reference is of course to the wars of the Tepanec king by the aid of his Mexican allies; and Sahagun says he fought against Culhuacan, referring doubtless to a former ruler of the same name.[VII-11] Huitzilihuitl II. died in 1417,[VII-12] and his half brother, Chimalpopoca, was immediately chosen to succeed him, in the absence of any legitimate son. We have seen that there is much disagreement respecting Huitzilihuitl's marriage and his children; some authors even state that Chimalpopoca was his son, but the majority of the best authorities agree that the new king was the son of Acamapichtli II., and a brother of Huitzilihuitl. The latter's only legitimate son, Acolnahuacatl, was killed, in childhood, by Maxtla, son of Tezozomoc, in 1399, through fear that he might inherit the crown of Azcapuzalco, as [366] Clavigero states. Acosta, confounding this tradition with the fact that king Chimalpopoca was long after killed by Maxtla's orders, tells us Chimalpopoca was killed in childhood. Torquemada adds to the fact of the young Acolnahuacatl's murder, another motive for the crime, in a tale to the effect that Tezozomoc had given Maxtla's wife to the Mexicans for a queen, hence the wrath and vengeance of the Tepanec prince. The choice of the Mexicans is said to have been approved both by the emperor Ixtlilxochitl and by Tezozomoc. Chimalpopoca's marriage has already been noted, and the birth of his son Montezuma Ilhuicamina; Veytia states that his wife, by whom he had seven children, was the princess Matlalatzin, a daughter of the king of Tlatelulco. I shall have occasion to speak again of this king.[VII-13]


To return to the general history of the Chichimec empire, the kings and lords were assembled at Tezcuco to perform the last honors to the dead emperor Techotl, and to celebrate the accession of his son and chosen heir Ixtlilxochitl. We have seen that Techotl had by his great ability and by a series of most extraordinary political measures checked the independent spirit of his vassal lords, avoided all internal strife, centralized the imperial power, and made himself almost absolute master of Anáhuac. Another Techotl might perhaps have retained the mastery; but we have seen that many of his acts were calculated to excite the opposition of the Chichimec lords, that on his death-bed he expressed his misgivings respecting future events, and that his son had already made of the Tepanec king an enemy. It is quite possible that the last years of Techotl's [367] reign were marked with troubles which have not been recorded, and that there were causes of enmity towards Ixtlilxochitl which are unknown to us. Brasseur attributes the misfortunes that ensued to Ixtlilxochitl's vacillating spirit and love of ease; but his acts as recorded by the Spanish writers indicate rather a peaceful and forgiving disposition, joined to marked and brilliant abilities as a warrior. However this may be, trouble ahead was indicated at the very funeral of his mighty and popular father. Many lords invited to participate in the ceremonies were not present. Veytia, and Ixtlilxochitl in one of his relations, say that only four lords attended the obsequies; but the latter author elsewhere, and also Boturini, make the number present over sixty, which is much more probable. The absentees sent in various pretexts for not attending; if they had come they would have been obliged to swear allegiance to the new emperor or to openly rebel, an act for which they were not yet ready. Torquemada and Clavigero tell us that Tezozomoc was present at the funeral, but departed immediately after without giving his adhesion to the new emperor. Ixtlilxochitl, however, was crowned king of Acolhuacan by the princes present at Tezcuco, and in all probability assumed at that time the title of Chichimecatl Tecuhtli, or emperor, that was his due, although no author states this directly, and both Ixtlilxochitl and Veytia state expressly that he was not crowned as emperor for many years. Ixtlilxochitl says, however, in one place that he was proclaimed 'lord paramount' by the assembled princes, and there was no apparent motive for delay in this respect.[VII-14] Ixtlilxochitl was at first disposed to resort to force and to avenge the insult offered him. Putting his army in order and stationing his forces in and about the capital, he sent [368] a summons to Azcapuzalco, ordering the Tepanec king to appear forthwith at court to pay allegiance to his emperor. Tezozomoc, not yet ready for open revolt, pleaded illness, assured Ixtlilxochitl of his good intentions and loyalty, and promised to come as soon as his health would permit. The emperor understood that this was but a pretext, but he was unwilling to resort to harsh measures if they could be avoided, and was induced by his counselors, many of them perhaps in full sympathy with Tezozomoc, to await the better health of his opponent.[VII-15]


In the meantime Tezozomoc called a secret meeting of the disaffected lords, with many of whom he may be supposed to have been already in communication. The kings of Mexico and Tlatelulco were among the allies on whom he counted most, and to whom he made the most flattering promises in case of future success. In a long speech before the assembly he expatiated upon the acts of the late emperor which had been most calculated to offend the lords before him. He spoke of their rights as independent Chichimec rulers, of which they had been deprived and only repaid by empty honors at the imperial court; urged upon them the necessity of making an effort to shake off the tyranny that oppressed them while they retained the power to act; reminded them of Ixtlilxochitl's youth and general unfitness to direct the affairs of a mighty empire. He boasted of having himself already shown his independence by absenting himself from the new emperor's coronation. According to most authorities, he disclaimed any ambitious aims of his own, or any intention to despoil Ixtlilxochitl of his domains as king of Acolhuacan, his only avowed design being to restore to all Chichimec lords their ancient independence; but others state that he openly expressed his intention to wear the imperial crown. At any rate, the assembled princes signified their approval of his views, [369] and looked to him for directions; pledged to secrecy for the present, they were dismissed, and Tezozomoc began his preparations for the coming struggle. But he proceeded slowly, for he knew that Ixtlilxochitl was not a foe to be easily overcome.[VII-16] Ixtlilxochitl probably knew of the meeting, but still took no active steps against the Tepanec king, although, as the Spanish writers say, he was constantly arming and disciplining his forces. It is said that immediately upon his accession he removed all restrictions upon religious rites among the many nationalities and sects which composed the population of Tezcuco, even permitting human sacrifice, so strictly prohibited by his ancestors. He thus laid the foundation for troubles analogous to those that had destroyed Tollan and Culhuacan.[VII-17]

Tezozomoc carefully prepared his way to future power by establishing Tepanec colonies in different localities. One of them was at Tultitlan, near Quauhtitlan. We have seen the latter city pass under Culhua control at the fall of Culhuacan; but after the reigns of king Iztactototl and queen Ehuatlycue, the Chichimecs had regained control in 1372. In 1395 an army, composed chiefly of Tepanecs and Mexicans, under Xaltemoc, lord of Quauhtitlan, conquered and burned the Otomí city of Xaltocan, and a large extent of territory between that city and Tollan, of which Tezozomoc took for himself the larger share, giving also portions to his allies for their services. In 1392 the Cuitlahuacs had been conquered by the Mexicans and entrusted to a governor devoted to the interests of Tezozomoc, who embraced every opportunity to place his sons or his friends in positions where they might be of use to him in the future.[VII-18] Ixtlilxochitl watched the aggressive movements without interfering, from cowardice or weakness [370] as one would think were it not for subsequent events, and at last Tezozomoc proceeded to test his adversary's feelings towards him, by sending, for three years successively, a quantity of cotton to Tezcuco, at first with the request, but finally with the order, that it should be woven into fine fabrics and returned to Azcapuzalco. Twice the request was granted and the cloths sent back with a polite message, still, as is said, at the advice of the Acolhua counselors; and the Tepanec king evidently began to think he had overrated his emperor's courage. He was disposed to begin hostilities at once, but was induced by his allied counselors rather to increase year by year the quantity of cotton sent to Tezcuco, and thus to gradually accustom the Acolhua king to a payment of tribute, while he was also constantly winning over to his side lords that yet wavered. On the third year a very large amount of cotton was sent, without any formal request, but with a mere message directing that the staple be forthwith woven into the finest cloths, and to ensure dispatch that it be divided among the Acolhua lords.


Ixtlilxochitl was at last fully aroused, refused to be controlled by his advisers, and returned to Tezozomoc's message a reply substantially as follows: "I have received the cotton kindly furnished by you, and thank you for it. It will serve to make quilted garments to be worn by my soldiers who go to chastise a pack of rebels who not only refuse allegiance to their emperor, but relying on my forbearance, have the impudence to ask for tribute. If you have more cotton send it also; my soldiers do not need armor to fight against such foes, but these quilted garments will give my armies a finer appearance in their triumphal march." With this reply, or soon after, according to Brasseur, a formal challenge was sent to Tezozomoc, whose gray hairs and near relationship, as Ixtlilxochitl said, could no longer protect him. The other authorities speak of no formal challenge, [371] but of long preparation on both sides for the approaching conflict. The Tepanec king summoned his allies, chief among whom were the Mexicans and Tlatelulcas, promised to divide the conquered domain of Acolhuacan among them, and prepared to march on Tezcuco. Ixtlilxochitl also called upon his vassal lords, including those of Coatlichan, Huexotla, Coatepec, Iztapalocan, Tepepulco, Chalco, and others, explained to them the ambitious plans of Tezozomoc, recalled to them the favors they had received from his ancestors, and ordered them to aid him immediately with all their resources. Many of the authors state that he wished at this time to be crowned as emperor, but postponed the ceremonies at the wish of his lords, until after the defeat of his enemy, when they might be performed with fitting pomp. All the lords promised their assistance, although some of them are supposed to have been in sympathy with Tezozomoc. The Spanish writers represent these events as having occurred from 1410 to 1412, but it is evident from what follows that they are to be attributed to the last years of the fourteenth century.[VII-19]

Brasseur, relying on a chapter of Torquemada's work,[VII-20] states that in the challenge mentioned above, the region of Quauhtitlan was mentioned as a battle-ground, and that it was followed by a three years' war, in which Ixtlilxochitl succeeded, at least, in holding his ground, and thereby greatly increased his strength by inspiring confidence in the minds of his wavering vassals. Other authorities, however, state that open hostilities were not engaged in for a long time after the affair of the cotton, although preparations were made on both sides; and this was probably the case, since I find nothing in Torquemada's account to indicate that he intended to make this war distinct [372] from that which, according to all the authorities, took place some years later.

Ixtlilxochitl had married a sister of prince Chimalpopoca of Mexico—half-sister to king Huitzilihuitl II.—by whom he had two children, the princess Atototzin and prince Nezahualcoyotl, 'the fasting coyote.'[VII-21] All the authorities agree on 1402 as the date of his birth, although disagreeing somewhat respecting the month, day, and hour, these variations being, perhaps, not worth discussion from a historical point of view. The predictions of the astrologers at his birth were most flattering for his future career, and he was entrusted for education and training to a Toltec gentleman of high culture.[VII-22] Xaltemoc of Quauhtitlan, who in 1395 had commanded the allied forces in the conquest of Xaltocan, had, it seems, gained the good-will of both the Chichimec and Culhua branches of the population of that city, the power of which had been greatly increased; but this ruler, not lending himself readily to the plans of Tezozomoc, is reported to have been assassinated by the latter's orders in 1408, and his domain to have been divided and put under sons or friends of the Tepanec tyrant, as governors.[VII-23]


The first act of open hostility took place in 1415, when Tezozomoc sent an army in several divisions round the lake southward to devastate the country, destroy the minor towns belonging to the emperor, to join forces at Aztahuacan, take and fortify Iztapalocan, an important city near by, and from that place to march on Tezcuco and capture the emperor. The plan succeeded at first and many towns were pillaged. A traitor led them by the best routes and gave them [373] instructions as to manner of assaulting, or, as Brasseur says, admitted them into the city of Iztapalocan; but the inhabitants under the brave governor, Quauhxilotzin, succeed in repulsing the Tepanec forces although not without considerable loss of prisoners, to which misfortune was joined the death of the brave governor, murdered by the hands of the same traitor mentioned above. Ixtlilxochitl, hearing of the march of his enemy, came to Iztapalocan from Tezcuco soon after the battle, with a small army hastily gathered; but the Tepanecs finding that their plan had failed in its main object, had retreated to Azcapuzalco, and the emperor's force was too small to attack Tezozomoc in his intrenchments.[VII-24]

Before beginning a campaign against Tezozomoc, Ixtlilxochitl called a meeting of such vassal lords as were accessible, and had his son Nezahualcoyotl proclaimed, with all the pomp of the old Toltec rites, as his successor on the imperial throne. The high-priests of Huexotla and Cholula assisted at the ceremonies, and the only lords present were those of Huexotla,[VII-25] Coatlichan, and Iztapalocan; others who were faithful were busy preparing their forces for war. The authorities do not agree whether this meeting took place in Tezcuco or Huexotla, and some imply that Ixtlilxochitl was crowned at the same time.[VII-26]

Tezozomoc, too old to lead his armies in person, gave his son Maxtla and the kings of Mexico and Tlatelulco, the highest places in command, making [374] the latter, Tlacateotzin, commander-in-chief. He also took especial care in strengthening his fortifications on the frontier. Ixtlilxochitl divided his forces in three divisions; the first, commanded by Tochintzin, grandson of the lord of Coatlichan, was stationed in towns just north of the capital; the second, under Ixcontzin, lord of Iztapalocan, was to protect the southern provinces; while the third, under the emperor himself, remained near Tezcuco, ready to render aid to his officers where it should be most needed. They were ordered to remain within their intrenchments and await the enemy's movements. The Tepanecs and their allies crossed the lake in canoes, landed in the region of Huexotla, carried some small settlements on the lake shores, and assaulted the Acolhuas in their intrenched positions. Day after day they repeated the assault, and were driven back each time with heavy loss, both sides in the meantime receiving strong reinforcements. Finally Tochintzin feigned a retreat towards Chiuhnauhtlan, drew the Tepanecs in pursuit, faced about suddenly and utterly routed the forces of Tlacateotzin. The lake shore was covered with the dead, and the defeated army retired in confusion to Azcapuzalco. The good-natured emperor gave orders to discontinue offensive operations, and sent an embassy proffering peace on condition of submission to him as emperor, and offering to forget the past. Tezozomoc haughtily declined the overtures, claimed a right, as the nearest relative of the great Xolotl, to the title of Chichimecatl Tecuhtli, and announced his intention to enforce his claims, naming a day when his armies would again meet the Acolhuas on the field of Chiuhnauhtlan. This may be the challenge already referred to as recorded by Torquemada. At any rate, it was accepted, a large army was concentrated at the point indicated, and another at Huexotla, which place, as was ascertained, Tezozomoc really intended treacherously to attack, and which he expected to find comparatively [375] undefended. Tlacateotzin crossed the lake as before in canoes with an immense army, but as before was defeated in a succession of battles, and after some days forced to retreat to the Tepanec capital, branches of the Acolhua army in the meantime sacking several towns in the enemy's domain, and punishing several lords who had deserted the emperor to join Tezozomoc.[VII-27]


Ixtlilxochitl's star was now in the ascendant; his valor and success in war inspired new confidence; and many lords who had hitherto held aloof, now declared their allegiance to the emperor. As usual, the Tezcucan monarch was disposed to suspend his military operations, and receive the allegiance which he supposed Tezozomoc would now be ready to offer; but he soon learned that his adversary, far from abandoning his projects, had succeeded, by new promises of a future division of territory and spoils, in gaining over to his side the lords of two powerful provinces, one of which was Chalco, adjoining the Acolhuan domain on the north and south. Exasperated at his foe's persistence, and having a larger army than ever before at his command, Ixtlilxochitl determined to punish Tezozomoc and his allies in their own territory. Leaving at and about Iztapalocan, and under the lord of that city, a sufficient army to keep the Chalcas in check, he marched at the head of a large army northward and round the lakes, taking in his course Otompan and Tollan with many towns of minor importance. Now without opposition, now after a bloody combat, town after town fell before the advancing conqueror, whose fury was directed against Tepanec soldiers and treacherous vassals, women and children being in all cases spared. In the province of Tepotzotlan he was met by the regular Tepanec army of 200,000 men under the Tlatelulcan king Tlacateotzin, who attempted [376] to stay the tide of invasion, but after a desperate conflict, was forced back to Quauhtitlan, and then to Tepatec, where a second great battle was fought. Defeated at every step, the allied rebels were at last forced to retreat within the fortifications of Temalpalco, which defended Tezozomoc's capital, Azcapuzalco. For four months, as some authorities state, the siege of the city was prolonged, Ixtlilxochitl endeavoring rather to harass the pent-up enemy, and gradually reduce their number, than to bring about a general engagement. Finally, when he could hold out no longer, Tezozomoc sent an embassy to the emperor, throwing himself entirely upon his mercy, but pleading most humbly for pardon, reminding Ixtlilxochitl of their near relationship, pledging the submission of all his allies, and promising to come personally to Tezcuco, on an appointed day, to swear the allegiance he had so long and unjustly withheld. The too lenient emperor, tired of war and bloodshed, granted the petition, raised the siege against the advice of all his lords, returned to Tezcuco, and disbanded his armies. Brasseur makes this campaign end in 1416; others in 1417. Ixtlilxochitl states that the campaign lasted four years, and that Tezozomoc had under his command 500,000 men.[VII-28]


By this act Ixtlilxochitl sealed his fate. Some of his truest allies who had fought for glory and loyalty, understanding Tezozomoc's hypocrisy and deeming their labors thrown away, were disgusted at their emperor's ill-timed clemency and withdrew their support. Many more lords had undertaken the war with the expectation, in case of victory, of sharing among themselves the Tepanec dominions. The rank and file, with the lesser chieftains, had borne the toil and [377] danger of a long campaign, and now that it was ended, were denied the spoils that belonged to them as victors. The discontent was loud and wide-spread, and Ixtlilxochitl's prestige outside of Tezcuco and one or two adjoining cities, was lost forever. The Tepanec king, without the slightest idea of fulfilling his pledges, fomented the spirit of mutiny by promising the lords as a reward of rebellion, what they had failed to obtain in loyal combat, new domains from the Tezcucan possessions, together with independence of imperial power. Another motive of hatred on the part of Tezozomoc toward Ixtlilxochitl is mentioned by Brasseur's documents as having come to the knowledge of the former king about this time. His son's wife, a near relative of the Tezcucan king, who had left her husband and Azcapuzalco for good reasons, was now found to be living in or near Tezcuco as the mistress of an Acolhua chief, thus degrading the honor of the Tepanec royal family.[VII-29]


Having completed as secretly as possible his preparations for a renewal of the war, Tezozomoc announced his readiness to swear allegiance to his sovereign, and his intention to celebrate that act and the return of peace by grand festivities. As his age and the state of his health would not permit him, he said, to go to Tezcuco, he appointed a suitable location[VII-30] for the ceremonies and invited Ixtlilxochitl to be present with his son Nezahualcoyotl, accompanied only by unarmed attendants, for the Tepanecs had not yet recovered, he said, from their terror of the Acolhua soldiers. The emperor at first consented, although by this time he had no faith in the Tepanec monarch, and, abandoned in his capital by all his leading nobles, bitterly repented of his unwise course; but at the last moment he sent Prince Tecuiltecatl, his brother, or as some say his natural son, in his [378] stead to make excuses for his absence, and try to have the ceremony postponed. The substitute was flayed alive on his arrival at Tenamatlac, and Tezozomoc, finding that the prey had temporarily escaped his trap, ordered his troops to march immediately on Tezcuco, entered the Acolhua domains on the day after the murder, and the following day surrounded the capital. The lords of Huexotla, Iztapalocan, and Coatepec,[VII-31] were the only ones to render aid to the emperor in this emergency. The city was gallantly defended by the small garrison for many days,[VII-32] but at last the emperor with Nezahualcoyotl and a few companions, by the advice of his lords, left the city at night and took refuge in the forest of Tzincanoztoc, where he soon learned that Toxpilli, chief of the Chimalpanec ward, had pronounced for Tezozomoc and opened the city to the enemy. A scene of carnage and plunder ensued, such of Ixtlilxochitl's partizans as survived fleeing to Huexotzinco and Tlascala. From his retreat at Tzincanoztoc the emperor sent to demand protection of the lord of Otompan, a man deeply indebted to him for honors in the last campaign; but his petition was denied, and his messenger, who was also his son or nephew, a famous general, was murdered, his body torn in pieces, and his nails strung on a cord for a necklace. By this time quite a company had gathered about the emperor, and the enemy had also ascertained his whereabouts. Aided by the natural strength of his position, he defended himself for many days, until, without food or hope of succor, he decided to strive for life no longer. The authorities differ widely in the details of his death, and the matter is not sufficiently important to warrant a repetition of all that has been said about it. Torquemada and Clavigero state that he was drawn out of his last retreat by [379] promised favorable conditions of surrender, and was treacherously murdered; but most agree that at the last approach of the foe, a band of Chalcas and men of Otompan, he induced his son to conceal himself in a tree, turned alone upon the enemy, and fell covered with wounds. At the close of his last conversation with Nezahualcoyotl, he urged him to escape to his friends in Tlascala, always to deal leniently with his enemies, for he did not repent of his own mercy, though it had cost him so dear; he concluded by saying: "I leave to thee, my son, no other inheritance than thy bow and arrow; strive to acquire skill in their use, and let thy strong arm restore the kingdom of thy Chichimec ancestors."[VII-33] The emperor's death took place probably in 1419.[VII-34]

Respecting Tezozomoc's short reign of eight years, we find in the records a general account of the leading events, but learn very little about the order of their occurrence. Of the lords that had remained faithful to Ixtlilxochitl to the last, those in Anáhuac were forced to submit for a time to Tezozomoc or flee for protection to the eastern plateau; but the ruler of more distant provinces, like those in the east about Huexotzinco and Tlascala, and those in the north in the Tulancingo region, beyond the reach of Tepanec power, utterly refused allegiance to the new sovereign. Of the powers that had supported Tezozomoc, few or none seem to have done so from any friendship to him, or respect for his claims, but for the direct benefit which they hoped to gain from the change. [380] Some fought simply to gain their independence, or re-establish the old Chichimec feudal system broken up by Techotl, and such, at the close of the war, simply assumed their independence, the stronger provinces retaining it, and the weaker being kept in subjection by force of arms only, and keeping the Tepanec king so busy during his short term that he had hardly leisure to consolidate his empire. The other class of Tepanec allies had been drawn into the war by Tezozomoc's extravagant promises of new honors, domains, and other spoils; these awaited the complete establishment and re-organization of the empire, and the fulfillment of the emperor's promises.

Tezozomoc proposed as a basis of reconstruction of the empire, the division of power in Anáhuac among seven kings according to the old feudal system, the conquered Acolhua domains to be divided among the seven—himself, of course, taking the largest share, and each of the other six to be independent in the government of their realms, but to acknowledge him as emperor and to pay a regular tribute. The seven kingdoms were to be Azcapuzalco, Mexico, Tlatelulco, Chalco, Acolman, Coatlichan, and Huexotla, the last two being given to the lord of Otompan and his son.[VII-35] King Chimalpopoca of Mexico was to receive the province of Tezcuco and certain Cuitlahuac districts; to king Tlacateotzin of Tlatelulco, was to be given portions of Huexotla and Cuitlahuac. Some minor rewards were also awarded to the lesser allied chiefs. The conditions were accepted, although not without some dissatisfaction on the part of the Mexicans, who had expected much more, and of such chiefs as were not among the seven chosen kings. Amid grand ceremonies and festivities in an assembly of the allied lords, Tezozomoc proclaimed himself emperor, and the six kings as his colleagues, to be consulted in all matters of general government; announced the transfer of his capital to Azcapuzalco; offered a general [381] amnesty to the followers of Ixtlilxochitl on condition of submission to the new political arrangement; offered a reward for the capture of Nezahualcoyotl, dead or alive, proclaiming that all should be treated as traitors and punished with death who should dare to give aid or shelter to the fugitive prince; and appointed officers to publicly proclaim his accession and the new measures that accompanied it, in every city in the empire.[VII-36]


Some authorities state that the amnesty proclaimed by Tezozomoc in favor of the Acolhua provinces, included freedom from tribute for one year; however this may have been, the matter of tribute was not arranged until after the grand assembly and the swearing of allegiance to the new emperor, but was reserved by the crafty Tepanec as a means of practically retaining for himself what he had apparently given to the six kings, and what had in most cases proved satisfactory to them. Finally the system of tribute was announced. The amount of tribute and of personal service required was made much more burdensome than it had ever been, greatly to the dissatisfaction of the people and subordinate chiefs; then each king was to collect the tribute from his dominions, to retain one third for himself, and to pay over at Azcapuzalco the remaining two thirds into the imperial treasury. Thus the allied powers discovered that Tezozomoc had outwitted them; that he had taken for himself in the division of territory the lion's share; that he had greatly increased the burden of taxation throughout the country; that, not content with the revenues of his own states, and a nominal tribute from his colleagues as a token of their allegiance, he claimed two thirds of that from other [382] states; and that while they had gained the empty titles of kings and associates in the imperial power, they were in reality only governors, poorly paid for the labor of collecting taxes and administering the government. The Mexicans and Tlatelulcas had been promised, moreover, or at least had expected, an establishment on the basis of the old Toltec alliance, with their own kings as the two allies of Tezozomoc, owing him only a nominal allegiance. Moreover Chimalpopoca had now succeeded to the throne of Mexico, and he was a friend of Nezahualcoyotl and had never been favorably disposed toward the Tepanec monarch. The Mexicans, however, masked their discontent, until such time as they should see an opportunity for revenge; the other powers made open and loud complaint, so far as they dared to do so. The final establishment of Tezozomoc's empire, so far as it was ever established, is placed by the Abbé Brasseur in 1425.[VII-37]


Prince Nezahualcoyotl, after the death of his father, had been joined by a few faithful friends and had succeeded in making his escape to Tlascala and Huexotzinco, where he found the people and lords true to him, and confident of their ability to repel any force the Tepanec usurper could send against them, but not strong enough at this time to warrant them in undertaking an offensive war against the allied forces of Anáhuac for the restoration of Nezahualcoyotl to his ancestral throne. They advised him to put himself in communication with the many disaffected chieftains of the valley, and to await his opportunity, which was sure to come, and that soon, promising him their aid in such an emergency. The prince thereupon turned boldly about and returned to Anáhuac in disguise. His adventures and hair-breadth [383] escapes during his wanderings are related in detail by the Spanish writers, but must be omitted here as having no special importance in connection with the general history of the country. He found friends in every direction, and was especially protected by Chimalpopoca of Mexico. It is said that he was present in disguise at the assembly when Tezozomoc was crowned, and when he heard a reward offered for his murder, was with difficulty prevented by his friends from making himself known, so great was his rage. Finally his aunts, the queens of Mexico and Tlatelulco, went with a large company of ladies to the palace of Tezozomoc, and interceded for their nephew with so much earnestness that the king countermanded his previous orders, and granted him permission to reside, in a private capacity, at Mexico; and soon after he was even allowed to live at Tezcuco in a palace that had belonged to him personally from his birth.[VII-38]

Tezozomoc was now very old and infirm; for several years he had been kept alive only by means of artificial warmth and the most careful attentions. By a temperate life and freedom from all excess, in addition to a robust constitution, he had prolonged his life even beyond the usual limit in those days of great longevity, and retained the use of all his mental faculties to the last. In his last days he repented of the pardon that he had extended to Nezahualcoyotl; for he dreamed that an eagle tore his head in pieces and consumed his vitals, while a tiger tore his feet. The astrologers informed him that the eagle and the tiger were Nezahualcoyotl, who would surely overthrow the Tepanec power, punish the people of Azcapuzalco, and regain his father's imperial power, unless he could be put to death. The old monarch's last charge to his sons and to his nobles was that [384] Nezahualcoyotl should be killed, if possible, during his funeral exercises, when he would probably be present. He died in 1427, naming Tayauh, one of his sons, as his successor on the Tepanec and Chichimec thrones, and charging him, after the Acolhua prince's death, to strive by every means in his power to make friends among his vassal lords, and to avoid all harsh measures. Maxtla, another son, seems to have had more ability and experience than his brother, but his father feared the consequence of his hasty temper and arbitrary manner, by which he had already made a multitude of enemies.[VII-39] A large number of princes and lords were assembled at the royal obsequies, among them Nezahualcoyotl himself, against the advice of his friends, but relying on his good fortune and on the assurance of a sorcerer in whom he had great faith, that he could not be killed at that time. The heir to the throne was disposed to have his father's recommendations carried out during the funeral exercises, but Maxtla claimed that it would be bad policy—for himself, probably, in consideration of his own ambitious plans—to disgrace so solemn an occasion by murder. All the authorities agree that Tezozomoc was the most unscrupulous and tyrannical despot that ever ruled in Anáhuac; the only good that is recorded of him is his own strict morality, and his strict and impartial enforcement of just laws and punishment of crimes within his own dominions. His extraordinary ability as a diplomatist and politician is evident from the events of his career as related above.[VII-40]



Maxtla, although deprived of the succession to the imperial throne, had been made king of Coyuhuacan, a province of which he had long been ruling lord. He had, however, no intention of giving up his claim to his father's crown; Tayauh was of a weak and vacillating disposition, having no enemies, but also no friends except the kings of Mexico and Tlatelulco who probably hated his brother rather than favored him; Maxtla by reason of his high military rank had control of the army; and only a few days after the funeral of Tezozomoc, he had himself proclaimed emperor of the Chichimecs. He offered his brother in exchange his lordship of Coyuhuacan, but the latter seems to have gone to reside in Mexico. Chimalpopoca blamed the deposed sovereign for having so easily relinquished his claims; and by his advice a plot was formed some months later to assassinate the usurper. Tayauh was to have a palace erected for himself at Azcapuzalco, Maxtla was to be invited to be present at the ceremonies of dedication, and was to be strangled with a wreath of flowers while being shown the apartments. A page overheard and revealed the plot; Maxtla aided in the erection of the palace for his brother, and had him stabbed in the midst of the festivities, instead of waiting to be shown the rooms and himself becoming the victim.[VII-41]

Chimalpopoca and Tlacateotzin had excused themselves from attending the fêtes, else they very likely might have shared Tayauh's fate. Now that the plot was revealed and their connection with it, they well knew that Maxtla, who before had reasons to be unfriendly to them,[VII-42] would neglect no opportunity of [386] revenge. A strange story is here given, to the effect that Chimalpopoca, overwhelmed by misfortune, resolved to sacrifice himself on the altar of the gods, or, as some authorities state, by announcing such a resolve to test the feelings of his people and possibly to provoke a revolt in his favor. Maxtla, fearing the latter motive, sent a force of men to Mexico and arrested the royal victim just before the sacrifice was to be performed, taking him as a prisoner to Azcapuzalco, or as others say, confining him in his own prison at Mexico. Chimalpopoca died soon after this event, probably killed by order of Maxtla, but there is no agreement as to the details of his death, or that of Tlacateotzin which took place about the same time.[VII-43] The death of the Aztec kings took place in 1428, and was followed by a re-imposition, and even a doubling, of the tributes of early days, accompanied by every [387] kind of oppression and insult towards the inhabitants of the lake cities.[VII-44]


Maxtla had resolved that Nezahualcoyotl, as well as Chimalpopoca and Tlacateotzin, must die. Whether he came to intercede for Chimalpopoca, or as other authors say was summoned by Maxtla, the Acolhua prince visited Azcapuzalco at this time, and very narrowly escaped death at the hands of the soldiers posted about the palace with orders to kill him, by fleeing through the royal gardens and returning to Tezcuco. A Tepanec force was immediately dispatched to the latter city, with instructions to kill or capture him at a banquet to which he was to be invited by the governor of the city,—a bastard brother of Nezahualcoyotl, but his deadly foe,—but he was again fortunate enough to elude their pursuit, and after having received offers of aid from several lords in Anáhuac, escaped to Huexotzinco and Tlascala. He found the provinces of the eastern plateau, including Zacatlan, Tototepec, Cempoala, Tepepulco, Cholula, and Tepeaca, more enthusiastic than ever in his favor, and moreover convinced that the time had come for decisive action with a view to restore him to the imperial throne of his ancestors. Armies were raised and placed at his disposal; word came that the Chalcas would join in the enterprise; the sympathy of the Mexicans and Tlatelulcas he was already assured of; he consequently returned to Anáhuac and established his headquarters at a small village near Tezcuco.[VII-45] After having, according to Veytia, taken Otompan and some of the adjoining [388] towns, the allied army was divided into three corps. The first, composed of the Huexotzinca and Tlascaltec forces, was to move on Acolman; the second, made up chiefly of Chalca troops, was to attack Coatlichan; while Nezahualcoyotl himself, with the remaining allied forces, was to operate against Tezcuco. The first two divisions were perfectly successful, capturing the capitals, Acolman and Coatlichan, and laying waste the surrounding territory. According to Ixtlilxochitl and Veytia, Nezahualcoyotl was equally fortunate, took possession of the Acolhua capital, and disbanded a large part of his army; but the author of the Codex Chimalpopoca, partially confirmed by Torquemada, and followed by the Abbé Brasseur, states that the prince imperial failed at this time in his assault on the city, and only succeeded in fortifying himself advantageously in the suburb of Chiauhtla. Subsequent events make this the more probable version of the matter.[VII-46]


