The Institution of the Teccalli in the Pre-Columbian and Colonial Altepetl of Tlaxcallan

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Based on new data emerging from the study of the archives of the Fiscalías del Estado de Tlaxcala, the main goal of this article is to clarify the position and function of the institution of the teccalli, as well as to further identify local social structures within the altepetl of Tlax- callān: what was the inner structure of the altepetl in Tlaxcallān, before and after the Spanish conquest, and what was the real relationship of the power division between the teccalli and calli (pilcalli/pilchantli)—as minor noble houses within a given teccalli. In contrast to what Lockhart originally proposed, it is suggested here that in pre-colonial Tlaxcallān, the calpo- lli/tlaxilacalli were integral components of the “estate” of the teccalli, in spite of the fact that jurisdictional limits among the social structures often encroached on each other. One of the direct consequences of tlaxilacalli’s itech pohuaqui in teccalli [the number of persons counted in a given teccalli] in Tlaxcallān, as this paper highlights, was the pattern under which their macehualtin were made to levy tribute payments and services directly to the teccalli/tecpā, rather than to the altepetl. In addition, calli, minor lordly houses, as they are defined in this article (also, McCaa 2003) were inseparable from a given teccalli’s social jurisdiction in Tlaxcallān. In direct contrast to what Fargher and Blanton argue, the present paper demon- strates that, in effect, teccalli did maintain their independence within the altepetl, and their tlatohcayotl was passed on within the relevant dominant calli, or lordly houses. Keywords: Archivos de Fiscalías del Estado de Tlaxcala; pilcalli and teccalli in Tlaxcala; inhe- ritance patterns in colonial Tlaxcala; teixuihuan versus terrazgueros; tlaxilacalli in Tlaxcallān; corporate entities in Tlaxcallān; tecpā versus calli in Tlaxcala; terrazgueros versus macehual- tin; Santa Inés Zacatelco.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-159
Number of pages39
JournalEstudios de Cultura Náhuatl
StatePublished - 7 Jul 2021


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