Re-conquest of Texcoco, the Acolhua Capital, did not happen right after the fall of Azcapotzalco. It took nearly two years for Nezahualcoyotl, the Acolhua Emperor, to install himself back upon the Texcoco throne.
Reported as being a man of great learning and taste, he most probably accomplished it in grand style, beginning even back then to develop Texcoco into what it was reported to have become later—he cultural center of the Mexican Valley and beyond it. “The Athens of Mesoamerica” some latter day historians had called it. Maybe with a good reason, maybe not. We’ll never know.
The troubles he might have faced with his own old aristocracy and some more independent-thinking provinces are reported in quite a few sources. Some Acolhua people seemed to dislike his continuous cooperation with the Mexica Aztecs of Tenochtitlan. Whether the dissatisfaction was strong, or rather vocal enough to bring up a possible first crisis for the new emperor to face, we’ll never know.
What we do know is the fact that the Acolhua and the Mexicas, along with their third junior partner of Tlacopan, who represented the defeated Tepanecs but in a small, humble manner, continued to cooperate very closely, developing their altepetls into spectacular capitals, fighting in many mutual campaigns, expanding their rapidly growing empire.
While Nezahualcoyotl was busy re-conquering and reorganizing his capital and provinces, Tlacaelel, the Mexica Head Adviser, set to work establishing his island-city as the firm heirs of the fallen Tepanec empire, absorbing dependent or semi-dependent city-states such as altepetl of Xochimilco.
…So when Xochimilco refused to give an open battle, but chose to block every possible access to the city, making Tlacaelel irritable and deeply occupied devising his new best-fitting strategy, Tlalli surrounded herself with scrolls of amate paper and attacked her lack of ability to decipher the glyphs.
… by the time the Mexica warriors stormed Xochimilco’s walls with such vengeance, the defenders surrendered before the first of the attackers had a chance of threading the city’s stones, she had finished her first scroll, hard put not to whoop with joy.
… Thus, Xochimilco was fined with providing an extensive force of workers to speed up Tlacaelel’s numerous construction projects of rebuilding Tenochtitlan, in addition to the full recognition of the Mexica supremacy, and the unconditional agreement of a high tribute to be paid.
It was important to make the former Tepanec provinces understand that they were to pass into the custody of the new overlords. It required plenty of careful planning and work, aside from the extensive warfare, of course. Still relatively young men in their prime, Nezahualcoyotl and Tlacaelel worked hard to adjust their altepetls to their rapidly growing importance and riches, each in his own way.
In the re-conquered Texcoco, the young emperor is preparing for the Great Ceremony, eager to ascend the throne that was taken from him more than ten summers ago by the now-defeated Tepanecs. Visitors from the provinces and other city-states are flooding the decorated capital, making it gush with activity, buzz with celebrative feasts and preparations.
Yet, not everyone is happy with the newly anointed emperor and some of his policies, namely his close contacts in the neighboring Mexica-Aztec Capital. Some nobles even think they would be better-suited to occupy the Texcoco throne.
When mysterious black-clothed killers sneak into the Chief Warlord’s house on the night of the celebrative feast, stealing the carved sword, the most precious weapon in the entire capital, a weapon that is believed to hold magical qualities, the troubles in the capital escalate, taking matters out of the hands of even those who paid for this crime to take place.
An excerpt from “The Sword”
… “And we still have a lot of work ahead of us.” Stretching, Tlacaelel eyed the hubbub in his turn. So many people, and still the marble-lined hall didn’t look cramped or overcrowded. “Coyotl finally got what is rightfully his, against all the odds, eh? This man enjoys benevolence of the gods, but he had to work hard to achieve his ends. His struggle changed him in many ways.”
“Coyotl will make a great emperor. Texcoco and the Acolhua provinces will prosper like never before.” The Highlander’s face held none of his usual light-hearted mischief. “He has so many projects, so many ideas. It would make your head reel.” The mischievous spark was back. “All right, maybe not your over-busy head, but that of any other ordinary person.” Another assessment of the glittering eyes. “You have even more plans buzzing around that stubborn skull of yours. I’m prepared to bet my newly acquired wealth on it. Even the great house by the Plaza that is yet to be rebuilt for me to show it off and make my wives happy.”
Receiving a friendly nudge into his ribs, Tlacaelel grinned. “I’m glad to have your faith in my abilities, old friend.”
“So what are you up too, old fox? A causeway to connect Coyoacan with Tenochtitlan, I understand. A sound, good idea, especially if built at the expense of Xochimilco. I do see why you had to make this altepetl submit. But why are you eager to head farther to the south?”
Against his will, Tlacaelel frowned. “Your spies are good. I hadn’t talked about it to anyone of importance yet.”
“You mean Itzcoatl doesn’t know?”
“He knows, of course he knows. There is little that escapes our revered emperor’s squinted eyes.” He measured the Highlander with his gaze, taking in the rough handsomeness of the broad face, the newly acquired scar running down the high cheek, the tough spark to the widely spaced eyes. “Won’t you join us in that campaign?”
“Well, yes, maybe. I haven’t talked to Coyotl about that yet.” The man narrowed his eyes. “I can see what’s for you there in the south. You need to make your point, establish yourself as the firm heirs to the Tepanec Empire, before anyone foolish enough to assume otherwise does something silly.” A shrug. “But us? I don’t know. What will we do with Cuauhnahuac or the surrounding towns?”