The murder of Chimalpopoca and Tlacateotzin caused the wildest excitement in Tenochtitlan and Tlatelulco. From these acts, together with the burden of tribute and the many insults heaped upon them, the people well knew Maxtla's intention to destroy forever their kingdoms and reduce them to their former condition of abject vassalage. A mass meeting composed of all classes was held in Mexico, which anxiously awaited the decision of the senate, where the question of their future condition and policy was long and hotly discussed. The old and the timid members were in favor of yielding to the demands of [389] an emperor whose power they could not hope successfully to resist; they implored their colleagues not to plunge the people into war and the horrors of future slavery by their rash spirit of independence. But the young men of all classes, seconded by most of the nobility, were in favor of war, chiding the cowardice of the rest, and boldly proclaiming their choice of death rather than a dishonorable submission to the tyrant's commands. Moreover, the gods had foretold their future greatness, and should they render themselves unworthy of divine favor, and bring disgrace on the memory of their valiant ancestors?[VII-47] It was decided by a large majority to proceed to the election of a king who should lead them to victory. According to the Codex Chimalpopoca, the first choice of the assembly was Montezuma, eldest son of Chimalpopoca, but he declined to accept the crown, pleading youth and inexperience, and urged the claims of his uncle Itzcoatl, for many years commander of the armies. The other authorities do not mention the choice of Montezuma. However this may have been, Itzcoatl was unanimously elected, and was crowned with the usual ceremonies and with something more than the usual amount of speeches and advice, in view of the gigantic task assumed by the new king, of shaking off the Tepanec yoke. Tempanecatl, or Tlacaeleltzin, was sent to demand a confirmation of the people's choice at the hands of the emperor Maxtla. But he found that the news had preceded him and had been ill-received, war had practically begun, and a blockade was established. The embassador succeeded in reaching the royal presence; but though assured of Itzcoatl's loyalty, Maxtla haughtily replied that Mexico must have no [390] king, must be ruled by Tepanec governors, or take the consequences of a fruitless revolt. Tlacaeleltzin's return with these tidings caused a new panic among the more timid of the Mexicans, but by renewed exhortations, by promises of honors and booty in case of victory, their courage was brought to the sticking point, and the same embassador was sent to Azcapuzalco with a formal declaration of war.[VII-48] Only a few days after Itzcoatl's coronation the Tlatelulcas also chose a king and joined the Mexicans in their fight for national existence. There was some jealousy between the two powers, but their interests were now identical. The choice of the Tlatelulcas fell upon Quauhtlatohuatzin, a celebrated warrior, but not of royal blood; and to this inferiority in the rank of her ruler is attributed, by some authors, the inferior position thereafter occupied by Tlatelulco, previously equal, if not superior, in power to her sister city.[VII-49]


Such was the state of affairs in the early part of 1429, when the news of Nezahualcoyotl's success reached Azcapuzalco and Mexico. All communication had been cut off between the cities of the lake and the mainland; many sharp attacks had been made by Itzcoatl on the enemy's lines; but no general engagement had taken place. The Mexicans [391] began to find their condition critical; Maxtla expected to be at an early date in possession of the Aztec strongholds, and deferred until after such success all offensive operations against Nezahualcoyotl; the besieged Aztecs naturally looked towards the Acolhua prince for assistance against their common foe. Here the national prejudices of the original native authorities, followed by Spanish writers, begin to appear in the historic annals. Ixtlilxochitl and Veytia favoring the Acolhua interests, represent the Aztecs, hard pressed by the Tepanecs, as having humbly implored the aid of Nezahualcoyotl, who graciously came to their relief; Tezozomoc, Duran, and Acosta make the Mexicans conquer the Tepanec king unaided, and render assistance to the Acolhua prince afterwards; while Torquemada, Clavigero, and the authorities followed by Brasseur state, what in the light of future events is much more probable, that the two powers formed an alliance on equal terms, and for mutual advantage against the usurping emperor. At any rate Montezuma[VII-50]—identical, as Clavigero and Brasseur think, with Tlacaeleltzin—was sent to Nezahualcoyotl, in company with two other lords. The ambassador succeeded in penetrating the enemy's lines, although one of his companions was captured, made known to Nezahualcoyotl the wishes and condition of the Mexicans, and received assurances of sympathy, with promises to consult with his allies, render aid if possible, and at least to have an interview with Itzcoatl. His chief difficulty would seem to have been that most of his allies not without reason detested and feared the Mexicans more than the Tepanecs, and by too hastily following his own inclinations and espousing the Aztec cause, he might risk his own success. The fact that an alliance was finally concluded between these powers shows clearly that neither alone could overthrow the formidable [392] Maxtla, and that it was no act of condescension or pity on the part of either, but rather of necessity, to join their forces. On his return Montezuma was captured by the Chalcas, or being sent, as some authorities state, to Chalco for aid was retained for a time as a prisoner, but set at liberty by his jailer, and reached Mexico in safety.[VII-51] This action of the Chalcas is said to have so displeased the surrounding nations that neither party would accept their alliance, but this may well be doubted, considering the strength of that people. The Huexotlas, according to Torquemada, withdrew their allegiance on hearing that the Aztecs were to be aided. Nezahualcoyotl and Itzcoatl had an interview soon after at Mexico,[VII-52] where the former was received with great rejoicing, and a plan settled for the campaign against Maxtla, whose territory was to be invaded by the allied armies. At about this time, according to the Codex Chimalpopoca, the province of Quauhtitlan succeeded after a succession of reverses and victories in shaking off the Tepanec yoke and announced their friendship to the Mexicans, although they were unable to render any open assistance in the early part of the campaign.[VII-53]


The campaign by which Maxtla was overthrown and the imperial power wrested from the hands of the Tepanecs, lasted over a hundred days. To relate in detail all that the authorities record of this campaign, the marches and counter-marches, the attacks and repulses, the exploits of the leaders and lesser chieftains, noting all the minute variations in statement respecting the names of chiefs, places attacked, number of troops engaged, and the chronological order of events, would require a chapter much longer [393] than my space will allow, would be monotonous to the general reader, and could not probably be made sufficiently accurate to be of great value to the student of aboriginal military tactics. The general nature of the war and the results of the victory may be told in a few lines. The allied Acolhua, Tlascaltec, Cholultec, Mexican, and Tlatelulcan forces, under Nezahualcoyotl, Itzcoatl, Montezuma, and other leaders, amounted to three or four hundred thousand men. Most entered Mexico in canoes from the east; but some divisions marched round the lake. At a preconcerted signal, the lighting of a fire on Mt Quauhtepec, all the forces advanced—probably in canoes, for it is not certain that causeways had yet been constructed—on the Tepanec territory. The lord of Tlacopan, by a previous understanding with the allies, opened that city to the invaders, thus giving them a sure footing in the country of their foe, and in a few days Azcapuzalco was closely besieged. Maxtla had an army somewhat smaller than that of his opponents but they fought for the most part behind intrenchments. The emperor personally took no part in the battles that ensued, but placed his greatest general, Mazatl, at the head of his armies. Day after day the conflict was waged at different points about the doomed capital without decisive result, although many local victories were won by both sides. At last, by a desperate effort, Mazatl succeeded in driving the Mexicans back to the lake shore; in the panic that ensued many Mexican soldiers threw down their arms and begged for quarter; Itzcoatl deemed the battle and his cause lost. Cursing the cowardice of his troops, he called upon his nobles and chieftains to rush upon the foe and die bravely; his call was responded to by large numbers, the troops followed with new courage, and, re-inforcements having arrived opportunely, the tide of battle was turned, Mazatl was slain in hand-to-hand combat by Montezuma, and the Tepanec capital carried by [394] assault. Large numbers of the soldiers were put to the sword, a few bands escaped to the marshes and mountains, the city was plundered and burned, and the emperor was found in a bath and slain. Azcapuzalco never regained a prominent place among the cities of Anáhuac; it was chiefly noted in later times as a slave mart, and the disgraceful traffic is said to have been inaugurated by the sale of the Tepanec inhabitants after the Acolhua and Aztec victory. For a short time the victorious armies ravaged the territories on the west of the lakes, which still remained faithful to Maxtla, and were then recalled, and the allied troops dismissed, laden with spoils, to their own provinces. Itzcoatl and Nezahualcoyotl had no doubt of their ability to keep their foes in check and complete the conquest by the aid of their own troops; they consequently returned to Mexico to celebrate their victory.[VII-54]

The fêtes in honor of the victory and victors were long continued, and conducted on a scale unprecedented in the Mexican capital. After Itzcoatl and Nezahualcoyotl, Montezuma seems to have carried off the highest honors. The altars ran with the blood of sacrificed human victims, rites most repulsive, as is stated, to the Acolhua king, but which he could not prevent on such an occasion. A prominent feature of the ceremonies was the rewarding by lands and honors of the chiefs who had distinguished [395] themselves for bravery in the war, and, as some authorities say, the punishment by exile of such as had shown cowardice. The fêtes were immediately followed, perhaps interrupted, by the tidings that Huexotla, Coatlichan, Acolman, and the adjoining towns, had revolted; and the Mexican, Acolhua, and Tlatelulca forces, with some assistance from the eastern plateau, marched through the eastern part of the valley, and after a series of hard-fought battles conquered the cities mentioned, together with Teotihuacan and in fact nearly all the towns from Iztapalocan to the northern mountains, excepting probably Tezcuco, although some authors include the conquest of that capital in this campaign. In some of the cities no mercy was shown to any class, but all were slain. Veytia moreover divides this campaign into two, and places in the interval between them the final establishment of the empire to be given later. Torquemada and Clavigero connect the latter part of this campaign with a subsequent one against Coyuhuacan.[VII-55]


At this time, in the year 1431, and before Nezahualcoyotl had regained the capital of his father's empire, as Brasseur insists, took place the events which closed the Chichimec period of aboriginal history, the division of Anáhuac between the victors, the re-establishment of the empire on a new basis. The result is well known, but respecting the motives that led to it there is great confusion. It was decided to re-establish with slight modifications the ancient Toltec confederacy of three kingdoms, independent so far as the direction of internal affairs was concerned, but allied in the management of foreign affairs and in all matters affecting the general interests of the empire, in which matters neither king could [396] act without the consent of his two colleagues. The three kingdoms were Acolhua with its capital at Tezcuco, under Nezahualcoyotl with the title of Chichimecatl Tecuhtli; the Aztec with Mexico for its capital, under Itzcoatl bearing the title of Culhua Tecuhtli; and the Tepanec capital Tlacopan, under Totoquihuatzin with the title Tepaneca Tecuhtli. A line drawn in a general north and south direction through the valley and lake just east of the city of Tenochtitlan, divided the Acolhua domains on the east from those of Mexico on the west. The capital Tlacopan, with a few surrounding towns, and as some say the Otomí province of Mazahuacan in the northwest, made up the limited Tepanec domain.[VII-56] Tezcuco and Mexico seem to have been in all respects equal in power, while Tlacopan was far inferior to either. As a descendant and heir of the Chichimec emperors, Nezahualcoyotl nominally took precedence in rank, presiding at meetings, occupying the place of honor at public ceremonies with his colleagues on his right and left, but had no authority whatever over them, and was probably in respect to actual military power somewhat inferior to Mexico. Provinces conquered by the allied forces, together with all the spoils of war, were to be divided equally between Mexico and Tezcuco after deducting one fifth for Tlacopan.[VII-57]



The confusion among the authorities about the circumstances and motives that led to the tri-partite alliance on the above basis, arises chiefly from the patriotism of the native authors. The narrative as given by Ixtlilxochitl and Veytia, to the effect that Nezahualcoyotl suspended his triumphal march through his old dominion of Acolhuacan to assist his friend and relative in overthrowing Maxtla, dismissed his allies, and then, out of kindness, admitted Itzcoatl to an equal share with himself in the empire, before completing the conquest of Tezcuco, must evidently be accepted with many allowances. There is still more evident exaggeration in the tale of Clavigero, Tezozomoc, and Duran, that Itzcoatl overthrew the Tepanecs, held the power in his own hands, and graciously put the Acolhua prince on the throne of Tezcuco in consideration of his friendship and assistance. It is evident, as already stated, that the alliance between Itzcoatl and Nezahualcoyotl was formed for the protection of mutual interests; that no allied troops were disbanded which could be retained; that if the conquest of Tezcuco was postponed after the fall of Azcapuzalco, it was because the allies had their hands full in other directions; and that in the final division and establishment of the empire necessity and policy played a much more prominent part than friendship or condescension. On the one hand, if we suppose that the Aztec military force, as is very probable, was at the time superior to that of the Acolhuas, it must be remembered that Nezahualcoyotl had the prestige of being the legitimate [398] heir to the imperial throne of the Chichimecs, that he was popular in Anáhuac and had the support of the eastern cities; while the Aztecs were universally hated and could depend only on the valor of their chiefs and the numbers of their army. It is not impossible that the delay in taking possession of the Acolhua capital, was because the allies of Nezahualcoyotl refused to complete the conquest until their prince had some guaranty against the ambition of the Mexicans. On the other hand, if we credit the statements of those who represent Nezahualcoyotl as holding the balance of power in the first alliance, it is to be noted that the struggle had been a desperate one, even with the aid of Mexico; that it was yet far from ended, that revolts were occurring in every direction, and that with the Aztecs as foes, the success of Nezahualcoyotl was more than doubtful. On this supposition the delay in taking Tezcuco is to be attributed, as indeed some authors claim, to the fear of Itzcoatl that if he contributed further to increase his ally's power he would soon be in a position to dictate terms. Neither power could stand alone, Mexico against all Anáhuac, Tezcuco against Mexico and her own independent and revolting vassals; hence the foundation of the alliance on equal terms is perfectly comprehensible. To account for the admission of Tlacopan to the alliance, we have the facts that that city had rendered important service in the defeat of Maxtla at Azcapuzalco; that she may very likely have been promised a place in the empire in case of success; that in any event it was policy to concentrate the yet powerful Tepanec element in a friendly kingdom; and finally, as several authors state, that the families of Totoquihuatzin and Nezahualcoyotl were closely related by marriage. Some authorities state that Tlacopan was admitted through the influence of Itzcoatl, others insist that it was Nezahualcoyotl's idea. The inauguration of the new order of things, including the crowning of Nezahualcoyotl, [399] king of Acolhuacan, and the conferring of the proper titles upon each of the colleagues, was celebrated in Mexico with great pomp in 1431. Thus ends the Chichimec period, during which a small band of turbulent marauders had passed through oppression and misfortune to a leading place among the American nations. Many strong tribes were yet to be persuaded or forced to submit to the new order of political affairs; the measures by which this was accomplished, and the Aztec power spread far and wide from Anáhuac as a centre, until it came in contact with a greater power from beyond the ocean, will form the subject of the following chapters.[VII-58]



Outline of the Period—Revolt of Coyuhuacan—Nezahualcoyotl on the Throne of Tezcuco—Conquest of Quauhtitlan, Tultitlan, Xochimilco, and Cuitlahuac—Conquest of Quauhtitlan—Destruction of the Records—Death of Itzcoatl and Accession of Montezuma I.—New Temples at Mexico—Defeat of the Chalcas—Troubles with Tlatelulco—Conquest of Cohuixco and Mazatlan—Flood and Six Years' Famine—Conquest of Miztecapan—The Aztecs Conquer the Province of Cuetlachtlan and reach the Gulf Coast—Final Defeat of the Chalcas—Campaign in Cuextlan—Birth of Nezahualpilli—Improvements in Tenochtitlan—Embassy to Chicomoztoc—Death of Montezuma I. and Accession of Axayacatl—Raid in Tehuantepec—Chimalpopoca succeeds Totoquihuatzin on the Throne of Tlacopan—Nezahualpilli succeeds Nezahualcoyotl at Tezcuco—Revolt of Tlatelulco—Conquest of Matlaltzinco—Defeat by the Tarascos—Death of Axayacatl.


The annals of the Aztec period constitute a record of successive conquests by the allied Tepanec, Acolhua, and Mexican forces, in which the latter play the leading rôle, and by which they became practically masters of the whole country, and were on the point of subjugating even their allies, or of falling before a combination of their foes, when they fell before a foe from across the sea. Besides the frequently recurring campaigns against coveted provinces or revolted chieftains, we have the constant growth of [401] Tenochtitlan and Tezcuco; the construction of causeways, canals, aqueducts, and other public works; the erection of magnificent temples in honor of blood-thirsty gods; and nothing more, save the inhuman sacrifice of countless victims by which this fanatic people celebrated each victory, each coronation of a new king, each dedication of a new temple, strove to avert each impending disaster, rendered thanks for every escape, and feasted their deities for every mark of divine favor. From two sources there is introduced into this record a confusion unequaled in that of all preceding periods. The national prejudices of the original authorities have produced two almost distinct versions of each event, one attributing the leading rôle and all the glory to Tezcuco, the other to Mexico. The other source of confusion is in the successive campaigns against or conquests of the same province, as of Chalco for example. This province, like others, was almost continually in a state of revolt; and there was no king of Mexico who had not to engage in one or more wars against its people. In the aggregate about the same events are attributed to the Chalca wars, but hardly two authorities group these events in the same manner. Some group them in two or three wars, others in many, and as few attempt to give any exact chronology, the resulting complication may easily be understood. To reconcile these differences is impossible; to give in full the statement of all the authorities on each point would amount to printing the whole history of the period three or four times over, and would prove most monotonous to the reader without serving any good purpose; the choice is therefore between an arbitrary grouping of the events in question and the adoption of that given by Brasseur de Bourbourg. As the latter has the claimed advantage of resting on original documents in addition to the Spanish writers, I prefer to follow it. In respect to the difficulty arising from a spirit of rivalry between Mexico and [402] Tezcuco, I shall continue the assumption already made that the two powers entered into the alliance on terms of equality, carefully noting, however, the views of the authorities on both sides respecting all important points.

While Nezahualcoyotl was still residing in Mexico, a desperate attempt was made to retrieve the defeat at Azcapuzalco, by Coyuhuacan, the strongest of the remaining Tepanec provinces. The rulers of this province applied for aid to all the lords in the region, picturing the danger that hung over all from the Aztec power and ambition; but for some reason, probably fear of the new alliance, all refused to take part in the war, and the Tepanecs were left to fight their own battles. They began by robbing and insulting Mexican market-women visiting their city for purposes of trade; afterwards invited the Mexican nobles to a feast and sent them back clad in women's garments; and finally openly declared war. Their strong towns of Coyuhuacan and Atlacohuayan soon fell, however, before the allied armies under Itzcoatl and Montezuma, and the whole south-western section as far as Xochimilco was brought under subjection,[VIII-1] Itzcoatl making a triumphal return into his capital in 1432.


It was determined in the following year that Nezahualcoyotl should return to Tezcuco and take possession of his ancestral throne of Acolhuacan. A large army was fitted out for the conquest, but its aid was not required; for the lords that had thus far held out in the capital, realized that their cause was hopeless, [403] fled to Tlascala and in other directions, allowing the king to enter Tezcuco without resistance, where he was gladly received by the people, was publicly crowned by Itzcoatl, and proclaimed a general amnesty, which course soon brought back many even of the rebel lords.[VIII-2] Soon after his return he made a visit to Tlascala, concluding with that power a treaty of alliance, and afterwards ruling in great harmony with all his allies; at least, such is the version of the Abbé Brasseur, and Clavigero speaks of no trouble at that period; but other Spanish writers, although not agreeing among themselves, give a very different version of the events that occurred immediately after the occupation of Tezcuco. According to the statements of Ixtlilxochitl and Veytia,[VIII-3] Itzcoatl soon repented of having allowed Nezahualcoyotl the supreme rank of Chichimecatl Tecuhtli, and made some disparaging remarks about his colleague. Nezahualcoyotl, enraged, announced his intention to march on Mexico within ten days; Itzcoatl, frightened, made excuses, and sent twenty-five virgins as a conciliatory gift, who were returned untouched; a bloody battle ensued, and the Mexican king was obliged to sue for peace, and submit to the payment of a tribute. Ixtlilxochitl even says that the Acolhuas entered Mexico, plundering the city and burning temples. Torquemada[VIII-4] mentions a difficulty between the two monarchs, and Nezahualcoyotl's challenge, but states that Itzcoatl's excuses were accepted and an amicable arrangement effected. Boturini refers the quarrel and challenge to the later reign of Axayacatl. Ortega, Veytia's editor, denies that any difficulties occurred;[VIII-5] and, indeed, the story is not a very reasonable one, which is perhaps Brasseur's reason for ignoring it altogether.

[404] Once seated on the throne of Acolhuacan, Nezahualcoyotl devoted himself zealously to the reconstruction of his kingdom, following for the most part the plan marked out by his grandfather Techotl, and establishing the forms of government that endured to the time of the conquest, and that have been fully described in a preceding volume. Unlike the king of Mexico, and against his advice, he restored to a certain extent the feudal system, and left many of his vassal lords independent in their own domains, instead of appointing royal governors. He was prompted to this course by a sense of justice, and by it his popularity was greatly increased; the plan was very successful; but whether it would have succeeded in later years without the support of the Mexican and Tepanec armies, may perhaps be doubted. Many however, of the strongest, the most troublesome, and especially the frontier provinces, or cities, were placed under the king's sons or friends. Full details of the governmental system introduced by this monarch, of the many councils which he established, are given by the authorities but need not be repeated here. Particular attention was given to science and arts, and to educational institutions, which continued to flourish under his son, and for which Tezcuco was noted at the arrival of the Spaniards. The city was definitely divided into six wards called after the inhabitants of different nationalities, Tlailotlacan, Chimalpanecan, Huitznahuac, Tepanecapan, Culhuacan, and Mexicapan, and was enlarged and embellished in every direction with new palaces, temples, and both public and royal parks and pleasure-grounds.[VIII-6]


In 1434 the Chichimec-Culhua city of Quauhtitlan was brought under subjection to Mexico, or at [405] least entrusted to governors appointed by Itzcoatl, who made certain troubles among the people in the choice of a ruler an excuse for marching an army into that part of the country. Tultitlan was also conquered, probably in the same expedition.[VIII-7] Xochimilco was now one of the largest cities in Anáhuac, and by reason of its location partially on the lake, and of a deep moat which guarded the land side, was also one of the strongest. Cuitlahuac was even more strongly defended; but both cities were forced to yield to the Mexicans and their allies during this year and the following. Many Tepanecs had taken refuge in these towns after the fall of Azcapuzalco, and their rulers, trusting to their increased force and the strength of their defences, were disposed to regard the Aztecs without fear. Some authors accuse the Xochimilcas of having provoked a war by encroachments; others state that they were formally summoned by Itzcoatl to submit and pay tribute or resort to the lot of battle. They made a brave resistance, but Itzcoatl's forces crossed their moat by filling it with bundles of sticks and brambles, and entered the town, driving the army to the mountains, where they soon surrendered. Authorities differ as to the treatment of the people and the government imposed, as they do in the case of most of the conquered cities; but Xochimilco was certainly made tributary to the Mexican king. The Cuitlahuacs were conquered in a later expedition. The cause of the war, as Tezozomoc tells us, was the refusal to send their young girls to take part in a festival at Mexico. The battle was fought for the most part in canoes, the city was taken, as is said, by a detachment of students under the command of Montezuma, and many prisoners were brought back to be sacrificed in honor of the god of war. According to [406] Tezozomoc and Duran, the people of Xochimilco with those of Coyuhuacan were ordered to furnish material and build a causeway, the first, it is said, which led from Mexico to the mainland. Herrera and Acosta tells us that after the conquest of Cuitlahuac, Nezahualcoyotl, seeing that it was useless to resist the destiny of the Mexicans, voluntarily offered his allegiance to Itzcoatl and retired to the second rank in the alliance. The latter adds that to content the monarch's subjects with such a measure, a sham battle was fought, in which the Acolhua armies pretended to be defeated.[VIII-8]


An opportunity was soon offered the allied powers to test their strength outside the limits of the valley, where reports of their valor and rapidly growing power had preceded them. The rich city of Quauhnahuac in the south-west, had once, as we have seen, formed an alliance by marriage with the Mexicans, but friendly relations seem to have ceased. In a difficulty between the lords of Quauhnahuac and Xiuhtepec, a neighboring city, about the hand of the former's daughter, the latter called upon the Mexicans for aid, which they were only too ready to grant. The three kings, together with the Tlahuica forces of Cohuatzin, lord of Xiuhtepec, marched against the fated town, entered it after hard fighting, burned its temple, imposed a heavy tribute of cotton, rich cloths, and fine garments, thus taking the first step in their victorious march toward the South Sea.[VIII-9] The re-building [407] and re-peopling of Xaltocan, by colonies of Mexicans, Acolhuas, and Tepanecs, and by a gathering of scattered Otomís, is attributed by the Codex Chimalpopoca to the year 1435. At the same time were laid the foundations of a new temple in honor of Cihuacoatl, and work on the grand temple of Huitzilopochtli, begun long before, was actively prosecuted. So zealous was king Itzcoatl in advancing the glory of his people that he is reported by Sahagun[VIII-10] to have destroyed the ancient records which related the glorious deeds of more ancient peoples. Nothing further is recorded during Itzcoatl's reign save the execution of the death penalty on certain Chichimec families of Quauhtitlan, who refused to participate in some of the religious rites in honor of the Aztec gods, a short campaign against the province of Ecatepec, and a vaguely mentioned renewal of hostilities with Chalco.[VIII-11]

I have already noticed the statements of Acosta and Herrera, that after the conquest of Cuitlahuac Nezahualcoyotl resigned his supremacy in favor of the Mexican king. Other authors, as Tezozomoc, Duran, Gomara, and Sigüenza y Góngora, also imply that from the end of Itzcoatl's reign, the Mexican king was supreme in the alliance; but their statements disagree among themselves, and with previous statements by the same authors to the effect that the Mexican king was supreme monarch at the foundation of the alliance. Although Itzcoatl and his successors, [408] by their valor and desire of conquest, took a leading part in all wars, and were in a sense masters of Anáhuac, there is no sufficient evidence that they ever claimed any superiority in rank over the Acolhua monarch, or that any important difficulties occurred between the two powers until the last years of the Aztec period.[VIII-12] The king died in 1440, recommending the allies above all things to live at peace with each other, ordering work to be continued on the temple of Huitzilopochtli, and making provision for statues of himself and his predecessors on the throne of Mexico. He was succeeded by his nephew, Montezuma Ilhuicamina, or the elder, who was already commander of the armies and high-priest of Huitzilopochtli.[VIII-13]


His election having been confirmed by the kings of Tezcuco and Tlacopan, Montezuma I. was crowned with something more than the usual ceremonies, both because of his high ecclesiastical position and because he was the first monarch crowned by the Mexicans as a perfectly independent nation. According to several authors this king made an expedition against the Chalcas before his coronation to [409] obtain the necessary prisoners for sacrifice.[VIII-14] From the first days of his reign Montezuma gave great attention to the building of temples in his capital, obtaining many of his workmen from Tlacopan, and his plans from the skilled architects of Tezcuco. He seems to have instituted the custom so extensively practiced in later years, of erecting in Mexico temples in honor of the gods of foreign provinces conquered or about to be conquered, making these gods subordinate to Huitzilopochtli as their worshipers were subject to the Mexicans. Two temples are especially mentioned by the documents which Brasseur follows; one called Huitznahuateocalli, and the other that of Mixcohuatepec. The latter was built to receive the relics of the ancient chief Mixcohuatl,[VIII-15] which had been preserved for centuries in their temple at Cuitlahuac, an object of veneration to all of Toltec descent. A quarrel between Tezozomoc and Acolmiztli, rival lords of that city, afforded a sufficient pretext for sending thither a Mexican army; the temple caught fire, by accident as was claimed, and the lord who had received aid could not refuse Montezuma's request for the now shelterless relics, which were transferred to their new resting-place in Tenochtitlan. This was in 1441.[VIII-16]

The Chalcas whom we have often found fighting, now on the side of the Acolhuas, now on the side of the Tepanecs, but always hating the Mexicans most bitterly, seem to have managed their alliances so shrewdly up to this time, as to have avoided becoming involved in the ruin that at different times had overwhelmed the leading powers of Anáhuac. Since the formation of the new alliance, in which they had [410] no part, their soldiers had fought many skirmishes with the allied forces, but the latter had made no united effort to conquer them. Having become numerous and powerful, the Chalcas now dared, in 1443, to measure their strength against the allies, their chief purpose being to humble Mexico. They provoked hostilities by seizing and putting to death a party of noble young men who were hunting near their frontier. The party included some members of the Mexican royal family, and two sons of Nezahualcoyotl. The dead bodies of the latter were embalmed and made to do service in the palace of Toteotzin, lord of Chalco, as torch-bearers. The effect of such an indignity was immediate, and brought upon the perpetrators the whole strength of the allied kings. The Mexicans and Tepanecs approached by water, the Acolhuas by land; they were met by the Chalca army, and for several weeks the conflict raged fiercely without decisive advantage on either side. Kings Montezuma and Totoquihuatzin commanded in person; Nezahualcoyotl's forces were under his two eldest sons. Another son, Axoquentzin, only about seventeen years old, performed prodigies of valor and turned the tide of victory. Visiting his brothers in camp, he was about to eat with them, when they ridiculed his youth and told him that was no place for a boy who had done no deed of valor. Ashamed and angry, he seized arms and rushed alone against the enemy, taking captive one of their mightiest warriors—their aged lord Toteotzin himself, Ixtlilxochitl says—and creating a panic which caused ultimate defeat. The victory was complete, the Chalca army was scattered, the city taken and made tributary to the central powers, although these people were able subsequently to cause the victors much trouble. Nezahualcoyotl was so angry at the murder of his sons that for once he shared to some extent the bloodthirsty spirit of the Aztecs, and gladly gave up [411] the Chalca captives, among whom was their chief, to the sacrificial block.[VIII-17]


The exact status of Tlatelulco under the tri-partite alliance is not clearly recorded; but the inferior position accorded that city had doubtless caused much jealousy and dissatisfaction, which had already produced some trouble, though not open rupture, between the two kings, if we may suppose Quauhtlatohuatzin to have been at this date considered as a king. During Montezuma's absence in the Chalca war, the Tlatelulca chief ventured so far as to engage in plots against the existing state of things; Montezuma, on his return declared war; the people were reduced to submission, their ruler was killed, and Moquihuix, supposed to be in the interests of the Mexicans, was put in his place.[VIII-18] On his return from the Chalca war, and while Montezuma was punishing the treason of the Tlatelulca chief, Nezahualcoyotl was engaged in quelling a revolt in the northern province of Tulancingo, where the rebels had burned some towns and driven out the Acolhua garrisons. The province was now finally conquered and joined to the domain of Acolhuacan under royal governors. Nezahualcoyotl is also said to have founded a new town in this region, and sent colonists from Tezcuco to dwell in it.[VIII-19]

The rich provinces of Cohuixco and Mazatlan, just south of Anáhuac and of the province of Quauhnahuac, at the time the southern limit of Mexican conquest, had long been coveted by the Aztec kings; [412] and in 1448 the desired opportunity presented itself. The Cohuixcas attacked and put to death a large number of traveling merchants from Mexico, provoked to the outrage doubtless by the arbitrary conduct of the latter, who deemed that the great power of their own nation freed them from all obligation to obey the laws of nations which they visited. The murder of the traders was more than a sufficient cause of war to the belligerent allies, and by a campaign concerning which no details are recorded, the two provinces, or at least most of their towns, were conquered and annexed as tributaries to the Aztec domains.[VIII-20] During the following years the Aztecs were called upon to suspend their foreign conquests and to struggle at home against water and snow and frost and drought and famine, foes that well nigh gained the mastery over these hitherto invincible warriors. In 1449 heavy and continuous rains so raised the waters of the lake as to inundate the streets of Tenochtitlan, destroying many buildings and even causing considerable loss of life. The misfortune was bravely met; the genius of Nezahualcoyotl, the engineering skill of the valley, and the whole available laboring force of the three kingdoms were called into requisition to guard against a recurrence of the flood. A dike, stretching from north to south in crescent form, was constructed for a distance of seven or eight miles, separating the waters of the lake into two portions, that on the Mexican side being comparatively independent of the fresh water flowing into the lake in the rainy season. The dike was built by driving a double line of piles, the interior space being filled with stones and earth, the whole over thirty, or, as many authors say, [413] sixty feet wide, and forming a much-frequented promenade. This work may be considered a great triumph of aboriginal engineering, especially when we consider the millions spent by the Spaniards under the best European engineers in protecting the city, hardly more effectually, against similar inundations. The Chalcas seem to have taken advantage of the troubles in Mexico to revolt, but were easily brought into subjection by an army under Montezuma.[VIII-21]


The famine and other plagues already alluded to began two years later, and continued for a period of six years.[VIII-22] The authorities do not altogether agree respecting the exact order of the visitations, but severe frosts, a heavy fall of snow, long-continued drought, consequent failure of all crops, famine, and epidemic pestilence are mentioned by all. All the valley and many provinces without its limits were visited by the famine; indeed, Totonacapan, or northern Vera Cruz, is reported to have been the only part of the country that entirely escaped its effects. The suffering and mortality among the lower classes were terrible; the royal granaries were thrown open by order of Nezahualcoyotl and Montezuma, but the supply of maize was soon exhausted, and the fish, reptiles, birds, and insects of the lakes were the only sources of food. Thousands of the poor sold themselves into slavery, some at home, others in foreign provinces, to obtain barely food enough to sustain life. Several Mexican colonies attribute their origin to this period of want. The rulers could not prevent the sale of slaves, but they forbade children to be sold at less rates than four or five hundred ears of corn each, according as they were boys or girls. This [414] national disaster was, of course, attributed to the anger of the gods, and the utmost efforts were made to conciliate their irate divinities by the only efficacious means known, the sacrifice of human victims. But since fighting and conquest had ceased, such victims were exceedingly scarce. Nezahualcoyotl would allow none but prisoners of war to be sacrificed in his dominions, arguing that such forfeited their lives by being defeated, and that it made but little difference to them whether they died on the field of battle or on the sacrificial altar. Moreover, only strong soldiers were believed to be acceptable to the gods in such an emergency; the sickly and famishing plebeians and slaves could not by their worthless lives avert the divine wrath. The result of this difficulty was one of the most extraordinary compacts known in the world's history. It was agreed in a solemn treaty that between the Mexicans, Tepanecs, and Acolhuas in the valley, and the Cholultecs, Tlascaltecs, and Huexotzincas of the eastern plateaux, battles should take place at regular intervals, on battle-grounds set apart for this purpose, between foes equal in number, for the sole purpose of obtaining captives for sacrifice. Such battles were actually fought during the years of famine, and perhaps in later years, although the almost constant wars rendered such a resort rarely necessary. In the last years of the famine Nezahualcoyotl laid the foundations of a great teocalli at Tezcuco, in 1455 the tying-up of the cycle and the renewal of the sacred fire were celebrated, and the following year of 1456 was one of great abundance. The time of want and disaster was at last completed; a period of plenty and prosperity ensued.[VIII-23]



With returning plenty and prosperity at home, came back the spirit of foreign conquest. The first to fall before the allied forces was the province of Cohuaixtlahuacan, or Upper Miztecapan, lying in the south-west, in what is now Oajaca, and adjoining that of Mazatlan, which had already been added to the Aztec domain. As in the case of the last-mentioned province and of many others, ill-treatment of Mexican traders was the alleged motive of the war. The Miztec king, called Dzawindanda in his own country and Atonaltzin by the Mexicans, had caused many of the traveling merchants to be put to death and had finally forbidden the whole fraternity to trade in or to pass through his territory. There is every reason to believe that this prohibition was merited by the conduct of the Mexicans. At this time, and still more so in later years, the monarchs of Anáhuac made use of their merchants as spies to report upon the wealth and power of different provinces, to ascertain the best methods of attack, and to provoke a quarrel when the conquest had once been determined upon. The province of Miztecapan was a rich field of traffic and was moreover on the route to the rich commercial towns on the southern coast of Anáhuac Ayotlan, where the products of the countries both north and south of the isthmus were offered for sale at the great fairs. The Mexicans attended these fairs in companies which were well armed and were little less than small armies, trusting in their own strength and that of their sovereign, and showing but little respect for the laws of provinces traversed. [416] Atonaltzin was a proud and powerful ruler, and was not at all unwilling to measure his strength against that of the central nations. Montezuma sent an embassy to hear his complaints; Atonaltzin sent back by the same embassy a great quantity of valuable gifts, samples, as he said, of the tribute the Mexicans might expect if they should succeed in conquering his armies in the war which must decide which king was to pay tribute to the other. Montezuma's reply was to march at the head of a large army towards Tilantongo, the capital of Cohuaixtlahuacan. The result was that the allied forces were utterly routed and driven back with great loss to their home. Montezuma had underrated the strength of his adversary and had undertaken the conquest without sufficient preparation.

