Auitzotl, the Eighth Aztec King (Reigned 1486–1502)


The Tovar Codex, attributed to the 16th-century Mexican Jesuit Juan de Tovar, contains detailed information about the rites and ceremonies of the Aztecs (also known as Mexica). The codex is illustrated with 51 full-page paintings in watercolor. Strongly influenced by pre-contact pictographic manuscripts, the paintings are of exceptional artistic quality. The manuscript is divided into three sections. The first section is a history of the travels of the Aztecs prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The second section, an illustrated history of the Aztecs, forms the main body of the manuscript. The third section contains the Tovar calendar. This illustration, from the second section, depicts Auitzotl, holding a spear or scepter, standing on a reed mat and next to a basket-work throne. Above him is an auitzotl or ahuizote. Auitzotl (or Ahuitzotl, reigned 1486–1502), the eighth Aztec king (incorrectly identified here as the fifth), was the son of Moctezuma I and brother of Axayácatl and Tizoc. He enlarged the Aztec Empire to its greatest size. A ruthless military leader, he suppressed a Huastec rebellion and more than doubled the size of lands under Aztec dominance. He conquered the Mixtec, Zapotec, Tarascan, and other peoples down to the western part of Guatemala. Under his rule the main temple at Tenochtitlan was completed. Auitzotl is represented by the auitzotl, a kind of spiny rat or otter that lived in the lake upon which Tenochtitlan was built. To ancient Mexicans, it was a fearful mythological creature, which existed to trap men for the rain god, Tlaloc.

Last updated: June 18, 2015