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One interesting theory posits that the Flower Wars were employed in Machiavellian means by Aztec kings in the fifteenth century to dispose of their political rivals. In particular, Montezuma I is known to have had many of his rivals assassinated and one of the methods he used was by having them captured in Flower Wars. <ref> Offner, p. 70</ref> Although this cynical theory holds that the reason for many of the later Flower Wars, although certainly not all of them, was more political in nature, the process and results were still the same – battles were fought and the losers were sacrificed atop pyramids.
Another theory holds that the Flower Wars are actually a misinterpretation of the data by modern scholars. Barry Isaac argues that although the early Flower Wars may have been conducted purely as staged events to produce sacrifice victims, the later ones against Tlaxcala and its allies were actual full-scale wars. Since Tlaxcala and its allies in the Puebla Valley were never conquered by the mighty Triple Alliance, modern scholars have argued that it was only because the Aztecs left them as such so that they could conduct repeated Flower Wars. Isaac points out that this theory ignores the Tlaxcalan viewpoint and that both Mexica and Spanish sources indicate that the people of the Puebla Valley were not willing participants as they are commonly portrayed. <ref> Isaac, Barry L. “The Aztec ‘Flowery War’: A Geopolitical Explanation.” <i>Journal of Anthropological Research</i> 39 (1993) p. 418</ref> Isaac points out that the Aztecs were defeated in a major battle by the city of Huexotzinco around the year 1503 and that battlefield deaths in the thousands were recorded, which would certainly not seem to suggest
either a small-scale campaign merely for sacrifice victims nor an arranged battle of any type. <ref> Isaac, pgs. 420-1</ref> Issac ultimately argues that the Flower Wars of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries between the Aztecs and the Puebla Valley were only reported as such by the Aztecs to avoid being seen as weak and unable to conquer an enemy in their own backyard. <ref> Isaac, p. 428</ref>
A final theory that challenges the standard interpretation of the Flower Wars was presented by Frederic Hicks in the 1970s. Focusing on language used in texts pertaining to the earlier Flower Wars, Hicks argued that the Flower Wars differed from the <i>cocoltic</i> or “angry wars.” In an Aztec reference to the first Flower War in 1376 between Tenochtitlan and Chalco Atenco, it states that only some of the commoners were killed and that all of the nobles who were captured were released. It was not until later that the war between the two states evolved from a Flower War into a an “angry war.” <ref> Hicks, Frederic. “‘Flowery War’ in Aztec History.” <i>American Ethnologist</i> 6 (1979) p. 88</ref> Hicks contended that the emphasis in these early Flower Wars was more on training for the young Aztec warriors than it was for collecting sacrifice victims and that the early battles were the only ones where it can be definitively said that there was an agreement between the leaders. <ref> Hicks, pgs. 89-90</ref> Sacrifice victims were taken, but their capture and subsequent sacrifice was secondary to the training the young warriors received.