Many of the topics normally presented in an introduction to the translation of these documents have been covered in Recinos' Spanish (1950) and English (1953) editions. These have enjoyed such long and wide distribution that it seems unnecessary to recapitulate all the information he provided. Instead, we have confined ourselves primarily to topics where our knowledge has increased substantially since Recinos' time, or where our translation leads to new interpretations.
The Kaqchikel and Mesoamerica
"Kaqchikel" is the name used to refer to one member of the K'iche'an group of highland Maya languages. It has western and eastern variants, remnants of the division between two precontact polities; the western one centered on Iximche' (home to the groups that prepared the Chronicles), the eastern one referred to as the Chajoma'. Today, there are in the neighborhood of half a million Kaqchikel speakers, more than have ever existed before at one time in their history. Most of them live in forty-eight municipalities in the Guatemalan departments of Sololá, Chimaltenango, Sacatepéquez, and Guatemala. Many Kaqchikel also live and work in the capital, Guatemala City. Foreign tourists who have visited Antigua Guatemala (the colonial capital), or who have traveled to Lake Atitlán or Chichicastenango, have been in or passed through the heart of Kaqchikel country.
Prehistory, Ancestors, and the Tula Tradition
The archaeology of the Kaqchikel is not well developed beyond two of their latest and largest precontact centers, Iximche' and the site officially (but incorrectly) known as Mixco Viejo (a Chajoma' center), both of which are popular tourist destinations today. A few other late precontact centers are known from surveys or limited excavations (Fox 1978; Braswell 1998; Hill 1996). The more remote prehistory of Kaqchikel ancestors remains to be explored. Still, the most recent interpretation of the archaeological evidence suggests a continuous, detectable ancestral presence of K'iche'an peoples in the highlands since Early Classic times (ca. 300-600 AD) (Popenoe de Hatch T998). They were thus full participants in Classic Mesoamerican civilization.
Based on our current knowledge, however, the Kaqchikel only appear as archaeologically distinct near the end of the Late Postclassic period (ca. 1250-1524 AD). By this time, Mesoamerican civilization was a continuous tradition stretching back several millennia. One notable feature of this tradition was its succession of cities called "Tollan" or "Tula" ("Place of Cattails"), each a major center of political power and cultural preeminence. Teotihuacan of the Early Classic in central Mexico was the earliest of these. Epigraphic evidence from the lowland Maya region indicates that it was known as Place of Cattails and that it may well have usurped power from indigenous Maya elites in a number of the latter's cities (Stuart 2000). Long after its demise, Teotihuacan was replaced by the Early Postclassic (1000-1250 AD) city of the "Toltecs" known as Tula, in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. Finally, the Nahuatl-speaking Mexica were well along in the process of establishing their own city, Tenochtitlan, as the latest political and cultural center, though their efforts were cut short by the Spanish conquest.
In both central Mexico and the Guatemala highlands, politically ambitious peoples attempted to legitimize their aspirations and enhance their prestige by claiming ties to a Tollan/Tula. Such claims seem to have been an ancient practice, extending back to Teotihuacan times. The claims that have come down to us from late precontact central Mexico are less ambitious. They are concerned primarily with establishing legitimacy back to Early Postclassic "Toltec" times, based on marriages to and descent from presumptive "Toltec" survivors (Gillespie T989).
Whenever and wherever Tollan/Tula was, it was distant from the Maya highlands, and claims of legitimacy based on marriage or direct descent realistically could not be made. Instead, Tollan/Tula became a place of origin and investiture, where the Kaqchikel (and related highland Maya peoples) claim to have received their mandate and from whence they departed on the long journey that eventually would lead to the formation of their own polity. Along the way, they acquired agriculture and other attributes of settled, civilized life, culminating in the receipt of kingly regalia.
