Atotoztli II

Fragment from Généalogie des seigneurs de Tenochtitlan or Fragmento de genealogía de los príncipes mexicanos showing “Lady Atotoztli” (subtitled Çihuapilli Atotoztli in Latin alphabet). Image Credit: WikiCommons.

By Catherine Capel

Atotoxtli was the daughter of Moteuhczoma, the second Aztec Emperor of the kingdom of Tenochtitlan. She succeeded her father because there was no apparent male heir, but it was possible that he had a male child.

However, Atotoxtli’s mother held the position of Moteuhczoma’s “legitimate wife” and so it was his daughter who inherited the kingdom after he died. Despite being recognised as the heir, the extent of the role that Atotoxtli held in the kingdom has been debated.

It is possible that she officially held the title of tlatoani (emperor or speaker) and ruled alone for a time but the patriarchal nature of the Aztec kingdoms meant that her husband, Tezozomoc, was often at the forefront of the narrative and her role was overlooked.

Atotoxtli had three sons with her husband, all of whom would go on to be rulers and her eldest son, Axayacatl, named his own son Moteuhczoma after her father.

Her rule is mentioned in two sixteenth century sources, Relacion de la genealogia and Origens de los Mexicanos, which were originally composed to legitimise the ancestry of Isabel Moctezuma.

Recommended Reading

Joyce Marcus, “Breaking the Glass Ceiling: The Strategies of Royal Women in Ancient States,” in Gender in Pre-Hispanic America: A Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, eds. Cecelia F. Klein and Jeffrey Quilter, 305-336 (Washington: Dumbarton Oaks, 2001)  

Karen E. Bell, “Ancient Queens of the Valley of Mexico,” in Ancient Queens: Archaeological Explorations, ed. Sarah M. Nelson, 137-150 (Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2003)

Karen Olsen Bruhns and Karen E. Stothert, Women in Ancient America (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999)

Lori Boornazian Diel, “The inclusion and exclusion of noblewomen in Aztec pictorial histories,” Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics 47 (2005): 83-106.

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