|Tlahtoāni of the Aztec Empire|
Sacred War emblem
|Appointer||Council of Elders|
Tlatoani (Classical Nahuatl: tlahtoāni pronounced [t͡ɬaʔtoˈaːni] (listen), "one who speaks, ruler"; plural tlahtohqueh [t͡ɬaʔˈtoʔkeʔ] or tlatoque) is the Classical Nahuatl term for the ruler of an āltepētl, a pre-Hispanic state. It may be translated into English as "king". A cihuātlahtoāni (Nahuatl pronunciation: [siwaːt͡ɬaʔtoˈaːni] (listen)) is a female ruler, or queen regnant.
The term cuauhtlatoani refers to "vice-leader". The leaders of the Mexica prior to their settlement are sometimes referred to as cuauhtlatoque, as are those colonial rulers who were not descended from the ruling dynasty.
The city-states of the Aztec Empire each had their own Tlatoani or leader. He would be the high priest and military leader for his city-state. He would be considered their commander-in-chief. As the Tlatoani he would make every decision for his city-state from taxes to warfare. He would often be a descendant of the royal family; however in some cases he would be elected. Since the Tlatoani was allowed to have several wives his legacy would be easily maintained. After being established as the Tlatoani, he would be the Tlatoani of his region for life. The Tlatoani was chosen by a council of elders, nobles, and priests. He would be selected from a pool of four candidates.
During times of war, the tlatoani would be in charge of creating battle plans, and making strategies for his army. He would draft these plans after receiving information from various scouts, messengers, and spies who were sent out to an enemy altepetl (city-state). Detailed information was presented to him from those reports to be able to construct a layout of the enemy.
These layouts would be heavily detailed from city structures to surrounding area. The tlatoani would be the most informed about any conflict and would be the primary decision maker during war.
He would also be in charge of gaining support from allied rulers by sending gifts and emissaries from his city-state. During warfare the tlatoani would be informed immediately of deaths and captures of his warriors. He would also be in charge of informing his citizens about fallen or captive warriors, and would present gifts to the successful ones.
There were eleven tlatoque during the 145-year Aztec Empire.