Did they actually make such a journey? Given the present state of our archaeological knowledge, it is impossible to tell. However, the fact that so many other Mesoamerican peoples (including the Mexica) structured their remote histories as a journey from a place of origin suggests that we are dealing with a widespread trope or convention. Nahua histories also have the people beginning in a hunter-gatherer condition, only later gaining knowledge of the arts of civilization. The Mexica are the last people to enter the Valley of Mexico, yet destined to rule over it. The Kaqchikel likewise portray themselves as late arrivals in the highlands and the "younger brothers" to related peoples like the K'iche', whom they will eventually surpass.
Composition of the Iximche' Polity
The authors of both the Annals and the Xpantzay Cartulary were members of groups that composed the indigenous polity centered on the site of Iximche', and much of what they describe for the precontact period concerns their relationships with the other groups that composed that polity and its neighbors. Accordingly, some basic information on the composition and structure of the Iximche' polity is necessary in order to understand much of both documents.
Most of what we know of the Iximche' polity is based on the Chronicles themselves. There is little in the way of independent corroboration of the information they contain. Accordingly, we must interpret the Chronicles carefully, especially the terms used to refer to the different kinds of groups that composed the polity. Interpretations of late precontact highland Maya political organization have only recently begun to emerge from the long shadow of earlier generations of scholars who (perhaps subconsciously) imposed an essentially tribal model of organization on the peoples of the region. Thus, the earlier translations by Brinton and Recinos refer to "tribes" and "chiefs" as though the Kaqchikel were some generic "Indian" tribe from North America. At the same time, earlier translators had trouble confining themselves to this tribal model in translating at least some Kaqchikel terms. So, "kings," "princes," and "princesses" appear alongside "tribes" and "chiefs," with no apparent concern for the incongruous juxtaposition of the monarchical and tribal models. More recently, it has become abundantly clear that the terms used by the Kaqchikel to describe their sociopolitical groups cannot justifiably be rendered according to either a simplistic tribal model or an equally simplistic monarchical one. Much of the data and argument for what follows have been presented elsewhere. Our main concern here is to outline the structure of the Iximche' polity, two of whose component groups composed the Chronicles.
The chinamït was the basic unit of late precontact, highland Maya sociopolitical organization above the level of the family. The term itself is of Nahuatl origin, and chinamïtl was used in some parts of central Mexico synonymously with another term, calpulli. From the time of Adolph Bandelier in the 1870s until recently, generations of scholars have interpreted the calpulli/chinamït of central Mexico as some kind of kinship-based unit, most commonly a clan (Bandelier 1877, 1878, 1880; Monzón 1949). Accordingly, the highland Maya chinamït was also long assumed to have been a kin unit as well, though here the term "lineage" was most commonly applied (Carmack 1977, i981). However, investigations and interpretations in both the Mexican and highland Maya areas strongly indicate that calpulli/chinammil/ chinamït were not kinship units but territorial units (Carrasco 1971; Hicks 1986; Hill 1984; Hill and Monaghan 1987). Among the Kaqchikel, each chinamït was led or governed by an individual drawn from the aristocratic family which dominated the chinamït. Other members of the chinamït were commoners who worked the lands held by the group and supported the aristocratic family with goods and services.
Two or more chinamïts (we shall use this admittedly awkward plural for convenience) commonly confederated themselves in an amaq'. The exact basis of such confederations is unclear, though intermarriage among the aristocratic families of the component chinamïts was probably of primary importance. The chinamïts of an amaq' also seem to have occupied contiguous territories, making peaceful alliances practical and beneficial. In the case of the Kaqchikel, these associations were retained even when the entire population moved, and amaq' affiliations probably had a strong influence on each chinamït's choice of a new territory.
A winäq was the highest level of late precontact sociopolitical organization in the Maya highlands. The term means "people," but its use in the Chronicles indicates that it referred to a unit that could best be rendered in English as "a people" or "nation." It was basically an alliance or confederation of two or more amaq's.
