Tlacaelel (1397 [Sometimes Tlacaélel's birth year is listed as 1398; see, "e.g.": Mann, Charles C. (2005) "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus" Knopf, New York, p. 118, ISBN 1-4000-4006-X] – 1487) was the principal architect of the Aztec Triple Alliance and hence the Mexica (Aztec) empire. [Durán, Diego "History of the Indies of New Spain" University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, pp. 74-101, ISBN 0-8061-2649-3] [Malmstrom, Vincent H. (1997) "Cycles of the Sun, Mysteries of the Moon: The Calendar in Mesoamerican Civilization" University of Texas Press, Austin, TX, USA, p. 238, ISBN 0-292-75196-6] He was the son of Huitzilihuitl, nephew of Itzcoatl, and brother of Moctezuma Ilhuicamina, the last two being respectively the first and second Mexica emperors.

During the reign of his uncle Itzcoatl, Tlacaélel was given the office of Tlacochcalcatl, but during the war against the Tepanecs in the late 1420s, he was promoted to first adviser to the ruler, a position called "Cihuacoatl" in Nahuatl, an office that Tlacaélel held during the reigns of four consecutive "Tlatoque", until his death in 1487.

Tlacaélel recast or strengthened the concept of the Aztecs as a chosen people, elevated the tribal god/hero Huitzilopochtli to top of the pantheon of gods, [Brotherston, Gordon (1974) "Huitzilopochtli and What Was Made of Him" p. 159 "in" Hammond, Norman (ed.) (1974) "Mesoamerican Archaeology - New Approaches: Proceedings of a Symposium on Mesoamerican Archaeology held by the University of Cambridge Centre of Latin American Studies, August 1972" University of Texas Press, Austin, TX, USA, pp. 155–66, ISBN 0-292-75008-0] and increased militarism. [Burke, John Francis (2002) "Mestizo Democracy: The Politics of Crossing Borders" Texas A & M University Press, College Station, Texas, USA, p. 137, ISBN 1-58544-208-9] In tandem with this, Tlacaelel is said to have increased the level and prevalence of human sacrifice, particularly during a period of natural disasters that started in 1446 (according to Durán). Durán also states that it was during the reign of Moctezuma I, as an invention of Tlacaelel that the flower wars, in which the Aztecs fought Tlaxcala and other Nahuan city-states were instigated.

To strengthen the Aztec nobility, he helped create and enforce sumptuary laws, prohibiting commoners from wearing certain adornments such as lip plugs, gold armbands, and cotton cloaks. He also instigated a policy of burning the books of conquered peoples with the aim of erasing all memories of a pre-Aztec past. [Ostler, Nicholas (2005) "Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World" HarperCollins, New York, p.354 ISBN 0-06-621086-0]

When he dedicated the seventh reconstruction of the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan, Tlacaelel had brought his nation to the height of its power. The dedication took place in 1484 and was celebrated with the sacrifice of many war captives. After Tlacaelel's death in 1487, the Mexica Empire continued to expand north into the Gran Chichimeca and south toward the Maya lands.



* "Borderlands" []

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