A few months were now spent in new preparations on both sides for a renewal of the struggle. The Aztecs in some way formed a secret alliance with the lord of Tlachquiauhco, near Tilantongo, who was an enemy to Atonaltzin. The Miztecs on the other hand obtained aid from the Tlascaltecs and Huexotzincas, who before the Aztec alliance had been the leading traders of the country, and who were jealous of the commercial enterprise shown and success achieved by their rivals. The war began with an assault by the Miztec leader and his eastern allies on Tlachquiauhco; but the Mexicans, Acolhuas, and Tepanecs, under Montezuma, inflicted this time as severe a defeat as they had suffered before; Atonaltzin was forced to surrender, and the whole province was annexed to the domain of the victors, as were Tochtepec, Zapotlan, Tototlan, and Chinantla, soon after. The auxiliary army of the Tlascaltecs and Huexotzincas was almost annihilated. The record closes with a romantic episode of Montezuma's love for Atonaltzin's queen; the Miztec king was killed shortly after by his own subjects, not improbably at the instigation of the Aztecs, and the assassins brought his queen with [417] the news of his death to Mexico. A palace was built for her, but she is said to have resisted the Aztec monarch's ardor, and to have remained faithful to her first husband. The conquest of Cozamaloapan and Quauhtochco, also in the Miztec region, followed during the same year and the following, provoked as before by the pretended murder of traveling merchants.[VIII-24]


Elated by their success in the south-west, the allied kings next turned their attention toward the south-eastern province of Cuetlachtlan, in what is now central Vera Cruz, lying between the Aztec possessions and the thriving commercial towns of the Xicalancas on the gulf coast in the Goazacoalco region. According to Veytia, Torquemada, and Clavigero, the chiefs of the province, incited by the Tlascaltecs and promised aid by them and the other cities of the eastern plateau, declared or adopted measures to provoke the war. Duran and Tezozomoc, on the contrary, represent the Mexicans as having sent an embassy to the south-eastern provinces, demanding a tribute of rare shells, or even of live shell-fish, and threatening war as an alternative. The ambassadors were to include the Totonac territory in their demands, but were seized and murdered in Cuetlachtlan, their dead bodies being subjected to great indignities, at the instigation of the Tlascaltecs. The army immediately dispatched from the lake cities was one of the strongest which had yet fought for the glory of the Aztec alliance, and numbered among its leaders three Mexican princes, Ahuitzotl, Axayacatl, and Tizoc, who afterwards occupied the throne, and Moquihuix the ruler of Tlatelulco. The alliance of the Olmec province with Tlascala and the [418] other cities seems not to have been known at Mexico when the army began its march, and when it became known excited so much apprehension that orders were sent to the generals in command to fall back and postpone the conflict until further preparations could be made. All were disposed to obey the royal command, save Moquihuix, who bravely announced his purpose to attack and defeat the enemy with his Tlatelulca soldiers unaided. His enthusiasm had an electric effect on the whole army; there was no longer any thought of retreat; the battle was fought in disobedience of orders, near Ahuilizapan, now Orizava; the army of the enemy was defeated; the Aztecs were masters of a broad tract, extending from Anáhuac south-eastward to the sea; and over six thousand captives were brought back to die on the sacrificial block. Duran and Tezozomoc state that the nations of the eastern plateau did not give the aid they had promised, treacherously leaving the province of Cuetlachtlan to its fate; but this is consistent neither with the character nor interests of the Tlascaltecs, and it is more likely that their army shared the defeat. The victors were received at Mexico with the highest honors, the kings, priests, and nobles marching out to meet them; the leaders were rewarded for their bravery with lands and honors, particularly Moquihuix, who received besides the hand of a Mexican princess nearly related to the royal family; and the blood of the six thousand captives furnished an offering most acceptable to the gods at the dedication of a temple that had just been completed.

A revolt of the province of Cuetlachtlan is recorded by Duran and Tezozomoc at a later date not definitely fixed, when the Mexican governor was murdered, the payment of tribute suspended, and the ambassadors sent to ascertain the cause of such suspension, shut up in a tight room and suffocated with burning chile. The Tlascaltecs, as before, offered aid which was not [419] forthcoming; the guilty parties were put to death by order of the Aztec monarchs, and the tributes of the province were doubled.[VIII-25]


The Chalcas never missed an opportunity for revolt, and did not fail to take advantage of the events which obliged the hated Aztecs to give their whole attention to foreign wars. During the war in Cuetlachtlan, they are said to have defied the Aztec power by refusing certain blocks of stone from their quarries needed for building-purposes in the capital, and also to have seized and imprisoned several Mexicans of high rank. Among the latter was a brother of Montezuma, whom, according to several authorities, they offered to make king of Chalco; he refused to betray his country, but at last, influenced by entreaties and threats, pretended to consent. At his request a high platform was erected for the performance of certain ceremonies designed to fire the hearts of the Chalcas in the new cause; but from its summit the captive prince denounced the treachery of his captors, called upon the Mexicans to avenge him, predicted the defeat and slavery of the people of Chalco, and threw himself headlong to the earth below. The total annihilation of this uncontrollable people was determined upon by the kings of Mexico, Tezcuco, and Tlacopan; and a peculiar air of mystery enshrouds the war which followed. During the whole period of preparation, of conflict, and of victory, the people of the capital engaged in solemn processions, chants, prayers, sacrifices, and other rites in honor of the Aztecs who had perished in past Chalca wars. Signal fires blazed on the hills and in the watch-towers; and it is even said that the gods sent an earthquake to warn the Chalcas of their impending doom. The battle [420] raged for a whole day before the fated city and the Aztecs were at last victorious, as they had been in a previous war against the same city. Great numbers of the enemy fell in battle or were put to the sword during the pursuit; the almost deserted town was entered by the Aztec army; surviving Chalcas were scattered in all directions; many took refuge in the cities of the eastern plateau, others perished in the mountains rather than to submit to their hated foe; but enough were finally pardoned by Montezuma and allowed to return to their city to cause not a little trouble in later years.[VIII-26]

Other events recorded as having occurred before 1460 are few in number. The most important was the conquest and annexation to the Tezcucan domain of many towns in the north-eastern provinces of Tziauhcohuac, Atochpan, and Cuextlan, the home of the Huastecs in the Pánuco region on the gulf coast. In this campaign the allied troops were under two of Nezahualcoyotl's sons, and this was the only important addition to the Acolhua possessions since the date of the tri-partite alliance; yet there is no evidence that Nezahualcoyotl expressed or felt any dissatisfaction at the rapid growth of the Mexican domain; he was not ambitious of conquest, and doubtless received his full share of other spoils and of tribute. At about the same time the Mexicans conquered several strong cities on the southern edge of the Cholultec plateau, such as Tepeaca, Quauhtinchan, and Acatzingo, thus threatening the independence of the eastern republics; outrages on traveling merchants were as usual the real or pretended excuse for these conquests. Tenochtitlan and Tlatelulco had now grown so far beyond their original limits as to form really but one city, the boundary line being [421] a narrow and shallow ditch. This ditch was now deepened and widened at the joint expense of the two powers, and formed into a navigable canal. Great improvements were also made, particularly in the market buildings of Tlatelulco, which had now become the commercial headquarters of the whole country north of Tehuantepec. The commercial interests of the empire had been most jealously promoted by the reigning monarchs, and the Aztec merchants had contributed no less than the Aztec armies to the glory and prosperity of their nation.[VIII-27]


In 1463 Nezahaulcoyotl married a daughter of the king of Tlacopan, obtaining her hand, if we may credit Ixtlilxochitl and Torquemada, in a manner that reflected no credit on his honor. She had been from an early age the wife of Temictzin, a Tlatelulca general, somewhat advanced in years, but the marriage had not yet been consummated on account of her youth. The Acolhua monarch desiring by marriage to leave a legitimate heir to the throne, and becoming enamored of the young Azcaxochitl's charms, sent her husband away to the wars, and managed to have him killed. After her period of mourning was past, the fair Azcaxochitl was made queen of Tezcuco; the nuptial feasts lasted eighty days among great rejoicings of nobles and people; and within a year the queen gave birth to Nezahualpilli, the emperor's only legitimate son and his successor.[VIII-28] [422] The year 1465 is given as the date of the final submission of the Chalcas; that is the surrender and return to the city of the last bands that had since their defeat lived under chieftains of their own choice in the mountains, and kept up some show of hostility to Mexico.[VIII-29] In 1466, the causeway and aqueduct extending from Chapultepec to Mexico, and supplying the capital with pure water through a pipe of burned clay, were completed. This work had been planned by Nezahualcoyotl during his residence at Mexico, and had been commenced by Itzcoatl. Work was continually pushed forward on the grand temple of Huitzilopochtli, and many teocallis were built at this period in each of the three allied capitals. One in Tezcuco is particularly mentioned, which was very richly decorated with gold and precious stones, and was dedicated by Nezahualcoyotl to the invisible god of the universe. This pyramid was completed in 1467, but, according to the Codex Chimalpopoca, fell as soon as finished. It was necessary to rebuild the structure, and that it might be done rapidly, the Tezcucan monarch called upon Montezuma for laborers from his tributary city of Zumpango and other northern towns. The permission was given, but the people of Zumpango refused to send workmen, and raised a revolt, which was, however, quelled by the Acolhua forces in a short campaign.[VIII-30]


A remarkable story told by Duran and attributed to the reign of Montezuma I., may be introduced here as well as anywhere, although it is more than doubtful whether it should receive any credit as a historic record. In the midst of the glory acquired by his valor, Montezuma determined to send an armed force to the region of the Seven Caves whence his people came. Though armed they were to bear [423] rich presents, with orders to explore the country and search for the mother of Huitzilopochtli, who if yet alive would be pleased to know of her son's prosperity and glory, and would gladly receive the gifts of his chosen people. The intention was made known to Tlacaeleltzin—a famous prince who seems to be identical with Montezuma before the latter became king, but of whom many wondrous tales are told even after the latter ascended the throne—who gave his approval, but recommended that a peaceful embassy of wise men and sorcerers be sent on this mission. At Coatepec in the region of Tollan, after performing various religious rites, the sixty sorcerers chosen for the expedition were transformed into different animal forms and transported with their treasure to the land of their fathers, to the lake-surrounded hill of Culhuacan. Here they found certain people who spoke their language and to them announced their purpose. The priests of this people remembered well the departure of the Aztec tribes, and were surprised to learn that their original leaders were dead, for their companions left behind were yet alive. The messengers were promised an interview with Coatlicue, mother of their god, and had a most tiresome journey up the sandy hill with their gifts, much to the wonder of the guiding priests, who wondered what they could live upon in their new home to have become so effeminate. At last they found the aged mother of Huitzilopochtli weeping bitterly, and stating that since her son's departure she had neither washed her body and face, combed her hair, nor changed her garments; neither did she propose to attend to her toilet until his return. The old woman expressed, however, considerable interest in the affairs of Mexico, and made known some prophecies of her son about the coming of a strange people to take the land from the Mexicans. The messengers were finally dismissed with presents of fowls, fish, flowers, and clothing, for [424] Montezuma; and, re-adopting their disguises, were brought back in eight days to Coatepec, where they discovered that twenty of their number were missing. These lost members of the company were never heard of more.[VIII-31]

Montezuma died in 1469,[VIII-32] leaving his country in a more flourishing condition than it had ever known, notwithstanding the six years' famine that had occurred during his reign. He left to his people or to his nobles the choice of his successor from among his three grandsons—by his daughter Atotoztli and Tezozomoc, son of Itzcoatl—Tizoc, Axayacatl, and Ahuitzotl, expressing, however, a preference for the second, who was now commander of the Mexican armies. His remains were enclosed in an urn and deposited in the walls of the grand temple now approaching completion, and his wishes were followed in the choice of a successor.[VIII-33]


Before the coronation of the new monarch could be [425] celebrated with fitting solemnity, and in a manner worthy of his predecessors, victims for sacrifice must be captured in large numbers; and it had now become an established custom for each newly elected king to undertake in person a campaign with the sole object of procuring captives. Axayacatl, in complying with the usage, distinguished himself by the most daring raid yet undertaken by Aztec valor. Passing rapidly southward by mountain routes at the head of a large force, and avoiding the Miztec and Zapotec towns of Oajaca, he suddenly presented himself before the city of Tehuantepec, routed the defending army, drawing them into an ambush by a pretended retreat, entered and pillaged the city, captured the rich commercial city of Guatulco some distance above on the coast, left a strong garrison in each stronghold, and returned to Mexico laden with plunder and with thousands of captives in his train, almost before his departure was known throughout the country. Brasseur tells us that he crossed the isthmus in this campaign, and for the time subjected to Aztec rule the province of Soconusco, even reaching the frontiers of Guatemala; but Torquemada is given as the authority for this statement, and this author implies nothing of the kind, consequently we may doubt it. The sacrifice of captives from distant and strange lands, together with the rich spoils brought back from the south-sea provinces, imparted unusual éclat to the coronation ceremonies; the successful warrior was congratulated by his colleagues at Tezcuco and Tlacopan; and the people felt assured that in Axayacatl they had a monarch worthy of his subjects' admiration.[VIII-34]

[426] During the same year, perhaps, a battle was fought against Huexotzinco and Atlixco on the frontier, in which the three kings took part personally; and it is recorded that in the midst of the conflict Tezcatlipoca appeared to the Aztec armies, cheering them on to victory. On the return of the victors, Axayacatl and Moquihuix of Tlatelulco each erected a new temple to the gods of Huexotzinco to propitiate those divinities in case of the war being resumed, which was foretold by the oracles. The Mexican temple was called Coatlan, and that in Tlatelulco Coaxolotl; the latter was a grander structure than the former and its erection in a spirit of rivalry excited some ill-feeling on the part of the Mexicans, and was not without an influence in fomenting the troubles that broke out between the cities a few years later.[VIII-35] An eclipse of the sun which took place about the time the temples were completed, was thought to portend disaster, and was followed within a period of two years by the death of the Tepanec and Acolhua monarchs. Totoquihuatzin, king of Tlacopan, died in 1470 at an advanced age and after a long and prosperous reign, during which he had gained the respect of his subjects and colleagues, fighting bravely in the wars of the empire and accepting without complaint his small share of the spoils as awarded by the terms of the alliance. He was succeeded by his son Chimalpopoca.[VIII-36]


The burning of an immense tract of forest lying to the west of Azcapuzalco toward the Matlaltzinco region, is recorded by one authority as having occurred [427] in 1471;[VIII-37] and in the next year took place the death of Nezahualcoyotl, the king of Acolhuacan, and considered as the greatest and wisest of the Chichimec monarchs. His adventures in early life while deprived of his ancestral throne have cast a glamour of romance about his name; and the fortitude with which he supported his misfortunes, his valor in regaining the Tezcucan throne, and the prominent part taken by him in the wars of the allies, are enthusiastically praised by his biographers. His chief glory, however, depends not on his valor as a warrior, but on his wisdom and justice as a ruler. During his reign his domain had been increased in extent far less than that of Mexico; but he had made the city of Tezcuco the centre of art, science, and all high culture—the Athens of America, as Clavigero expresses it, of which he was the Solon—and his kingdom of Acolhuacan a model of good government. Such was his inflexibility in the administration of justice and enforcement of the laws, that several of his own sons, although much beloved, were put to death for offenses against law and morality. Official corruption met no mercy at his hands, but toward the poor, the aged, and the unfortunate, his kindness was unbounded. He was in the habit of traveling incognito among his subjects, visiting the lower classes, relieving misfortune, and obtaining useful hints for the perfection of his code of laws, in which he took especial pride. Ever the promoter of education and culture, he was himself a man of learning in various branches, and a poet of no mean talent.[VIII-38] His religious views, if correctly reported by the historians, were far in advance of those of his contemporaries or of the Europeans who in the cause of religion overthrew Tezcucan culture; he seems to have been unable to resist the Aztec influence in favor of human sacrifices, but he deserves the credit of having opposed the shedding of [428] blood and ridiculed the deities that demanded it. The only dishonorable action of his life is the method by which he obtained his queen, and that may have received a false coloring at the hands of unfriendly annalists. Some of his poems were afterwards regarded as prophecies, in which was vaguely announced the coming of the Spaniards. He died in 1472, leaving over a hundred children by his concubines, but only one legitimate son.[VIII-39]

Feeling that his death was near, Nezahualcoyotl had assembled his family and announced Nezahualpilli as heir to the throne. He informed his older natural sons that only by leaving the throne to a legitimate successor could he hope to secure a peaceful succession and future prosperity. He expressed great esteem for his oldest son Acapipioltzin, who was now at the head of his armies, and great confidence in his ability, calling upon him to serve as guardian and adviser of Nezahualpilli, at the time only eight years old, during his minority, and to protect his interests against possible attempts of his other brothers to usurp the crown. Acapipioltzin promised to obey his wishes, and was ever after faithful to his promise. Several authors say that the king gave orders that his death should not be announced until after his son was firmly seated on the throne; others state that it was a popular belief among the common people that Nezahualcoyotl had not died, but had been called to a place among the gods. After the funeral of the dead king, at which assisted an immense crowd of nobles, even from foreign and hostile provinces, such as Tlascala, Cholula, Tehuantepec, Pánuco, and Michoacan, three of his sons showed such evident designs of disloyalty to the appointed successor, that the young prince was removed to Mexico by his Aztec and Tepanec colleagues, and the ceremony of coronation was performed [429] there. Axayacatl is said to have spent most of his time in Tezcuco during Nezahualpilli's minority, and it is not improbable that he took advantage of his colleague's youth to strengthen his own position as practically head of the empire.[VIII-40]


In the year of Axayacatl's accession three hills trembled in Xuchitepec, that is, there was an earthquake foreboding disaster, which came upon the people in 1472, in the shape of an Aztec army under Axayacatl. During a raid of a few days, the province was ravaged and a crowd of captives brought back to die on the altars of Huitzilopochtli. Such is Torquemada's account, which is interpreted by Brasseur as referring to a raid across the isthmus into the Guatemalan province of Xuchiltepec, or Sochitepeques, but there seems to be very little reason for such an interpretation when we consider that there were two towns named Xuchitepec in the immediate vicinity of Anáhuac.[VIII-41]


All the authorities relate with very little disagreement that in 1473 Tlatelulco lost her independence, and was annexed to Mexico under a royal governor. Hitherto this city, notwithstanding the troubles during the reign of Montezuma resulting in the death of her king and the elevation of Moquihuix, had been more independent and enjoyed greater privileges than any of the other cities tributary to the Mexican throne. But the Tlatelulcas viewed the rapid advance of Mexican power with much jealousy; they could not forget that for many years their city had been superior to her neighbor; they were proud of their wealth and commercial reputation, and of the well-known valor of their prince [430] Moquihuix. We have seen that there had been considerable dissatisfaction about the building of the temples a few years earlier; and frequent quarrels had taken place in the market-places between the men and women of the two cities. Duran and Tezozomoc relate certain outrages on both sides at the beginning of the final struggle. Moquihuix at last, counting on the well-known hatred and jealousy of the different nations in and about the valley toward the Aztec king, formed a conspiracy to shake off the power of Axayacatl, and invited all the surrounding nations except Tlascala, whose commercial rivalry he feared, to join it. Except Tlacopan, Tezcuco, and Tlascala, nearly all the cities of the central plateaux seem to have promised aid, and the plot began to assume most serious proportions, threatening the overthrow of the allied kings by a still stronger alliance. But, fortunately for his own safety, Axayacatl was made aware of the conspiracy almost at the beginning. It will be remembered that a near relative of his—his sister, as most authorities state—had been given to Moquihuix for a wife in reward for his bravery in the south-eastern campaign. She had been most grossly abused by her husband, and learning in some way his intentions, had revealed the plot to her brother, who was thus enabled to obtain from his allies all needed assistance, and to be on his guard at every point. I shall not attempt to form from the confused narratives of the authorities a detailed account of the battles by which Tlatelulco was conquered. At the beginning of open hostilities the wife of Moquihuix fled to Mexico. A simultaneous attack by all the rebel forces had been planned; but none of the rebel allies actually took part in the struggle, approaching the city only after the battle was over and devoting their whole energy to keep from Axayacatl the knowledge of their complicity. Moquihuix, confident of his ability to defeat the unprepared Mexicans without the aid of his allies, [431] having excited the valor of his chieftains and soldiers by sacrificial and religious rites, giving them to drink the water in which the stone of sacrifice had been washed, began the conflict before the appointed time. For several days the conflict raged, first in one city, then in the other; but at last the Mexicans invaded Tlatelulco, sweeping everything before them. The surviving inhabitants fled to the lake marshes; the remnants of the army were driven in confusion to the market-place; and Moquihuix amid the imprecations of his own people for the rashness that had reduced them to such straits, was at last thrown down the steps of the grand temple, and his heart torn from his breast by the hand of Axayacatl himself. The city was for a time devoted to plunder; then the inhabitants were gathered from their retreats, after having been compelled—as Tezozomoc, Acosta, and Herrera tell us—to croak and cackle like the frogs and birds of the marshes in token of their perfect submission; heavy tributes were imposed, including many special taxes and menial duties of a humiliating nature; and finally the town was made a ward of Tenochtitlan under the rule of a governor appointed by the Mexican king. The re-establishment of peace was followed by the punishment of the conspirators. The Tlatelulca leaders had for the most part perished in the war, but two of them, one being the priest Poyahuitl who had performed the religious rites at the beginning of hostilities, were condemned to death. The same fate overtook all the nobles in other provinces whose share in the conspiracy could be proven. So terrible was the vengeance of Axayacatl and so long the list of its victims, that the lords of Anáhuac were filled with fear, and it was long before they dared again to seek the overthrow of the hated Aztec power.[VIII-42]

[432] A strange anecdote is told respecting the fate of Xihuiltemoc, lord of Xochimilco, who had either taken part in the Tlatelulca war on the rebel side, or more probably had failed to aid the Mexican king in a satisfactory manner. Both Axayacatl and Xihuiltemoc were skilled in the national game of tlachtli, or the ball game, and at the festivals in honor of his victory, the former challenged the latter to a trial of skill. The Xochimilca lord, the better player of the two, was much embarrassed, fearing either to win or to allow himself to be beaten, but the king insisted, and wagered the revenues of the Mexican market and lake for a year, together with the rule of certain towns, against the city of Xochimilco, on the result. Xihuiltemoc won the game, and Axayacatl, much crest-fallen, proclaimed his readiness to pay his wager; but either by his directions, or at least according to his expectation, his opponent was strangled with a wreath of flowers concealing a slip-noose, by the people of the towns he had won, or as some say by the messengers charged to deliver the stakes.[VIII-43]


Thus far the Aztec conquests had been directed toward the south-east and south-west, while the fertile valleys of the Matlaltzincas, immediately adjoining Anáhuac on the west, had for some not very clear reason escaped their ambitious views. A very favorable opportunity, however, for conquest in this direction presented itself in 1474, when the Matlaltzincas were on bad terms with the Tarascos of Michoacan, their usual allies, and when the lord of Tenantzinco asked the aid of the Mexicans in a quarrel with Chimaltecuhtli the king. Axayacatl was [433] only too glad to engage in an undertaking of this nature, but, in order to have a more just cause of interference—for, as Duran says, the Aztecs never picked quarrels with other nations!—he peremptorily ordered the Matlaltzincas to furnish certain building-material and a stone font for sacrificial purposes, and on their refusal to comply with his commands, marched against their province at the head of the allied troops, and accompanied, as Torquemada says, by his colleagues. Town after town in the southern part of the province fell before his arms, and were placed under Mexican governors. Such were Xalatlauhco, Atlapolco, Tetenanco, Tepemaxalco, Tlacotempan, Metepec, Tzinacantepec, and Calimaya. Some Aztec colonists were left in each conquered town, and Torquemada tells us that people were taken from the other towns to settle in the first, Xalatlauhco. Tezozomoc relates that the king at one time in this campaign concealed himself in a ditch with eight warriors, and fell upon the rear of the enemy who had been drawn on by a feigned retreat of the Aztecs, causing great panic and slaughter. Flushed with victory, the allies pressed on to attack Xiquipilco in the north, the strongest town in the province, and Toluca, the capital. Xiquipilco is spoken of as an Otomí town under the command of Tlilcuetzpalin, with whom Axayacatl had a personal combat during this battle, being wounded so severely in the thigh that he was lame for life, and narrowly escaped death. Tezozomoc claims that the Otomí chieftain was hidden in a bush and treacherously wounded the Mexican king, who was in advance of his troops; Ixtlilxochitl, ever ready to claim honor for his ancestors, tells us that it was the Acolhua commander who saved Axayacatl's life; while Clavigero and Ortega imply that a duel was arranged between the two leaders. The enemy was defeated, their leader and over eleven thousand of his men were taken captives, and the town surrendered, as did Toluca a little later, [434] and other towns in the vicinity. The news of the conquest was received with great joy at the capital; the senate marched out to meet and receive the victorious army on its return; triumphal arches were erected at frequent intervals, and flowers were strewn in the path of the victors. The captives were sacrificed in honor of the god of war, or as Tezozomoc says, at the dedication of a new altar in his temple, except the brave Tlilcuetzpalin and a few comrades who were reserved to grace by their death another festival, which took place somewhat later. During this Matlaltzinca war a very severe earthquake was experienced.[VIII-44]

A year or two later the Matlaltzincas revolted and obtained the promise of assistance from the Tarascos, who were anxious to measure their strength against that of the far-famed Aztecs. But the Tarasco monarch was unused to the celerity of Mexican tactics, and Axayacatl's army, thirty-two thousand strong, had entered Matlaltzinco, re-captured Xiquipilco and other principal towns, crossed the frontiers of Michoacan, and captured and burned several cities, including Tangimaroa, or Tlaximaloyan, an important and strongly fortified place, before the news of their departure reached Tzintzuntzan, the Tarasco capital. But the Tarasco army, superior to that of the Aztecs, and constantly re-inforced, soon reached the seat of war, attacked the invaders with such fury that they were driven back, with great loss, to Toluca. This was doubtless the disaster indicated by an eclipse during the same year. After thus showing their power by defeating the proud warriors of the valley, the Tarascos did not follow up their advantage, [435] but returned to their own country, leaving the Mexicans still masters of Matlaltzinco. Another attempt at revolt is vaguely recorded some years later, but in 1478 the Matlaltzinca cities were permanently joined to the Mexican domain, and the leading Matlaltzinca divinities transferred to the temples of Tenochtitlan.[VIII-45]


Axayacatl died in 1481, just after his return, as Duran informs us, from Chapultepec whither he had gone to inspect his image carved on the cliff by the side of that of Montezuma I. Brasseur states that his days were shortened by the excessive number of his concubines. He was succeeded, according to the wish of his predecessor, by Tizoc, Tizocicatzin, or Chalchiuhtona, his brother, who was succeeded in his office of commander of the army by Ahuitzotl. Duran insists that the throne was again offered to the mythical Tlacaeleltzin, who declined the honor but offered to continue to be the actual ruler during Tizoc's reign.[VIII-46]



Reign of Tizoc—Nezahualpilli defeats the Huexotzincas—Ahuitzotl, King of Mexico—Campaigns for Captives—Dedication of Huitzilopochtli's Temple—Seventy Thousand Victims—Totoquihuatzin II., King of Tlacopan—Mexican Conquests—Conquest of Totonacapan—Aztec Reverses—Successful Revolt of Tehuantepec and Zapotecapan—Conquest of Zacatollan—Anecdotes of Nezahualpilli—New Aqueduct, and Inundation of Mexico—Montezuma II. on the Throne—Condition of the Empire—Montezuma's Policy—Unsuccessful Invasion of Tlascala—Famine—Conquest of Miztecapan—Tying-up of the Cycle in 1507—Omens of coming Disaster—The Spaniards on the Coast of Central America—Trouble between Mexico and Tezcuco—Retirement and Death of Nezahualpilli—Cacama, King of Acolhuacan—Revolt of Ixtlilxochitl—Final Campaigns of the Aztecs—The Spaniards on the Gulf Coast—Arrival of Hernan Cortés.


