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Acamapichtli Chosen as King of Aztecs

King Acamapichtli was chosen as the king of the Aztecs (Mexica) in the 1370s where he is recorded on the Bible Timeline with World History. He then started to rule the city of Tenochtitlan around 1375/1376. The Mexicas built the city of Tenochtitlan in 1325. However, they were still far from independent under the powerful Tepanec overlords. Acamapichtli was the first Mexica king that ruled while they were under Tepanec domination.

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The Establishment of Aztec City of Tenochtitlan 1325

After leaving their mythical homeland of Aztlan and the seven caves of Chicomoztoc, the Mexica had no choice but to wander in the Valley of Mexico. Since they did not have a land of their own, they served the Colhua people as peasants. The two tribes were on good terms until the Mexica chief asked for the hand of a Colhua princess in marriage. The Colhua king agreed to arrange the marriage of his daughter to the Mexica chief. However, instead of a wedding ceremony, the Mexicas dragged the princess into their temple and killed her in hopes of turning her into a war goddess.
The Mexica priest then took her skin and wore it during the ceremony. They invited the Colhua bride’s father in the ceremony, and there he saw what they had done to his daughter. In their anger, the Colhua people attacked the Mexica and drove them off their land. Landless once again, the Mexica wandered in the Valley of Mexico until they came to an uninhabited island on the shore of Lake Texcoco. There they built their city of Tenochtitlan in 1325 and at last, they had a land to call their own.

acamapichtli_the_first_aztec_king
“Acamapichtli as depicted in the Tovar Codex.”

Acamapichtli Mexica’s First King

The Mexica remained as hunters and gatherers even after they built the city of Tenochtitlan. They later farmed the land using the chinampa system and traded with neighboring towns. They lived near the powerful kingdom of the Azcapotzalco, but its Tepanec citizens did not like the Mexicas. One day, the Tepanecs asked their King Tezozomoc to impose heavy taxes on the Mexica traders after they saw that they had flourished. He listened to their suggestion and ordered the Mexica to pay higher taxes. The payment of heavy taxes took a heavy toll on the Mexica until they could no longer bear it. They sent some men to the Tepanec King Tezozomoc for him to lower their taxes. The request only angered the king. He increased the taxes the Mexicas needed to pay as part of their punishment.

They were still fresh from their defeat from the Colhua people, so the Mexicas had no other choice but to submit. The Mexicas waited for the right time and built alliances through marriage with other tribes. In this way, their people increased and expanded their territory. Priests and wise elders ruled the Mexicas during that time, but they realized that they needed a king to lead them. The council of elders met and decided that they should look for a brave young man from their own people to be their king.

Years before the elders came to this agreement, a Mexica captain named Opochtzin Iztahuatzin lived to Colhuacan and married a princess named Atotoztli. The princess gave birth to their son, and they named him Acamapichtli. The boy grew up to be a handsome and brave warrior whose courage impressed his Mexica elders. They decided that he was fit to lead their people, so they sent some men to his cousin, the King Teuchtlamacazque Nauhyolth of Colhuacan. They asked the king to send his cousin back with them to Tenochtitlan so he could be their king. King Teuchtlamacazque could not give them his permission as his cousin was not in his palace anymore.

He sent them instead to King Acolmiztli who was the ruler of the neighboring Coatl Ichan. His sister, Queen Ilancueitl, had taken Acamapichtli to their city and educated the young man there. When King Acolmiztli heard of the envoys’ request, he immediately gave them Acamapichtli so he could be proclaimed as their king. Acamapichtli also married Queen Ilancueitl, and he started to rule as their king in 1375/1376. Queen Ilancueitl and Acamapichtli did not have children, so he took eight wives with whom he had sons and daughters. His sons included Huitzilihuitl, Itzcoatl, Cuatlacuatl, Tlacahuepan, Tlatolzaca, Epcoatl Ilhuitemoc, and Tlacocochtoc.

The years of Acamapitchli’s reign were peaceful and prosperous. He chose to build alliances through marriages instead of fighting other tribes. He also chose to pay the Tepanec king Tezozomoc the tribute he demanded so that his people could avoid wars. He died in 1395 at the age of 70.

References:
References By Tovar, Juan de, circa 1546-circa 1626 – http://dl.wdl.org/6718.pngGallery: http://www.wdl.org/en/item/6718/, Public Domain, Link
Aguilar-Moreno, Manuel. Handbook to Life in the Aztec World. New York: Facts on File, 2006.
Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin, Domingo Francisco De San Antón Muñón. Codex Chimalpahin: Society and Politics in Mexico Tenochtitlan, Tlatelolco, Texcoco, Culhuacan, and Other Nahua Altepetl in Central Mexico: The Nahuatl and Spanish Annals and Accounts Collected and Recorded by Don Domingo De San Antón Muñón Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin. Translated by Arthur J. O. Anderson and Susan Schroeder. Vol. 1. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.
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