Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Netzahualcoyotl
NETZAHUALCOYOTL (net-sah-wal-co'-yot-tle), king of Acolhuacan or Texcoco, Mexico, b. in Texcoco in 1403; d. there in 1470. He was a son of Ixtlixochitl (q. v.), sixth king of Acolhuacan, and Matlazahuatzin, daughter of King Huitzilihuitl, and was educated by the wisest men of Texcoco. When he was scarcely fifteen years old, he was with his father on a hunting expedition, when their estates were invaded by Tetzotzomoc, king of Atzcapotzalco, and his father was murdered, while he escaped by hiding in the branches of a tree. Later, through protection of his uncle, Chimalpopoca, he obtained permission to return to Texcoco, where he lived quietly in the palace of his forefathers, devoting himself to study. When Maxtla succeeded his father Tetzotzomoc, and killed Chimalpopoca, in 1427, fearing the popularity of Netzahualcoyotl, he sent assassins to murder him, but the latter escaped, and, taking refuge in the mountains of Tlaxcala, was hunted by the emissaries of Maxtla for several years like a wild beast. But at last the neighboring monarchs of Mexico and Tlaltelolco and the republics of Tlaxcala and Huexotzingo formed an alliance in 1430 and called Netzahualcoyotl to the command of the allied army. After a short and bloody campaign he defeated, captured, and killed the usurper Maxtla, destroying Atzcapotzalco and restoring the legitimate monarchy of Texcoco. One of his first acts after recovering his throne was to proclaim a general amnesty. He reformed the tribunals, and established a supreme court at Texcoco, for which he formed a code of laws that consisted of eighty articles, of which thirty-four have been preserved in tradition. He was a patron of science and literature, and assembled many learned men at the court of Texcoco. That city soon became the centre of civilization of that part of the New World, and has been styled by historians the Athens of America. He was an adept in astronomy and natural history, and for the advancement of the latter science ordered a collection of paintings to be made of all the animals and plants in Anahuac, part of which was used by the scientist Francisco Hernandez (q. v.) for his work on the natural history of New Spain. Netzahualcoyotl was also an excellent poet, and a philosopher far in advance of his time. By study he had come to recognize one God, whom under the name of Tlogue Nahuague he celebrated in a series of sixty odes. These have been partially translated by his descendant, Fernando de Alba Ixtlilxotchitl (q. v.), and highly praised for their beauty. Some of the cities formerly belonging to the kingdom of Atzcapotzalco revolted against his authority, but he subdued them, and greatly extended the limits of his empire, being appointed chief of the confederacy of Mexico, Tlaltelolco, and Acolhuacan. He had also considerable knowledge of engineering, and superintended the construction of the dike that was erected after the inundation of Mexico in 1446, by order of Montezuma I. The latter years of his reign were troubled by several revolts that were headed by his four sons by his first wife. He was forced to execute them, and, having no legitimate successor, he fell into a deep melancholy and sought distraction in the chase. In one of these expeditions he fell in love with the wife of a cacique of Tepechpan. Sending the latter on a warlike expedition against Tlaxcala, in which he perished, Netzahualcoyotl, after the death of his second wife, married the princess, and by her had a son, Netzahualpilli, whom he indicated as his successor. — His son, Netzahualpilli (net-sa-wal-pil'-le), king of Texcoco, b. in Texcoco in 1462; d. in his palace of Tecotzingo in 1516, was proclaimed king under a council of regency, but when he came of age he assumed the government and followed the example of his father as a wise and powerful monarch, continuing to embellish his capital and to be a patron of learning. He had also inherited his father's taste for astronomy, and erected near Texcoco an observatory, of which the remains still exist. There he gave himself to astrological studies, and by his calculations thought that he had discovered that within a few years powerful invaders from a foreign and unknown country would arrive to overthrow the dynasties of Anahuac. Saddened by this discovery and by the continuous strife between his four sons, he retired from public life. Some of his tributary provinces revolted, and the title of chief of the allied armies of Anahuac was wrested from him by Montezuma II. He died three years before the arrival of Cortes, and his son, Cacamatzin, was his successor.