Izcoatl, 4th Aztec Emperor

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Izcoatl, 4to Tlatoani de Tenochtitlan

Immediate Family:

Son of Acamapichtli, 1st Aztec Emperor and Tepanec woman from Azcapotzalco
Half brother of Huitzilihuitl, 2nd Aztec Emperor; Chimalpopoca, 3rd Aztec Emperor and Tlatolzaca

Managed by: Ric Dickinson
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About Izcoatl, 4th Aztec Emperor

Itzcoatl (Classical Nahuatl: Itzcōhuātl [itsˈkoːwaːtɬ], "Obsidian Serpent") was the fourth tlatoani (emperor) of the Aztecs, ruling from 1427 (or 1428) to 1440, the period when the Mexica threw off the domination of the Tepanecs and laid the foundations for the eventual Aztec Empire.

Itzcoatl was an illegitimate son of Acamapichtli, the first Aztec tlatoani.[2] He himself was elected as tlatoani when his predecessor, Chimalpopoca, was killed by Maxtla of the nearby Tepanec city-state of Azcapotzalco. Allying with Nezahualcoyotl of Texcoco, Itzcoatl went on to defeat Maxtla and end the Tepanec domination of central Mexico.

After this victory, Itzcoatl, Nezahualcoyotl, and Totoquilhuaztli, tlatoani of Tlacopan, forged what would become known as the Aztec Triple Alliance, forming the basis of the eventual Aztec empire. Itzcoatl next turned his attention to the chinampas districts on the south shores of Lakes Xochimilco and Chalco. Fresh water springs lining these shores had allowed the development of extensive raised gardens, or chinampas, set on the shallow lake floors. Successful campaigns against Xochimilco (1430), Mixquic (1432), Cuitlahuac (1433), and Tezompa would secure agricultural resources for Tenochtitlan and, along with the conquest of Culhuacan and Coyoacán, would cement the Triple Alliance's control over the southern half of the Valley of Mexico.

With this string of victories, Itzcoatl took the title Culhua tecuhtli, "Lord of the Culhua" while Totoquilhuaztli, tlatoani of Tlacopan, took the title Tepaneca tecuhtli, "Lord of the Tepanecs". In 1439, Itzcoatl undertook a campaign outside the Valley of Mexico against Cuauhnahuac (modern day Cuernavaca).

According to the Madrid Codex, Itzcoatl ordered the burning of all historical codices because it was "not wise that all the people should know the paintings".[3] Among other purposes, this allowed the Aztec state to develop a state-sanctioned history and mythos that venerated Huitzilopochtli.

Itzcoatl also continued the building of Tenochtitlán: during his reign temples, roads, and a causeway were built. Itzcóatl established the religious and governmental hierarchy that was assumed by Moctezuma I upon his death in 1440.


  1. the dominant ethno-political group within the later Aztec political sphere.
  2. Itzcoatl's mother is given as a Tepanec woman from Azcapotzalco; see for example Aguilar-Moreno (2007, p.39).
  3. Madrid Codex, VIII, 192v, as quoted in León-Portilla, p. 155. Note that León-Portilla finds Tlacaelel to be the instigator of this burning, despite lack of specific historical evidence.[verification needed]
  4. Based on the maps by Ross Hassig in "Aztec Warfare"


Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itzcoatl

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Izcoatl, 4th Aztec Emperor's Timeline