Aztec Rulers: Chimalpopoca, Third Tlatoani of Tenochtitlan

While it’s believed Chimalpopoca is the son of Huitzilihuitl, it’s possible his father was Acamapichtli, the first ruler of Tenochtitlan. His rule, from about 1417 to 1427, oversaw the building of a wooden aqueduct from Chapultepec into the city, as well as construction of a causeway to Tlacopan.

Militarily, Chimalpopoca kept the Mexica place as a vasal of the Tepanecs, whose ruler was Chimalpopoca’s maternal grandfather, Tezozomoc in the Tepanec capital of Azcapotzalco. After a war in 1418, the Mexica support of the Tepanecs was rewarded with the city of Texcoco. However, Chimalpopoca kindly allowed the ruler of Texcoco, the legendary Nezahualcoyotl, to live in Tenochtitlan rather than be exiled to the mountains.

His death is shrouded in intrigue as several narratives exist on the cause of his death. After fending off an attack by Coyoacan’s ruler, Maxtla, Chimalpopoca was taken hostage by the Tepanecs and taken to Azcapotzalco, where he died. Either by suicide, murdered by the Tepanecs or assassinated by his relative Itzcoatl, the next tlatoani. There seems to be some academic favor to the last option, given Chimalpopoca’s family tie to the Tepanecs. Although Itzcoatl was also the son of a different Tepanec woman, he did not have the loyalty of his half-brother/nephew to those people. Itzcoatl also had a much more grand vision for the Mexica.

Chimalpopoca dressed as the god Huitzilopochtli
Chimalpopoca dressed as the god Huitzilopochtli

Name: Chimalpopoca is a compound name of chimalli (shield) and poctli (smoke). His name is roughly smoking-shield.

Huitzilihuitl <<- Chimalpopca ->> Itzcoatl

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