The history of the Old World resounds with the deeds of men of war— conquerors and warlords, the founders and breakers of empires. The history of the original inhabitants of the New World, especially Mesoamerica, does not—but not for the lack of such men. These histories in English consistently emphasise either the culture and history in general or the Spanish Conquest. Native Americans, under the tramp of whose feet worlds trembled, are submerged in the broader histories or are secondary characters in the story of the Spanish Conquest. Biographies are almost nonexistent, except, of course,
that of Cortés, and the two splendid histories of Nezahualcoy-otl and Motecuhzoma I by Frances Gillmor in the early 1960s. Almost nothing has been written in which these Native American conquerors and warlords are centre stage.
Warlords of Ancient Mexico is a history of these men. The story stretches from Tikal of 378 AD to the death of the last Mexica emperor in 1525. In the 1147 intervening years, war scoured as bloody a course as it did anywhere else on this planet. And as elsewhere, civilisation was pushed along new paths, both destructive and creative. These men were the agents of great change and compelling individuals in their own rights. The reader of Mesoamerican history is constantly reminded of parallels with their counterparts of the Old World. In the histories of which we are familiar, the year 378 AD is recognised for the defeat of the Roman Army and the death of the Roman Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople, a pivot of history. History also pivoted in that same year as the warlord of Tikal in Guatemala employed the techniques and cult of the new Venus-Tlaloc warfare now called Star Wars, to conquer the neighbouring kingdom of Uaxactún and kill its king. He set a fire in the Maya lands that would burn for four hundred years and then travel north to scorch the central Mexican source of the cult, the great city of Teotihuacán.