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Tenochtitlan Rulers, the Aztec Emperors

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  • Chimalpopoca, 3rd Aztec Emperor (1397 - 1427)
    Note: Some sources say that Chimalpopoca was the son of Huitzilihuitl, the previous ruler, while others say that he was a son of Acamapichtli, the first ruler of Tenochtitlan, making him Huitzilihuitl'...
  • Cuitláhuac I, 10th Aztec Emperor (1476 - 1520)
    Cuitláhuac (c. 1476 – 1520)[1] or Cuitláhuac (in Spanish orthography; in Nahuatl: cuitlāhuac,[2] honorific form Cuitlahuatzin) was the 10th tlatoani (ruler) of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan for 80 day...
  • Axayacatl, 6th Aztec Emperor (1430 - c.1481)
    Axayacatl (pron. {ah-sha-ya-ka'-tl} - the name means "Water-mask" or "Water-face") was a ruler (tlatoani) of the Postclassic Mesoamerican Aztec Empire and city of Tenochtitlán, who reigned from 1469 to...
  • Don Diego de Alvarado, 15th Aztec Emperor (b. - 1541)
    Huanitzin (or Panitzin) aka Don Diego de Alvarado was a 16th century Nahua noble. A grandson of Axayacatl, Nephew of tlatoani Moctezuma II. He was initially the tlatoani (ruler) of Ecatepec before beco...
  • Acamapichtli, 1st Aztec Emperor (b. - 1395)
    Acamapichtli (Classical Nahuatl: Ācamāpichtli [aːkamaːˈpitʃtɬi], meaning Handful of reeds) was the first tlatoani, or ruler, of the Aztecs (or Mexica) of Tenochtitlan, and founder of the Aztec imperial...

Scope of project

This project aims to identify the tlatoani of Tenochtitlan, often referred to as "Aztec emperors".


The royal title of huey tlatoani translates from the Classical Nahuatl language as "great" "one given voice” and was given to the supreme rulers of Tenochtitlán, Texcoco, and Tlacopan (and before them those of Azcapotzalco.)

Tenochtitlan (Classical Nahuatl: Tenōchtitlān [tenoːtʃˈtitɬaːn]) (sometimes also known as Mexico Tenochtitlan or Tenochtitlan Mexico) was a Nahua altepetl (city-state) located on an island in Lake Texcoco, in the Valley of Mexico. Founded in 1325, it became the seat of the growing Aztec Empire in the 15th century, until captured by the Spanish in 1521. When paired with Mexico the name is a reference to Mexica, the people of the surrounding Aztec heartland. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and today the ruins of Tenochtitlan are located in the central part of Mexico City.


Tenochtitlan was the capital city of the Aztec civilization, consisting of the Mexica people, founded in 1325. The state religion of the Aztec civilization awaited the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy: that the wandering tribes would find the destined site for a great city whose location would be signaled by an eagle eating a snake while perched atop a cactus. The Aztecs saw this vision on what was then a small swampy island in Lake Texcoco, a vision that is now immortalized in Mexico's coat of arms and on the Mexican flag. Not deterred by the unfavourable terrain, they set about building their city, using the chinampa system (misnamed as "floating gardens") for agriculture and to dry and expand the island. A thriving culture developed, and the Aztec civilization came to dominate other tribes all around Mexico. The small natural island was perpetually enlarged as Tenochtitlan grew to become the largest and most powerful city in Mesoamerica. Commercial routes were developed that brought goods from places as far as the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean and perhaps even the Inca Empire. After a flood of Lake Texcoco, the city was rebuilt under the rule of Ahuitzotl in a style that made it one of the grandest ever in Mesoamerica. Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519. At this time it is believed that the city was one of the largest in the world; compared to Europe, only Paris, Venice and Constantinople were larger. In a letter to the Spanish king, Cortés wrote that Tenochtitlan was as large as Seville or Córdoba. The most common estimates put the population at over 200,000 people. One of the few comprehensive academic surveys of Mesoamerican city and town sizes arrived at a population of 212,500 living on 13.5 km2 (5.2 sq mi), although some popular sources put the number as high as 350,000.

After the conquest

Cortés subsequently directed the systematic destruction and leveling of the city and its rebuilding, despite opposition, with a central area designated for Spanish use (the traza). The outer Indian section, now dubbed San Juan Tenochtitlan, continued to be governed by the previous indigenous elite and was divided into the same subdivisions as before.


[Acamapichtli, 1st Aztec Emperor]

[Huitzilihuitl, 2nd Aztec Emperor]

[Chimalpopoca, 3rd Aztec Emperor]

[Izcoatl, 4th Aztec Emperor]

[Moctezuma I, 5th Aztec Emperor]

[Axayacatl, 6th Aztec Emperor]

[Tizoc, 7th Aztec Emperor]

[Ahuitzotl, 8th Aztec Emperor]

[Moctezuma II, 9th Aztec Emperor]

[Cuitláhuac I, 10th Aztec Emperor]

[Cuauhtémoc, 11th Aztec Emperor]

Colonial rulers

Juan Velázquez, 12th Aztec Emperor

Motelchiuhtzin Huitznahuatlailótlac aka Don Andrés de Tapia

Xochiquentzin aka Don Pablo

Don Diego de Alvarado, 15th Aztec Emperor

don Diego de San Francisco, 16th Aztec Emperor

Don Cristóbal de Guzmán, 17th Aztec Emperor

Esteban de Guzmán (Not a tlatoani, but a judge (juez).)

Don Cristóbal de Guzmán, 17th Aztec Emperor

Nanacacipactzin aka Luis de Santa María

Further reading