Tangáxoan II, the last Cazonci who ruled Tzintzuntzan

On February 14, 1530, the Spaniards killed the last Cazonci. This act provoked the uprising of the Purépecha people, according to the legend, Eréndira's daughter Tangáxoan Tzíntzicha, was the leader during the rebellion.

Tangáxoan II, the last Cazonci who ruled Tzintzuntzan
Detail of the mural "The History of Michoacán" (Juan O'Gorman, 1942) Gertrudis Bocanegra Library, Pátzcuaro, Michoacán.

Tangáxoan Tzíntzicha or Tangáxoan II was the last Cazonci that governed Tzintzuntzan in the region of the Purepecha Plateau, a territory located in the center of the current Mexican state of Michoacán, he was the maximum political, legal and religious authority of the Purepecha Lordship, representative of Curicaueri, (god of fire and war), whose main functions were to summon to war, to pay firewood for Curicaueri, to impart justice and to name governors. The exact date of his birth is unknown, his name means Tzíntzicha: "He of the good teeth" and Tangáxoan "Man who builds fortresses".

The accounts of that time; which are written here as found in the original texts, describe Michoacán as:

The main head of the city of Michuacan is called Chincicila, and is a little more than forty leagues from Mexico, and on a hillside of mountains, on a sweet lagoon, as large as that of Mexico, and with many good fish. Besides this lagoon, there are in that kingdom many other lakes, in which there are great fisheries; for which reason it is called Michuacan, which means place of fish. There are also many springs, and some are so hot that the hand cannot withstand them, which serve as baths. It is a very temperate land, with good air, and so healthy that many sick people from other parts go there to be healed. It is fertile in bread, fruit and vegetables. It is abundant in game, and has a lot of wax and cotton [...]. Great archers and very accurate archers, especially those they call Teuchichimecas, who are under or near that dominion; [...] They are warriors and skillful men, and always had war with those of Mexico, and never or wonderfully lost a battle.

It was up to Tangáxoan Tzíntzicha to face the arrival of the Spaniards led by Cristóbal de Olid, to whom he surrendered in 1522, to avoid a defeat like the one suffered by the Mexica at Tenochtitlán. "The king of Michuacan, named Cazoncín, an old and natural enemy of the Mexican kings and a very great lord, sent his ambassadors to Cortés, rejoicing in the victory and considering him a friend. He received them very well and kept them with him for four days. He made the horsemen skirmish before them so that they would go to see that kingdom and take the tongue of the South Sea, and sent them away".

Once the political pact for the delivery of the power was established, in July 1524 the first encomienda certificates began to be established in Michoacán, nevertheless, Tangáxoan Tzíntzicha far from showing an absolute unconditionality and teaching all the riches of his territory, he hid and kept some of the lands for himself, not revealing the existence of certain populations, probably to be able to use them in case of need, or perhaps, as part of a previous agreement with Cortés, in defense of his sovereignty and autonomy as the highest authority in the region.

In 1529 Nuño de Guzmán accused Tangáxoan of secretly maintaining his old religion, encouraging disobedience, and killing a certain number of Spaniards:

Well, messengers came as Nuño de Guzmán was coming to the conquest of Xalisco, with the people of war, and before he left, the Indians saw a great comet in the sky, and he arrived at Mechuacán with all his people. [And the lords went out to meet him, and he brought with him the cazonci, and Guzmán said to him: "You have already come to your house. Where do you want to be? Do you want to be together in my inn, or go to your house?" And the cazonci said to him: "I would like to go to my house for a little while, and I will see my children." And Guzman said to him, "Where will you go? Thou art no longer come to thy land, and these houses are not thine where thou art now. Call hither thy sons and thy wife, that no Spaniard shall come into thy chamber, and here they shall make thee a bed, and thou shalt be there." The cazonci said to him, "Be it so; how shall I break your words? Let it be as thou wilt. It is good what you say." The cazonci said to his servants: "I will tell the old men and my wives that they will not see me any more: let the old men console them; that I do not feel good about what I have done; that I think I must die: that they should look after my children and not forsake them, that how will they see me here, and that they should get ready and feed the Spaniards, because the Spaniards will not blame me if there is any fault: that there are the princes who are in charge of the people for whatever is necessary.

After a trial, he was dragged tied to a horse, and condemned to die at the stake.

On the twentieth day of the month of January of the year [...] of one thousand five hundred and thirty years, arrived the very magnificent Señor Nuño de Guzmán, who at that time was president of the royal audience of New Spain by order of His Majesty. Majesty.., to the river of Nuestra Señora de la Purificación with the army [...]. This river is four leagues from Puruándiro, where he stayed for some days waiting for some people who were to come, who had not arrived; and there for certain crimes that were found against the Cazoncí, lord of the province of Mechoacan, to which I refer to the process that was made against him, the said governor ordered him to be dragged on the tail of a horse, and he was taken to a pole where he was drowned with a club and burned; And the proclamation said "this man as a traitor, for many deaths of Christians that have been proven against him"; and in this case, to tell the truth, I refer to the process that was made against him.

In the trial by Nuño de Guzmán against Tzíntzicha Tangáxoan, among the accusations were that he took and retained the lords of the towns so that they could not pay tribute to the Spaniards, of collecting tribute from the towns, hiding gold and silver, of ordering "many Spaniards to be killed" stand out among the accusations.

On February 14, 1530, the Spaniards killed the last Cazonci.  This act provoked the uprising of the Purepecha people, according to the legend, Eréndira's daughter Tangáxoan Tzíntzicha, was the leader during the time the rebellion lasted.

Research: María Guadalupe Flores Rodríguez. Sources: INPI