Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Fernando de Alba Ixtlilxochitl

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 8
Fernando de Alba Ixtlilxochitl

by Camillus Crivelli


Born 1568; died 1648. The most illustrious of the native Mexican historians and the great-grandson of Don Fernando Ixtlilxochitl, fifth son of Netzahualpilli, King of Texcoco, and of his wife Doña Beatriz Panantzin, daughter of Cuitlahuac, last but one of the Aztec emperors. He was educated in the college of Santa Cruz de Tlaltelolco, but, notwithstanding his illustrious birth, education, and ability, he lived for a long time in dire poverty, and the greater part of his works were written to relieve his wants. He gives a detailed account of the important part played by his great-grandfather Don Fernando in the conquest of Mexico and the pacification of the Indians of New Spain, praising him in every possible way, and blaming the ingratitude of the conquerors. "His descendants", says the writer, "were left poor and neglected, with scarcely a roof to shelter them, and even this is gradually being taken from them." In "La Entreaty de los Españoles en Texcoco" he again remarks: "The sons, daughters, grandchildren, and relations of Netzahualcoyotl and Netzahualpilli are ploughing and digging to earn their daily bread and to pay ten reales and half a measure of corn to his Majesty. And we, the descendants of a royal race, are being taxed beyond every lawful right." Partly owing to the appeal made in his works, and partly to the favour of Fray Garcia Guerra, who afterwards became Archbishop and Viceroy of New Spain, some land concessions were granted Don Fernando, and he was appointed interpreter in the Indian judiciary court. The "Historia de la Nación Chichemeca" was his last work, but this he left unfinished, having reached only the period of the siege of Mexico. This is the best of his works. The facts are fairly well defined, the chronology is more exact, the editing much better, and more care is taken in the orthography of Texcocan names. His other works contain very important data for the history of Mexico, but they are written without order or method, the chronology is very faulty, and there is much repetition. For his writings he availed himself of the ancient Indian hieroglyphic paintings, and the traditions and songs of the Indians; he indicates those which he has consulted—all of them more than eighty years old. His works recently published to commemorate the fourth centenary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, are:


  • A summary of all the events that occurred in New Spain and of many things known and accomplished by the Tultecas from the creation of the world to their destruction, and from the coming of the third Chichemeca settlers up to the invasion of the Spaniards, taken from the original history "La Nueva España";
  • History of the Chichemecas to the time of the coming of the Spaniards. (To this is added: (a) Part of the history of Netzahualcoyotl; (b) List of 154 names of the cities subject to the three kings of Mexico, Tlacopan, and Texcoco; (c) Another section of the history of Netzahualcoyotl; (d) The Ordinances or Laws of Netzahualcoyotl; (e) Account of Netzahualpilli, son of Netzahualcoyotl.)
  • Order and ceremonial for the creation of a Lord, established by Topiltz, Lord of Tula.
  • The coming of the Spaniards to New Spain.
  • Entrance of the Spaniards into Texcoco.
  • Accounts of the country and settlers of this part of America known as New Spain.
  • Brief account, in the form of a memorial, of the history of New Spain and its dependencies up to the time of the coming of the Spaniards. (To this are added (a) Account of the other Lords of New Spain; (b) Accounts of the origin of the Xochimilcas.)
  • Summary of the History of New Spain from the beginning of the world to the present era, collected and taken from the histories, paintings, written memorials, and folk songs of the natives.
  • History of the Chichemeca nation (95 chapters).
  • Songs of Netzahualcoyotl and historic fragments of the life of the same. There seems, however, to be but little reason for attributing this last to Ixtlilxochitl.

CHAVERO (ed.), Obras históricas de D. Fernando de Alba Ixtlilxochitl (Mexico, 1891-92); BOTURINI, Idea de una historia general de la América Septentrional (Madrid, 1749); Antiquities of Mexico in Collection of Lord Kingsborough, IX; Diccionario enciclopédico hispano-americano, X. Camillus Crivelli.