Tizoc's coronation was preceded by a campaign in the north-east, where the provinces stretching from Meztitlan to the gulf had taken advantage of the Tlatelulca and Matlaltzinca wars to shake off the yoke of their conquerors. Tezozomoc and Duran represent this campaign as having been undertaken by Tizoc, after most extensive preparations, for the purpose of obtaining captives, but attended with little success, only about forty prisoners having been secured. The former author tells us that this war took place during Nezahualcoyotl's reign. Acosta [437] implies that the failure resulted from Tizoc's cowardice or bad generalship. Ixtlilxochitl, followed by Brasseur, makes Nezahualpilli the leader in this his first war, accompanied by both his colleagues. He seems to have felt, notwithstanding his extreme youth, much shame at not having performed any glorious deed of arms, ruling as he did over so valorous a people as the Acolhuas, and even to have been ridiculed on the subject by his elder brothers; but in this war he made for himself a lasting reputation worthy of his ancestors and his rank. The war is represented by these authors as a succession of victories by which Cuextlan and the surrounding provinces were brought back to their allegiance. No reverses are alluded to. The captives taken were sacrificed at Tizoc's coronation, the new king attempting to surpass his predecessors by giving a series of magnificent festivals which continued for forty days.[IX-1] An expedition against Tlacotepec, mentioned by Torquemada without details, seems to be the only other war in which Tizoc engaged during his reign.[IX-2] He either lacked the valor and skill in war which distinguished his predecessors, or like the Tezcucan monarchs believed he could best promote his nation's welfare by attention to peaceful arts. Very little is recorded of this king; his reign was very short, and was marked by no very important events. During this period, however, occurred a war between Nezahualpilli and Huehuetzin, the lord of Huexotzinco. This war seems to have been caused by the plots of Nezahualpilli's brothers who had obtained the aid of Huexotzinco. According to Brasseur the Acolhua king and Huehuetzin were born in the same day and hour, and the astrologers had predicted that the former would one day be conquered [438] by the latter, whose defeat would, however, be celebrated by the Acolhuas. Huehuetzin ascertained from the malcontent Acolhua princes a statement of the forces that were to march against him, with a description of Nezahualpilli's armor, and directed all his men to make it their chief object to kill the king. But Nezahualpilli learned the intention of his opponent, clad a captain with his armor, placed him at the head of one division of his army, while he himself in disguise took command of the other division. So furious was the attack upon the mock king that he was killed, his soldiers driven back, and the Huexotzincas elated with victory; but in the meantime the main body of the Tezcucan army came up and attacked the foe as they were chanting their song of victory. The real Nezahualpilli killed Huehuetzin in personal combat, after receiving a serious wound in the foot; the Huexotzincas were utterly routed and their city was sacked, the Acolhua king returning to his capital laden with honors and spoils. At his return to Tezcuco Nezahualpilli enclosed an area of land equal to the space that had separated him from his army during the battle, or, as some say, equal to that occupied by the Huexotzinca army, erecting within the enclosure a grand palace with magnificent gardens and immense granaries. He also completed the temple of Huitzilopochtli commenced by his father, and sacrificed at its dedication the captives brought from the last war; for although he is said to have inherited to some extent his father's repugnance to human sacrifice, he certainly consented to such sacrifices on several occasions. Tizoc also completed in 1483 the grand temple of Huitzilopochtli at Mexico, on which his predecessors had expended so much labor.[IX-3] The Mexican king, however, died in 1486, after a reign of six years. His death is reported to have occurred [439] from the effects of poison, or, as the records have it, of magic spells, administered by certain sorceresses at the command of Techotl, lord of Iztapalapan, with the connivance of Maxtla, lord of Tlachco, probably from motives of personal spite. Some authors, as Duran, Acosta, and Herrera, assert that he was poisoned by his own subjects, who were disgusted with his cowardice and inferiority to his predecessors; but his former position as commander of the Mexican armies is opposed to the charge of cowardice, as is the indignation of the people at his murder and the summary execution of all connected with the crime.[IX-4]


Ahuitzotl, the last of the three brothers, was now called to the throne, the famous Tlacaeleltzin still refusing the crown, if we may credit Duran and Tezozomoc. During the first year of the new king's reign successful campaigns are vaguely recorded against the Mazahua region adjoining the city of Xiquipilco, against the towns of the Tziuhcoacas and Tochpanecas, subject to the kingdom of Jalisco, against the south-eastern provinces of the Miztecs and Zapotecs, and even against the Chiapanec frontiers, while Nezahualpilli in the meantime conquered Nauhtlan on the gulf coast. No details of these campaigns are given save that the fortress of Huaxyacac, in Oajaca, since known as Monte Alban,[IX-5] was built and garrisoned by the Aztecs; but the object of these wars was to procure captives for the coronation of Ahuitzotl and for the dedication of the grand temple of Huitzilopochtli, which took place in 1486 or 1487.[IX-6] [440] This dedication was witnessed by millions of visitors, including representatives from all parts of the country, from hostile as well as friendly provinces, the former being given the best positions to view the festivities, and being loaded with rich presents at their departure. The chief feature of the exercises was the sacrifice of captives, of whom from seventy to eighty thousand perished on the altar. The victims were arranged in two lines, stretching from the temple far out on the causeways; the kings began the bloody work with their own hands, and the priests followed, each continuing the slaughter until exhausted, when another took his place. This was the most extensive sacrifice that ever took place in Anáhuac, and it was followed by others on a somewhat smaller scale in the lesser cities, among which one at Xalatlauhco in the Matlaltzinca region is particularly mentioned.[IX-7]


The campaign against the frontiers of Chiapas, during which some strongholds were taken by the Mexicans, as Chinantla and Cinacantlan, but which was altogether unsuccessful in the conquest of the Chiapanecs, is placed by Brasseur in 1488, the year after the dedication of the temple.[IX-8] In 1489 Chimalpopoca, king of Tlacopan, made a brilliant campaign against Cuextlan, although leaving many slain on the battle-field of Huexotla; but he died soon after his return, and was succeeded by his son Totoquihuatzin [441] II. Earthquakes and the appearance of phantoms in the air had indicated approaching disasters. Sahagun also mentions an eclipse about this time.[IX-9] In the same year the allied troops conquered the southern provinces of Cozcaquauhtenanco, Quapilollan, Quauhpanco, and Quetzalcuitlapillan according to the Spanish authors, although Brasseur makes that place retain its independence down to the coming of the Spaniards. In 1490 Quauhtla, one of the strongest towns of Cuextlan on the gulf coast, was taken, giving Montezuma, afterwards king, an opportunity to display his valor and form a reputation, which he sustained in an engagement with the Huexotzincas a little later. A battle at Xonacatepec also against the Huexotzincas, aided by the forces of Totolpanco, is attributed to the same year. The captives obtained in these battles were sacrificed at the dedication of the temple of Tlacatecco, and during the ceremonies another temple in the ward called Tlillan was discovered to be on fire, and burned to the ground. The conflagration was popularly regarded as a visitation from the gods, and excited much superstitious fear.[IX-10]

Next in the catalogue of Aztec expeditions against revolting provinces was that in 1491, against the Huastecs of the north-east, who were this time assisted by the Totonacs. Something has been said of this ancient people in a preceding chapter on the pre-Toltec period. Of their history since they left, as their traditions claim, the central plateaux for the region of Zacatlan, and afterward for the gulf coast, nothing is recorded save some troubles with the Teo-Chichimecs [442] on the first appearance of that people, a subsequent alliance with them, and a list of eight Totonac kings given by Torquemada. Their home was now the coast region of central and northern Vera Cruz, where, divided into thirty seigniories tributary to their monarch, and allied with the Tlascaltecs, they had thus far escaped the power, if not the attention, of the Aztecs. But in an evil hour they consented to help the revolting Huastecs on their northern frontier. Glad of an excuse to annex to his empire the fertile lands and flourishing towns of the Totonac coast, Ahuitzotl marched through Cuextlan, easily reducing the rebel chiefs to submission, and then directed his course southward, taking town after town until the whole province in terror gave up all hope of resistance and became subjects of the Aztec monarchs, paying tribute regularly down to the coming of the Spaniards, who landed and began their march towards Mexico in Totonac territory.[IX-11] On his return from the north-east, the south-western provinces demanded the warlike king's attention. The usual murder of traders had taken place, and the lords, as one author tells us, had refused to attend the dedication of Huitzilopochtli's temple at the capital. Oztoman was the centre of the revolting district, and with the neighboring cities of Teloloapan and Alahuiztlan was taken by assault. The inhabitants of the three towns, except the captives taken for sacrifice and the thousands massacred in the assault, were mostly brought to the valley and distributed among the towns about the lake; while the conquered districts were given to Aztec colonies, composed of poor families selected from Mexico, Tlacopan, and Tezcuco, under the command of the warriors who had distinguished themselves in the war.[IX-12]



A series of reverses to Aztec arms has next to be recorded. In 1494, as Ixtlilxochitl states, in a battle at Atlixco, Tlacahuepatzin, a son of the former king Axayacatl, was taken prisoner and sacrificed to Camaxtli the war god of the eastern plateau. The following year the Acolhua army was defeated in a battle at Tliltepec.[IX-13] But the most important events of these and the following years were the campaigns in Miztecapan, Zapotecapan, and Tehuantepec. Under the Zapotec king Cociyoeza a general revolt of all these provinces took place, accompanied by a suspension of tribute and a general plunder and murder of Aztec merchants throughout the whole country. At this time probably took place the exploit of the Tlatelulca merchants recorded by Sahagun.[IX-14] Traveling in a large company through the southern regions, they were at Quauhtenanco in Miztecapan when the persecution against their class began. As the only means of saving their lives and property, by a bold move they took possession of the town, which had unusual facilities for defence, seizing the lord and prominent men of the city, and holding them as hostages for the good conduct of the inhabitants. Here they maintained their position against all attacks during a period of four years, and even were able by occasional sorties to capture many officers and soldiers from the armies sent against them, whom they kept and fattened for the altars of their god at home. Their valor won great honors for themselves and for their class after their return to Mexico. Meanwhile all the territory and towns previously conquered by the Aztecs in Tehuantepec were retaken; most of the Mexican garrisons in the country of the Zapotecs and Miztecs farther north were forced to surrender; and besides the merchant garrison of Quauhtenanco, and the strong fortresses [444] of Huaxyacac and Teotitlan near where the capital city of Oajaca now stands, the Aztec power was completely overthrown. Other wars nearer home, which have been alluded to above, at the time that they heard of these events, claimed the attention of the allied monarchs to such an extent that they could not direct their united force against the rebellious provinces; but soon an army of sixty thousand men, under the command of an able officer, was dispatched southward to quell the revolt and to capture Cociyoeza dead or alive. This army seems to have carried all before it in its march through the upper Zapotec regions; but no details are recorded, except that they took the sacred city of Mitla in their course, and sent her priests to die on the altars of Huitzilopochtli.[IX-15]


The march of the Aztec general was directed towards Tehuantepec, and near that city on a series of ravine-guarded plateaux the Zapotec king and his allies had fortified an immense area supposed to be sufficient to support his army by cultivation, and awaited the approach of the invaders. The ruins of Guiengola[IX-16] are supposed to be the remains of this extensive system of defensive works. Burgoa even claims that the king went so far as to form artificial ponds and to stock them with fish as a further provision against future want. The wily monarch seems to have purposely refrained from making any effort to defeat the Aztecs on their march through the upper country, simply giving orders to such chieftains as remained to guard their homes, to harass the enemy continually, and reduce their numbers as much as possible without bringing on a general engagement. As soon as the invaders, wearied with their long march and constant skirmishing, had entered the labyrinth of ravines through which lay their road to [445] Tehuantepec, the brave defenders rushed down from their mountain forts, and in a series of bloody battles almost annihilated the invading force. The Aztecs could neither retreat nor advance, and day by day the leader saw his army melting away, by death and capture, prisoners being put to death by torture, except a few that were sent back to tell their comrades of the strength and ferocity of their foes. When the situation became known in Mexico, Ahuitzotl is said to have sent a second army larger than the first to relieve the blockaded force; and this re-inforcing movement was repeated three times within a year, but the Aztecs could not force the passage of Guiengola, or if allowed to pass could only comfort their brothers in arms by dying with them. The allied Aztec monarchs were at last fairly defeated, and sent an embassy with propositions of peace and alliance, professing great admiration for Cociyoeza's valor and genius.[IX-17]

Such is the version given by Burgoa. Nothing is known of the negotiations which ensued, but Brasseur deduces from subsequent events that by the terms of the treaty formed, the Zapotec king was to retain possession of Tehuantepec; Soconusco was to be given up to Mexico; free passage was to be accorded to Mexican travelers, and the fortress of Huaxyacac was to remain in the hands of the Aztecs. It is also stated by Burgoa that Cociyoeza was to marry a Mexican princess. These conditions would indicate that the condition of affairs was not after all so desperate for the Aztecs in the south as the preceding account implies. Nothing is said of the fate of the Miztec provinces according to the terms of the treaty;[IX-18] but we know that after the ratification of the alliance, the merchant garrison of Quauhtenanco was relieved from its state of siege, and with the aid of re-inforcements, conquered the whole adjoining [446] province of Ayotlan on the South Sea, and then returned to their homes, where they were received with the highest honors at the hands of the monarchs and of the people, who greeted them with festivities, the details of which are given by Sahagun.[IX-19]


It seems not to have been stipulated which one of the Mexican princesses should be given to the Zapotec king; and a strange version is given of the manner in which this matter was settled. Cociyoeza was bathing one evening in one of the miniature lakes connected with his royal gardens. After he had removed his clothing, a beautiful female form appeared by his side in the moonlight, and announced herself as the sister of Montezuma of Mexico, who had heard of his valor, and had caused herself to be miraculously transported to his side by the magic arts of the Aztec enchanters. She assisted him in his bath, left with him the bathing utensils of her brother which she had brought, showed a peculiar mark on the palm of her hand, by which she might be identified, and disappeared as mysteriously as she had come. Cociyoeza had before looked forward to his marriage with some misgivings, but now, violently enamored with the charms of his nocturnal visitor, he made haste to send an embassy with the richest gifts his kingdom could afford to bring back his Aztec bride. A grand display was made in Mexico at the reception of this embassy, doubtless intended to impress upon its members an idea of Mexican power and wealth. The Zapotec nobles were brought into the presence of the assembled court beauties, and noticed that one princess had frequent occasion to arrange her tresses in such a manner as to show her palm and its peculiar mark. They were thus enabled at once to select the fair sister of Montezuma, Pelaxilla, or Cotton-Flake, who was borne in a litter on the shoulders of noblemen with great pomp to the court of Teotzapotlan the [447] Zapotec capital, where a succession of brilliant fêtes were given in her honor; and soon after the nuptial ceremonies were performed at Tehuantepec amid great popular rejoicings.[IX-20]

It was, perhaps, not without hidden motives of future treachery that Ahuitzotl had insisted on a matrimonial alliance between the Aztecs and Zapotecs; at any rate, he is reported to have made an attempt some years later to assassinate Cociyoeza through the assistance of his wife. Ambassadors were sent to communicate with her on this matter, but Pelaxilla revealed the plot to her husband, who immediately sent back the embassy laden with gifts, and prepared his forts and his armies for war. The Aztecs, however, knowing that their plot was discovered, made no attack; they demanded permission to send troops through Zapotec territory for the conquest of Amaxtlan and Xuchiltepec, south of the isthmus, which was granted; but Cociyoeza, suspecting treachery, took the precaution to furnish a large army to attend the Aztecs through his territory, both coming and going, under pretense of furnishing an escort. Ahuitzotl's forces seem to have been successful, although no particulars are recorded.[IX-21]

The events related bring the history of the Aztec [448] empire down to the year 1497, and about the same time the province of Zacatollan on the Pacific, south-west of Michoacan, was annexed to the domain of Tezcuco—a fact which does not seem to agree with any version of the terms of the tri-partite alliance—by the exploit of an Acolhuan officer named Teuhchimaltzin. It seems that some efforts had already been made by Nezahualpilli's orders for the conquest of this province, but without success, when Teuhchimaltzin, stimulated perhaps by the achievements of the Tlatelulca merchants at Quauhtenanco, obtained permission to enter the country disguised as a merchant, with a few companions, promising to subdue the province by taking the king, dead or alive. He was, however, soon recognized and captured, and the day was appointed for his sacrifice; but while the king Yopicatl Atonal with his nobles was drinking and dancing on the night before the sacrificial festivities, Teuhchimaltzin escaped from his prison, joined the dancers, and at last, when all were overcome with frequent libations, cut off the king's head and escaped with it to the frontier where an army seems to have been in waiting. When the nobles awoke and found what had taken place, they forthwith dispatched an embassy after the escaped prisoner, and for some reason that Ixtlilxochitl does not make very clear, offered to surrender the province to the Tezcucan monarch. Thus Zacatollan was added to Nezahualpilli's possessions, Teuhchimaltzin was honored as a hero, and an addition was made to the stock of tales by which sober Tezcucans were wont to illustrate the evils of intemperance.[IX-22]


In 1498 took place in Tezcuco the public execution of one of Nezahualpilli's wives. This monarch had a great many wives and concubines—more than two thousand, if we may believe Ixtlilxochitl, his descendant. Among the former were three nieces of Tizoc, [449] one of them a daughter of Axayacatl, and a sister of Montezuma II., and very likely all three sisters, although there is great confusion on this point. Axayacatl's daughter was named Chalchiuhnenetzin; she was very young, and was assigned a secluded palace while awaiting the consummation of the marriage. She soon showed an extraordinary fondness for decorating her apartments with richly decked statues, the king noticing new ones at each visit; she said they were her gods, and her future husband was willing to humor her tastes, strange though they appeared. But one day he noticed a noble of the court wearing a ring that he had seen in the hands of Chalchiuhnenetzin, and the following night went to visit her. The maids in waiting said she had retired and was sleeping, but he insisted on seeing her, and found her couch occupied by a sort of puppet counterfeit of herself. His suspicions now fully roused, he ordered all the attendants arrested, pushed his search farther, and at last found his virgin bride dancing in very primitive costume with three noble lovers, one of whom was he who wore the tell-tale ring. Further investigation revealed that this Aztec Messalina had been in the habit of giving herself up to every young man that struck her fancy, and when weary of her lovers had caused them to be put to death, and represented in her apartments by the statues above referred to. After the parties had been tried and found guilty by the proper courts, the king sent to all the cities round about Anáhuac and summoned all the people to witness the punishment of his false wife. With her three surviving lovers and about two thousand persons who had in some way abetted the deception of the king, the amorous queen was publicly strangled. All acknowledged the justice of the act, but the Mexican royal family, it is said, never forgave the public execution of the sentence.[IX-23]



Nezahualpilli is said to have inherited all the good qualities of his father. Like Nezahualcoyotl he was a patron of the arts and sciences, but is reported to have given his chief attention to astrology, passing many nights in reading the stars from a lofty observatory erected for the purpose in the grounds of his palace. Sorcerers and magicians were always welcome at his court, whither they were often summoned both to advise the monarch on affairs of state and to impart to him a knowledge of their arts. Like his father he was famed for his inflexibility in the administration of justice and his kindness toward the poor and unfortunate. A small window in one part of his palace overlooked the market-place, and at this window the king was wont to sit frequently, watching the actions of the crowd below, noting cases of injustice for future punishment, and of distress and poverty that they might be relieved. How he condemned to death a judge for deciding unjustly against a poor man and in favor of a noble, and how he had his favorite son Huexotzincatzin executed for having publicly addressed his concubine, the lady of Tollan, has been related in a preceding volume.[IX-24] Many other anecdotes are told to illustrate the king's love of what he deemed justice. One of his sons began the construction of a palace somewhere in the Tezcucan domains without having either consulted his father or complied with the law requiring some brilliant deed in battle before a prince was entitled to a palace of his own. The guilty son was put to death. Members of the royal family seem to have had the greatest faith in the king's judgment and to have accepted his decisions without complaint. There was great rivalry between his two brothers Acapipioltzin and Xochiquetzal respecting the credit of a certain victory in the province of Cuextlan. Each had a [451] band of partisans who were accustomed on public occasions to celebrate the deeds of their favorite by songs and dances. So far did the rivalry proceed that a resort to arms was imminent, when Nezahualpilli appeared on the scene on the occasion of some festivity and joining the dance on the side of his oldest brother Acapipioltzin, decided the dispute in his favor without complaint on the part of the younger brother. The condemnation of two men, a musician and a soldier, for adultery, was on one occasion brought to the king for his approval. He ordered the musician to be executed, but the soldier to be sent for life to do duty in the frontier garrisons, declaring that such thereafter should be a soldier's punishment for the fault in question. Nezahualpilli could also on occasion be most indulgent towards his children; for instance, his son Ixtlilxochitl early displayed an extraordinary fondness for having his own way. At the age of three years he expressed his emphatic disapproval of his nurse's views and conduct by pushing that lady into a deep well, and then amused himself by throwing stones upon her. When seven years old he raised a company of boy soldiers and skirmished about the city much to the terror of peaceful citizens. Hearing that two members of the royal council had advised his father to kill so unmanageable a child, he proceeded one night with a selected detachment of his juvenile veterans to the house of the counselors and assassinated them both. Nezahualpilli seems to have looked with much leniency upon these youthful irregularities of his son, who at fourteen distinguished himself in battle and at seventeen was a captain. We shall hear of him again in the last years of Aztec history. The king on another occasion demanded from a brother a very excellent teponaztli in his possession and his daughter for a royal concubine; on his refusal the teponaztli was taken by force, and his disobedient brother's house was razed as the property of a rebel. Two [452] sons were strangled for having appropriated captives actually taken by their soldiers; a daughter for having spoken to the son of a lord; and two concubines for drinking pulque. A judge was hung for hearing a case in his own house instead of in the appointed hall of justice; and another for unduly prolonging a trial was condemned to have the front door of his residence walled up. This king is accredited with having abrogated the law which condemned the children of slaves to the condition of their parents, and with many other reforms calculated to ameliorate the condition of his people. The possession of supernatural powers was popularly attributed to him, and often in infancy he astonished his nurses by appearing before them in the form of a bird or beast.[IX-25]

In the years 1498 and 1499 it is recorded that Ahuitzotl attacked Atlixco without warning, and was defeated by the Huexotzincas who, under a famous general Tultecatl sent re-inforcements to aid the armies of Atlixco; and also that, by aiding Cholula in a quarrel with Tepeaca, the same king greatly increased his power on the eastern plateau. The following year Tultecatl, before whose valor the Aztecs had been forced to retreat, was driven from his own country in consequence of certain religious dissensions, and applied at one of the Mexican towns for protection. He was put to death, however, with all his companions, by Ahuitzotl's order, and the dead bodies were forwarded to Huexotzinco to show the rebellious inhabitants of that city with what relentless zeal the Aztec ruler pursued his foes.[IX-26]


Ahuitzotl, finding the water supplied by the Chapultepec aqueduct insufficient for the use of the [453] city, and moreover desirous of accomplishing during his reign some great work of practical utility, determined to conduct to his capital the waters of a spring called Acuecuexatl, near Huitzilopochco, in the province of Coyuhuacan. Tzotzomatzin, the lord of the province, was unwilling that the spring should be thus used, but his opposition was effectually overcome by strangling him. Many tales are told by different writers about his opposition to the scheme, and his death. Some say that he wished the water for the supply of his own cities; others, that he told Ahuitzotl the spring was liable at any time to overflow and flood the city, and was killed by the latter in a fit of passion at his persistence in that opinion; and still others represent him as a great magician, who frightened away the Mexican king's ambassadors who were sent to negotiate with him in the matter, by appearing before them in the form of a ferocious beast, or serpent. Tezozomoc says he put the cord round his own neck to save his people from the wrath of the Aztecs; and Duran, that he did not die, but simply left Coyuhuacan at this time. Difficulties being thus removed, the aqueduct was constructed of stone and mortar, in a very short time, owing to the number of workmen employed, and its completion was celebrated with the proper ceremonies and sacrifices. But soon—some say in the midst of the ceremonies—so great was the volume of water introduced, that the city was inundated by the rising of the lake, and immense damage resulted to public and private buildings. It is, of course, impossible that the waters of any spring in Anáhuac could have caused this effect; indeed, Torquemada says the catastrophe was preceded by heavy rains for a year, and Ortega also tells us that the rains came down in torrents at the completion of the aqueduct; it is, therefore, altogether probable that the flood was not caused by the waters of the canal, but was simply attributed to that cause from superstitious [454] motives, perhaps resulting from the predictions of Tzotzomatzin, and his death. So rapid was the rise of the waters, that king Ahuitzotl, who was in the lower part of his palace, had great difficulty in escaping, and in his haste struck his head against a door-post, receiving a wound which, a few years later, proved fatal. The engineering skill of Nezahualpilli, with the laboring force of the whole empire, was at once called into requisition to stop the flood and repair damages. The old dike that had before saved the city was strengthened and raised; the city was repaired and paved with tetzontli, or porous amygdaloid, the use of which is said to date from this period; but to stop the waters of the unruly spring human efforts were unavailing, and the aid of the gods was invoked with magic rites. First the priests, whose bodies were painted blue in honor of the Tlalocs, stood round the fountain and uttered prayers, burned incense, and scattered perfumes; then the divers plunged into the waters, each with a young child whose heart was torn out, and whose blood stained the waters; and finally the priests entered the water, and, as some say, Nezahualpilli with them. Half an hour after their emergence the waters became so quiet that the laborers were able to wall up the spring and stop the overflow. Other cities about the lake had suffered as much, or even more, than Mexico, particularly Cuitlahuac, which is said to have been uninhabitable for two years. Much damage was also done to the crops in the valley, and the next year was one almost of famine. The flood occurred in 1500, and at least two years passed before Anáhuac had recovered from its effects.[IX-27]


Campaigns against Cuextlan, Tlacuilollan, and [455] Xaltepec, are vaguely reported during the last two years of Ahuitzotl's life, and may be distinct from any of the wars that have been mentioned, but no details are given, save that from Tlacuilollan twelve hundred captives were brought back to Mexico.[IX-28] The king died in 1503,[IX-29] as is generally supposed from the effects of the blow mentioned above; although Tezozomoc attributes his death to chagrin and remorse at the misfortune of the flood, and Duran hints that he was poisoned. His likeness is said to have been sculptured with those of his predecessors on the cliff at Chapultepec. Ahuitzotl's leading passion was his love of war, so strong as to amount almost to a hatred of peace. He was also passionately fond of music, of display, and of women. He was cruel, vindictive, and superstitious; and the quality of generosity attributed to him was probably closely connected with his reputed love of display and flattery. Immediately after his death Montezuma II., son of Axayacatl, was called to the throne; although, according to Ixtlilxochitl, his elder brother Macuilmalinatzin was the first choice of the electors, but was rejected by the advice of Nezahualpilli, who doubted his possession of the requisite qualities for the ruler of a great nation. Montezuma had already distinguished himself on many occasions in battle, and was at the time of his election high-priest of Huitzilopochtli. When the news of his election reached him he is said to have been employed in sweeping the temple, from a spirit of real or feigned humility. The usual campaign for captives was successfully directed against Atlixco, and foreign nobles from hostile as well as friendly provinces came in crowds by invitation to witness the coronation ceremonies.[IX-30]



Ahuitzotl left the Aztec empire in the height of its power and glory, yet even before his death the seeds of future disaster may be said to have been sown or even to have taken root, since the hitherto unparalleled sacrifice of human victims on the altars of the capital had filled the whole country with terror and added much to the hatred of which the Aztecs had been the objects from the date of their first appearance in the valley; the rapid increase of the Mexican power and their well-known greed of conquest had added to the hatred of the conquered the jealous fears of such nations as still retained their independence; and finally the reverses suffered in Tehuantepec, in Michoacan, and in several battles against the eastern nations, had taught the peoples of North America that the allied armies of the central plateaux were not altogether invincible. The dangers that thus began to threaten the empire, however, were all external, and might perhaps have been averted or long deferred by a series of successful wars under brave but wise kings. Under the preceding kings, the common interests of all classes in the success of the government, had been a prominent element of national glory. Commercial enterprise had done as much as valor in war to promote the conquests of kings and to build up the capitals; the common soldier might by bravery and brilliant achievements in battle hope to reach the highest military rank; the menial service of the royal palace with many posts of honor had been entrusted largely to plebeian hands; and in fact Aztec policy had been strikingly analogous [457] to that which distinguished the French nation under the first Napoleon. The granting of titles and honors to the merchants had naturally excited much opposition among those who derived their titles of nobility from a long line of Chichimec or Toltec ancestors; and what made the matter even more galling to their pride, was the fact that these parvenu nobles by reason of their wealth were able to completely outshine their confrères of purer blood but slender purses, in all public displays as well as in their palaces and style of living. Montezuma II. from the first days of his reign openly espoused the cause of the ancient nobility against the merchants and plebeians. What is known of his character renders it probable that he was prompted to this course chiefly by his own extremely aristocratic tastes; but it is not impossible that he gained his election by committing himself to such a policy. He began by dismissing all plebeians employed about the royal palaces and appointing youths of noble blood in their places. He was warned that such a course would separate the interests of the common people from those of royalty and prove dangerous in the future; but he replied that he wished nothing in common with plebeians, who must be taught to keep their place and give up their absurd aspirations. His policy toward the merchants and the army was more cautious but equally decided. Advantage was taken of every opportunity to humble and oppress the hated class, by constantly clogging with new restrictions the wheels of trade, and by the promotion whenever practicable of noble officers. Montezuma was, however, a valiant and skillful warrior, and sacrificed oftener his inclinations to his interests in the treatment of his armies than in other cases. His policy of course gradually alienated the classes on which the prosperity of the empire chiefly rested, and ensured the fall of the Aztec power whenever disaffection should have an opportunity to ally itself with foreign [458] foes. The bursting of the storm was averted for some fifteen years by the strength of the Acolhua and Tepanec alliance, and by the strength of the Mexican army. Montezuma's reign was a succession of campaigns against revolting provinces, interspersed with the erection of magnificent temples, frequent and extensive immolations of human victims, and omens of disaster sent by the gods to trouble the mind of the superstitious monarch. When at last the day drew near when Mexico must struggle single-handed for the retention of her supremacy against a combination of all the Nahua powers, the last chance for success in such an unequal contest disappeared with the re-inforcement of the enemy by Spanish valor, Spanish armor, and Spanish horses; and Montezuma personally had not even the melancholy satisfaction of seeing his foes fall before the same wave of foreign invasion which had destroyed forever his own power.[IX-31]


Tlascala had thus far never been the object of an invasion by the united forces of the allies, although, as we have seen, frequent battles had been fought on the frontier, and the Tlascaltec armies as allies of other nations had been several times defeated. During the reigns of Montezuma I. and Axayacatl, however, the Tlascaltec territory had become completely surrounded by Aztec possessions, through the conquest of Cuetlachtlan, Cuextlan, and Totonacapan. Their communication with the coast having thus been cut off, the Tlascaltec commerce had been almost entirely destroyed, and for a period extending down to the Conquest, this brave people were obliged to do without many luxuries, and even necessities of [459] life. Their lack of salt is particularly recorded; a small supply was occasionally smuggled into the state by the nobles, but the common people are said to have abstained entirely from its use, and to have completely lost their relish for this article. The other cities of the eastern plateau had in the meantime become either the subjects or allies of the Mexicans. Immediately after his accession to the throne, Montezuma II. determined to direct his armies against this last unsubdued territory in the east. The excuse was an embassy sent by the Tlascaltecs, probably to Axayacatl, complaining of the oppression to which their merchants were subjected on the coast, the claims of the embassy having been received with insulting indifference, and threats having been freely uttered on both sides. Huexotzinco and Cholula seem both to have allied themselves with Mexico in this affair; but, on the other hand, Tlascala had received constant additions to her population and armies in the refugees from all parts of Anáhuac, who were continually applying for protection to the only nation beyond the power of the Aztecs. The war was begun by the Huexotzincas and Cholultecs, who invaded Tlascala, killed in battle one of their chief leaders, Tizatlacatzin, and penetrated to within one league of the capital; but they were driven back, and the Huexotzinca towns were in turn ravaged by the Tlascaltecs, sending couriers to Montezuma to hasten the march of his forces. The Tlascaltecs, hearing of the approach of the Aztecs, fell upon them before they could effect a junction with their allies, and defeated them, inflicting heavy losses, and killing among others Tlacahuepantzin, the son of the Mexican king.[IX-32] After [460] the funeral ceremonies in honor of his son, Montezuma made another attempt to subdue the Tlascaltecs, sending against them the whole available force of the empire; but after a hard-fought battle the invaders were again driven back, and although skirmishes, and even battles, took place afterwards between the two nations, yet the Aztec allies never repeated their attempt to crush Tlascala, and the brave little republic retained her independence until by the aid of Cortés she was able to take her revenge on the tyrannical Mexicans and treacherous Cholultecs.[IX-33]

In 1505 the crops were destroyed by the excessive heat, and although the public granaries were generously opened to the public by Nezahualpilli and Montezuma—for the latter, notwithstanding his aristocratic tendencies, was generous towards his people so long as they claimed nothing more than a right to exist—many perished of starvation or sold themselves and children as slaves. Totonacapan was again apparently the only province unaffected by the famine. Another plague in the form of rats which over-ran the country in immense numbers is recorded at about the same time; but the volcano of Popocatepetl ceased for twenty days to emit smoke, a good omen, as the wise men said and as it proved, for the next year was one of great plenty.[IX-34] During the year of the famine a campaign against Guatemala, or as some authors say Quauhnelhuatlan, which may have been a Guatemalan province, is recorded as having yielded [461] many captives for the inauguration of the temple of Centeotl, built in recognition of her services in staying the drought and sending a year of plenty. The festivities on the completion of certain repairs to the causeway and aqueduct of Chapultepec at about the same time were marred by the burning of a temple in Mexico. It is related that the Tlatelulcas seeing the flames, thought the city was invaded by an enemy and rushed in to help protect it, but that Montezuma chose to regard this as an act of rebellion and temporarily removed all Tlatelulcas from their positions at court.[IX-35]


Before the end of 1506, two campaigns were made against the Miztecs by the last of which the whole province was permanently subdued. The pretext of the first was the refusal of Malinalli, lord of Tlachquiauhco, to give Montezuma for his royal gardens a very rare plant in his possession. An army was dispatched to bring the plant and punish the people; Tilantongo, Achiuhtla, and Tlachquiauhco fell before the Mexican soldiers; and the rare tlapalizquixochitl, or 'red flower,' was transplanted to Mexico, although the Oajacan records insist, according to Burgoa, that it died on the way. The Miztecs next determined upon a final effort to shake off the Mexican yoke, which well nigh succeeded. Cetecpatl, king of Cohuaixtlahuacan, invited the garrison of the impregnable Huaxyacac and other Aztec fortresses to a grand banquet, and on their return they were set upon by the ambushed troops of Nahuixochitl, lord of Tzotzolan, and all put to death, save one that escaped to tell the news. The Miztecs, now thoroughly aroused, adopted the tactics that had proved so effective in Tehuantepec, fortified their positions in the mountains near Tzotzolan, and awaited the attack. The first army sent by Montezuma was defeated and [462] driven back with great loss. A second army representing the whole strength of the Aztec allies now marched southward under Cuitlahuatzin, Montezuma's brother; but the Miztec forces could not be dislodged from their strong position until Cozcaquauhtli, lord of Huauhtlan and a brother of Cetecpatl, betraying his people, or faithful to his ruler Montezuma as the Mexican writers put it, opened his city to the enemy, revealed all Cetecpatl's plans, and led Cuitlahuatzin by secret paths to a commanding position whence the attack was made and the Miztecs routed. Nahuixochitl soon came up with a fresh army from Tututepec, but was in his turn defeated. The whole province, including Tututepec and other cities on the shores of the Pacific, was then over-run and permanently subjected to Mexican authority. The captives included the leaders, and were brought back to Mexico in time to grace with their blood the festival of tlacaxipehualiztli, or 'flaying of men,' although according to some authorities the leaders, Cetecpatl and Nahuixochitl, were reserved for a later occasion.[IX-36]


