Battle of Azcaputzalco
Battle of Azcapotzalco.
Two groups of soldiers fight with war clubs and shields at foreground of image. At the left are the combatants, at far left is a jaguar warrior, one of the elite soldiers of the Aztec, with the glyph of a flowering cactus above him; next to him is a figure representing Axayacatl (known from the glyph for water and hill above him). At the right is a figure in a conical hat and another jaguar warrior. Behind the soldiers is a dwelling with three women who make a sign of mercy with their hands. Another woman stands ready to defend them. At right an infant is being sacrificed by priest at a temple while two victims lie dead on the ground.
Azcapotzalco, capital city of Tecpanec on Lake Texcoco, was the site of a battle in 1430 between Iztcoatl, the fourth Aztec emperor (who was allied with Netzahualcoyotl, a Texcocan lord) and Maxtla (son of a Tepanec lord to whom the Aztec had been subservient) who had had the previous emperor assasinated. Upon the defeat of Maztla, the three cities of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Talcopan formed the new Aztec empire of the Triple Alliance.
The Tovar manuscript (also known as the Ramírez Codex) consists of three main sections: an historical account of “the ancient Mexicans from their first migration into the central valley of Mexico, to their conquest by the Spaniards”; an illustrated history of the Aztecs (most images above); and the Tovar Calendar – an attempt to combine the Nahuatl calendar with christian Saint days. The manuscript dates to about 1585. Juan de Tovar (1543-1623) was born in Mexico from conquistador stock. He trained as a Jesuit priest and was known as the Mexican Cicero because of his eloquent preaching style and mastery of several indigenous languages.
At the request of the Spanish Court, Tovar set about preparing a pre-conquest ethnographic history of the Aztec peoples. He travelled widely, interviewing native Indians, from whom he also commissioned traditional pictographic sketches.
As Fray Bernardino de Sahagún observed: the Mexicans “are held to be barbarians and of very little worth; in truth, however, in matters of culture and refinement, they are a step ahead of other nations." We explore the history and legacy of the Nahua and Maya civilizations, both of which challenge our preconceptions.