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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Aztec Empire

The Aztec Empire was started flourished between c. 1345 and 1521 CE and, at its largest level, covered most of northern Mesoamerica. Aztec warriors were able to dominate their neighboring states and allow rulers like Motecuhzoma II to enforce Aztec ideals and religion in Mexico. Highly skilled in agriculture and trade, the last of the great Mesoamerican civilizations was also noted for its art and architecture, which is one of the best built on the continent.

The Aztec state is in fact the most well-documented Mesoamerican civilization that includes archeology, native books (codices) and long and detailed descriptions from their Spanish conquerors - both by military men and Christian priests. These later sources may not always be reliable but the picture we have of the Aztec, their institutions, religious practices, Aztec warfare and daily life is a rich one and with details being added through the efforts of the 21st century CE archaeologists and scholars are constantly being expanded.

History of beginning of Aztec Empire

Around 1100 AD, the city-states or altepetl spread across central Mexico began to compete with each other for local resources and territorial dominance. Each state had its own ruler or tlatoani, who headed a council of nobles, but these small urban centers surrounded by farmland soon sought to expand their wealth and influence so that c. 1400 CE Many small kingdoms were formed in the Valley of Mexico. Chief among these were Texcoco, the capital of the Acholhua region, and Azcapotzalco, the capital of Tepenec. Both these kingdoms came to the fore in 1428 AD with the Teppenec War. The Azcapotzalco forces were defeated by a coalition of Texaco, Tenochtalton (capital of Mexica) and many other small towns. After the victory, a Triple Alliance was formed between Texcoco, Tenochtitlan, and Tlacopan, a rebellious Tepanec town. A campaign of territorial expansion began where the spoils of war - as a tribute to victory - were usually shared between these three great cities. Over time, Tenochtitlan came to dominate the alliance, its ruler becoming the supreme ruler - huey tlatoque ('high king') - and the city established itself as the capital of the Aztec Empire.

Army of Aztec Empire

The empire continued to expand from 1430 CE and the Aztec army - with the consent of all adult men, men were supplied from Allied and conquered states, and elite groups such as the Eagle and Jaguar warriors outpaced their rivals. Aztec warriors are wore cushioned cotton armor, a wooden or reed shield canvassed in disguise, and a sharp-edged obsidian sword club (macuahuitl), a lance or dart spine chiller (atlatl), and weapons such as bows and arrows. Aristocratic warriors also indicated their rank by wearing magnificent feathered and animal skin dresses and headdresses. Battles were concentrated in the major cities during or around the war and when these conquerors fell the whole surrounding area was claimed. Regular tributes were paid and detainees were taken back to Tenochtitlan for ritual sacrifices. In this way, the Aztec empire came to cover mostly northern Mexico, covering an area of   approximately 135,000 square kilometers.

The empire was put together through the Aztec heartland, inter-marriages, gift-giving, invitations to important ceremonies, the appointment of officials by building monuments and artifacts that promoted Aztec imperialist ideology, and most importantly, the present Threat of military intervention in. Some states were more integrated than others, while the ends of the empire became useful buffer zones against more hostile neighbors, most notably the Tarascan civilization.

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