Also in 1506 the Huexotzincas and Cholultecs had a quarrel, in which the former had the advantage and by a raid burned a few houses in the city of the latter. Knowing that Montezuma had great veneration for the city of Quetzalcoatl, the Huexotzincas thought it best to send ambassadors to explain the matter. The envoys for some reason not made clear greatly exaggerated the matter, representing Cholula as having been utterly destroyed and the inhabitants [463] driven to the mountains. Greatly enraged the allied kings sent an army to chastise the perpetrators of such an outrage on the holy city; but the Huexotzincas escaped their punishment by stating the truth of the matter and delivering up for sacrifice the envoys with their ears and noses cut off. An expedition at the same time against Itztitlan and Itzcuintepec, and another according to Ortega and Torquemada against Atlixco, together with a war in Tecuhtepec, furnished a large number of captives, some of whom were sacrificed at the dedication of the Tzompantli[IX-37] or 'place of skulls,' while the rest were reserved for the tying-up of the cycle and lighting of the new fire which took place the following year, accompanied by ceremonies that have been described in a preceding volume. This was the last ceremony of the kind the Mexicans ever had the opportunity to perform; before another cycle had elapsed, the native gods had lost their power, their rites had been abolished, and replaced by others that did not include human sacrifices. The rites of the Inquisition were as cruel as those they replaced, but the number of victims in America was comparatively small.[IX-38]

The year 1507 was marked by the occurrence of an eclipse and an earthquake, by the drowning of eighteen hundred soldiers in the Miztec country, and [464] according to Ixtlilxochitl, by the execution of Tezozomoc, lord of Azcapuzalco and father-in-law of Montezuma, for adultery. In his trial it is related that the Mexican judges voted for his banishment, the Tepanec added that the end of his nose should be cut off, but Nezahualpilli, who had the final decision, ordered him to be strangled, much to the displeasure of Montezuma. During the same year the allies sent an expedition to the region of Mitla, which plundered a few towns and captured a small number of prisoners. The provocation of this war is not recorded. Immediately after its return an army was sent under Cuitlahuatzin against Quauhquelchula in the Huexotzinca region. The result was a victory with a goodly array of captives, but obtained only after a serious loss, including five Mexican leaders. The captives served for the inauguration of the temple previously burned, as has been noted, but now rebuilt, and also for the festival of the 'flaying of men.' According to Tezozomoc and Duran the provocation of this war was the burning of the temple of the goddess Toci in Mexico, or as Tezozomoc understands it, the tociquahuitl, a wooden signal tower on the hill of Tocitlan. Duran also informs us that a representation of Mexican nobles attended by invitation the festivals in honor of Camaxtli, at which were sacrificed the Aztec captives taken during the war. A renewal of hostilities with Huexotzinco is mentioned in the eighth year of Montezuma's reign.[IX-39]


With the new cycle began a period, during which, down to the appearance of the Spaniards at Vera Cruz, almost every event was invested with a mysterious [465] significance, every unusual phenomenon of nature, every accident, every illness, every defeat in battle, failure of crops, excessive heat or cold, rain or snow, thunder and lightning, shooting star or comet, earthquake or eclipse,—each and all portended evil to the Aztec empire, evil which some seem even at the time to have connected with the olden predictions of Quetzalcoatl respecting the coming of a foreign race to take possession of the country. The superstitious monarchs, priests, and nobles were in a constant state of terror. There are but two ways of accounting for this state of affairs; first by supposing that the supernatural element in the various events referred to, the terror which they caused in the minds of the natives, and many of the events themselves, were pure inventions of the native historians formed after the coming of the Spaniards to support the claims of their sages to a foreknowledge of events, or simply for the sake of telling a marvelous tale; and second by supposing that the terror of Montezuma and his companions, and their disposition to carefully note and construe into omens of evil each unusual occurrence, was caused by a knowledge more or less vague that the Spaniards were already on the American coasts. While there is every reason to believe that there are both inventions and exaggerations in the records written after the coming of foreigners, I am disposed to attribute the effects referred to above chiefly to the actual presence of Europeans. For about fifteen years the Antilles had been more or less completely in the possession of the Spaniards; five years before the opening of the new cycle Columbus had coasted Central America and even established a colony in Veragua. It is altogether improbable that no knowledge of the white men and their wonderful winged vessels had reached Mexico, however vague and exaggerated that knowledge may have been. The Aztec traders were not now such indefatigable and trustworthy spies as in [466] former times, but they would hardly have failed to bring to Mexico exaggerated rumors of approaching disaster. It is also quite possible that various articles of European manufacture, or even human remains of white men, had been washed on the Totonac or Xicalanca shores. That Montezuma and his companions attached considerable weight to the traditional predictions of Quetzalcoatl and Hueman there is no reason to doubt. The predictions referred to may have been the threats of some exiled chieftain of ancient times, or the vain imaginings of a fanatic priest uttered to maintain his reputation among his followers; possibly the result of some native cosmographer's theorizing respecting other lands across the ocean; not quite impossibly the remnant of an ancient knowledge of trans-oceanic peoples; and of course not the result of any prophetic foreknowledge; but like all other pretended prophecies they became at once most valid and authentic on the occurrence of circumstances which might be interpreted as their fulfillment.


The signs and omens that followed those already mentioned I shall briefly relate without paying much attention to their chronologic order; very little else than these omens and the means adopted to avert their consequences is recorded from 1508 to 1512. An army sent to the province of Amatlan perished with cold and by falling trees and rocks; and a comet with three heads, perhaps the one already mentioned, hung over Anáhuac.[IX-40] Then a wonderful pyramidal light appeared in the east, reaching from the earth to the sky, visible for forty days, or, as some say, for a whole year, in all parts of the country, from midnight till morning, very similar, according to the description, to the Aurora Borealis. Nezahualpilli was so affected by these signs that he gave orders to discontinue all hostilities. An interview was held between [467] him and Montezuma, although for some time they had not been on speaking terms. Nezahualpilli saw clearly in the strange omens the approaching end of the empire and his own death, but was resigned to the decrees of fate; Montezuma, on the contrary, instead of resignation felt only anger, and is even said by Tezozomoc and Duran to have strangled many of his sorcerers for their unfavorable interpretation of the signs, and their failure to avert evil omens. At last a game of tlachtli was agreed upon between the two monarchs to decide whose interpretation should be accepted; and to show how little importance he attached to his wealth and power, Nezahualpilli is said to have wagered on the result his kingdom of Acolhuacan against three turkey cocks. He won the game, but still Montezuma was not disposed to yield to the fates, and still persecuted his magicians in the hope to elicit a more favorable prognostication, but in vain; the magicians all agreed with the Tezcucan monarch. About the same time the towers of Huitzilopochtli's temple took fire in a clear night without apparent cause, and were reduced to ashes in spite of all efforts to extinguish the flames; and another temple was set on fire by lightning. This was the temple of the god of fire, and was now burned for the second time.[IX-41] In this period, in the reign of the second Montezuma, Brasseur puts the story of a mysterious aerial journey of the two kings to the ancient home of the Aztecs, referring perhaps to that already taken from Duran and applied to the time of Montezuma I.[IX-42] Torquemada, Clavigero, and Vetancvrt, tell us of the resurrection of Papantzin, a sister of Montezuma, who brought back from the land of the dead to her royal brother an account of the new people who were to occupy the land, and of the new religion they would bring. This lady is said [468] to have been the first Mexican to receive the rites of Christian baptism, and the priests took pains to send a duly authenticated account of her miraculous resurrection to Spain. The intimate connection of this tale with the religious prejudices of the invaders, renders it unnecessary to seek even a foundation in truth for the report. Sahagun also speaks of a resurrected woman who predicted the fall of the empire, living twenty-one years thereafter and bearing a son. Boturini attributes this return from the dead to a sister of the king of Michoacan at a much later date, while the Spaniards were besieging Mexico.[IX-43] In 1509, as several authors say,[IX-44] the waters of the lake became violently agitated, without wind, earthquake, or other natural cause, and in consequence the city was inundated. The fishermen of the lake caught a large bird like a crane, wearing a round transparent crown, through which Montezuma saw the stars, though it was in the daytime, and also many people that approached in squadrons, attired like warriors, and seeming half men, half deer. The bird disappeared before the sorcerers could satisfactorily interpret this strange thing. Double-bodied and double-headed men also were seen, and on being brought before the king suddenly disappeared; and the same happened with men who had no fingers and toes. In 1511 armed men were seen fighting in the air; and a bird appeared whose head seemed human; and a large stone pillar fell near the temple of Huitzilopochtli, no one knowing whence it came. An earthquake and a deluge at Tusapan, are reported; at Tecualoia a most ferocious and horrible beast was captured; a female voice was several times heard bewailing the fate of her children. At Tlascala a bright light and a cloud of dust arising from the summit of Mount Matlalcueje to the very heavens, [469] caused the people to fear the end of the world was coming. The sorcerers of Cuetlachtlan also saw many wonderful visions; but among the peoples outside of Anáhuac the fearful phenomena and the predicted coming of a foreign people were less terrible than to the Aztecs, for with their terror was mingled hope of relief from the Aztec yoke. A wild hare invaded Nezahualpilli's garden, but the king would not allow the animal to be killed, for in the same manner, he said, would a strange people presently invade his country. Tezozomoc and Duran give a long and detailed account of Montezuma's sufferings. It seems that he was not content with his own dreams and omens, but instructed his subjects to report to him all their visions; at last he was so distracted that he determined to hide himself from impending calamities in a cave, but was prevented from such a course by a series of supernatural events more absurd, if possible, than those that have been narrated. Herrera tells us that Montezuma had in his possession a box washed on the eastern shore containing wearing-apparel and a sword of a style unknown to the natives.[IX-45]


In the meantime military operations had not been suspended, for the anger of the gods could only be averted by sacrifice, and victims could only be obtained by war; but the details of these campaigns and their order are nowhere definitely recorded. It is stated, however, that in 1511, the Cuetlachtecas, encouraged by the visions of their magicians, and by the troubles that had fallen upon Anáhuac, refused openly to pay their tributes, and yet remained unpunished.[IX-46] [470] In the same or following year, the Cakchiquel records note the arrival of a numerous embassy of the Yaqui, or Mexicans, at their court. Nothing whatever is said of the object of this mission, or its results; but the Abbé Brasseur has no doubt that the object sought was information respecting the actions of the Spaniards on the coast of Central America.[IX-47] Although Nezahualpilli seems to have lost most of his interest in political affairs, and to have contented himself with simply awaiting future developments, no superstitious terror in Montezuma's breast could overcome his ruling passion, ambition; and according to the authorities he was inclined to take advantage of his colleague's listlessness for his own aggrandizement. Ixtlilxochitl relates an act of treachery against the Tezcucan monarch, which, in view of the author's well-known prejudice against Montezuma, may be received with much doubt; according to this author, the Mexican king represented to Nezahualpilli that the anger of the gods was caused to some extent by the failure to offer captives from Tlascala, and the substitution of victims from distant provinces obtained not in holy battle but in a mere attempt to extend the imperial domain. He proposed a joint campaign against Tlascala; Nezahualpilli consented, saying that his inaction had not been the result of cowardice, but he had ceased to fight simply because the year of 1 Acatl was near at hand when the empire must fall. He sent an army under his two sons, but Montezuma had secretly notified the Tlascaltecs that the Acolhua's motive was not the capture of victims, but the conquest of the republic, promising to take no part himself in the battle. The Tlascaltecs were very angry and the Aztec army stood calmly by and saw the Acolhua forces led into ambush and massacred. The whole [471] march of Nezahualpilli's army had been marked by the occurrence of many omens of evil. Immediately on his return Montezuma openly proclaimed his opposition to his colleague and ordered a suspension of all Tezcucan tributes from the cities about the lake. While there are reasons to doubt this act of treachery and the openness of his opposition to Nezahualpilli, it is evident that the two kings regarded each other from this time as enemies.[IX-48]


In 1512, with great festivities and the sacrifice of twelve thousand captives—taken it is said in a war against the revolting Miztec province of Tlachquiauhco—was dedicated a new sacrificial stone. It was only after a long search that a suitable stone was found near Coyuhuacan, and after it was formed and sculptured with the fitting devices, notwithstanding the honors paid it on the way to the capital, it broke through one of the causeways and carried with itself to the bottom of the lake the high-priest and many of his attendants. It was afterwards recovered and placed in its appointed place. Tezozomoc and others tell many marvelous tales of this stone, how it spoke frequently on the way, and how after sinking it found its way back to its original location. Tezozomoc also states that in connection with the ceremonies at this time Montezuma publicly proclaimed himself Zemanahuaca Tlatoani, equivalent to 'emperor of the world.'[IX-49]


During the next few years Montezuma seems to have determined by brilliant exploits in battle to defy the predictions of his magicians and to shake off his own superstitious fears. In 1512, according to Torquemada, the Xuchitepecs and Icpactepecs were subjugated; in 1513, the Yopitzincas, who had attempted the destruction of the Mexican garrison at Tlacotepec, [472] were defeated; in 1514, the city of Quetzalapan in Cuextlan was taken with many captives, although at the cost of several Aztec leaders of high rank; and in 1515 took place the conquest of Cihuapohualoyan and Cuexcomaixtlahuacan, including the siege of the strongholds of Quetzaltepec, Totoltepec and Iztactlalocan, narrated at considerable length by Duran, who represents this war as having been caused by the refusal of the inhabitants to furnish a peculiar kind of sand needed by the Mexican lapidaries in polishing precious stones.[IX-50] Torquemada and Ortega relate that an expedition was at about this time sent southward to Honduras, Vera Paz, and Nicaragua, all of which were subjected to the Mexican power, the two former without much opposition, the latter only after a hard battle, a defeat, and subsequent treachery on the part of the Aztecs.[IX-51] There is every reason to believe that this report is unfounded, and that the countries south of the isthmus, save perhaps Soconusco, were never conquered by the Mexicans. I need not enter into any discussion here respecting the limits of the Aztec empire; since the annals recorded in the preceding pages, with a résumé of the subject in a preceding volume,[IX-52] are sufficient. In general terms the empire extended from the valley of Mexico westward only to the adjoining province of Matlaltzinco, Michoacan having always retained her independence; north-westward only a few leagues beyond the limits of the valley; in the north-east, east, and [473] south-east it embraced the whole country to the gulf coast from the Rio Pánuco in the north to the Rio Alvarado in the south, excepting the small territory of Tlascala; in the south-west and south it reached the Pacific coast, along which it extended from Zacatollan to Tututepec; and it also included some towns and garrisons in Soconusco, and on the frontiers of Chiapas. Or, according to modern political geography, the empire embraced the states of Mexico, Puebla, Vera Cruz, Guerrero, and western Oajaca, with small portions of Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, and Chiapas. The whole of Oajaca, including Tehuantepec, was at one time subjected, but the Zapotecs regained their independence, as we have seen, before Montezuma's reign. Beyond these limits doubtless many raids were made, and towns, with small sections of territory, were reduced momentarily to Mexican provinces; hence the varying statements of different authors on this subject.[IX-53]

The appearance of the Spaniards on the distant American coasts, the predictions of disaster which all the soothsayers agreed in deriving from constantly recurring omens, the approaching subjugation of his people to a race of foreigners in which Nezahualpilli firmly believed, and above all the haughty and treacherous manner and deeds of Montezuma, who now made no secret of his intention to make himself supreme monarch of the empire, had a most depressing effect on the Tezcucan king. He retired with [474] his favorite wife and a few attendants to the palace of Tezcocingo, announcing his intention of spending his remaining days in retirement, but six months later he returned to Tezcuco, retired to his most private apartments, and refused to see visitors. Some time afterwards, when his family insisted on being admitted to his presence, his death was announced to them, having been concealed for some time by the attendants acting under his orders. The peculiar circumstances of his decease caused the invention of the popular tale, according to which he had not died but had gone to the ancient Amaquemecan, the home of his Chichimec ancestors. His death occurred in 1515.[IX-54]


For some unknown reason Nezahualpilli had not named his successor on the throne, and the choice thus devolved upon the royal council in conjunction with the kings of Mexico and Tlacopan. So far as can be determined from conflicting accounts the sons of the deceased monarch and heirs to the throne were as follows in the order of their age:—Tetlahuehuetquizitzin, Cacama, Cohuanacoch, and Ixtlilxochitl. The eldest son was deemed incompetent to rule the kingdom, Cacama was chosen by the council, and the choice warmly approved by Montezuma, who was Cacama's uncle. When the decision was announced to the other brothers, Cohuanacoch approved it, but Ixtlilxochitl protested against the choice of Cacama, insisting that his oldest brother should be proclaimed king. Something has already been said about this prince's fiery temper in early years,[IX-55] and age seems to have had no effect in calming his violent character. But on this occasion he seems to have been actuated not only by his own ambition to reign or to control [475] the reigning monarch, but by patriotic motives and a desire for his country's freedom. He denounced, probably not without reason, the council as acting wholly in the interests of the treacherous Montezuma, who had insulted his father, and aspired to the imperial power; and he regarded Cacama as a mere man of wax to be molded at will by the crafty monarch of the Mexicans. The details of the quarrel are given at considerable length by the authorities, but are hardly worth reproducing here; the trouble seems to have lasted, if the chronology of the records may be credited, two years, much of which time was passed by Cacama at Mexico with his uncle. At last, however, finding his efforts unavailing, Ixtlilxochitl left Tezcuco with his partisans and went to the province of Meztitlan with the intention of exciting a revolt in his own behalf, while Cacama in 1517 proceeded to his capital to receive the crown of his father.[IX-56]

Ixtlilxochitl was in a high degree successful in the northern provinces, whose inhabitants were almost unanimous in their approval of his opposition to Montezuma, and gladly ranged themselves under his banners. Marching southward from Meztitlan at the head of a hundred thousand men, he was received as [476] king in Tepepulco and other towns until he reached Otompan, where he met considerable resistance, but at last entered the city and made it thereafter his capital. He also took possession of all the northern towns, such as Acolman, Chiuhnauhtlan, Zumpango, and Huehuetoca. The news of his proceedings in the north reached Tezcuco just after the coronation ceremonies of Cacama, or, as some say, during their continuance. Montezuma seems to have made one effort to quell this northern revolt and to have sent one of his bravest generals against Ixtlilxochitl, but this general, Xochitl, was defeated, captured, and burned alive by the fiery Chichimec prince; no farther attack was made by the Mexican king. During the course of this year, 1517, the Totonacs secretly gave in their allegiance to Ixtlilxochitl, and of course Tlascala, the inveterate foe of Mexico, supported his cause. Montezuma's failure to renew his efforts against the rebel, and the increasing spirit of revolt among the Aztec provinces are in great measure accounted for, when it is remembered that at this time the Spaniards, under Hernandez de Córdova, again appeared on the coast of Yucatan and Tabasco,[IX-57] and the exaggerated reports of their appearance and deeds served to cause a renewal of the old terror in Mexico, and a corresponding hope, not altogether unmingled with fear, in the oppressed provinces. Cacama, either influenced by the same fears, or more probably encouraged to yield to his own kindly feelings towards his brother by Montezuma's failure to proceed against Ixtlilxochitl, sent an embassy to his brother, who, from his new headquarters at Otompan, had shown no intention of marching against Tezcuco, proposing an amicable settlement of their difficulties. Ixtlilxochitl replied that he had none but the kindest [477] feelings towards his brother and the kingdom of Acolhuacan, but renewed his denunciations of Montezuma, and his warnings against that monarch's ambitious designs. A division of the kingdom was finally decided upon, Ixtlilxochitl retaining the sovereign power in the northern provinces, Cacama retaining his throne at Tezcuco and his place in the Aztec alliance, and Cohuanacoch receiving a large amount of revenue for his constant support of the king. Ixtlilxochitl faithfully observed the terms of the treaty, but retained all his enmity against the Mexicans; he had an opportunity to strike a decisive blow against the hated power a little later as an ally of the Spaniards.[IX-58]


Yet wars were still waged by the allied kings as before, for the only hope of averting impending disaster was by drenching with human blood the altars of the gods. Several campaigns are recorded as having yielded captives in considerable numbers, but no details are given. Battles against the Tlascaltecs were continued down to the very last; the Mexicans fighting generally as allies of the Huexotzincas. In one of these battles the Huexotzinca chief Tlachpanquizqui by a valiant feat of arms obtained pardon for serious crimes which he had committed, and great rewards besides. He captured the famous Tlascaltec warrior Tlalhuicol and brought him to Mexico. But the honor of his capture was all that Montezuma desired; for he immediately offered Tlalhuicol his freedom, which was refused. The Tlascaltec was then put in command of a Mexican army and sent against the Tarascos, whom he defeated, taking their stronghold of Tangimaroa, or Tlaximaloyan, and subduing many towns on his way. He returned laden with spoils to Mexico, was entreated to accept the permanent position of Commander-in-chief of the [478] Aztec armies, or at least to accept his release and return to his country; but the brave Tlalhuicol deemed it a dishonor to return or even to live after his capture, and earnestly entreated the privilege of dying like other prisoners of rank on the gladiatorial stone. His request was sorrowfully granted, eight of Anáhuac's best warriors fell before him in the conflict, but by the ninth he was subdued, and his heart was offered as a pleasing sacrifice to the god of war.[IX-59]

In the same year, 1517, it is related that Montezuma in his zeal to appease the irate deities, ordered the grand temple of Huitzilopochtli to be covered from top to bottom with gold, precious stones, and rare feathers. His Minister of Finance, ordered to supply the cost of this extravagant act of piety by imposing a new tax on the people, objected and warned the tyrant that his subjects would endure no increase of taxation. His objections were removed by putting him to death, but we hear nothing farther of the golden covering.[IX-60] The following year, or 1518, took place at Mexico the last of the long series of sacrificial immolations on a large scale, at the dedication of the temple of Coatlan, on which occasion were sacrificed the captives that the last campaigns had yielded.[IX-61] But almost before the groans of the dying victims had died away there came to the ears of the Aztec sovereign the startling tidings that the eastern strangers had again made their appearance, this time on the Totonac coasts of his own empire. Juan de Grijalva and his companions had followed the gulf coast northward, and reached the spot where now stands the city of Vera Cruz.[IX-62]



All Aztec officials in the coast provinces had strict orders to keep a constant look-out for the eastern strangers, and in case of their arrival to treat them kindly, but by pretence of traffic and by every possible means to ascertain who they were, whence they came, and the nature of their designs. In accordance with these orders Pinotl the Aztec governor of Cuetlachtlan and his Mexican subordinates were foremost among the visitors to the wonderful ships of Grijalva; paintings were quickly but carefully prepared of the strangers, their ships, their weapons, and of every strange thing observed, and with the startling news and the pictured records the royal officials hastened to Mexico and communicated their information to Montezuma. The king, concealing as well as possible his anxiety and forbidding the messengers to make the news public, immediately assembled his royal colleagues and his council of state, laid the matter before them and asked their advice. The opinion was unanimous that the strangers were the children of Quetzalcoatl, returning in fulfillment of the ancient prophecies, and that they should be kindly received, as the only means of conciliating the good will of the numerous followers of the ancient prophet. An embassy was sent with rich presents to the coast, but they were too late; the Spaniards had departed, with a promise, however, of returning at an early date.

The events that followed down to the fulfillment of that promise by the arrival of Hernan Cortés in 1519 are not very definitely recorded, but these months formed a period of the greatest anxiety on the part of the Aztec rulers and of mingled dread and hope for their numerous enemies. Interest in the one absorbing topic caused all else to be forgotten; there was no thought of conquest, of revolt, of tributes; even the bloody rites of Huitzilopochtli were much neglected [480] and the star of the peaceful Quetzalcoatl and his sect was in the ascendant. Prophets and old men throughout the country were closely questioned respecting their knowledge of the old traditions; old paintings and records were taken from every archive and carefully compared with those relating to the new-comers; the loss of the precious documents burned by Itzcoatl was now seriously felt; the glass beads and other trinkets obtained from the Spaniards, and even carefully treasured fragments of ship biscuit, were formally deposited with all the old Toltec ceremonies in the temple of Quetzalcoatl. Many fictitious paintings were palmed off on the credulous Montezuma as ancient records in which the children of Quetzalcoatl were pictured in an amusing variety of absurd forms, but some of the documents agreed very closely with the late paintings of Montezuma's agents, showing that others had bethought them to represent on paper Grijalva's company or some preceding band of Spaniards.[IX-63]

At last the presence of Cortés on the southern coasts, and his progress towards the Aztec possessions, was announced, and an embassy was dispatched to await his arrival, and to receive him with every attention and with the richest gifts the empire could afford. Subsequent events belong to the history of the Conquest, and must be narrated in another work; the remaining chapters of this volume being required for such fragments as have been preserved respecting the aboriginal history of other nations and tribes outside the central plateaux of Mexico.


I close the chapter and the annals of the Aztec period, with a brief glance at the general condition of affairs in and about Anáhuac in 1519, and the most extraordinary combination of circumstances that made [481] it possible for Hernan Cortés to overthrow with a handful of Spanish soldiers a mighty aboriginal empire. The power known as Aztec, since the formation of the tri-partite alliance not quite a century before under the Acolhua, Mexican, and Tepanec kings, had gradually extended its iron grasp from its centre about the lakes to the shores of either ocean; and this it had accomplished wholly by the force of arms, receiving no voluntary allegiance. Overburdened by taxation; oppressed and insulted by royal governors, Aztec tribute-gatherers, and the traveling armies of Tlatelulca merchants; constantly attacked on frivolous pretexts by blood-thirsty hordes who ravaged their fields and carried away the flower of their population to perish on the Mexican altars; the inhabitants of each province subjected to this degrading bondage entertained towards the central government of the tyrants on the lakes feelings of the bitterest hatred and hostility, only awaiting an opportunity to free themselves, or at least to annihilate their oppressors. Such was the condition of affairs and the state of feeling abroad; at home the situation was most critical. The alliance which had been the strongest element of the Aztec power was now practically broken up; the ambitious schemes of Montezuma had alienated his firmest ally, and the stronger part of the Acolhua force was now openly arrayed against him under Ixtlilxochitl at Otompan, leagued with the Tlascaltec leaders for the overthrow of the Mexican power. It is probable that the coming of the Spaniards retarded rather than precipitated the united attack of the Acolhuas and the outside provinces on Montezuma. But again, to meet the gathering storm, the Mexican king could no longer count on the undivided support of his own people; he had alienated the merchants, who no longer, as in the early days, did faithful duty as spies, nor toiled to enrich a government from which they could expect no rewards; the lower classes no longer deemed their [482] own interests identical with those of their sovereign. Last but far from least among the elements of approaching ruin was the religious sentiment of the country. The reader has followed the bitter contentions of earlier times in Tollan and Culhuacan, between the rival sects of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca. With the growth of the Mexican influence the bloody rites of the latter sect had prevailed under the auspices of the god Huitzilopochtli, and the worship of the gentler Quetzalcoatl, though still observed in many provinces and many temples, had with its priests been forced to occupy a secondary position. But the people were filled with terror at the horrible extent to which the latter kings had carried the immolation of human victims; they were sick of blood, and of the divinities that thirsted for it; a re-action was experienced in favor of the rival deities and priesthood. And now, just as the oppressed subjects of ecclesiastical tyranny were learning to remember with regret the peaceful teachings of the Plumed Serpent, and to look to that god for relief from their woes, their prayers were answered, Quetzalcoatl's predictions were apparently fulfilled, and his promised children made their appearance on the eastern ocean. The arrival of Cortés at this particular juncture was in one sense most marvelous; but in his subsequent success there is little to be wondered at; nor is it strange that the oppressed Nahuas received almost with outstretched arms the ministers of the new faith thus offered them by the Spaniards.



Early History of the Eastern Plateau—The Chichimec-Toltecs—Arrival of the Teo-Chichimecs in Anáhuac—They Conquer and Settle the Eastern Plateau—Civil Wars—Miscellaneous Events—Wars between Tlascala and the Nations of Anáhuac—Early History of Michoacan—Wars between Wanacaces and Tarascos—Founding of Tzintzuntzan—Metamorphosis of the Tarasco Princes—Encroachments of the Wanacaces—The King of the Isles—Murder of Pawacume and Wapeani—Reigns of Curatame, Tariacuri, Tangaxoan I., Ziziz Pandacuare, Zwanga, and Tangaxoan II.—Origin of the Miztecs and Zapotecs—Wixipecocha—Rulers of Oajaca—The Huaves and Mijes—Later Kings and History of Oajaca—Wars with Mexico.

Although all that is known of the history of the eastern plateau prior to the fall of the Toltec empire has been already told, it will be well to briefly review the events of that period before referring to the Chichimec occupation of the region under consideration.

The earliest inhabitants of the plateau of whom we have any definite knowledge were the Olmecs, one of the oldest of the Nahua nations, who appear to have settled the country about Puebla and Cholula with the permission of the Quinames, or giants, the original possessors, and to have been so badly treated by them that at length, by a stratagem, they slew their oppressors and became sole masters of the country. [484] Next we hear of the erection of the great pyramid of Cholula by Xelhua, an Olmec chief; then of the advent and subsequent disappearance of Quetzalcoatl, the culture hero and reformer, who is not to be confounded with Ceacatl Quetzalcoatl, king of Tollan and afterwards of Cholula, who appeared on the scene at a much later period and was also a great reformer. After this, history is silent concerning the Olmecs until the founding of the Toltec empire, when we find them still flourishing on the eastern plateau with Cholula for their capital city. Then the king of Culhuacan, Mixcohua, better known as Camaxtli, under which name he was subsequently apotheosized and worshiped on the plateau, directs a military expedition towards Chalchiuhapan, afterwards Tlascala, which seems to have been founded about this time. But the most notable event of this pre-Chichimec history of the plateau, and the one which most advanced its importance and prosperity, was the coming of Ceacatl Quetzalcoatl, son of Camaxtli, to Cholula, in 895, after he was forced from his throne at Tollan by the ambitious Tezcatlipoca, or Huemac. As has been already stated, this event was the beginning of a new and golden era in the eastern region, which lasted, if we except the conquest and temporary subjection of Cholula by Huemac, up to the time of the Toltec troubles, in which Cholula and her sister cities on the plateau doubtless shared, though to what extent is not certain; at all events they were not deserted as the Toltec cities in the valley are traditionally reported to have been at the time of the Chichimec invasion.


Brasseur has an account, drawn from one of his manuscripts,[X-1] of the taking of Cholula shortly after the fall of the Toltec empire by a tribe which he calls the Chichimec-Toltecs, and the subsequent settlement of the greater part of the plateau by this and other fierce bands, the original inhabitants being driven out [485] of the country. This relation is, however, of doubtful authenticity, and is, moreover, irreconcilable with other statements made by the same writer;[X-2] it seems, in short, to stand by itself, as an episode recorded in one obscure manuscript only, and having no connection whatever with the events that precede or follow it. The account relates that among the fierce hordes that contributed to the downfall of Tollan, was one which, from the fact of its settling in the ruined capital, and possibly founding a temporary power there, received the name of Chichimec-Toltec. After the death of Huemac III. this band left Tollan, under the leadership of Icxicohuatl, Quetzaltehueyac, Totolohuitzil, and other chiefs,[X-3] and after ravaging the country about lake Tenochtitlan, entered the mountains to the east of the valley of Anáhuac, and there wandered about for a number of years without making any permanent settlement. When next heard of they were encamped near Cholula, their numbers greatly reduced by famine or pestilence, and in a very wretched condition. Weary of their wandering life and not strong enough to take forcible possession of one of the rich provinces of the plateau, or even to forage for their subsistence, they resolved to humble themselves before the princes of Cholula, and implore their protection and assistance. Their small number and apparently broken spirit, caused their prayer to be granted with more readiness than they had expected, and the fierce warriors, who in former times had made the kings of Anáhuac tremble upon their thrones, were now scornfully admitted into Cholula as men too weak to be feared and upon the footing of slaves and servants. But a few years of rest and abundance roused the old spirit in the Chichimec-Toltecs, and made them burn to throw off their self-imposed yoke, and avenge the insults to which they were constantly [486] subjected by their masters. To obtain this end, they resorted to a very ingenious stratagem, suggested it is said, by their national god, Tezcatlipoca. A deputation waited upon the Tlachiach and Aquiach, the two chief princes of Cholula, and begged permission to give a public entertainment, the chief feature of which should be their national ballad and dance. For the proper performance of this they must, however, be supplied with their old weapons, which, since their arrival in Cholula, had been shut up in the city arsenal. Their petition was readily granted, great preparations were made, and on the appointed day all the people assembled to witness the novel spectacle. The Tlachiach and Aquiach were present, surrounded by their suites and a vast number of the nobility. The entertainment opened with certain comic representations, which made the spectators roar with laughter, and excited them to drink freely and be merry. Then the Chichimec warriors dressed in full war costume and bearing their weapons in their hands, formed themselves into a great circle, with the teponaztli player in the centre, and the solemn mitote commenced. At first the music was low and sad, and the dancers moved with slow and measured steps, but gradually the pace grew faster, and the deep voices of the warriors as they chanted their battle song mingled with the sound of the teponaztli. Higher and still higher the shouts arose, accompanied now by terrible gestures and brandishing of weapons; more madly yet the circle whirled, until it was impossible to distinguish one form from another; then, on a sudden, the note of the teponaztli changed and became low and sad once more. This was the signal for the massacre; in a moment the mock fury became a terrible reality, as the Chichimecs turned and fell upon the unarmed and half-drunk spectators. A dreadful slaughter ensued, and the streets of the city ran red with human blood. The Tlachiach and Aquiach managed to escape, and took refuge with a few of their relatives [487] and friends within the walls of Yancuitlalpan, which became for the time their residence. By night the Chichimec-Toltecs were masters of Cholula. The news of this victory soon attracted other savage tribes; the original inhabitants were driven from place to place, and at the end of a few years, the entire country "from the shores of the gulf of Mexico to the mountains which encircled the port of Acapulco," had changed masters.[X-4]


With the arrival of the Teo-Chichimecs in Anáhuac, the history proper of the eastern plateau begins. This people, as has been said, was one of the invading bands that appear about the same time as the Nahuatlaca tribes, with whom they are classed by some writers. According to Camargo, the Tlascaltec historian, they were at Chicomoztoc in 5 Tochtli; thence they journeyed by way of Amaquetepec and Tepenec to Tomallan, which they conquered; then with great difficulty they fought their way through Culhuacan, passed into Teotla Cochoalco, and so on to Teohuiznahuac, where their march was opposed by Queen Coatlicue, who, however, after a severe struggle was forced to come to terms. They next advanced to Hueypuchtlan, and then to Tepozotlan, where the principal chiefs received certain military honors and adopted new names. After passing with many halts through other provinces they finally arrived in the vicinity of Tezcuco, in the year 2 Tecpatl, where they were well received by the king, and assigned the plain of Poyauhtlan as a place of encampment.[X-5] Veytia states that a great number of the Teo-Chichimecs, who did not like to settle in a locality surrounded by so many people, passed on into the country east of the Valley of Mexico, where they spread over Tlascala, Huexotzinco, and Cholula,[X-6] [488] which were probably occupied at that time by the remnants of the Olmecs and Xicalancas, who had formerly been subject to the Toltec empire.