In indigenous terms, then, the polity centered on Iximche' was a winäq which originally consisted of three amaq's (see Chart 5 ). After the expulsion of the Tuquche' Amaq' from the polity in 1493, it was composed of two amaq's, each containing four chinamïts. The Kaqchikel proper were one amaq', whose leading chinamït—the Xajil—composed the Xajil Chronicle. The other three were the B'ak'ajola', Q'eqak'üch, and Sib'aqijay. The other amaq' was the Sotz'il Amaq'. Its leading chinamït was presumably also named the Sotz'il (since the leader of the amaq' was titled the Ajpo Sotz'il, like his counterpart, the Ajpo Xajil of the Kaqchikel Amaq'. In other words, it seems that the pattern was to add title ajpo[p] to the name of the leading chinamït in the amaq'; see below). The Xpantzay (the group responsible for our other chronicles) were joined by the Poroma' and Ch'ikb'äl as the other chinamïts in that amaq'.
Ranks and Titles
Precontact Kaqchikel society, like Mesoamerican societies generally, was aristocratic in the sense that some lines of descent were considered inherently somehow better than others. Thus, members of such lines of descent were entitled to special prerogatives and to rulership (see Goldman 1970, xvi-xxi). Much more is known about the ideological basis of the Aztec aristocracy, that is, the nature of "better" (see Lopez Austin 1988, 1:388394). Given what we know about Kaqchikel self-concepts, they seem to have had parallel beliefs (see Hill and Fischer 1999).
Members of the aristocracy in general merited the use of the term ajaw. The pattern of its use in the Chronicles is analogous to the use of the Spanish term "don." Accordingly, when used alone it is a reverential term, not a specific office. Our best approximation in English is "lord." When (as frequently happens) it occurs with a specific, named group such as "Ajaw Xpantzay," it is an office that is referred to, the "Lord of the Xpantzay," the head of the Xpantzay Chinamït.
As noted above, an amaq' represented a higher level of organization composed of two or more chinamïts. It is clear that the component chinamïts were not all of equal status, since only one of them provided the ajpop ("he of the mat"). For example, the Xajil Chinamït supplied the ajpop of the Kaqchikel Amaq', while the leading chinamït of the Sotz'il Amaq' (which we think was called the Sotz'il Chinamït; see above) provided its ajpop. By comparison, the heads of the other chinamïts were simply ajaws. Other amaq's that were not part of the Iximche' polity clearly had their own ajpops, and their names are recorded in the Chronicles. They include the Tuquche' and Raxonijay. The amaq' seems to have been normally the highest level of organization, the winäq or nation being new and rare. Accordingly, there was no term for the head of such a unit, a sovereign, even if one individual actually exerted disproportionate power over it. In the case of the Kaqchikel Winäq authority seems to have been shared between the two ajpops. Even powerful K'iche' figures like Q'ukumätz and K'iqab were, first and foremost, ajpops of their Nima K'iche' Amaq', and there were two other amaq's in their polity.
Many other terms seem to be titles, though we do not know which of them might have been ascribed and which achieved. The term achij literally refers to "companion," though its use in the Chronicles clearly indicates that "warrior" is the best English rendering. Of course, "companions" have been elite troops in other contexts, such as in the Macedonian army at the time of Philip and Alexander. Because of its reference to a bird of prey, the term ak'anima'q ("great hawk") may refer to an even higher level of warrior elite.
The significance of other titles is even harder to discern. The ajpop achi' may have been an assistant to the ajpop, or a member of a council which advised him. A nima'q achi' may have been an individual who achieved noble status through exceptional service to his ajpop. The title of q'al achi' or q'alel achi' seems to refer to a crown or circlet of some kind. However, it is unclear if this badge of rank was limited to one individual or a group. A k'ulpatan was most probably a tribute collector, as the name implies, though still of noble status.
