Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Ixtlilxochitl, Fernando de Alba

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IXTLILXOCHITL, Fernando de Alba, Mexican historian, b. in Texcoco in 1570; d. therein 1649. He was descended, through his mother, from the ancient kings of Texcoco, and, on the death of his eldest brother in 1602, he was declared by a royal decree heir to the titles and possessions of his family. The property, however, does not appear to have been large, as he complained in 1608 of the deplorable state of misery to which the posterity of the kings of Texcoco were reduced. At this time he was employed as interpreter by the viceroy, which appointment he owed to his learning and skill in explaining the hieroglyphic pictures of the ancient Mexicans. He had also a profound knowledge of the traditions of his ancestors which were preserved in the national songs, and was intimate with several old Indians famous for their knowledge of Mexican history. He turned his own labors and those of his friends to account in composing works on the history of his country. They remained unknown until their importance was revealed by Clavigero, and afterward by Humboldt. The former says that they were written in Spanish by command of the viceroy, and were deposited in the library of the Jesuits in Mexico. There were copies also in other libraries. The history was divided into thirteen books or relations, many of which were repetitions of the former relations, and covered the period from the most ancient times to the destruction of the Mexican empire. The thirteenth book was printed under the title “Horribles crueldades de los conquistadores de Mexico y de los Indios, que los ayudaron en subyugar aquel imperio á la corona de España” (Mexico, 1829; translated into French by H. Ternaux-Compans, Paris, 1838). Afterward Ternaux-Compans, having obtained a complete copy of the whole thirteen books from Madrid, translated them into French under the title “Histoire des Chichimecas et des anciens rois de Tezcuco” (2 vols., Paris, 1840). This work is among the most authentic on the ancient history of Mexico. Both in style and critical discrimination it is superior to the histories of Spanish authors and it is free from their digressions and displays of learning. Prescott calls the author the Livius of Anahuac.