The Holy Wars of Tlacaelel

Jun 1, 2020 by Rosarie Salerno

In the 15th century of the current era, the great Mexican general, Tlacaelel, of the ancient city of Tenochtitlan, was born of royal blood and extremely intelligent. He was the driving force in the development of what we now know as the Aztec Empire, the power behind the throne of the Meso-American people. Tlacaelel, a Mexica, was educated in the ways of the Toltec. He organized a professional army, structured in a hierarchy of commanders with organized fighting units of professional warriors. His main goal was to raise the Mexica people to a new social status; going so far as to burn the old books and having the scribes re-write their history extolling the Mexica culture and strengthening their self-esteem. His other goal was to increase his people’s wealth and power. As an ancient Hitler, he seized the time and sentiment of the people who were ready for this arousal and transformation of Mexico’s society into a mighty empire.

The religion of the Mexica’s was steeped in magic, mysticism and superstition. Nevertheless, they believed in the immortality of the soul and the rewards of an eternal afterlife. They feared their most powerful god of the Sun and of War, Huitzilopochtli, who demanded blood and human sacrifice in order to guarantee the rising of the sun each day. Tlacaelel convinced his people that they were the chosen ones of Huitzilopochtli; agents with a mission to bring all the great cities in the central valley of Mexico into the service of Huitzilopochtli through Holy Wars.   They believed that the fruit of their blood, by dying in the service of their holy war, and/or by sacrificing the blood of their victims would assure them of a demigod status. The captives from these campaigns were the source for their human sacrificial ceremonies, and the bounty from the conquered cities increased their wealth and power.

Tlacaelel knew that the only way to have a successful professional army was to free his warriors of any economic responsibilities. His warriors were assisted by servants and bearers who carried thousands upon thousands of corn cakes and tortillas. Not having a money-based economy, Tlacaelel designated farmland to supply his soldiers with all the food they needed, provided elaborate masks, clothing, and head-dresses that were decorated with special feathers and gold ornaments. Different colors designated the different ranks of officers and elite warriors. The warriors were also honored for the number of live captives.

The army had shields and formable weapons. The clubs they used were made of wood, embedded with pieces of sharp obsidian that would hack their prey to pieces. They also employed a giant skin-covered drum; the boom of which was overwhelming. The thundering sound evoked terror to all who heard it. These bellicose warriors would beat the drum as the signal of their impending invasion. Some cities were so terrified by the army of Tlacaelel that they surrendered without a fight. Some of the survivors would become feudal serfs, paying high tribute to the Mexicas. They gave up almost all of the crops from their fields; thus living on borderline-starvation. They also were forced to become allies and slaves to the professional warriors.

These wars had a profound effect upon Mexico. The Aztec Empire lasted in all its bloody glory until the Spanish Conquistadors overpowered them in 1521, eventually obliterating their culture.

Related Posts

Tags

Share This