Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/75

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their previous seat northward of Xalisco, founded the pueblos of Tollan and Tollantzinco, and entered the Mexican Valley, where they settled at Culhuacan and Cohuatlichan and built on an island in the Lake a few huts, which later grew into the pueblo of Mexico. By a long subsequent immigration were founded the Tecpanec pueblos in the South-Western corner of the Lake, to which Mexico was once tributary, and on whose subjugation by Mexico the dominion found by the Conquistadores was established about a century before the Conquest. The Tecpanec pueblos, five in number, the principal one being Azcapozalco, subjugated a rival confederacy, on the opposite shore, headed by Tezcuco, about 1406. In this conquest they were materially assisted by the people of two villages (Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco), founded on the island of Mexico nearly a century before by a wandering tribe of non-Nahuatlacan origin, to whom the Tecpanecs had given the name of Azteca, or "Crane-people." Over these lake villages, after the Tezcucans had been subdued by their aid, the Tecpanecs maintained a relentless tyranny, which at length produced a revolt, in the course of which the Mexican villagers obtained a complete victory. The Tezcucans, who rose against their Tecpanec conquerors shortly afterwards (1431), regained their liberty; and the two Mexican pueblos entered into an alliance with Tezcuco, in which Tlacopan, a Tecpanec pueblo which had remained neutral during the struggle, was also included. This confederacy conquered and considerably enlarged the dominion acquired by the Tecpanec confederacy, and held in subjection a large and populous tract extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and containing all the best parts of the southern extremity of North America, where it narrows towards the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. One important district only was excluded from it. This was a highland tract held by Tlaxcallan, Huexotzinco, and Cholollan,—pueblos of the Nahuatlaca, founded in early times, and never subjugated either by the Tecpanecs, or by the confederated pueblos who succeeded to their dominion. At the Spanish Conquest Cholollan, the largest and most prosperous of the three, was in alliance with the Lake pueblos; and there is little doubt that Tlaxcallan and Huexotzinco would have been admitted to the same status but for the Mexican Rule of Life, which demanded war every twenty days, ostensibly as a means of procuring sacrifices for the sun and other gods, but really to provide the material for the cannibal feasts by which each sacrifice was terminated. Had peace been made between the pueblos of the Lake and those of the highlands, both groups must have had recourse to distant frontiers for the means of fulfilling what was universally regarded by the Nahuatlaca as an imperative obligation. Human sacrifice, indeed, was understood to be necessary to the cosmic order, for without it the sun, who was conceived as a god of animal nature, subsisting by food and drink, would not merely cease to yield his warmth, but would perish out of the heavens.