Notwithstanding the settlers at Poyauhtlan met with no opposition on their arrival, and even appear to have been well received, their presence soon became a source of great uneasiness to all the surrounding nations. At first they behaved themselves well enough, and as they gave no cause for complaint, were left undisturbed in their new country for a number of years; but as time progressed, and their numbers increased, they began to encroach upon and ravage the adjoining territories. This led to reprisals and bloody encounters, until at length the evil grew to be unbearable, and was finally put an end to by the famous battle of Poyauhtlan, and the departure of the Teo-Chichimecs to join their countrymen upon the eastern plateau, in the year 1272. Their real reason for leaving the country was doubtless their weakened condition, for though they had nominally won the battle of Poyauhtlan, yet it had been but a Cadmean victory for them, and they knew that another such engagement must infallibly result in their annihilation. But be this as it may, their god Camaxtli spoke opportunely through the mouth of his priests, saying, "arise, depart from hence, for the dawn of your greatness shall not break in this place, neither shall the sun of your splendor rise here." But the strongest proof that the Teo-Chichimecs emigrated because their enemies were too strong for them, lies in the fact that they found it necessary to ask the king of Tezcuco for permission to leave the country, though Camargo gives as an excuse for their submission that they wished to be able to call upon him for assistance, should they meet with reverses in their intended journey beyond the mountains. The king of Tezcuco, doubtless delighted to get rid of such troublesome neighbors, not only gave the desired permission, but [489] granted them safe conduct through his dominions and furnished them with trusty guides who were to conduct them by the safest passes to the summit of the range, and thence to point them out their road toward the east. No time was lost in setting out, and soon the whole Teo-Chichimec nation was marching eastward. Their guides led them to the peak of Tlalocan, from which elevation they overlooked an immense extent of country. Behind them the Lake of Mexico sparkled in the midst of the valley of Anáhuac, before them lay the fertile provinces of Tlascala, Huexotzinco, and Cholula. Descending to the plain they gave vent to their joy in feasts and rejoicings, and offered thanks to their god Camaxtli, who had delivered them from their enemies and brought them into such a fair land. It is related, however, that the entire nation did not ascend the peak. A large party under the leadership of Chimalcuixintecuhtli refused to climb the great eastern range, and proceeded northwards to Tulancingo, Quauhchinanco, and other neighboring provinces which they found to be already colonized by Macuilacatltecuhtli, a kinsman of Chimalcuixintecuhtli, who welcomed the wanderers with every mark of friendship, and as an especial token of his favor conferred wives upon their chiefs.[X-7]

Meantime the larger portion of the emigrants pressed forward into the eastern country. They seem to have kept together until they reached a place called Tetliyacac,[X-8] situated near Huexotzinco, where they separated into several divisions, and dispersed in various directions. Most of the surrounding cities and provinces fell into their hands one after another, and before long they had gained possession of the [490] best part of the country. Thus the province of Quauhquelchula was appropriated by Toquetzal and Yohuallatonac, and the town of Coatepec was founded by Quetzalxiuhtli;[X-9] another band went to Ahuayopan, where a bloody fray took place among them, which caused a chief named Izcohuatl to separate from the rest and settle in Zacatlan. Tetzitzimitl founded, or took possession of Totollan; Quauhtzintecuhtli settled in Atlmayoacan; Cozcaquauh Huehue established himself in the Teopan district; Tlotlitecuhtli went a little lower down; Tempatlahuac settled in the Contlan district; Cacamatecuhtli in the Xaltepetlapan district; Calpan surrendered to Toltecatltecuhtli; Cimatecuhtli obtained Totomihuacan; Totomalotecuhtli gained possession of Tepeaca.[X-10]

For several years the Teo-Chichimecs continued to extend their settlements over the entire plateau. Some of the provinces yielded without a struggle, others offered a desperate resistance, but though the invaders occasionally met with a temporary repulse, their arms were always victorious in the end. At Nacapahuazcan they were visited by certain Chichimec chiefs who are said to have preceded them on the plateau, and who instructed the new-comers how to cook meat in earthen pots which they presented to them.[X-11] Here they conferred the dignity of Tecuhtli upon a number of warriors who had distinguished themselves. They next proceeded towards the plain [491] of Cholula, but their passage through the mountains was opposed by the Tlachiach and Aquiach, who refused to let them enter their country. They met with a very haughty response, however, in which the Teo-Chichimecs expressed their determination to continue their march in spite of all opposition. Upon this the Cholultec princes retreated, and the invaders advanced without hindrance. At Tepeticpac, a city strongly fortified by art and nature, their progress was again stayed by the Olmec prince, Colopechtli, but after a desperate resistance the city was taken and its brave defender slain. Struck by the advantageous position of this place, the Teo-Chichimec leader, Quanez,[X-12] resolved to found his capital here. The city was first known as Texcalticpac, then as Texcalla, and finally as Tlaxcallan, or Tlascala.[X-13]


So far everything had gone well with the invaders. While they were united and occupied themselves only in driving the rightful possessors from the soil they had experienced a succession of brilliant conquests. But, as is usual in such cases, they had no sooner got possession of the country than they began to quarrel among themselves. Quanez was the first to give rise to a jealous feeling. He had fortified his position at Tlascala more strongly than ever, and seemed disposed to aim at the sovereignty of the plateau. To this his brother chiefs at Huexotzinco and other places would not submit. Each wanted to be independent in the territory he had won, and they clamored for a distinct division of the soil. Quanez, however, persisted in his ambitious designs and soon confirmed their suspicions by his acts. Upon this the other chiefs held a consultation which resulted in their uniting their forces and marching upon Tlascala. [492] It seems that they were met by Quanez, who, however, was defeated in the engagement that ensued and forced to retreat to his stronghold, where he was closely besieged by his enemies.[X-14] The Tlascaltecs did not remain shut up within their walls, however, but made frequent and furious sallies against the besiegers. The horrors of these engagements, in which fathers fought against sons, and brothers against brothers, are dilated upon by the historians. All efforts were unavailing, outpost after outpost was lost to the enemy until the Tlascaltecs were finally driven within the walls of the city proper, without any hope of escape. In this extremity Quanez managed to secretly dispatch messengers to the king of Tezcuco and to the princes of Xochimilco[X-15] and Xalpan, requesting assistance. The Tezcucan monarch promptly responded to the call with a considerable force, under the command of a valiant chief named Chinametl, and at the same time sent the beleaguered Quanez a valuable alabaster vase as an encouraging token of regard. This re-inforcement, together with certain prophecies delivered by the oracle of Camaxtli, re-assured the Tlascaltecs, and they at once set about strengthening their position.

In the meantime Xiuhtlehui, prince of Huexotzinco, who commanded the allied troops, seeing the aid obtained by the enemy, and fearing that the victory which had seemed so certain during the earlier part of the campaign, was slipping out of his hands, sent messengers to Coxcoxtli, king of Culhuacan,[X-16] imploring his aid, and expatiating on the [493] strongest terms on the harm wrought by the Tlascaltecs. Coxcoxtli was much puzzled how to act; he was on friendly terms with both parties, and perhaps, as Camargo says, he was afraid of the Tlascaltecs. At length, after carefully considering the matter, he adopted a very cautious policy. He instructed the Huexotzinca envoys to tell their master that he would send an army as required, but no sooner had they departed than he sent a message to the Tlascaltec chief, greeting him in the most friendly terms, and informing him of the application he had received and the promise he had given. This promise, he said, he was bound to keep, but only as a matter of form; his troops should take no active part against the Tlascaltecs, who, he begged, in their turn, would take care not to injure his soldiers.


Flattered by this proof of friendship, Quanez returned his thanks to Coxcoxtli with assurances that the latter's troops should suffer no harm at his hands. The Tlascaltecs then prepared to meet the expected attack, and all the people attended an elaborate ceremony for the purpose of beseeching the protection and aid of their god Camaxtli. The answer of the god was favorable; he exhorted them to take courage and fear nothing, for they should surely be triumphant, and directed them to seek for a virgin having one breast larger than the other, and sacrifice her in his honor, which was done.

On the third day, when the last of the propitiatory ceremonies had been completed, the Tlascaltecs turned their attention towards the enemy; and, behold, the hills and plains, far and near, were swarming with hostile troops. Coxcoxtli's auxiliaries had arrived and were posted as a reserve on a neighboring mountain, where they remained inactive during the combat that ensued. At this sight the hearts of the valiant Tlascaltecs sank within them, [494] and they sought and obtained renewed assurances of divine favor. Scarcely had they done so when the battle commenced. At the first shock the Tlascaltecs captured a warrior, who was hurried to Camaxtli's altar, and sacrificed in their horrible manner. The battle soon raged furiously, the air was black with stones, arrows, and javelins, the rocks resounded with the war-cries of the combatants, blood flowed in torrents. Cheered on by their high-priest, and strong in their faith in the oracles that had promised them victory, the Tlascaltecs were irresistible, and soon drove the enemy before them. Before long the rout became general, and a terrible carnage ensued, the like of which could be found only, say the annals, upon the bloody plain of Poyauhtlan. In the meantime Coxcoxtli's troops descended from the hill from which they had witnessed the whole battle, and quietly retreated to Anáhuac, without in any way succoring the defeated army.

This great victory made the Tlascaltecs much respected, and all the neighboring nations hastened to congratulate Quanez upon his success and proffer him their alliance, while the conquered people humbly confessed that they had been in the wrong and prevailed upon the elated victor to pardon their presumptuous conduct. Thus Tlascala became the most powerful state on the plateau, a position which it enjoyed for some time in peace.[X-17]


It was about this time, or shortly afterward, that disturbances occurred in Cholula, of which there is more than one account. Brasseur relates that the ancient inhabitants of the city, who had groaned for a number of years under the Teo-Chichimec yoke, and whose principal men had long been in exile, resolved at length to make an effort to recover their freedom. They applied to Coxcoxtli of Culhuacan [495] for aid, and as a sure inducement appealed to his piety, by reminding him that Cholula was in a spiritual sense the daughter of Quetzalcoatl, while in a temporal sense she was the vassal of the kings of Culhuacan, whom she had never ceased to venerate as sovereigns. Coxcoxtli granted their petition and at once sent a force to their assistance. The Teo-Chichimecs who were in power at Cholula, had leagued themselves with the Huexotzincas, against Tlascala, but since their humiliation, for some reason or other, they had concentrated at Quauhquelchula, where they continued to oppress the followers of Ceacatl. The lineal descendants of the high-priests of Quetzalcoatl were Iztantzin and Nacazpipilolxochi; they managed to interest in their favor the prince of Tlascala, by referring to the great things he had done to the honor of Camaxtli, and reminding him that this god was the father of Quetzalcoatl; was it not the duty of the Tlascaltecs, they added, to do all in their power to restore the ancient worship of the prophet and deliver his ministers from their banishment. This crafty argument had the desired effect. An alliance was concluded between the Cholultecs and the neighboring states of Tlascala, Huexotzinco, Totomihuacan, Tepeaca, Quauhtecan, and Quauhtinchan, and the exiled ministers of Quetzalcoatl were solemnly conducted back to the sacred city. The towns of the territory of Cholula were then subjected to the Toltec authority, as of old, and the Teo-Chichimecs of Quauhquelchula, Cuetlaxcoapan, and Ayotzinco, hitherto leagued together against Iztantzin, were forced to recognize him as their suzerain. These events occurred between the years 1280 and 1299.[X-18] Veytia's story of this disturbance in Cholula is that Quauhquelchula, Cuetlaxcoapan, Ayotzinco, and some other places in the province rose in rebellion against the high-priest Iztamantzin,[X-19] who called [496] upon Xiuhtemoc, king of Culhuacan, for assistance. The force furnished by this monarch was divided into two parts, one led by himself, the other by Nacazpipilolxochi. With this army the insurgents were finally humbled, though not without considerable bloodshed, and after the campaign had lasted nearly a year.[X-20] After the return of its priests Cholula quickly regained its ancient prosperity. The old laws were enforced and the executive authority was entrusted to a military chief, who was assisted in his duties by a council of six nobles, and this form of government was preserved until the time of the Conquest. From this time the city was rarely troubled with wars, but was respected and held in veneration as a sacred place of pilgrimage by all the surrounding peoples.[X-21]

The peace which followed the victory over the Huexotzincas and their allies gave the Tlascaltecs an opportunity to turn their attention to more peaceful pursuits. Their position as leading nation on the plateau was now assured, and for a time they devoted themselves to the furtherance of culture and commerce, fixing boundaries and granting lands to those who had deserved them by their conduct in the late wars. After remaining under one head for several years the government took the form of a sort of aristocratic republic. It was about this time that Tlascala was divided into four wards, or districts. Quanez had a brother named Teyohualminqui, to whom, in his old age, he made over the district of Ocotelulco,[X-22] giving him at the same time a part of [497] the relics of Camaxtli, which were so highly venerated as to constitute in themselves a gift no less princely than the lands.


This prince so distinguished himself and enlarged his domain by his bravery and conquests that he eventually came to be regarded as chief of the whole nation. Another district, called Quiahuiztlan,[X-23] was granted by Quanez to a chief named Mizquitl, who, according to Camargo, had been one of the leaders of the Chichimecs who went north after the battle of Poyauhtlan instead of crossing the eastern range. He had led his band northwards to Tepetlaoztoc, whence he had subsequently come to Tlascala, arriving there in time to assist Quanez against the Huexotzincas. It was for this service that the district was awarded him. These were three of the four wards, for the part that Quanez reserved for himself formed one, probably the largest at that time, and was called Tepeticpac. The history of the events which led to the foundation of the fourth district is much confused. Camargo relates that Acatentehua, grandson of Teyohualminqui, and third lord of Ocotelulco, after reigning mildly for some time, suddenly became tyrannical. Tlacomihua, one of his nobles, raised a revolt, killed him, and succeeded to the throne of Ocotelulco. These events led to the disaffection of one Tzompane, who went with his followers to a part of Tepeticpac, and there established a separate government. He was succeeded by his son Xayacamachan, otherwise called Tepolohua, who was afterwards massacred, [498] together with all his relations. The next rulers were Aztoguihua Aquiyahuacatl and Zococ Aztahua Tlacaztalli, the latter of whom went with his followers to the heights of Tianazatlan, where he founded Tcatlaiz. His grandson, Xicotencatl, was reigning at the time of Cortes' arrival.[X-24] According to Brasseur, who follows Torquemada principally, a number of the inhabitants of the two oldest quarters, Tepeticpac and Ocotelulco, finding themselves too crowded, descended into the neighboring valley of Teotlalpan, where they constituted a separate government under a chief named Tepolohua.[X-25] The number of people that deserted the higher districts for the pleasant valley, excited the jealousy of the other chiefs. They united their forces, descended upon the young settlement, and killed Tepolohua. The followers of the late chief then departed to Tizatlan where they founded a seigniory which continued to thrive in peace up to the reign of Xicotencatl, who was ruling when the Spaniards came. At Tepeticpac the descendants of Quanez continued to reign, and were regarded as ranking first in the state. It was at this epoch that the united districts of Tlascala adopted the peculiar form of government described in a former volume,[X-26] and that Nezahualcoyotl paid his first visit to the republic, in 1420.

The history of the plateau grows very dim and disconnected from this time on, and has light thrown upon it only here and there, as it happens to be connected with the more important affairs of the Aztec empire, which seems to have engrossed the attention of the historians.


Almost all that is known of the events that remain to be recorded has already been told. We have seen [499] that in 1428 Nezahualcoyotl, fleeing for his life from Maxtla, took refuge for a second time in Huexotzinco and Cholula, and was aided by the people of these and other places on the plateau to recover his father's throne at Tezcuco.[X-27] In 1451-6 came the great famine, when the terrible compact was made between the people of the plateau and those of Anáhuac for the provision of human sacrifices.[X-28] Then followed the war between the Miztecs and the allied powers, in which the Tlascaltecs and Huexotzincas espoused the cause of the former.[X-29] We next find the restless Tlascaltecs stirring up a war between the Mexicans and the Olmecs of Cuetlachtlan, allying themselves with the latter and sharing in their defeat.[X-30] Shortly before the year 1460 several important cities upon the southern part of the plateau, at the instigation of the Tlascaltecs and Huexotzincas, killed some Mexican merchants, were instantly attacked by the powers of the valley, reduced to the rank of Mexican provinces, and appended to Montezuma's empire.[X-31] About the year 1469 Axayacatl, the Mexican monarch, having some cause of complaint against the people of Huexotzinco and Atlixco, invaded their country, and in the battle that ensued the Mexicans, encouraged by the miraculous appearance of Tezcatlipoca, routed their enemies.[X-32] During the reign of Nezahualpilli, Huexotzinco was again troubled, the reason for the war this time being, as we have seen, the predictions of the astrologers that Huehuetzin was fated to vanquish the Tezcucan monarch—predictions which Nezahualpilli falsified, in their literal meaning at least, by a stratagem.[X-33] Ahuitzotl of Mexico is said by Camargo to have invaded the plateau and conquered Huexotzinco and [500] Cholula,[X-34] and it would appear that this fierce king did not leave the country empty handed, for of the eighty thousand human victims immolated by him at the dedication of the temple of Huitzilopochtli in 1487, we read that sixteen thousand were Huexotzincas.[X-35] His own nephew was afterwards taken captive in one of the numerous battles or skirmishes which seem to have been constantly occurring on the borders of the plateau, principally at Atlixco, and offered as a sacrifice on the altar of Camaxtli.[X-36] In 1498, an altercation arose between the lords of Cholula and Tepeaca, which led to a series of combats between those states. The Cholultecs sought and obtained the aid of Ahuitzotl, and we are left to suppose that they then triumphed over their enemies. But the Mexican emperor received a severe check soon afterwards at Atlixco. The close proximity of that town to the valley made it desirable for annexation to the empire. Ahuitzotl accordingly entered its territory suddenly with a considerable force. The Atlixcas gathered what troops they could to oppose the Mexicans, and at once dispatched messengers to their allies at Huexotzinco for aid. One of the Huexotzinca captains, named Tultecatl, who was playing at ball when the news arrived, hurried off with a few followers to the scene of combat without even taking time to arm himself. Without hesitation he plunged into the thick of the fight, slew a warrior with his hands, seized his arms, and threw himself with such fury upon the Mexicans that they were soon routed and forced to abandon the field. For this valorous conduct Tultecatl was made ruler of a Huexotzinca town. But in little more than a year events occurred which obliged him to retire from his post. For some time past the priests of his town had been indulging all manner of excesses with impunity; [501] entering and pillaging houses with the greatest effrontery; taking away the women's clothes while they were bathing; insulting the men; and, in short, taking advantage of their sacred character to commit every conceivable species of outrage. Tultecatl attempted to put a stop to this disorder, and punish its authors. For this purpose he armed a number of the most respectable citizens. But the priests also took up arms, and excited the populace in their favor. It is said that Camaxtli aided his servants by various enchantments, which so frightened the citizens that they retreated in dismay. A great number of the nobles with their followers, then betook themselves to Itzcohuatl, lord of a neighboring province, to whom they related the cause of their leaving Huexotzinco. But Itzcohuatl was a creature of Ahuitzotl, at whose hands he had received the lordship he now enjoyed; he betrayed the refugees to his master, by whom they were all put to death.[X-37]


Immediately after the accession of Montezuma II., Atlixco became once more the seat of war. This unfortunate city seems to have been regarded by the kings of the valley as the proper place to attack whenever they required human victims for sacrifice. It was customary for the kings of Anáhuac before they were formally crowned to make a raid upon some neighboring nation for the purpose of obtaining captives that their blood might grace the coronation ceremonies. This was the cause of Montezuma's expedition against Atlixco on the occasion above referred to. He accomplished his end and returned with a great number of prisoners, though the victory seems to have been dearly gained. But the armies of the haughty Montezuma were not always triumphant when they encountered the stronger nations of the plateau, and a short time after the victory at [502] Atlixco they received a serious check at the hands of the Tlascaltecs.


For a long time Tlascala had been regarded with much jealousy by the Huexotzincas, Cholultecs, and other nations of the plateau, both because of its great commercial prosperity, and of its successful resistance to the conquering kings of the valley. The Tlascaltecs seem at this period to have given up all hopes of gaining the sovereignty of the entire region—so long the object of their ambition—and to have confined their resources to strengthening their own position, and fortifying their frontiers. Almost all the neighboring states appear at this time to have been either allied to or conquered by the powers in the valley, and consequently the defensive measures adopted by the republic for the preservation of its independence fanned their smouldering envy into flame, so that they took every opportunity to provoke a quarrel between Tlascala and the kings of Anáhuac. They represented that the Tlascaltecs designed to possess themselves of the eastern maritime provinces; that they hindered the merchants of the other nations from trading in those regions, by making secret treaties with the inhabitants. Only too glad of an excuse to humble his ancient enemies, the Mexican monarch was easily prevailed upon to break up the Tlascaltec trade in the east, and this he did so effectually that for a number of years the people of the republic were deprived of the luxuries and even some of the necessaries they had previously enjoyed. At length, weary of these privations, yet not strong enough to better their condition by force, they dispatched an embassy to the Mexican king to inquire the cause of an enmity which they had done nothing to provoke. For answer, they were told contemptuously that the monarch of Mexico was lord of the entire world, and they must pay tribute to him or be prepared to take the consequences. To this they returned a haughty reply, saying that their [503] nation had never payed tribute to any earthly king, and that before submitting to do so now they would shed more blood than their ancestors had shed at Poyauhtlan. They then once more turned all their attention to strengthening their position, and it was probably at this period, says Clavigero, that they built the six-mile wall on the east side of the city. They received considerable assistance from the numerous Zacatec, Chalca, and Otomí refugees, of whom the garrisons on the frontier were chiefly composed. But the privations which they suffered by reason of the stoppage of their intercourse with the surrounding peoples, constantly increased, and for over sixty years, says Torquemada, salt and other staples were unknown to the poorer classes, at least, though the nobles may have fared somewhat better.[X-38] The date of these events is not certain, but they probably occurred during the reign of Axayacatl. From the time of the defiance recorded above until the accession of Montezuma II., there appear to have been no important hostilities between the Mexicans and Tlascaltecs, but no sooner had Montezuma ascended the throne of Mexico than he determined to make a grand effort to humble the stout little republic, and forthwith issued a proclamation commanding all his subjects and allies to assist in a general attack. At this time the four lords of Tlascala were Maxixcatzin, who ruled in the district of Ocotelulco; Xicotencatl, in Tizatlan; Teohuayacatzin, in Quiahuiztlan; and Tlehuexolotl, in Tepeticpac. Fifteen years afterwards these four princes received Cortés and his companions within their walls. The Huexotzincas and Cholultecs were the first to begin the war, which may be said to have lasted until the coming of the Spaniards. Failing to bribe the Otomí garrison of Hueyotlipan, on the Tezcucan frontier, to betray their trust, they [504] invaded the Tlascaltec territory under the command of Tecayahuatzin of Huexotzinco, and advanced as far as Xiloxuchitla, within a league of the capital. Here they were met by Tizatlacatzin, a noble chief of Ocotelulco, who with a mere handful of warriors succeeded in checking their farther advance, though at the price of his own life.[X-39] The Tlascaltecs hastened to avenge the death of their brave leader by laying waste the province of Huexotzinco. Shortly afterwards they again encountered the Huexotzincas on the heights of Matlalcueje, and pressed them so hard that Tecayahuatzin sent off in haste to Montezuma for re-inforcements. The Mexican monarch at once responded with a large force under the command of Tlacahuepantzin, his eldest son.[X-40] After receiving re-inforcements at Quauhquelchula Tlacahuepantzin proceeded by way of Atlixco valley to effect a union with the Huexotzincas, but the Tlascaltecs, seeing that this must be prevented at all hazards, bore down upon him before he could join his allies with such fury that his army was scattered in all directions. In this battle Tlacahuepantzin was slain and a great spoil fell into the hands of the victors, who probably suffered severely also, as they now returned to their capital to recuperate. But it seems[X-41] that they still [505] managed to keep the Huexotzincas penned up on the heights of Matlalcueje, where they again attacked them with fresh forces the following year. But the delay had also given the Huexotzincas time to recuperate, and to strengthen their naturally advantageous position, so that the worst the Tlascaltecs could do was to ravage the country, and this they did with such effect that many of the Huexotzincas were eventually compelled to migrate to Mexico in quest of food. Tezozomoc makes this a more serious affair. When the Huexotzincas, he says, were hard pressed by the Tlascaltecs, the children and aged of the former people were invited to take refuge in Mexico while the Mexicans with their allies set out to assist the Huexotzincas. For twenty days Tlahuicol, the Tlascaltec general, fought bravely, retreating at the same time before the superior number of the enemy. Finally he was captured in a marsh, his army scattered, and the land restored to the Huexotzincas.[X-42]


When Montezuma heard of the defeat of his troops by the Tlascaltecs and the death of his son he was furious, and in a public speech declared that he had hitherto permitted the republic to exist as a supply of captives for sacrifice and for the exercise of his armies[X-43] but that now he was determined to utterly [506] annihilate the presumptuous and obstinate little state now and forever. The people surrounding Tlascala were ordered to renew the attack on all sides in conjunction with the Aztec troops. But the Tlascaltecs were, as usual, well prepared, and with the aid of the Otomí frontier population, they gained a glorious victory, and rich spoils. At the festivities which ensued in Tlascala, the leaders of the Otomí auxiliaries were rewarded with the title of tecuhtli, while the defeated Mexican captains were, by Montezuma's orders, deprived of their rank and privileges.[X-44] Thus the brave Tlascaltecs preserved their independence in spite of the united efforts of their enemies until the coming of Cortés, when it was their assistance and implacable animosity to the Mexicans that made it possible for a handful of adventurers to conquer a world.


The above-recorded events occurred about 1505. During the same year, the Huexotzincas and Cholultecs fell out. In an engagement which ensued the former put their enemies to flight and pursued them into Cholula, where they killed a few citizens and did some trifling damage to the temples. Anxious to carry this version of the quarrel to Montezuma before the Cholultecs could tell him another story, they at once despatched an embassy to the emperor. But the messengers mistook their rôle, and in their anxiety to extol the valor of their countrymen they lead Montezuma to believe that the Cholultecs had been utterly annihilated and their city destroyed. The emperor was much disturbed at this news, because he had always been accustomed to regard it as a holy city, secure from destruction. [507] Upon inquiry, however, he learned the true facts, and at once sent a powerful army to punish the Huexotzincas for the deception they had practiced upon him. The Huexotzincas marched out to meet the imperial troops, but an explanation ensued, and the lying ambassadors having been properly punished, Montezuma was pacified.[X-45] In 1507 the Huexotzincas, as we have seen,[X-46] became embroiled with the Mexicans once more, on account of their burning the lighthouse at Acachinanco—an offense for which they were severely chastised by Montezuma's troops.

A war between Tezcuco and Tlascala, which took place a very few years before the conquest, is the latest recorded event in which the people of the plateau were concerned, prior to the coming of the Spaniards. On this occasion Nezahualpilli was urged by Montezuma to join him in making war upon the Tlascaltecs, for the purpose of obtaining victims for sacrifice. It seems that the Mexican monarch was jealous of the greatness of his Tezcucan rival, and planned this war for his destruction.[X-47] Nezahualpilli, however, suspecting no harm from his colleague, set out with his army towards Tlascala, and camped in the ravine of Tlalpepexic. Montezuma had in the meantime sent word to the Tlascaltecs of the threatened invasion, informing them at the same time that though he was bound, as a matter of form, to accompany Nezahualpilli, his troops would not aid him but rather favor the Tlascaltecs. The latter accordingly formed an ambuscade in the ravine of Tlalpepexic, and in the morning, just as the Tezcucans, warned by certain evil omens of the impending danger, were breaking camp in great haste, they fell upon them furiously, and routed them with great slaughter.

[508] From the eastern plateau we turn now to the kingdom of Michoacan, which lay to the west of Anáhuac. The boundaries of this flourishing state, as they existed at the time of the Conquest, may be easily defined. On the north and north-east the rivers Tololotlan, Pantla, and Coahuayana separated Michoacan from Tonala and Colima; on the west the shores of the Pacific stretched south to Zacatollan; the winding course of the river Mexcala marked the southern frontier; and on the east lay the Mexican provinces of Cohuixco and Matlaltzinco. The face of the country enclosed within these limits presents a series of undulating plains, intersected by numerous mountain chains of varying height. The climate is temperate, the land fertile, well wooded and watered, and was celebrated, even in pre-Spanish times, for its mines of gold and silver.


It is a singular fact that the Tarascos, the representative people of Michoacan, though they were certainly equal, if not superior, to their Aztec neighbors in civilization, wealth, and power, have left no record of their history anterior to the thirteenth century, while even the little that is known of their later history is told chiefly by Aztec chroniclers. The origin of the Tarascos[X-48] is consequently an unsolved problem. Their civilization seems to have been of the Nahua type, though their language was totally distinct from the Aztec, the representative Nahua tongue.[X-49] It is a prevalent opinion that Michoacan formed part of the Toltec empire, and that though from its position it was the first to suffer from the invading tribes, yet it was not affected by the causes which overthrew the empire to such an extent as the [509] valley of Anáhuac; thus this theory would make the Tarascos the very best representatives of the oldest Nahua culture.[X-50] Orozco mentions the Tecos as being among the earliest inhabitants of Michoacan; the subsequent possessors, he says, took the country from this people about the time that the Toltecs settled in Tollan.[X-51] Tello speaks of the Culhuas coming from Aztlan, the home of the Nahuatlacas, and settling in Sonora, Jalisco, and as far south as Etzatlan and Tonala. Gil, commenting on this, expresses a belief that there was a succession of early migrations into this western and north-western region. Thus the Culhuas came from the west and extended along the coast to Zacatollan. They were followed by the Coras, who settled in Acaponeta Valley and as far as Zentipac. Then came the Thorames, who conquered the previous settlers and drove them to Nayarit. Afterwards various Aztec tribes arrived from the north. The first immigrants appear to have been the most civilized, and occupied Tuitlan Valley, founding the city of that name. The next comers erected the Teul temple. Last of all came a ruder people, who destroyed the young culture in places.[X-52] But these accounts of the earliest occupation of Michoacan are very meagre and unsatisfactory. The authorities nearly all tell the story of the Aztecs in their migration from the Seven Caves to the valley of Anáhuac, passing through this region and encamping on the shores of Lake Patzcuaro, where they quarrel, in the manner already related,[X-53] and separate, one portion proceeding to Anáhuac, and the other, bearing the name Tarascos, remaining and settling the country.[X-54] As I [510] have already remarked, however, no faith can be placed in this story. The total dissimilarity in language shows the Tarascos to have been a people entirely distinct from the Mexicans. It must not, however, be thought from this that there was any relationship between the Toltec and Tarasco languages. We have already seen that many nations adopted Nahua institutions, who did not speak Nahua dialects.

Herrera states that Michoacan was occupied, during its later years, by four peoples, each having a different origin and language, namely, Chichimecs, Mexicans, Otomís, and Tarascos.[X-55] Of these, says Brasseur, the Chichimecs were savage tribes who lived on the north-east frontier. Though they would not conform to the rules of civilized life, yet they recognized the sovereignty of the Tarasco princes, and lent them their aid in time of war. Their language was the Pame, which is spoken at the present day by the tribes living in the mountains of Tzichu, north-east of Guanajuato. The Mexican population was composed of those Nahuas who had separated from their companions on the march, or who had from various causes been forced to flee from Anáhuac. The Otomís were the primitive nations who dwelt in the valleys west of Anáhuac, including the Mazahuas on the north, and the Matlaltzincas on the south-west.[X-56]

An anonymous manuscript written for Don Antonio de Mendoza, viceroy of New Spain, formerly belonging to the Peter Force collection, in Washington, and quoted by Brasseur de Bourbourg, contains nearly all that is known of the early history of Michoacan.


