In the prehispanic Nahua state of Tlaxcala, there were no signs of a palace or central temple. Instead, the city appears to have been a republic governed by a parliament of elected representatives. For a long time, Tlaxcala remained autonomous from the surrounding Aztec government.
Conquistador Hernán Cortés wrote that the "order of government so far observed among the people resembles very much the republics of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa for there is no supreme overlord."
Tlaxcala had an urban parliament that made decisions by consensus. There were between 50 and 200 members, all of them elected. Before joining, they had to undergo a brutal and self-effacing public induction process involving exposure, fasting, sleep deprivation, and bloodletting.
- Graeber and Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021), 357.
- Graeber and Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021), 347.
- Graeber and Wengrow, Dawn of Everything, 355-6.