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The Nahuatl pictogram (here in the current coat of arms of Tlaxcala ) means "place of tortillas"

The Tlaxcalteks [ tlaʃkalˈteː kən ] are a Mexican tribe belonging to the Nahua family, who are settled in what is now the state of Tlaxcala , which is named after them . The name Tlaxcallan (in today's Spanish Tlaxcala ) means "place of bread or tortillas " in Nahuatl .

The Tlaxcaltecs were never defeated by the Aztecs . However, the Aztecs also had an interest in maintaining the Tlaxcaltek independence, as this enabled them to wage ritual wars with them, the so-called flower wars , which served to procure human sacrifices for their gods.

During the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards , the Tlaxcalteks, after initial resistance, entered into an alliance with Hernán Cortés and his conquistadors . They played a key role in the conquest of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán , as they aided the Spaniards in reaching the Valley of Mexico and formed the main part of the attacking force. Due to this alliance with the Spanish crown during the conquest of Mexico, the Tlaxcalteks enjoyed many privileges under Spanish colonial rule over other indigenous peoples , such as the permission to carry weapons, to ride horses, to hold titles of nobility and to have a largely autonomous administration their settlements.

The Tlaxcaltecs played an important role in the establishment of a number of settlements in northern Mexico, where the subjugation of the peoples there had not been satisfactory for the Spaniards. The areas settled by the Tlaxcalteks were inhabited by warlike indigenous peoples who came to be known as the Chichimeks . The Tlaxcalteks were supposed to serve the local population as exemplary sedentary subjects of the Spanish crown who worked in the mines and on the haciendas of the Spanish. The Tlaxcaltec colonies on the territory of the Chichimecs were in today's Mexican states of San Luis Potosí , Zacatecas , Durango , Coahuila , Nuevo León (e.g. Nueva Tlaxcala de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Horcasistas and Santiago de las Sabinas , now known as Guadalupe or Salinas Hidalgo ) and Jalisco (such as Villa de Nueva Tlaxcala de Quiahuistlán , today's Cototlán ).

The Tlaxcalteks have often married the Spaniards or mestizos , so that there are only very few people left who are exclusively descended from Tlaxcalteks.


  • Felix Hinz: "Hispanization" in New Spain 1519–1568. Transformation of the collective identities of Mexica, Tlaxkalteken and Spaniards. Hamburg 2005.