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A Prince of Anahuac by James A. Porter

Who were the descendants of the Acolhuans


Of

the many tribes of people then occupying the Anahuac, the Tezcucans, Tepanecs, Mexicans (Aztecs), and Tlacopans were among the larger and most prominent. Our narrative has to do with all these, but more particularly with the first named, who were the descendants of the Acolhuans, whose advent to the Anahuac took place near the close of the twelfth century, and nearly simultaneously with that of the Mexicans and Chichimecs--the latter, possibly, the race from which sprang the Tepanecs and others of the more savage tribes.

The Acolhuans were a mild and peaceably disposed people, and intelligently superior. Their descendants, the Tezcucans, so called from the name of their chief city, inherited their admirable characteristics, and sustained their superiority for intelligence.

The laws which governed the Tezcucans, as a nation, were, comparatively speaking, just and equitable, having in them little of an oppressive nature, which can not be said of some of the other tribes. A few years previous to the time at which our story opens they were a happy and prosperous people, and were ruled by a king who had a kind and generous disposition, and who always held the welfare of his subjects of first importance, for which he was greatly beloved by them. Their seat of government was Tezcuco, a populous city at that time, situated on the eastern border of Lake Tezcuco, nearly northeast, across the lake, from Tenochtitlan--the

Mexican capital.

The city of Tezcuco, if not at that time the most royal capital on the lake, was perhaps the oldest and largest; and noted especially for its intelligence and order. Besides its teachers and scholars it had its artisans; the latter hardly less skilled than were those of the proud city of Azcapozalco, a rival and the capital of its greatest enemy and despoiler. Its buildings were substantial; its palace commodious; its temples commensurate with the demands of their votaries, while its _tianguez_ (market place) was broad and ample.

About the year 1418 the king of the Tepanecs found cause for declaring war on the Tezcucans, and a bitterly contested struggle ensued, which terminated in the overthrow of the government and subjugation of the people of the latter, and the massacre of their good king, together with many of his nobles.

Among those who escaped the death-dealing hand of the victors was the king's son, the young prince Hualcoyotl, heir to the Tezcucan crown. He was present at the bloody and disastrous ending of the strife; but, being concealed among the branches of a sheltering tree, from which position he witnessed the cruel murder of his father, he was not discovered by the foe. He was captured later, however, and thrown into a dungeon in his own city, where, though closely guarded, he remained only a short time, his friends effecting his escape by the substitution of another person, who willingly gave his life in his young master's stead. He fled to the city of Tenochtitlan, where he found refuge with friends. After a time he was permitted, through the influence of the Mexican king, who was friendly toward his people, to return to Tezcuco and his ancestral palace, on condition that he would live a retired and secluded life. He was there taken charge of and instructed by an old tutor named Itzalmo, who had been his preceptor previous to the overthrow of his country and death of his father.

Hualcoyotl was about sixteen years old when he went into retirement. He was unusually bright, and gave promise, in his deportment and youthful precociousness, of reaching a splendid manhood. Eight years passed by, during which period he remained in undisturbed seclusion, acquiring knowledge and wisdom under the skillful training of the good Itzalmo, and finding, in his hours of leisure, divertisement in the society of a few chosen companions. He had not disappointed the expectations of his friends, but, at the age of twenty-four, had ripened into a man of surpassing physical and intellectual force--a worthy representative of a noble line of princes. His adherents recognized in him their future king--their hope of deliverance from Tepanec usurpation.


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