Precontact chinamït populations probably varied considerably, yet most of our information on this topic comes from postcontact documents, after war and imported diseases had decimated the population and after Spanish resettlement programs had split up some of the larger chinamïts and/or forced many to relocate far from their original homes. Such information as we do have indicates that a late sixteenth-century chinamït might have contained from only a few score to well over 500 (and perhaps as many as 1,000) people (Hill 1992, 3842). Yet these represented only the remnants of the precontact populations. While scholars have long argued over the extent of population loss due to the Spanish invasion in different parts of Mesoamerica, a loss rate of some 80 percent is probably a justified estimate for the Kaqchikel region. If so, then a large, Precontact chinamït would have numbered over 2,500 people, perhaps as many as 5,000. If we assume for the moment that all of the Iximche' polity's chinamïts were this large, then the polity would have boasted something on the order of 20,000-40,000 people.
The Kaqchikel and Their Neighbors
The Kaqchikel Winäq was one of the major powers of late precontact highland Guatemala. Only two other groups are consistently referred to as winäqs in the Chronicles. One of these is the K'iche' Winäq, a confederation of three amaq's, with separate but neighboring capitals near present-day Santa Cruz del Quiche. Under the aggressive leadership of a series of rulers (and with the active military support of the Kaqchikel) the K'iche' came to dominate much of the western highlands during the 1400s (Carmack 1981).
The other winäq was referred to as the "Aqajal" in the Annals and as the "Akul" in the Popol Wuj of the K'iche'. Their name for themselves was "Chajoma'." Also Kaqchikel speakers, they occupied the region just east of the Iximche' polity, encompassing most of the present-day municipio of San Martin Jilotepeque and the northern third of the present-day Department of Guatemala. Their main center was the site popularly—but incorrectly—known as "Mixco Viejo" (Hill 1996). The Kaqchikel claim to have defeated and subordinated the Chajoma' during the reigns of Oxlajuj Tz'i' and Kab'lajuj Tijax (probably in the 1480s). However, the Chajoma' put up their own resistance to the Spaniards in the 1520s, even after the destruction of Iximche', suggesting that they retained a significant degree of self-determination. Their precontact relationship to the Iximche' polity was probably one of tribute payment rather than abject subordination.
The southern part of the Department of Guatemala was occupied by three relatively small, Poqomam-speaking polities. On the northern edge of the Valley of Guatemala was that of Mixco. The Petapa polity occupied the eastern part of the Valley, and the Amatitlán polity occupied the southern part. In the later sixteenth century, the Mixco people claimed precontact alliances with the K'iche' (Zuckerkandel-Borie 1982, 67). This would have been one way to protect themselves from incursions by the Kaqchikel and Chajoma'.
The Tz'utujil speakers were neighbors of the Kaqchikel to the southwest, along the southern side of Lake Atitlán. They were dangerous, traditional enemies of the Kaqchikel, but the Tz'utujil do not seem to have been organized at the winäq level. At least they are not referred to as such in the Chronicles. One Tz'utujil-speaking polity (probably an amaq') is referred to as the Aj Tz'ikinijay. The Tz'utujil proper were probably another amaq'. Mention is also made of one more Tz'utujil-speaking polity at a place called Malaj (probably on the Pacific piedmont), whose ruler made a marriage alliance with the K'iche' ruler Q'ukumätz.
A large portion of the Pacific Coast of Guatemala was dominated by the Nahuat-speaking Pipil people, whose major center in the late precontact period was Escuintla (referred to as Atakat by the Kaqchikel). K'iche' leader K'iqab' failed in his attempt to subjugate Atakat, probably in the mid-1400s. The Kaqchikel fought with these Pipil people in 1520. Also, a Xajil ancestor, Chopena' Tz'ikin Uk'a', reportedly died fighting against Atakat, probably in the late 1400s. Peaceful interactions are not attested to by the sources. Other Pipil settlements extended into El Salvador and beyond, though the center of gravity seems clearly to have been in western El Salvador. The "province" of Cuscatlán was the object of Alvarado's campaign after conquering the K'iche' and destroying Atakat. His obsessive demands for gold from the Kaqchikel began after failing to find sufficient loot farther south.