At the period when the Chichimecs first made their appearance in Anáhuac and the surrounding regions, Michoacan was settled and its people were civilized. At that time the country was divided into [511] a great number of little states, and the people of the principal of these called themselves Betamas and Ezcomachas. The most powerful of all the chiefs was the king of the isles of Patzcuaro, who bore the title of El Henditare, 'lord above all,' and had subjected a number of the surrounding peoples, including some Chichimec tribes, to his authority.

A little to the north of the lake was the independent town and territory of Naranjan, which was governed by a chief named Ziranziran Camaro. It is in the neighborhood of this town that we first meet with the wild Chichimec Wanacaces,[X-57] led by their chief Iri Ticatame, who bore by virtue of his office the image of their god Curicaneri. All we know of the original home of this people is that, according to their own account, they came from a distant land called Bayameo. They were a wandering race of daring hunters, and seem to have had no particular object in coming to Michoacan other than to find good hunting-grounds. Upon arriving at the borders of the forest of Wiriu Quarampejo, within sight of the city of Naranjan, they halted and built a great altar to their gods as a token that they had found the kind of country they wanted and intended to settle there. The presence of the strangers created a great deal of alarm among the original inhabitants, and this was increased when Iri Ticatame sent word to Ziranziran Camaro that his people must bring fuel to the altar of Curicaneri. Such an insolent demand showed unmistakably that their intentions were not peaceful; and the priests, who in Michoacan had the greatest influence in secular as well as ecclesiastical affairs, at once began to propitiate the gods with sacrifice and prayer, without seeming to think for a moment of the expediency of even parleying with the invaders. But Ziranziran Camaro was more prudent, and calling his hot-headed ministers before him he [512] pointed out to them the hopelessness and folly of engaging in a war with the Wanacaces. The invaders, he argued, would never have dared to make such a demand unless they had been confident of their power to enforce it; it was better to conciliate them than to risk the consequences of an open rupture; finally he proposed that a noble lady, one of his own relations, should be given as a wife to Iri Ticatame. His advice was taken; the people of Naranjan hastened to carry provisions and clothing to the strangers; the lady was conducted to the wild chief's hut; and the barbarians were appeased.

Of this marriage was born a son named Sicuiracha, who was destined to play an important part in the history of his country. When he was old enough to leave his mother he was entrusted to the care of the priests, to be instructed in all those things which it was necessary for a youth of his country to know. One of his principal duties was to kill game in the forests and bring it to the altars for sacrifice. It happened one day when he was hunting to supply a special feast with offerings, that the quarry escaped to the fields of Quierecuaro, but being mortally wounded it died there, and was found by some women who were gathering maize for the same festival. Now, it seems that to wound game without killing it instantly was thought to forebode evil to the hunter, so that when the news of the discovery was carried to the lord of Naranjan, he at once foresaw the downfall of the Wanacaces, and lost no time before taking council with his priests and nobles upon the subject. It was not long before these things reached the ear of Iri Ticatame, and he appears to have shared in the superstition, for he resolved to change his place of abode without delay. Having announced his intention to his tribe, he departed with his family and the image of Curicaneri to a place named Quereqto, which does not seem to have been far distant; his wife also took her god, Wasoricuare, wrapped up in [513] a rich cloth, to her new home.[X-58] Soon afterwards he moved again to Zichajucuero, three leagues from the city of Tzintzuntzan, where he erected a temple and altars.

In the meantime Sicuiracha had grown up and had become a brave warrior and skillful hunter; but his father was now old, while his followers had lost their ancient fierceness and energy by long repose. The people of Naranjan had never forgotten the humiliation they had suffered when the Wanacaces first arrived. Now the time seemed ripe for vengeance.


At that time a very powerful prince named Oresta was reigning at Cumachen. An embassy, laden with costly presents, was sent to him from Naranjan, requesting his assistance to drive the Wanacaces out of the country. Oresta had as much reason as any to fear the interlopers, and he readily entered into the scheme. The united forces then marched rapidly and secretly against the place where Iri Ticatame was dwelling, intending to surprise him before he could call upon his warriors. On the borders of the lake they met his wife, who, comprehending the situation at a glance, attempted to run and warn her husband. But they caught her and reproached her with wishing to betray her own people, and prevent them from taking a just vengeance on their enemies. She was a better wife than patriot, however; and eluding the grasp of those who detained her, she fled to warn Iri Ticatame. She arrived too late; the allied troops reached the town before her, and at once began the assault. The venerable chief of the Wanacaces, attacked and surrounded in his own house, defended himself valiantly for some time, but at last overpowered by numbers, he fell dead upon a heap of slain. His wife came up just at this moment, [514] and in spite of all that could be done to prevent her, the devoted woman cast herself upon the body of the fierce old chief and refused to be removed or comforted. The victors then set fire to the place and retired, carrying with them the idol Curicaneri.

Ignorant of the misfortune which had fallen upon his house, Sicuiracha was hunting in a forest at some distance from the doomed town when the news was brought to him. He at once hastened to the spot, but arrived only to find his mother weeping upon the body of his father, amid the blazing buildings. Filled with rage at the sight, and thirsting for vengeance, he wasted no time in useless mourning, but calling together the few warriors who had escaped the massacre, he started in pursuit of the enemy. His force was so small that this seemed an act of madness; but fortune favors the brave. Elated with their victory, or as the old chronicle has it, prompted by the god they had stolen, the allied troops had given themselves up to drunkenness, and in this state the avengers found them. The idol stood neglected at the foot of an oak; seizing this, the Wanacaces rushed furiously upon their fallen foes. A great number were massacred, and the rest were carried in triumph to Wayameo, where Sicuiracha dwelt. For some time they were kept in the condition of slaves, but eventually they were released upon the understanding that their chiefs should recognize the supremacy of Sicuiracha, who now formally took the title of king. The new monarch rapidly increased his territory by conquering and annexing the numerous petty states that lay around it; he built several temples, notably one to Curicaneri, whom he regarded as the author of his greatness; increased the number of priests, and erected dwellings for them about the temples; enforced religious observances; and established his capital at Wayameo, where, after [515] a long and glorious reign, he died, leaving the kingdom to his two sons, Pawacume and Wapeani.


Shortly after the accession of these princes, events occurred in the flourishing region lying north of Wayameo, on the southern shore of Lake Patzcuaro, which affected the condition of the entire country, and eventually added greatly to the power of the Wanacace kings. The capital of this region was Tzintzuntzan. The chronicle I have hitherto followed gives no account of the origin of this city; but other authors, who in their turn make no mention of the events above recorded, furnish a story of its foundation, which I will relate here, before continuing the more consecutive narrative.

After the separation of the Tarascos from their Aztec brethren, says Beaumont, the former, resolving to settle, began at once to till the ground and sow the seeds that they had brought with them. They then proceeded to elect a king from among their bravest warriors. So highly was this quality of courage esteemed by them that even the later kings, who succeeded to the throne by inheritance, were not allowed to wear certain jewels and ornaments until they had earned the right to do so by capturing a prisoner in battle with their own hands. Under the administration of such energetic men the people progressed rapidly, both in wealth and power; commerce was encouraged and the arts and sciences flourished. But they especially excelled in feather-work, for which the splendid plumage of the birds of the country furnished abundant material.[X-59] This curious art is said to have been suggested by the phenomenon which led to the founding of their capital. When the Tarascos first halted on the southern shore of Lake Patzcuaro, they placed their principal idol in a pleasant spot that the god might repose, when, behold, a multitude of birds of gorgeous [516] plumage congregated in the air and formed a brilliant shade or canopy above the sacred image. This was at once hailed as a divine indication that they should found their city here, and at the same time it suggested the feather mosaics for which they afterwards became so famous. In commemoration of this miraculous manifestation of the divine will the city was named Tzintzuntzan, 'place of celestial birds.'[X-60]

Little or nothing is known of the history of Tzintzuntzan from this time until it is again brought into notice by the events to which I have alluded as occurring shortly after Sicuiracha was succeeded by his sons on the throne at Wayameo. Granados, it is true, states that nineteen kings ruled over the Tarascos from the time of their settlement down to the conquest, but he gives no account of any of them, while Beaumont complains that he is able to find records of three only, namely, Characu, 'the boy king,' Zwanga,[X-61] and the son of the latter, Tangaxoan,[X-62] better known by the name of Caltzontzin, 'he who is always shod,' to distinguish him from those other rulers who, being vassals of the Aztec monarch, appeared bare-footed before their suzerain.[X-63] At what period the boy king lived it is impossible to tell, but as the other two certainly reigned at a later date [517] than our story has yet reached, they may all be referred to hereafter.


Let us now return to the anonymous narrative. At the time of Sicuiracha's death at Wayameo, three brothers named Tarigaran, Pacimwane, and Sucurawe were reigning in the region of which Tzintzuntzan was the capital. On a hill overlooking the lake stood the temple of their chief divinity, the goddess Xaratanga, whose son was named Manowapa. Now, the priests of this goddess obtained the wood which they burned in the temple from the forest of Atamataho, close to Wayameo, and they frequently took advantage of their proximity to the temple of Curicaneri to carry wood there, a courtesy which the Wanacace priests returned by occasionally bearing fuel to the sanctuary of Xaratanga. It happened one day, when the feast of the goddess was approaching, that Tarigaran and his two brothers, with their attendants, went to the temple to assist the priests to decorate the idol. But the princes had been drinking deeply, and the goddess, perceiving this, punished them for their irreverence by making them very drunk. Then the brothers became alarmed, and sent their women to the lake to procure fish, by eating which they hoped to dissipate the fumes of the liquor. But the outraged goddess had hidden the fish, and the women succeeded only in catching a large serpent, which they carried to the priests, who cooked it and ate of it together with the princes, at sunset. But no sooner had the strange food passed their lips than, to their horror, they all found themselves turned into serpents. Filled with terror and dismay they plunged into the lake and swam towards the mountain of Tiriacuri, amid the recesses of which they disappeared upon landing.

The territory of Tzintzuntzan being now bereft of its chief priests and princes offered an easy prey to its Wanacace neighbors, and several chiefs, probably vassals of the kings of Wayameo, soon began to encroach [518] upon its borders. Tarapecha Chanhori took possession of Curincuaro Achurin and established himself there, while Ipinchuari did the same at Pechetaro. The royal brothers of Wayameo also took up arms and possessed themselves first of Capacureo, and then of Patamagua Nacaraho. At the latter place they seem to have separated, each to make conquests on his own behalf.[X-64]

The Tarasco population was now thoroughly alarmed and with one accord the various states began to prepare for war. The kings of Wayameo, however, assured Cuyupuri, who had succeeded to the office of high-priest of Xaratanga at Tzintzuntzan, that he should receive no injury, and at their invitation he removed to the spot where his metamorphosed predecessors had disappeared. Later he removed to Sipico, on the borders of the lake, where he erected a temple and other buildings; after that he went to several other places, but finally established himself on Mount Haracotin, where Wapeani had taken up his abode.

The two brothers now continued their conquests in every direction, and before long they had gained possession of most of the places on the south shore of the lake Patzcuaro, including the fertile region of Tzintzuntzan. Now it came to pass one day, when Wapeani had climbed Mount Atupen, and was gazing longingly at the beautiful islands which dotted its surface, that his attention was attracted to a pyramidal structure which rose in the centre of one of the fairest of them. Perceiving a fisherman casting his nets at some distance, he called him to him. In answer to his inquiries, the fisherman informed the prince that the island upon which the temple [519] stood was called Xaracuero, and was, together with the island of Pacandan, ruled by a king named Curicaten, who bore the title of El Henditare. He told Wapeani, moreover, that there were Chichimecs on these islands, though they did not speak the same language as the Wanacaces. Wapeani was astonished at this, as he had believed that his people were the only Chichimecs in the country. The warriors of his suite then asked the fisherman what his name was, and if he had any daughters. He answered that his name was Curipajan, and that he had no children. They insisted, however, that he had daughters, assuring him at the same time that they intended no harm, but merely wanted to obtain wives from the islands. At length, after repeated denials, he confessed that he had one, who was little and ugly, and quite unworthy of their consideration. It matters not, they answered, say nothing to anybody, but bring her here to-morrow.


What induced the fisherman to act against his inclinations after he had once got free, the chronicle does not relate, but on the next day he returned at the appointed time with his daughter. Wapeani arrived at the rendezvous somewhat later, and finding the girl to his taste he took her away with him, instructing her father to return home, and if questioned concerning the absence of his daughter, to say that she had been carried off and enslaved by the Wanacaces. Wapeani afterwards gave the woman to his brother, Pawacume, who married her, and got by her a son named Tariacuri, who subsequently became king and was the founder of the kingdom of Michoacan.

When the king of the isles learned what had been done by Wapeani, he was greatly enraged, and the neighboring lords having been called together a council was held to consider what action should be taken in the matter. But the lords were in favor of peace, and it was finally arranged that the brother [520] kings should be invited to come and settle among them, when the office of grand sacrificer should be conferred upon Pawacume and that of priest of the god Cuangari Changatun upon Wapeani. Messengers were accordingly sent to make these proposals to the brothers. Flattered by such brilliant offers and dazzled by the costly presents which the envoys brought with them, the princes readily consented to the arrangement, and at once embarked for the islands, where they were received with great state, and immediately invested with the promised dignities. But it seems that the brothers' followers had not been made acquainted with the details of this arrangement, for after impatiently waiting some time for the return of the princes, they also set out for the islands to discover the cause of their detention. Upon learning the true state of the case they were furious, and demanded with many threats that Pawacume and Wapeani, who, they said, had been appointed by Curicaneri as their guardians, should instantly be sent back to their own people. Curicaten thought it prudent to yield, and the brothers reluctantly returned with their followers to the mainland.


But during their brief sojourn in the islands they had seen much that was new to them, and having observed the benefit to be derived from civilization, they resolved to improve the condition of their country. Knowing, however, that their influence alone would not suffice to make the people suddenly change their nomadic habits, they called to their aid the voice of the gods. One day they announced that the god of Hades had appeared to them in a dream, commanding them to erect temples in honor of all the Chichimec divinities. The people, whose religious fervor seems to have been unbounded, were at once anxious to begin the pious work. It only remained to choose a suitable site. Under the guidance of the brothers, they repaired to a densely wooded hill near Tarimi Chundido, where there was a beautiful stream [521] of water, known henceforth by the name of Cuirizcatero. Here they set to work in earnest; hewing down the trees and clearing the ground for the foundations of the temples. One after another the stately edifices rose, and when they were finished the chiefs began to vie with each other in building fine dwelling-houses, so that in an incredibly short space of time the sides of the hill were covered with buildings. Such was the origin of the city of Patzcuaro,[X-65] for a long time the capital, and afterwards one of the principal cities of Michoacan.

Now, at that time the kingdom of Curincuaro, which comprised part of the lake islands, was one of the most powerful states in all that region, and in common with its Tarasco neighbors, it regarded the rapid progress of the Wanacaces with feelings of jealousy and apprehension, which soon resulted in actual hostilities. An ambassador was sent to Patzcuaro to formally demand that its inhabitants should bring fuel to the altars at Curincuaro. The Wanacaces knew by experience what this meant, and at once prepared for war. All being ready they marched to meet the enemy. A terrible engagement took place near the town of Ataquaro, in which Pawacume and his brother were seriously wounded, and finally forced to retreat with their troops to Patzcuaro.

Soon after this the great feast of the goddess Curincuaro, the principal divinity of the kingdom that bore her name, was celebrated. It appears that it was arranged that all hostilities should cease during this solemn period, that the Wanacaces might join with their late enemies in the ceremonies. The lords of Curincuaro were particularly anxious that the brothers of Patzcuaro should appear at the feast, and to ensure their presence they employed an old [522] woman, who had access to them, to expatiate on the grandeur of the coming festivities, and the number of sacrifices to be offered. She played her part so well that the princes promised to be present; afterwards, being assured by certain of their priests that treachery was designed, they renounced their intention of going; but emissaries from Curincuaro again found means to persuade them, and when the day of the feast arrived they set out to participate in it. On the way they fell into an ambuscade, and Wapeani was killed on the spot. His brother escaped and fled to Patzcuaro, but he was pursued by his enemies and slain in the city, which was deserted on account of all the people having gone to the feast. The bodies of the unfortunate princes were ransomed by their sorrowing subjects, and after being formally burned were buried with much ceremony in a grave dug at the foot of the steps leading up to the temple of Curicaneri.

Curatame, Wapeani's eldest son, now ascended the throne at Patzcuaro. He had two brothers named Xetaco and Aramen. Pawacume, as we have already remarked, had also a son named Tariacuri, by the fisherman's daughter. This prince was sent to the island of Xaracuero, to be educated by the Tarasco priests in the arts of civilized life. On his return to Patzcuaro, Tariacuri showed himself to be a youth of an excellent disposition, very pious and industrious, and withal highly accomplished in matters both of war and of peace. As soon as he arrived at a suitable age he was crowned king of the Wanacaces; whether his cousin Curatame continued to reign as his colleague, or what became of him, is not stated.

Tariacuri soon began to extend his empire by conquest in every direction. He carried his arms farther than any of his predecessors had done, and his hostile expeditions were invariably attended by success. Again the Tarasco princes were alarmed, and uniting their forces they marched upon Patzcuaro. But Tariacuri [523] was irresistible; he surprised and vanquished the allies at Ataro and Tupuxanchuen, conquered the kingdom of Zirumbo, and finally blockaded the lake islands. Meanwhile, his cousins, jealous of his glory, conspired with his enemies to betray him. But he escaped their plots, and having possessed himself of the islands he became king of the whole of Michoacan. This king may be identical with Characu, the 'boy king,' to whom I have already referred. My reason for thinking so is that the events above recorded, or those immediately succeeding them, are said to have happened in the time of Montezuma I., while the founding of a city named Charo, in the reign of Characu, is also said by Beaumont to have taken place during the life of the same Mexican monarch. The founding of Charo was in this wise, according to one account.


During the reign of 'the boy king' the Aztecs made an inroad, aided by the Tecos and other unruly tribes. Being hard pressed, the king applied to the Matlaltzincas of Toluca for aid. Six captains started with their troops, and the Mexicans were defeated. In reward for this timely aid, the Matlaltzincas were granted their choice of lands within the kingdom of Michoacan, and selected the region around Tiripito, where the lower class founded Undameo, and the nobles, Charo, so named in honor of the king. This settlement being in the center of Michoacan, says Pimentel, the people came to be known as the Pirindas, 'those in the middle.'[X-66]

In another place Beaumont gives Padre Larrea's version of the founding of Charo. In the time of Montezuma I. the Aztecs appeared in conjunction with the Tecos and Matlaltzincas to attack Michoacan. The Tarascos who were only one-third as strong as their enemies, had recourse to strategy. Large supplies of food and drink were spread in the camp, and [524] when the Aztec forces attacked, the Tarascos fled, abandoning the camp. The hungry Aztecs at once commenced to gorge themselves, and when filled with meat and drink the Tarascos returned upon them making a great slaughter, and capturing a goodly number of Tecos and Matlaltzincas, who were given lands in Michoacan; the Tecos as the more turbulent in Patzcuaro and the capital, and the Matlaltzincas in Charo, which was founded by them.[X-67] The Matlaltzincas who remained in Toluca were conquered by Axayacatl, as has been already related.[X-68]

Before his death, Tariacuri divided the kingdom, and generously provided for the children of the cousins who had attempted his destruction. To Hicipan he left Coyucan, a very important city; to Hicucaxe, Patzcuaro and its dependencies, and to his son, Tangaxoan, he gave the territory of Tzintzuntzan, which comprised the lake islands. These events, says Brasseur, to which the anonymous historian assigns no date, occurred, in all probability, during the first part of the fifteenth century, Tangaxoan having been a contemporary of Montezuma I., of Mexico.

Michoacan did not remain long divided. Hicucaxe had a great number of sons, all of whom he put to death because they were disorderly and oppressed the people. Another son which was born to him later was killed by lightning, and apotheosized on that account. Thus the king of Patzcuaro died without leaving heirs, and his division was added to Tangaxoan's territory. The kingdom of Coyucan, upon the death of Hicipan, was also annexed to Tzintzuntzan, where Tangaxoan's son Ziziz Pandacuare, was then reigning. Michoacan became thus re-united under one head. Ziziz Pandacuare used his great power [525] for the advancement and benefit of his country. He embellished the city of Tzintzuntzan, and made it his capital. His reign was a long and glorious one, and it was chiefly to his able administration that Michoacan owed its greatness.[X-69]


Ziziz Pandacuare was succeeded by his son Zwanga.[X-70] It was during the reign of this prince that the valiant Tlascaltec general, Tlahuicol, invaded Michoacan at the head of a Mexican army, and took Tangimaroa, or Tlaximaloyan, and other towns, together with great spoils.[X-71] Zwanga was still on the throne at Tzintzuntzan when Cortés took Mexico. He was appealed to for aid by Cuitlahuatl, who was elected monarch after the death of Montezuma II. After some hesitation he promised his assistance. Ambassadors were sent to Mexico, who, when they arrived, found Cuitlahuatl dead, and the small-pox raging in the city. They hastened back to Tzintzuntzan, but bore with them the germs of the disease, which rapidly spread through the capital, and carried off the king and a great number of his subjects.

Zwanga left several sons, and the eldest of these, Tangaxoan II., seized the sceptre.[X-72] He appears to have been a weak prince, and totally unfit to fill the throne at such a critical period. One of his first acts was to cause his brothers to be put to death, on the pretense that they had conspired against his life, but really because he was jealous of their power.[X-73] This cruel murder caused serious disturbance in the capital, and the fratricide brought great odium upon himself. It was said that such a terrible deed portended evil to the country—a prediction which was [526] verified strongly afterwards, by the appearance of a Spanish soldier who had been sent by Cortés to reconnoitre the country.

The Tarascos, like most of the other Nahua nations, were warned by omens of their future subjection to a foreign power. Beaumont, who makes Tangaxoan II. a contemporary of Montezuma II., relates that the former was at first persuaded to assist the latter against the Spaniards, but was cautioned by the spirit of his dead sister, who, to prove that her utterances were not meaningless, pointed out certain signs in the heavens; namely, the figure of a young man with a glittering hand, and a sword, fashioned like those of the Spaniards, which appeared in the east on the day of the great festival. In the council convened to consider this warning it was decided not to resist the strangers.[X-74] It is related, moreover, that in Zwanga's time there lived a high-priest, named Surites, who foretold the introduction of a new religion, and in anticipation of it instituted two Christian-like festivals.[X-75]


Among the earliest peoples of Mexico were the Miztecs and Zapotecs, whose country may be roughly described as comprising the modern state of Oajaca. The Miztecs occupied the western portion of this region, and their territory was divided into upper and lower Miztecapan,[X-76] the latter reaching to the coast, and the former embracing the mountainous region farther north, which is sometimes called Cohuaixtlahuacan. Zapotecapan, the country of the Zapotecs, lay to the east of Miztecapan, and extended, at the time when we first hear of this people in history, to Tehuantepec.[X-77]

The records of these nations are silent as to their [527] history before they settled here; everything previous to this rests upon traditions of the vaguest character, one of which represents their ancestors as birds, beasts, and trees—to indicate their extreme antiquity, courage, and stubbornness, naively adds Burgoa, the historian of Oajaca.[X-78] But though their own annals do not reach back to the pre-Toltec period, they are stated by some authorities to have inhabited at that time the region of Puebla, together with the Olmecs and Xicalancas.[X-79] Most of the old writers connect them with the Nahua stock, although their language was distinct from the Nahua. Thus Torquemada derives the Miztecs from Mixtecatl, the fifth son of Iztac Mixcohuatl, of the Seven Caves; while Sahagun states that they were of Toltec descent, and adds that some go so far as to regard them as descendants of Quetzalcoatl, because of the richness and beauty of their country, in which the famous Tlalocan, the 'terrestrial paradise,' was said to be situated.[X-80] At the time when civilization was introduced into Yucatan and Chiapas, says Brasseur, the mountains of Miztecapan were inhabited by savage tribes without any particular name, but who were afterwards known as Miztecs, or Wild Cats.[X-81] Civilization is said by tradition to have first appeared in the mountains of Apoala. At the entrance of a gorge in this region where, says García, the gods lived before man came on earth, stood two majestic trees, from which sprung two youths, the founders of the Miztec monarchy.[X-82] The braver of the two went to Tilantongo, and there [528] had a contest with the Sun for the possession of the country. After a desperate combat, which lasted a whole day, the Sun was forced to go down behind the hills, thus leaving the youth the victor.[X-83]

Other traditions relate that certain of the warlike tribes from the north, that invaded Anáhuac from the eighth to the eleventh century, passed from the Aztec plateau into Miztecapan, coming down from the mountains of Apoala to the beautiful and naturally fortified valley of Yanguitlan, 'new land,' where they determined to settle. The Miztecs resisted the invaders for a long time, and their final subjection was effected more by religious teachings than by force of arms. On this plateau the immigrants from Anáhuac founded Tilantongo, and built a temple called Achiuhtla.[X-84] The date of this event seems to coincide, says Brasseur, with the sending out of missionaries from Cholula, though whether the followers of Quetzalcoatl or the tribes from Anáhuac arrived first is not known. But it appears certain that from the union of the priests of Achiuhtla and the Olmecs who fled from Cholula at the time of Huemac's invasion, sprung the power which civilized these regions.[X-85]

It is in Zapotecapan, however, that the disciples of Quetzalcoatl appear most prominently. There they are said to have founded Mitla, or Yopaa, and to have diffused their arts and religious teachings throughout the whole country, as far as Tehuantepec.[X-86]

The mysterious apostle Wixipecocha, of whom a full account has already been given,[X-87] is said to [529] have appeared in these regions. The tradition, which is very vague, relates that he came from the south seas, and landed, bearing a cross, at Tehuantepec. He taught morality, abstinence from women, confession, and penance. He was generally respected but was sometimes persecuted, especially in the Mije country, whither he went after passing through the Zapotec valley. The people there tried to kill him, and pursued him to the foot of Mount Cempoaltepec, where he miraculously disappeared, but re-appeared shortly afterwards on the summit of the mountain. His pursuers followed him, but he again vanished, and was seen no more in that country, though he afterward showed himself on the enchanted island of Monapostiac, near Tehuantepec.


As I have already remarked, nothing definite is known of the early history of the Miztecs and Zapotecs. All that has been preserved is some account of their spiritual rulers. Thus we are told that the kingdom of Tilantongo, which comprised upper Mizteca, was spiritually governed by the high-priest of Achiuhtla, who bore the title of Taysacaa, and whose power equaled, if it did not surpass, that of the king; while in Zapotecapan the Wiyatao, or sovereign pontiff, united in his person the supreme sacerdotal and secular power. The origin of the city of Yopaa, or Mitla, where the Wiyatao held his court, is doubtful, though, as we have seen, it has been attributed to the disciples of Quetzalcoatl, who came from Cholula.

It is a singular fact that we hear nothing of the early Miztec and Zapotec kings, save that there were such, until we find the latter subjecting the Huaves to their authority. These Huaves are said to have come originally from the south, from Nicaragua or Peru say some authors. The causes that led to their migration are unknown; but the story goes that after coasting northward, and attempting to disembark at several places, they finally effected a [530] landing at Tehuantepec. Here they found the Mijes, the original possessors of the country; but these they drove out, or, as some say, mingled with them, and soon made themselves masters of the soil. They founded their first city at Arrianjianbaj, or Arriangui Umbah, but afterwards extended their possessions to the city of Jalapa, which they are said to have founded also.[X-88]

But the easy life they led in this beautiful and fertile region soon destroyed their ancient energy, and they subsequently fell an unresisting prey to the Zapotec kings.[X-89] Of the Mijes very little is known. They are believed to have been the most ancient people of the Oajaca region, and Burgoa affirms that they possessed of old the greater part of Tehuantepec, Soconusco, and Zapotecapan. The Beni-Xonos, who lived between the Mijes and Zapotecs, are said to have once belonged to the former people, but their character seems to disprove this. They are described as a tribe of rich, shrewd traders, very miserly, great liars, "incorrigible and inveterate evil-doers"—the Jews of Oajaca, Brasseur calls them. They were among the first to submit to the Zapotec kings, in the hope of being allowed to retain their wealth.[X-90]


It was to one of these Zapotec princes that the fortified city of Zaachilla Yoho, or Teotzapotlan, as it was called by the Mexicans, owed its origin. At the time when history first sheds its light on these [531] regions, Teotzapotlan was the capital of Zapotecapan,[X-91] and rivaled in power and extent of territory the Miztec kingdoms of Tututepec and Tilantongo. It seems that during the war with the Mexicans these three powers united against the common enemy, though at other times they appear to have quarreled considerably among themselves, by reason of the ambitious designs of the Zapotec monarchs, who, it is said, aimed at universal sovereignty.[X-92]

Of the kingdom of Tututepec, which stretched for sixty leagues along the shore of the Pacific, nothing is known, except that its princes were among the richest in all Mexico, that its kings had many powerful vassals, and that its principal city, which was also called Tututepec, was very populous.[X-93]

One of the earliest conquests of the Zapotec kings was that of the Mountain of the Sun, near the town of Macuilxuchil. There dwelt on this mountain a tribe of very fierce and blood-thirsty barbarians, who lived by plundering the surrounding nations. At length their depredations became so frequent, and were attended with such cruelty that it became evident that the country about the mountain would soon be abandoned by its inhabitants unless the robbers were annihilated. Accordingly, a large force of picked troops was sent against them under the command of two renowned warriors named Baali and Baaloo. The expedition was successful. After a desperate resistance the robbers were overpowered and slaughtered to a man. A fortress and temple were then erected on the summit of the mountain, and the charge of them given to Baali and Baaloo, as a reward for their valor. After their death these heroes received divine honors, and were buried at the foot of the mountain they had conquered. The veneration in which their memory was held increased with [532] time; their tombs were visited by multitudes of pilgrims, and a city called Zeetopaa, which eventually became the principal seat of learning and religion, and the nucleus of civilization in these parts, soon rose upon the spot.[X-94]


The first Zapotec king of whom we have any definite information is Ozomatli, who, it is said in the Codex Chimalpopoca,[X-95] reigned in 1351. The next king, whose name or deeds are recorded, is Zaachilla, who, being master of all Zapotecapan, coveted the region lying east of the river Nexapa, and inhabited by the Chontales, Mijes, and Huaves. The Chontales were the most powerful of these nations, and against them Zaachilla proceeded first. He took from them the city of Nexapa, which he fortified and garrisoned with his own soldiers. To strengthen his position in the conquered territory he also built the fortresses of Quiechapa and Quiyecolani.[X-96] He next entered the country of the Mijes, took the town of Zoquitlan, and drove the inhabitants into the mountains. The Mijes were now confined between the Maya tribes of Chiapas and the Zapotecs. But, though in this difficult position, with a territory so small that it contained only one city of importance, namely Xaltepec, and numbering, says Herrera, only two thousand men, women, and children, the brave little nation seems to have gallantly maintained its independence for a number of years.[X-97] It was destined to be subjected at last, however, and in the hour of its greatest glory. Condoy, the last king of the Mijes, who is said to have made his first appearance from a cavern in the mountains, was a very brave and energetic prince. He waged war with the surrounding nations, and succeeded by his valor in increasing [533] the extent of his dominions. The Zapotec and Miztec kings, jealous of these encroachments, formed an alliance against the Mije prince, while the tribes of Chiapas, from the same motives, attacked him at the same time on the other side of his dominions. In spite of all that the brave Condoy could do, his capital was taken and burned to the ground, and he and his followers, hotly pursued by the enemy, were forced to take refuge in the recesses of the mountains. Shortly after this Condoy disappeared and was seen no more. The Zapotecs claimed that their king slew him with his own hand, but the subjects of the Mije prince insisted that, tired of war and bloodshed, he had entered the cavern from which he had originally issued, and, attended by some of his warriors, had gone to far distant provinces.[X-98]

About the year 1456 occurred the war between Dzawindanda, king of Cohuaixtlahuacan or upper Miztecapan, with his allies the Tlascaltecs and Huexotzincas, and Montezuma I., with his allies of the valley of Anáhuac. The details of this war having been already given,[X-99] it remains only to repeat Burgoa's account of the supernatural powers of Dzawindanda. This prince, says the fable, when he wished to make war upon some neighboring nation, caused himself to be miraculously transported to the summit of a mountain inaccessible to ordinary mortals. Arrived there he prostrated himself upon a knoll, and besought the gods to favor his designs. Then he shook a bag which was suspended from his girdle, and immediately there issued from it a multitude of warriors, fully armed and equipped, who having formed in military order descended from the mountain in silence and marched at once to conquer the coveted territory.[X-100] Dzawindanda's magical powers [534] must have deserted him on the occasion above referred to, however, for, as we have seen, his armies were terribly defeated, his kingdom was made tributary to the domain of the victors, he himself was assassinated, and his widowed queen was carried captive to Mexico to gratify a passion which Montezuma had conceived for her.

