History Files


The Americas

Central American Native Kingdoms




Tepanec (Aztecs)

The Aztec people were formed of several ethnic groups that occupied central Mexico. Predominantly this included groups that spoke the Nahuatl language and it was they who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries AD. The name itself, 'aztec', means 'people from Aztlan', a mythological location for the region's Nahuatl-speaking culture, but it was this that was later adopted to define the Mexica people. From the thirteenth century, the Valley of Mexico was at the heart of Aztec civilization, and it was here that the powerful city of Tenochtitlan was constructed upon raised islets in Lake Texcoco.

The former Toltec city states of Azcapotzalco and Tepanec were taken over by the Tepanec or Tepaneca tribe of Aztec/Nahua migrants when they arrived in the region. Their culture was a sister to that of the Aztecs themselves, and also bore some relation to Acolhua culture, another Aztec branch which settled at Tetzcoco. The Tepanec arrived earlier than the Mexica (Aztecs), and they conquered a domain on the western shores of Lake Texcoco from which they expanded during the late thirteenth century.

During most of the fifteenth century, one of Tepanec's subject cities was the once-powerful Azcapotzalco, which supplied a new king to Tlatelolco in 1372. Modern Tepanec itself is now called Azcapotzalco, a borough within Mexico.

(Original list by Luiz Gustavo.)

1222 - 1283

During the initial period of settlement, Tepanec takes control of the former Toltec cities of Coatepec and Coyoacan, as well as many others.

1283 - 1414

Tepanec expands, taking Cuauhnahuac, Cuitlahuac, and Culhuacan to its east, and many other cities besides. However, while their cities of Azcapotzalco and Tepanec originally seem to be part of a unified state, by the mid-fourteenth century at the latest they appear to become independent of one another for approximately a century.

Aztec human sacrifice
A depiction of human sacrifice, which was practised throughout the Aztec empire

1367 - 1426


'Fractured Stone'.



Son. Probably poisoned by Maxtla.

1426 - 1428


Brother. 'Breechcloth'. Older brother of Tayatzin of Tenochtitlan.


Following the long reign and death of Tezozomoctli of Azcapotzalco, he is succeeded by his son, Tayatzin. Maxtla (sometimes referred to as Maxtla of Coyoacan, a city which Tepanec controls) soon incites a rebellion among Azcapotzalco's nobles and usurps the throne. Chimalpopoca of Tenochtitlan allies himself with Tayatzin, and the two conspire to retake the throne and kill Maxtla, but Tayatzin is killed instead and Maxtla gains Azcapotzalco.

1428 - 1521

Maxtla is defeated by the Triple Alliance under the new ruler of Tenochtitlan, Itzcoatl. Azcapotzalco is sacked and Tepanec is made subject to Tlacopan. Maxtla himself is sacrificed by the exiled ruler of Tetzcoco, Netzahualcoyotl.


Tepanec is conquered by the Spanish from their new colony of Cuba.