The question of the origin and arrival of these Nahuat-speaking peoples is significant for understanding the pre- and protohistory of Central America, as well as the many linguistic and other borrowings by the Kaqchikel and other highland Maya groups. Architectural and pottery styles very similar to central Mexican (Teotihuacan) prototypes appear in the site known as Kaminaljuyu' (which dominated the Valley of Guatemala) in Early Classic times. However, linguists and archaeologists continue to debate the linguistic affiliations of the Teotihuacanos and the significance of their traits in Kaminaljuyu'. It remains possible that the Teotihuacanos were Nahuat-speaking people and that the traits documented at Kaminaljuyu' represent an early Nahuat presence in Central America.
By Late Classic times, we are on firmer ground both archaeologically and linguistically. Though many archaeologists remain coy, it seems likely that Nahuat speaking people (perhaps from the Gulf Coast region) were responsible for the spectacular remains on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, collectively referred to as "Cotzumalhuapan" (centered as these remains are around the town of Santa Lucia Cotzumalhuapa).
In Late Postclassic times, we have evidence of direct contact between the Aztecs and Kaqchikel in the form of the embassy sent by the emperor Moctezuma to Iximche', to give notice of the Spaniards' arrival.
One of the main topics of both the Xajil Chronicle and the Xpantzay Cartulary is the succession of rulers, back to perhaps as far as the 1300s. Unfortunately, the Kaqchikel did not adopt a calendar that we can correlate with our own until after their internal fight with the Tuquche' in 1493. Attempts have been made, most notably by Wauchope (1949), to delineate the line of succession for the Ajpo Xajil and Ajpo Sotz'il, twin rulers of the Iximche' polity. Presented here is a revised version of Wauchope's sequence, along with the succession of the ajaws of the Xpantzay Chinamït. This information is also presented graphically in Charts 1-4. It is generally assumed that Iximche' was founded about 1470. The exact date is not known, but the event coincided with an internal struggle by certain factions of the K'iche' Winäq against their great ruler K'iqab' toward the end of his reign (see also Carmack 1981). Attempts to date the reigns of prior and subsequent rulers primarily involve estimates as to the average length of their reigns, sometimes supplemented with archaeological data.
The ajaws of the Xpantzay span eight generations, down to the early 1600s. The first Ajaw Xpantzay mentioned is Chimal Akat. He is credited with founding the town of Ochal and with marrying a woman from the neighboring (and potentially hostile) Aqajal (Chajoma') Winäq. Ochal has been positively identified as an archaeological site in present-day San Martin Jilotepeque (Fox 1978; Braswell 1996). Radiocarbon evidence from Braswell's excavations in part of the site indicate that construction began around iioo AD. This would seem far to0 early for the first of only eight generations of Xpantzay rulers; even at an average of 30 years per reign, this would place the eighth ruler at only the mid-1300s. A likely explanation is that these earlier constructions at Ochal represent an occupation by some other group, who were ultimately displaced or absorbed by the Xpantzay, perhaps under the leadership of Chimal Akat, probably in the later 1300s.
The second ajaw was named Xpantzay No'j. We have no idea when he was born or when he succeeded as ajaw. However, he is credited with committing his people to the service of the K'iche' ruler Q'ukumätz. (father of K'iqab'). Based on Carmack's (1981) reckoning of the succession of K'iche' rulers, this would have occurred around 1400 AD.
Xpantzay Ajmaq was the third ajaw. Again, details as to his birth and ascension to office are lacking. He is credited with serving as ajaw at the time when the Xpantzay arrived at their penultimate home, Chi Awar. This occurred during the reign of K'iqab', determined by Carmack to have begun around 1425.
