Maya rulers

Maya rulers

Maya kings were the centers of power for the Maya civilization. Each Maya city-state was controlled by a dynasty of kings .


  • Symbols of power 1
  • Succession 2
  • Expansion 3
  • Responsibilities 4
  • See also 5
  • Further reading 6

Symbols of power

Many Maya kings creatent to prove their power; some still stand, and some lay in ruin.

Maya kings and queens felt obliged to legitimize their claim to power. One of the ways to do this was to build a temple or pyramid. Tikal Temple I is a good example. This temple was built during the reign of Yik'in Chan K'awiil. Another king named K'inich Janaab' Pakal would later carry out this same show of power when building the Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque.


Maya kings cultivated godlike personas. When a ruler died and left no heir to the throne, the result was usually war and bloodshed. King Pacal's precursor, Pacal I, died upon the battlefield. However, instead of the kingdom erupting into chaos, the city of Palenque, a Maya capital city in southern Mexico, invited in a young prince from a different city-state. The prince was only twelve years old. The Temple of Inscriptions still towers today amid the ruins of Palenque, as the supreme symbol of influence and power in Palenque.


Pacal and his predecessors not only built elaborate temples and pyramids. They expanded their city-state into a thriving empire. Under Yik'in Chan K'awiil, Tikal conquered Calakmul and the other cities around Tikal, forming what could be referred to as a super city-state. Pacal achieved in creating a major center for power and development.


A Maya king was expected to be a military leader. He would often carry out raids against rival city-states. Kings also offered their own blood to the gods. The rulers was also expected to have a great mind to solve problems that the city might be causing, chaos, war, food crisis etc.

See also

Further reading