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Aztec Empire

QUESTION: What is the Aztec empire?


The great Aztec Empire flourished in the central area of Mexico. They are considered the last great Pre-Columbian civilization before the arrival of the Spanish in 1519. We are fortunate to have been left an abundance of historical records and works written by the early priest, Conquistadors, and the Aztecs themselves. Their accounts tell us of their languages, way of life, religious beliefs and practices, as well as their foods and cultural traditions. These things are still influential in modern Mexico today and their descendants still incorporate their indigenous heritage and ancient beliefs in their every day lives.

Archaeological evidences have revealed the great capitol of Tenochtitlan, which was almost completely demolished in 1521, and is where Mexico City now stands. Not only did the conquering Spanish seek to destroy the Aztecs but the Catholic Church is said to have wanted to destroy every remnant of the heathen society who practiced slavery and human sacrifice.

The Aztec people migrated to the Valley of Mexico around 1100 A.D., supposedly led by one of their many gods, Huitzilopochtli. The city of Tenochtitlan was founded in 1325 after the Aztecs discovered an eagle atop a cactus with a serpent in its mouth. Huitzilopochtli told them that this eagle designated the place for their capitol city. Tenochtitlan was built and a large temple was constructed for their patron god. The symbol of the eagle is still the national emblem for Mexico. The Spanish described this city as the most beautiful city they had ever seen. Tenochtitlan was divided into four quarters and consisted of more than 75 clans. These clans were the center of the Aztec empire and were highly advanced politically, militarily, religiously, and agriculturally. The free-born Aztecs were born into a clan (or calpullis). They were given religious teachings and secular training in warfare, priestly training, and were awarded lands to farm. The Aztec culture required that its people were bound life-long into the class they were born.

Their capitol city was the most sacred center of their vast empire. It was a beautiful city with large pyramids and lavish buildings built along the edges of a lake. Their king, Montezuma II ruled over the 250,000 Aztec people who held this king as deity. However, for all their false gods and earthly idols, their empire was destroyed.

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