The fourth ajaw, Julajuj Kan, is said to have been born at Chi Awar and to have been ajaw when the Xpantzay moved with the rest of the Kaqchikel to Iximche', around 1470. Trouble in the succession began with his son and the fifth ajaw, Kaji' Aqb'al. In addition to the four children by his wife (who was of the Porom Chinamït) he also fathered a son by a woman who is referred to by the Xpantzay as a "slave." The son was named Atunal and he became the sixth ajaw. He ruled at the time of the conquest, in 1524. Competition between the legitimate and bastard lines of Kaji' Aqb'al continued after the conquest. Atunal was succeeded as ajaw by one of Kaji' Aqb'al's legitimate descendants, Don Juan Mesa Pusul. He was ousted by Archbishop Marroquín (probably in the mid-1540s) and replaced by another legitimate descendant, Don Alonso Pérez Xpantzay, who appears to have died in 1554. The last recorded Ajaw Xpantzay was one of Atunal's descendants, Don Francisco Ordóñez. He was alive at the time Felipe Vásquez Xpantzay wrote his "Xpantzay Genealogy" in 1602 (see below).
The Sotz'il almost certainly had a written history like the Xajil and Xpantzay, though it has not come down to us. Accordingly, we can only reconstruct their leaders' succession through references in the documents of the other two groups. Nine rulers are mentioned, though these extend back only to the founding of Chi Awar which, as noted above, seems to have occurred after 1425.
Xikitzal is mentioned first as a cofounder of Chi Awar. He was succeeded by Jun Toj, who reigned at Chi Awar. Lajuj Aj was the third Ajpo Sotz'il and was a co founder of Iximche' around 147o. He was succeeded by Kab'lajuj Tijax (late 1400s?) and then Lajuj No'j (early 1500s). Kaji' Imox became Ajpo Sotz'il in 1521 and was executed by Alvarado in 1540. He was succeeded by Don Francisco, who died in 1557, and by Don Lucas, the last Ajpo Sotz'il mentioned in the documents.
The Xajil Chronicle provides detailed information not only on the succession of the Xajil rulers but on their wives and children as well. The record begins with a pair of rulers named Q'aq'awitz and Saktekaw. The latter seems to have died without issue. Q'aq'awitz's sons; Ka'i' No'j and Ka'i' B'atz' are reported to have been small at the time of their father's death, around 1410 AD by Wauchope's reckoning (Wauchope 1949, 20-21) . Two usurpers imposed themselves at this time, claiming the titles of Ajuchan Xajil and Q'alel Xajil. They ruled until Ka'i' No'j and Ka'i' B'atz' had married (both to Tz'utujil women) and come of age in the service of the Kaweq leader, Tepew/Q'ukumätz. The usurpers were then hanged and the two brothers assumed the leadership of the Xajil.
Probably in an effort to avoid usurpation in the future, Ka'i' No'j and Ka'i' B'atz' mandated the offices of Ajuchan Xajil and Q'alel Xajil be occupied by their eldest sons, Sitan K'atu' and K'otb'äl Kan, respectively. Thus, the text notes, the Xajils had four lords, a system that seems to have endured for another generation, into the reign of K'iqab' (probably post-1425 AD). When Ka'i' No'j and Ka'i' B'atz' died, their eldest sons, Sitan K'atu' and K'otb'äl Kan, automatically moved up into the ajpop and ajpop k'amajay positions.
With the death of Sitan K'atu', the lordly offices "went away from among" the fathers and grandfathers of the Xajil. While the details are cloudy, these offices were filled by a succession of individuals from groups allied with, or subordinate to, the Xajil. This arrangement lasted long enough that Sitan K'atu's son, Sitan Tijax Kab'laj, did not rule. Instead, the office of Ajpo Xajil finally returned to Sitan K'atu's grandson, Wuqu' B'atz' (who later was cofounder of Iximche'). He was succeeded by his son, Oxlajuj Tz'i', and his grandson, Jun Iq'. B'eleje' K'at reigned at the time of the Spanish invasion and had died by 1529. Yet the office of ajpop long survived the conquista and seems to have been merged with the Spanish office of town governor.
