The Known Aztec Emporers


Last Updated: 20 years

The Aztecs established a lineage of emperors. Each emperor was elected from the royal lineage by a council made up of priest, warriors, and nobles. The reigns would first pass from brother to brother before they were passed to the next generation . Below is a list of known Aztec emperors and the probable dates of their rulership.

1325-1375 – Tenoch: (Tuna de Piedra) – Tenoch, one of nine Aztec tribal leaders to whom were revealed the place where the Aztecs could receive the support of the forces of nature, likely in our year A. D. 1325. He wears the white robe of authority. He sits on the reed mat of rulership. And his name glyph is the cactus growing on a stone. 

The name glyph is “te”(stone)-“noch”(fruit of the prickly pear nopalli cactus). “Tenochtitlan” is usually translated as “place founded by Tenoch.” This place, initially a small reedy island in Lake Texcoco, became the great city of Tenochtitlan over the following two centuries.


1376-1396 – Acamapichtli: (Manejo de Canas)

Was the first “true” emperor, and descended from the Toltecs.

1397-1417 – Huitziláihuitl: (PLUMA DE COLIBRI) – Was the son of Acamapichtli. 

1418-1427 – CHIMALPOPOCA – ESCUDO HUMEANTE – Believed to had been the grandson of Acamapichtli. Under his leadership, the people serve as mercenaries to Tezozomoc, a ruthless warrior of the Tepanecs. He died in a mysterious fashion, likely by the hands of the Tepanecs. 
1428-1440 – Itzcóatl: (Swrpiente de Obsidiana) – Was related to Acamapichtli. Under his leadership, the Aztecs broke with the Tepanecs. Itzcóatl’s advisor was a brillant and powerful man named Tlacaelel. He suggested that all early recorded history be burned, and history be rewritten beginning at that time. 

1441-1469 – Moctezuma Ilhuicamina: (El Flechador de Cielo) – Moctezuma was Itzcóal’s nephew. During his rule, the Aztec empire was greatly expanded. He built botanical and zoological gardens, where every known plant and animal were collected and studied. It was also during his reign, that a severe drought caused a great famine, that his people had to sell themselves to the people of Veracruz. Human Sacrifice dramattically increased and the “Flowery Wars” provided the necessary sacrificial victims. 

1470-1481 – Axayácatl: (Cara de Agua) – Axayacatl was an Aztec ruler (Tlatoani) of the city of Tenochtitlan. He is chiefly remembered for subjugating Tlatelolco, Tenochtitlán’s sister city, in 1473. Using as a pretext the insulting behavior of a few Tlatelolcan citizens, he invaded his neighbor, killed its ruler, and replaced him with a military governor. The Tlatelolcans lost any voice they had in forming Aztec policy.

He took power in 1469; he was preceded on the throne by Moctezuma I and followed by his brother Tízoc in 1481. He was Moctezuma’s grandson who spent most of his time reconquering lost territories and suppressing rebellions. 

1482-1486 – Tizoc: (Pierna Enferma) – Was Moctezuma’s grandson and Axayácatl brother. He was a weak and cowardly emperor. 
1487-1502 – Ahuizotl: (Perro de Augua) – Was Moctezuma’s grandson and brother of Axayácatl and Tizoc. He was an aggressive military leader who expaned Aztec territory to the Guatemalan border. The main temple at Tenochtitlán was completed during his reign. 

1503-1520 – Moctezuma Xocoyotzin: (Moctezuma II, El Senor Valeroso) – The son of Axayácatl, great grandson of Moctezuma I. He was a powerful and knowledgable emperor, and a capable but demanding leader. Who was trained to be a emperor since birth. He transformed Tenochtitlán into an awe inspiring cultural metropolis. He was very superstitous and believed in the legend of Quetzalcóatl. He will always be remembered for his surrender of Tenochtitlán to the Spanish. He Died in 1520 in the midst of a bloodly battle against the Spanish. 

1520 – Cuitláhuac: (Excremento Seco) – He was Moctezuma nephew. Cuitláhuac only ruled for four months, died of disease brought by the Spaniards. His name translated means “plenty of excrement.

1520-1524 – Cuauhtémoc:

He was the son of Ahuitzáotl, and nephew to Moctezuma and Cuitláhuach. He was the last of the Aztec emperors and the bravest of them all. He fought courageous against the Spaniards in the defense of their great city of Tenochtitlán. He died in 1524, he was hung by the Spaniards.