In 1469 Axayacatl of Mexico swooped suddenly upon the cities of Tehuantepec and Guatulco, and took them; according to Brasseur he even carried his victorious arms into Soconusco.[X-101] At this time Zaachilla III. was king of Zapotecapan. He was a warlike and ambitious prince, and succeeded in adding Jalapa and the valley of Nexapa to his kingdom, driving the Huave population into the less desirable region on the frontiers of Chiapas and Soconusco. During the later years of his reign Zaachilla, with the assistance of the Miztec king of Tilantongo, succeeded in regaining possession of Tehuantepec and the other places in that region which Axayacatl had garrisoned with Mexican troops. But this brought the Mexican king, Ahuitzotl, down upon him like a thunderbolt, and being deserted by his Miztec allies, Zaachilla's armies were quickly routed; he was forced to flee for his life to the mountains, and Tehuantepec once more became a Mexican possession.[X-102]

Cociyoeza, who succeeded Zaachilla III. on the throne of Zapotecapan, was no less anxious than his predecessor to rid his kingdom of the Aztec garrisons, but being a very prudent, though brave, prince, he acted with greater deliberation and caution. Before proceeding to open hostilities he contracted a firm alliance with the neighboring nations; he then chose a favorable opportunity, when the prestige of the Mexican arms had been damaged by reverses, to declare war, massacre the Mexican merchants, and retake Tehuantepec and most of the other places [535] occupied by Ahuitzotl's troops. The reader has been made acquainted with the details of this war, in the course of which the sacred city of Mitla, or Yopaa, was taken, and of the final treaty by which it was arranged that the Mexicans should keep Soconusco, and that Cociyoeza should wed a Mexican princess and remain in possession of Tehuantepec.[X-103]


In 1506, Miztecapan was invaded by Montezuma's armies, and the cities of Tilantongo, Achiuhtla, and Tlachquiauhco were taken. In the same year the Miztecs made a determined effort to regain their independence, but, as has been seen, only succeeded in making their burdens heavier than before.[X-104] From this time until the coming of the Spaniards Miztecapan may be regarded as virtually subject to the Mexican empire.

By his marriage with the faithful Pelaxilla, Cociyoeza had a son named Cociyopu. It is related that during the feasts with which the birth of this prince was celebrated, fiery rays of light were seen to dart across the sky. Such ominous phenomena did not escape the notice of the soothsayers, and the downfall of the kingdom was predicted. When Cociyopu had reached the age of twenty-four years, his father conferred upon him the crown of Tehuantepec.[X-105] It was at this time, says Brasseur, that the news of the conquests of the Spaniards reached Cociyoeza's court at Teotzapotlan.[X-106] Upon this the nobles of Tehuantepec besought Cociyopu to inquire of the gods what the meaning of these things was, and if the ancient prophecies concerning the introduction of a new religion and the conquest of the country by a race of white men, were about to be fulfilled. Cociyopu did as they desired, and was told by the oracle that the time had come for the fulfillment of the [536] prophecies. Then an embassy was sent to Coyuhuacan, where Cortés then was, with instructions to announce to the Spanish chief that according to the directions of their oracles the people of Zapotecapan and Tehuantepec acknowledged his right of sovereignty.[X-107]


In the subdivision of my present subject, given in an early chapter of this volume,[X-108] I named as one of its divisions the Historical Traditions of the Wild Tribes of the North, to which topic I intended to devote a short chapter. On further research, however, I find that there is absolutely no material for such a chapter. Some of the wild tribes had vague traditions of how the world was created and peopled, generally by the agency of a bird or beast; others told wonderful tales of supernatural adventures of their fathers many moons ago; a few named the direction, north, south, east, or west, whence their fathers came. Such traditions have been given in those portions of this work relating to the subjects of Mythology and Origin. There is great confusion among the different versions of these traditions, and even if we knew in each case which was the authentic version, they would shed not a ray of light on general aboriginal history; the very most that could be hoped from them would be slight information respecting modern tribal history. All the speculations of modern travelers and writers on primitive history in the north have been founded, so far as they have had any foundation at all, on the material relics of antiquity, fully described in volume IV. of this work; on the traces of the Aztec tongue in the north, a subject fully disposed of in volume III.; and on the theory of the Spanish writers respecting a general migration from the north, duly considered in the present volume. Consequently all that could [537] be said on the history of the northern tribes here would be but a repetition of what has already been said; a collection of a few valueless speculations resting on foundations already proven to be unsound; and a renewed argument against the theory of a migration from the north, a theory that has already received more attention than it deserves. It may be thought that the reported Montezuma-tradition of the Pueblos in New Mexico deserves some investigation; but besides the fact that all the force of evidence and probability indicates that the myth was an invention of white men, it is also true that if the worship of Montezuma and the hope of his coming from the east, were actually found among the Pueblos, this would only prove what is not at all improbable, that the fame of Montezuma I. and of the great Aztec power had reached this northern region. It has been seen that the Nahuas a few centuries after the beginning of our era were driven northward and established themselves in Anáhuac and the region immediately north-west of that valley, but that their possessions never extended farther north than Zacatecas. Yet it is altogether probable that they came more or less into contact with tribes further north, and it is best to attribute to this contact at this period the Nahua linguistic traces that have been pointed out in the north. The Pueblos, who in ancient times occupied the country as far south as northern Chihuahua, were not Aztecs, as is clearly proven by their language, their monuments, and their institutions. The very slight Nahua analogies that have been pointed out in their manners and customs, do not necessarily imply any connection whatever with the civilized peoples of the south; yet I regard it as not improbable that the Pueblo tribes were slightly influenced by Nahua contact at the period referred to; and not altogether impossible that the Nahua seed sown at this time fell into good ground in some wild people of the north, and thus [538] originated Pueblo agriculture and later culture. In favor of any closer connection between these peoples, there is absolutely no evidence.


When we come to the Mound-Builders of the Mississippi Valley, the matter presents far greater difficulties. We know nothing of their language or manners and customs, since they have become locally extinct; but their material monuments, and their religious rites as indicated by those monuments, bear a very striking resemblance to those of the civilized nations of the south. I have already expressed an opinion that the Mound-Builders were in some way connected with the civilized nations; the nature of the connection is involved in difficulties, from which there is no escape save by conjecture. We have seen that the Aztec traces in the New Mexican region, and possibly the Pueblo culture, may be attributed to the migrating Nahua tribes after their overthrow in Central America; but there is little or no reason to attribute the establishment of the Mound-Builders of the eastern states to the same influence and the same epoch. The few Nahuas that were scattered in the north are not likely to have exerted so slight an influence in the Pueblo region, and so powerful a one on the Mississippi; besides, the Mississippi monuments bear marks of a much greater antiquity than can be attributed to the Pueblo buildings. Yet we have seen that it is much more reasonable to believe that the culture of the Mound-Builders was introduced by a colony or by teachers from the south, than to regard the Mississippi Valley as the original birth-place of American civilization. The Natchez of the gulf states are said to have been superior at the coming of Europeans to other aboriginal tribes of the eastern states, and presented some slight analogies in their institutions to what the Mound-Builders may be supposed to have been. It is also the opinion of several authorities entitled to considerable credit, that their language [539] shows a very strong resemblance to those of the Maya family. Without attaching very great importance to the last argument, I am inclined to believe that the most plausible conjecture respecting the origin of the Mound-Builders, is that which makes them a colony of the ancient Mayas, who settled in the north during the continuance of the great Maya empire of Xibalba in Central America, several centuries before Christ. We have seen that the ancient Mayas, under the name of Quinames, probably occupied eastern Mexico at that epoch, and in later times we find the Huastecs in southern Tamaulipas speaking a Maya dialect. It is not at all unlikely that a colony of these people passed northward along the coast by land or water, and introduced their institutions in the Mississippi Valley, building up a power which became very flourishing as the centuries passed, but was at last forced to yield to the presence of environing barbarism. I offer this not as a theory which can be fully substantiated by facts, but simply as the most plausible conjecture on the matter which has occurred to me.



No Chronology in the South—Outline View—Authorities—Xbalanque at Utatlan—The Migration from Tulan—Balam-Quitzé and his Companions—Sacrifices to Tohil—the Quichés on Mt Hacavitz—The Tamub and Ilocab—First Victories—Qocavib Founds the Monarchy at Izmachi—the Toltec Theory—Imaginary Empire of the East—Different Versions of Primitive History—The Cakchiquel Migration—Juarros and Fuentes—Lists of Kings—Cakchiquels under Hacavitz—Reigns of Balam-Conache, Cotuha, and Iztayul, at Izmachi—War against the Ilocab—The Stolen Tribute—Gucumatz, Quiché Emperor at Utatlan—Changes in the Government—Reigns of Cotuha II., Tepepul, and Iztayul II.—Cakchiquel History—Conquests of Quicab I.—Revolt of the Achihab—Dismemberment of the Empire—Cakchiquel Conquests—Reigns of the last Guatemalan Kings—Appearance of the Spaniards under Alvarado in 1524.


In the south we have no connected history except for two centuries immediately preceding the conquest, and no attempt at precise chronology even for that short period. The Quiché-Cakchiquel empire in Guatemala was, at the coming of the Spaniards, the most powerful and famous in North America, except that of the Aztecs in Anáhuac, with which it never came into direct conflict, although the fame of each was well known to the other, and commercial intercourse was carried on almost constantly. The southern empire, so far as may be learned from the slight [541] evidence bearing on the subject, was about three centuries old in the sixteenth century, and the nearest approach to chronology in its annals is the regular succession of monarchs who occupied the throne, the achievements of each king given in what may be considered to be their chronologic order, and an apparent connection in a few cases with occurrences whose date is known from the Aztec records.

In a preceding volume of this work I have presented all that the authorities have preserved respecting the manners and customs of the Guatemalan peoples, and their condition at the coming of the Spaniards, including their system of government and the order of royal succession. In a chapter devoted to a general preliminary view of these nations,[XI-1] I have already presented a brief outline of their history as follows: Guatemala and northern Honduras were found in possession of the Mames in the north-west, the Pokomams in the south-east, the Quichés in the interior, and the Cakchiquels in the south.[XI-2] The two latter were the most powerful, and ruled the country from their capitals of Utatlan and Tecpan Guatemala, where they resisted the Spaniards almost to the point of annihilation, retiring for the most part after defeat to live by the chase in the distant mountain gorges. Guatemalan history from the time of the Votanic empire down to an indefinite date not many centuries before the conquest, is a blank. It re-commences with the first traditions of the nations just mentioned. These traditions, as in the case of every American people, begin with the immigration of foreign tribes into the country, as the first in the series of events leading to the establishment of the Quiché-Cakchiquel empire. Assuming the Toltec dispersion from Anáhuac in the eleventh century as a well-authenticated fact, most writers have identified the Guatemalan nations, except perhaps the Mames, by some [542] considered the descendants of the original inhabitants, with the migrating Toltecs who fled southward to found a new empire. I have already made known my scepticism respecting national American migrations in general, and the Toltec migration southward in particular, and there is nothing in the annals of Guatemala to modify the views previously expressed. The Quiché traditions are vague and without chronologic order, much less definite than those relating to the mythical Aztec wanderings. The sum and substance of the Quiché and Toltec identity is the traditional statement that the former people entered Guatemala at an unknown period in the past, while the latter left Anáhuac in the eleventh century. That the Toltecs should have migrated en masse southward, taken possession of Guatemala, established a mighty empire, and yet have abandoned their language for dialects of the original Maya tongue, is in the highest degree improbable. It is safer to suppose that the mass of the Quichés, and other nations of Guatemala, Chiapas, and Honduras, were descended directly from the Maya builders of Palenque, and from contemporary peoples,—that is, as has been shown in the chapter on pre-Toltec history in this volume, from the Maya peoples after they had been conquered by a new power and had become to a certain extent, so far as their institutions were concerned, Nahua nations.—Yet the differences between the Quiché-Cakchiquel structures and the older architectural remains of the Maya empire, indicate a new era of Maya culture, originated not improbably by the introduction of foreign elements. Moreover the apparent identity in name and teachings between the early civilizers of the Quiché tradition and the Nahua followers of Quetzalcoatl, together with reported resemblances between actual Quiché and Aztec institutions as observed by Europeans, indicate farther that the new element was engrafted on Maya civilization by contact with the Nahuas, a contact of which the [543] presence of the exiled Toltec nobility may have been a prominent feature. After the overthrow of the original empire, we may suppose the people to have been subdivided during the course of centuries by civil wars and sectarian struggles into petty states, the glory of their former greatness vanished and partially forgotten, the spirit of progress dormant, to be roused again by the presence of the Nahua chiefs. These gathered and infused new life into the scattered remnants; they introduced some new institutions, and thus aided the ancient peoples to rebuild their empire on the old foundations, retaining the dialects of the original language. The preceding paragraphs, however, gave an exaggerated idea of the Toltec element in forming Quiché institutions, as has been shown by the investigations of the present volume, since, while the Nahua element in these institutions was very strong, yet the Nahua influence was exerted chiefly in pre-Toltec times while the two peoples were yet living together in Central America, rather than by the exiled Toltec nobles and priests.


The authorities for Quiché history are not numerous. They include the work of Juarros, which is chiefly founded on the manuscripts of Fuentes; the published Spanish and French translations of the Popol Vuh, or National Book, of which much has already been said; and a number of documents similar to the latter, written in Spanish letters, but in the various Quiché-Cakchiquel dialects, by native authors who wrote after the Conquest, of course, but relied upon the aboriginal records and traditions, never published and only known to the world through the writings of Brasseur de Bourbourg, who, in Maya as in many parts of Nahua history, is the chief and almost the only authority.

In the earliest annals of Central America, while the Xibalban empire was yet in the height of its power, we find what is, perhaps, the first mention of the territory known later as Guatemala, in the mention [544] by the Popol Vuh[XI-3] of Carchah, or Nimxob Carchah, a locality in Vera Paz, as the place whence Hunhunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu, the first Nahua chiefs who conspired against the Xibalban monarchs, directed their first expedition toward the region of Palenque. Las Casas also names this as one of the entrances to the road which lead to the infernal regions, the sense probably given to Xibalba in the traditions of the country.[XI-4] And from Utatlan, in the same region, in later centuries the Quiché capital, started Xbalanque and Hunahpu, the descendants of the two chieftains already named, to avenge the defeat of their ancestors, and to overthrow the proud kings of Xibalba. The young princes left behind them their mother and grand-mother, planting in their cabin two canes which were to indicate to those left at home their own fortune, to flourish with their prosperity, to wither at each misfortune, and to die should they meet the fate of their predecessors; hence perhaps the Quiché name of Utatlan, Gumarcaah, 'house of withered canes.'[XI-5] The mention of Guatemalan localities in this connection is not sufficient to prove that the opposition to Xibalba had its beginning or centre in Guatemala, but simply indicates that the Nahua power in those primitive times extended over that region, as did also the Maya power, not improbably. In other words, the long struggle between the two rival powers was no local contest at and about Palenque, but was felt in a greater or less degree throughout the whole country, from Anáhuac to Guatemala, and perhaps still farther south.


Xbalanque's expedition and some subsequent occurrences are related by Torquemada, as follows: "After the people of the earth had multiplied and increased, it was made known that a god had been born in the province of Otlatla (Utatlan), now known [545] as Vera Paz, thirty leagues from the capital called Quauhtemallan (Guatemala), which god they named Exbalanquen. Of him it is related, among other lies and fables, that he went to wage war against Hell, and fought against all the people of that region and conquered them, and captured the king of Hell with many of his army. On his return to the earth after his victory, bearing with him his spoils, the king of the Shades begged that he might not be carried away. They were then in three or four grades of light, but Exbalanquen gave the infernal monarch a kick, saying 'go back, and thine be in future all that is rotten, and refuse, and stinking, in these infernal regions.' Exbalanquen then returned to Vera Paz whence he had set out, but he was not received there with the festivities and songs of triumph which he thought he had deserved, and therefore he went away to another kingdom, where he was kindly received. This conqueror of Hell is said to have introduced the custom of sacrificing human beings.""[XI-6] Brasseur adds on this subject: "Copan, the name of which ('on the vase') alludes mysteriously to the religious symbols of the mixed, or Mestizo, Nahua race, was it then chosen by this prince, whose mother (Xquiq) personified the fundamental idea of this sanguinary worship? However this may have been, it seems certain that the latter city owed its origin to a fierce warrior named Balam, who had entered the country by the way of Peten Itza about fifteen centuries before the Spanish conquest. During the last period of native rule the province of which Copan was the capital was called Payaqui ('in the Yaqui, or Nahuas') or the kingdom of Chiquimula."[XI-7] But all this may be regarded as purely conjectural.

[546] From the time when Xbalanque and Hunahpu marched to the conquest of Xibalba, and succeeded in subordinating the ancient Maya to the Nahua power, for several centuries down to the subsequent scattering of both Nahua and Maya tribes, which preceded the appearance of the Toltec branches in Anáhuac, the history of Guatemala is a blank. That civilized peoples occupied the country at that remote time; that they had been more or less the subjects of the ancient empire; and that they had been brought within the new influences of the Nahua institutions, there can be little doubt; but they have left no record of their deeds, probably not even of their names. The annals recommence with the traditional migration from Tulan, by which the Toltecs established themselves on the central plateaux of Mexico, while the tribes afterwards known as Quichés wandered southward to the highlands of Vera Paz; but five or six centuries were yet to pass before we find any record that may be properly termed history. I return to the traditions of the Popol Vuh, it being necessary to take up the thread of the story at a period even preceding the arrival at Tulan, and thus to repeat in a measure certain portions already referred to in a preceding chapter.


After the creation of the first men, Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Agab, Mahucutah, and Iqi-Balam, wives were given them, and these were the parents of the Quiché nation. Among the nations then in the East, that received their names from those that were begotten, were those of Tepeuh, Oloman, Cohah, Quenech, and Ahau; also those of Tamub and Ilocab who came together from the eastern land.[XI-8] Balam-Quitzé was the ancestor of the nine grand families of Cawek; Balam-Agab of the nine of Nihaïb; Mahucutah of the four of Ahau-Quiché. There came also the thirteen of Tecpan, and those of Rabinal, the Cakchiquels, those of [547] Tziquinaha, Zacaha, and others. All seem to have spoken one language, and to have lived in great peace, black men and white together. Here they awaited the rising of the sun and prayed to the Heart of Heaven. The tribes were already very numerous, including that of the Yaqui (Nahuas). At the advice of Balam-Quitzé and his companions, they departed in search of gods to worship, and came to Tulan-Zuiva, the Seven Caves, where gods were given them, Tohil, Avilix, Hacavitz, and Nicahtagah. Tohil was also the god of Tamub and Ilocab, and the three tribes, or families, kept together, for their god was the same.[XI-9] Here arrived all the tribes, the Rabinals, the Cakchiquels, the Tziquinaha, and the Yaqui; and here their language was confounded, they could no longer understand each other, and they separated, some going to the east and many coming hither (to Guatemala). They dressed in skins and were poor, but they were wonderful men, and when they reached Tulan-Zuiva, long had been their journey, as the ancient histories tell us.

Now there was no fire; Tohil was the first to create it, but it is not known exactly how he did it, since it was already burning when it was discovered by Balam-Quitzé and Balam-Agab. The fire was put out by a sudden shower and by a storm of hail, but the fire of the Quichés was rekindled by Tohil. Then the other tribes came shivering with chattering teeth to ask for fire from Balam-Quitzé, which was at first denied them; and a messenger from Xibalba appeared, a Zotzil, or bat, as it is said, and advised the high-priests to refuse the petition of the tribes until they should have learned from Tohil the price to be paid for the fire. The condition finally named by the [548] god was, that they consent to "unite themselves to me under their armpit and under their girdle, and that they embrace me, Tohil," a condition not very clearly expressed, but which, as is shown by what follows, was an agreement to worship the Quiché god, and sacrifice to him their blood, and, if required, their children. They accepted the condition and received the fire. But one family stole the fire, the family of Zotzil, of the Cakchiquels, whose god was Chamalcan, and whose symbol was the bat; and they did not submit to the conditions of Tohil. Here they began to fast and to watch for the sun. It was not here that they received their power and sovereignty, but there where they subdued the great and the little tribes, when they sacrificed them before the face of Tohil, offering him the blood, the life, the breast, and the armpit of all men. Thus at Tulan came to them their majesty, that great wisdom which was in them in the obscurity and in the night. They came then and tore themselves away from there and abandoned the regions of the rising sun. "This is not our home; let us go and see where we shall establish it," said Tohil. Truly he spoke to Balam-Quitzé—and the others. "Make first your thanksgiving, prepare the holes in your ears, pierce your elbows, and offer sacrifice; this will be your act of gratitude before god." "It is well," they replied, piercing their ears; and these things are in the song of their coming from Tulan; and their hearts groaned when they started, after they had torn themselves away from Tulan. "Alas! we shall no longer behold here the dawn at the moment when the sun comes up to illumine the face of the earth," said they as they set out. But some were left on the road; for some remained asleep, each of the tribes arising so as to see the morning star. It was the sign of the morning that was in their thoughts when they came from the land of the rising sun, and their hope was the same in leaving [549] this place which is at a great distance, as they tell us to-day.


They arrived and assembled on the mountain now called Chipixab, the Quichés, Tamub, Ilocab, Cakchiquels, Rabinals, and Tziquinaha. They took counsel one with another, and were very sad, and hungry too. Then, at their own request, were the gods concealed in different ravines and forests,[XI-10] except Hacavitz, who was placed on a pyramid on Mt Hacavitz, and there all the tribes waited in great trouble for the coming of the dawn. "Now behold lords were made, and our old men and our fathers had their beginning; behold we will relate the dawn and the appearance of the sun, moon, and stars." The account of the dawn and its attendant ceremonies, which follows in the Popol Vuh, would seem, in connection with the preceding quotations, to refer vaguely to the election of rulers, the establishment of temporal and spiritual government, the birth of Quiché institutions. Here they sang the song of lamentation for their separation from their kindred in Tulan, already referred to.[XI-11]

Under Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Agab, Mahucutah, and Iqi-Balam, they lived together on the mountain, and the tribes of Tamub and Ilocab lived near by in the forests of Dan, under the same god Tohil, the god of the people of Rabinal being the same under the name of Huntoh, while the god of the Cakchiquels was different, Tzotziha Chamalcan, as was also their language. Their hearts were heavy because Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz were still hidden in the grass and moss, although it has been stated before that the latter was on the pyramid of Hacavitz. They went to thank Tohil for the sunrise, and to make offerings of resins and plants; and he spoke and made known a rule of conduct for the sacrificers; and [550] they called upon him to aid them and said, "here shall be our mountains and our valleys;" and the gods predicted their future greatness. They still suffered from hunger, and the places where the wives abode were not clearly known.

And now many towns had been founded, apparently by other than the Quiché tribes, but as to Balam-Quitzé and his three companions they were not clearly seen, but cried like wild beasts in the mountains and on the roads, coming each day before Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz, offering them the blood of beasts, and blood drawn from their own bodies. Afterwards began the slaughter of the surrounding people who were overtaken on the roads, either one by one or in small groups, and slain, as was supposed, by wild beasts. After many had perished, suspicions were aroused of the four sacrificers and of their gods, but it was hard to track the pretended animals on the fog-enveloped summits of the Guatemalan heights. Now the gods Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz assumed the appearance of three young men, and were wont to bathe in a certain river, vanishing at will whenever they were seen by the people; and a council was held to devise means for effecting their death, and to escape the destruction caused by these Quichés of Cawek. They deemed themselves a great people and those of Cawek only a handful; yet if the power of the three gods was really so great that it could not be overcome, then would they call upon Tohil also to be their god. It was decided to send to meet the three young men at the bath two of the most beautiful of their virgins, that the passions of the former might be excited. These virgins, in obedience to the commands of their elders, went to the river to wash linen, and both removed all their clothing as soon as the three bathers appeared, and began to talk with them, saying that their parents had sent them to speak to the young men and to bring some token of having had an interview with [551] them. But the young men did not, as was expected, so far descend from their godlike dignity as to take liberties with the fair Xtah and Xpuch, but after consultation with Balam-Quitzé and his brother sacrificers, gave the girls their painted mantles as tokens to carry to those that had sent them. One of the mantles was covered with painted wasps and bees which came to life and stung the lord who put it on, and thus was Tohil victorious over the princes, by the aid of Balam-Quitzé and his companions. Then an assault was determined upon by the numerous tribes against the small forces of the Quiché sacrificers on Mount Hacavitz, but Tohil knew of all their plans, as did Balam-Quitzé. The invaders were to make the attack by night, but they fell asleep on the route, and their eyebrows and beard were shaven and all their ornaments stolen by the valiant Quichés as they slept. The Quiché leaders fortified their position with palisades and fallen trees, and stationed on them manikins of wood armed like soldiers and decorated with the gold and silver stolen from the sleeping foe. The sacrificers were sore afraid, but Tohil re-assured them. They filled the shells of gourds with hornets and wasps and placed them about the defences of their town. Spies came from the enemy and looked upon the wooden soldiers and rejoiced that they were few in number, and at the victory their countless armies were soon to win.


The hostile forces, armed with bows and arrows, and bearing shields, ascended the mountain and surrounded the Quiché retreat, shouting and striving with fearful clamor to strike terror into the hearts of their foes, who meanwhile looked calmly on. At the fitting moment the winged allies of the Quichés were released from the gourds and in countless hordes attacked the invaders right valiantly, fastening themselves on the eyes and noses of the foe, who threw down their arms in their agony, threw themselves on the ground, and were slaughtered by the [552] followers of Tohil, both men and women joining in the bloody work. Barely half of the invading army escaped to their homes. The tribes were thus humiliated before the face of the sacrificers, begged for mercy, and were made subjects; the victors were filled with exultation, and multiplied, begetting sons and daughters on Mount Hacavitz.

The sons of the sacrificers were as follows; Balam-Quitzé begat Qocaib and Qocavib, ancestor of the Cawek, or first Quiché royal family. Balam-Agab begat Qoacul and Qoacutec, from whom sprang the family of Nihaïb. Mahucutah had but one son Qoahau; and Iqi-Balam had none.[XI-12] The four sacrificers, the first leaders and fathers of the Quiché people, were now old and ready to die, and after many words of counsel to their sons they disappeared suddenly, leaving to their people what is called the 'enveloped majesty' as a most precious relic, the form of which was not known for the envelope was not removed; and thenceforth the Quichés from their home on the mountain ruled all the surrounding tribes now thoroughly subjected.


The three elder sons, Qocaib, Qoacutec, and Qoahau, were married long after the death of their fathers, and they determined to go as their fathers had ordered to the East on the shore of the sea, whence their fathers had come, 'to receive the royalty,' bidding adieu to their brothers and friends, and promising to return. "Doubtless they passed over the sea when they went to the East to receive the royalty. Now this is the name of the lord, of the monarch of the people of the East where they went. And when they arrived before the lord Nacxit,[XI-13] the name of the great lord, of the only judge, whose [553] power was without limit, behold he granted them the sign of royalty and all that represents it; hence came the sign of the rank of Ahpop and of that of Ahpop Camha, and Nacxit finally gave them the insignia of royalty, ... all the things in fact which they brought on their return, and which they went to receive from the other side of the sea, the art of painting from Tulan, a system of writing, they said, for the things recorded in the histories."

The three princes returned to Mount Hacavitz, assembled all the tribes, including the people of Ilocab and Tamub, the Cakchiquels, Tziquinaha, and the tribe of Rabinal, assuming the authority over them to the great joy of all. Then the wives of the original sacrificers died, and many of the people left Mount Hacavitz and founded innumerable other towns on the neighboring hills,[XI-14] where their numbers were greatly multiplied. The three princes who went to the East to receive the royalty, had grown old and died, but before their death they had established themselves in their great city of Izmachi.[XI-15]

The narrative of the Popol Vuh condenses in the preceding paragraphs, the history of the Quichés during the whole time that elapsed between the scattering of the Nahuas from Tulan before the fifth century, and the final establishment of the Quiché empire, an event whose exact date is unknown—for we have nothing but approximate dates in the aboriginal history of Guatemala—but which, judging by the number of kings that are represented as having occupied the throne afterwards down to the coming of the Spaniards, is thought not to have been earlier than the thirteenth century. The record implies, in [554] fact, that the Quichés lived long in their new home before they acquired power among the surrounding tribes. All this time they were directed by their trinity, Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz, acting through their four chief sacrificers, or high-priests, Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Agab, Mahucutah, and Iqi-Balam, the same who had led them in their migration from the region of Xibalba, and even in their migration to that region from the east. Of course many generations of priests bearing these names or these titles must have succeeded each other in the direction of Quiché affairs during this period; but the record admits the succession of sons to the ecclesiastical and temporal power only after the nation had risen to power. It has been noted, however, that another document mentions several generations between Balam-Quitzé and Qocavib. The surrounding peoples are continually referred to in the Popol Vuh, but for the most part simply as 'the tribes,' although the tribes of Tamub and Ilocab, of Rabinals, of the Cakchiquels, and several others are frequently named, sometimes in a manner that would lead the reader to suppose that these were 'the tribes' subdued, but oftener as if these were from the first connected with the Quichés. From the records of other Guatemalan nations which have never been published, the Abbé Brasseur attempts to throw some light on the history of the tribes among which the Quichés lived so long in a subordinate position, and on the period over which the Popol Vuh passes so rapidly.


The many tribes that left the central region of Tulan did not probably do so simultaneously, but migrated at irregular intervals, so that the final destruction of Tulan may not have occurred before the sixth or seventh century. Juarros even gives a list of four kings, Tanub, Capichoch, Calel-Ahus, and Ahpop, who ruled in that city, although his account taken from that of Fuentes is not worthy of great confidence. According to the records followed by [555] Brasseur, the first tribes to migrate southward towards Guatemala, were those of Tamub and Ilocab together with the thirteen clans of Tecpan, the ancestors of the Pokomams. We have seen, however, that Guatemala was already more or less in possession of the Nahuas before the overthrow of Xibalba, and the vague references to the tribes of Tamub and Ilocab—the oldest Nahua tribes in the country according to all authorities—are insufficient to show clearly whether they were already in Guatemala in the time of Hunahpu and Xbalanque, or like the Quichés proper migrated thither after the fall of Xibalba. The chiefs of Tamub held the highest rank in a kind of confederacy that seems to have been established at this early time. Their capital was Amag-Dan, a few leagues north of Utatlan. The family of Ilocab, the second in the confederacy, had its capital, Uquincat, at a short distance north-west of Utatlan, and was divided into two branches called Gale-Ziha and Tzununi-ha. The third chief of the alliance has escaped the abbé's researches. The thirteen tribes of Tecpan, under the names of Uxab and Pokomam, occupied Vera Paz and the region south of the Motagua, their capital, Nimpokom, being near where the modern town of Rabinal now stands. The western country towards Chiapas was held by the Mames, one of the ancient peoples of Guatemala who were probably found in the country by the first tribes from Tulan. This nation was divided into many bands, whose names and towns are given, the latter including those afterwards known as Quezaltenango and Huehuetenango. One document mentions a succession of nine sovereigns in the Tamub dynasty before the Quiché power began.

The Quichés entered the country at about the same time as the tribes of Ilocab, Tamub, and the Pokomams, but as we have seen in their own record, they had no influence for many centuries among the nations that preceded them. During this period, with [556] the Cakchiquels, the band of Rabinal, and the Ah-Tziquinaha, they constituted a group of small tribes, dwelling on the barren heights of Vera Paz, or the Lacandon country. It is not probable that they were yet known as Quichés, or 'men of the woods,' and all that is known of them is the names of their gods, Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz; of their chief priests, whose names, or titles, were Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Agab, Mahucutah, and Iqi-Balam; and of leaders mentioned by the MS. Cakchiquel, and named Xurcah and Totomay. According to our only authority on early events, excepting the Popol Vuh, the time which was occupied by the Quichés under Balam-Quitzé and his companions in their long struggles as animals against the other tribes, is not that which elapsed between their arrival from Tulan at Mt Hacavitz in the sixth or seventh century, and the establishment of their monarchy in the thirteenth, but rather that between their first coming prominently into notice in the mountains of Vera Paz in the twelfth century, and the founding of their empire. According to this version, the annals of the whole preceding period are included by the author of the Popol Vuh in those of the migration to Mt Hacavitz; Balam-Quitzé and the other sacrificers were not their leaders when they left Tulan, but were given to them much later by their god Tohil to guide the unfortunate people out of their difficulties; in fact, these sacrificers, so called, were Toltec chieftains who fled from Anáhuac at the fall of their empire, joined the partisans who accompanied their flight to the forces of the Quichés, gathered the scattered tribes on the heights of Vera Paz, and were enabled after a century of contest—during which the Quichés were regarded as a nation of brigands, much like the Aztecs at the same time, or a little later, about the Mexican lakes—to subdue the surrounding nations, and thus become masters of Guatemala. There are probably no sufficient reasons to deny that the empire [557] was founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century;—although it should be noted that this gives to the following kings down to the Conquest, as will be seen later, an average reign of only twelve or fifteen years;—the Quichés are known to have claimed relationship with the Toltec sovereigns; and it is quite likely the exiled chiefs and priests of Tollan had an influence on the Quiché institutions; but that the Quiché empire was thus founded by the Toltec exiles, there is, as I have repeatedly shown, every reason to deny.


The first tribes conquered by the followers of Tohil were five of the thirteen Pokomam bands, which were forced to pay tribute. Ahcan was now the high-priest and leader of the bands who were gathered about Mt Hacavitz, and he was the great-grandson of Balam-Quitzé, and the father of Qocaib and Qocavib, mentioned by the Popol Vuh as the founders of the monarchy, and represented