As a replacement for B'eleje' K'at, Alvarado installed Don Jorge Kab'lajuj Tijax (who was probably a son of B'eleje' K'at, though this is not specifically stated in the document) in 1532. He survived the loss of his first wife, Doha Catalina, to remarry in 1 5 6 1. He died in 1565 and seems to have been replaced as governor (if not as ajpop) by one Don Hernando (at least in 1578/. In 1580 Don Pedro Solís (grandson of Jun Iq' through Ajmaq) became ajpop and governor. Upon his death in 1584, Don Juan Hernández (son of Don Jorge Kab'lajuj Tijax) became ajpop but, in a documented break with precedent, not governor. The latter office went instead to Don Pedro Elías Martín, a member of the Q'eqak'tüch Chinamït who had very pro-Spanish attitudes (see below). He held the governorship until 1604. Meanwhile, Don Juan Hernández had died in 1585. He was succeeded as head of the Xajil by his nephew, Don Ambrosio de Castellano. By 1604 Don Ambrosio seems also to have assumed the governorship.
After the Invasion
There is little Spanish documentation concerning the disposition of the Iximche' people after the invasion. What little there is, combined with the evidence of the Chronicles themselves, allows us at least to sketch the major developments. The major Spanish civil program of the mid to late sixteenth century was called congregación. The intent of the program was to found Indian towns that conformed to a Spanish model from the remnant Indian groups that had dispersed during the fighting. Another Spanish objective was to break up the larger polities, thus reducing their potential for coordinated revolt. In the case of the Iximche' polity, the result was that the Kaqchikel Amaq'—half the polity—was divided among new towns. Most members of the amaq' went to Sololá. Other members of the amaq' (numbering over 1,000 in 1562) and perhaps half the members of the Xajil Chinamït (more than 500 in 1562) were sent to Chimaltenango and San Pedro Sacatepéquez (Hill 1992, 40-41). Accordingly, it was the Sotz'il Amaq' that remained behind to form the new town of Tecpán. The four chinamïts became four barrios in the new town. One of these barrios was named "Ispansay," another Poroma, indicating that the traditional Chnamit organization continued in the new town setting (Guillemin 1977, 246).
Spanish policy dictated that Indian towns conform organizationally to lines laid down in the Laws of the Indies. The Audiencia of Guatemala was the ruling tri bunal of the region. The president of this tribunal had ultimate responsibility for its administration. For each town, the Audiencia annually appointed an Indian governor. In the sixteenth century this was typically one of the high-ranking aristocrats who had survived the conquest. In Sololá, down through the 1580s the governor seems perennially to have been the Ajpo Xajil. The governor's main responsibilities were ensuring that tribute was delivered on time and the maintenance of order in his town. Beneath the governor was the town council, elected annually by and from among the town's adult male population. The council, or cabildo, was composed of two alcaldes, or magistrates, and from two to four regidores, or councilmen, depending on a town's population. Collectively, they were often referred to as the town's justicias. Other functionaries included at least one scribe and a number of alguaciles. The latter's functions probably included the apprehension of criminals and errand-running for the cabildo. It is clear from the Annals that alguaciles mayores were important figures in sixteenth-century Sololá, while regidores are mentioned sporadically.
An Indian town fell within an administrative subdivision of the Audiencia called a corregimiento, each overseen by its Spanish corregidor. This was the Spanish official most frequently encountered by the Indian cabildo, as he was entrusted with tribute collection and with punishing criminals. His periodic visitas, like those of other officials and ecclesiastics, were not homey visits but formal inspections.
Much of the Spanish crown's justification for its New World conquests was the spread of Christianity among "pagan" peoples. The task of converting and ministering to indigenous peoples in present-day Guatemala was entrusted to the religious orders, especially the Franciscans and Dominicans. After some initial jockeying between these orders for the most populous regions of Guatemala, a compromise was reached. Both Tecpán and Sololá fell within the Franciscan zone and both soon became sites of Franciscan conventos, each home to a small community of friars under the authority of a senior friar or guardián. Each convent was subordinate to the main Franciscan house in Santiago (present-day Antigua) and its provincial, the head of the order in the region.