Itzaes, a powerful Indian family of Central America, who at the time of the conquest inhabited the islands and shores of Lake Itza or Peten in Guatemala. They spoke a dialect of the language of the Mayas, and were probably a branch of that nation; for tradition reports that on a disruption of the feudal monarchy of Yucatan in 1420, one of the powerful caneks or princes migrated southward with his followers, and after many wanderings fixed his seat on the island of Tayasal, in the lake of Chul-tuna, now Peten. He built a considerable city, and his people increased so rapidly that, according to the chroniclers, they numbered 25,-000 on the island, besides a large population in the adjacent country. Cortes reached the retreat of the Itzaes in his march from Mexico to Honduras in 1525, and has left us an account of their chief and his insular capital. The canek received the Spaniards kindly, and elevated to the rank of a god a lamed horse which Cortes left with him. Its image, cut in stone, was found in the temple of Tayasal when it was destroyed in 1698. Their country being destitute of the precious metals, and remote from the sea, the Itzaes were suffered to retain their independence and isolation long after the subjugation of Yucatan and the principal parts of Central America. Until 1698 they had successfully defended themselves against numerous invaders; but in that year they were finally subdued by Manuel de Ursula, governor of Yucatan, whose troops spent a whole day, says Villagutierre, in destroying the temples of the city alone.
Numbers of the Itzaes fled eastward and were confounded among other tribes; the descendants of those who remained, though subject to Guatemala, and nominally Catholics, have made little change from the condition of their forefathers.