The History of Aztec Society As It Was

By the end of summer 1521 Hernán Cortés successfully conqured and destroyed the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan in conquest for Spain. Only two years before the city of Tenochtitlan was a thriving city built on an island on Lake Texcoco. It was a city unlike any city seen before from the conquerors built like an idyllic Venice. It used a series of canals and causeways that supplied the thousands of people who lived there. The rapid collapse of the Aztec civilisation could be drawn from many conclusions. It is well documented that the Spaniards had better technology and medical stamina, which were contributing factors to the Spanish conquest. But it was the inability of the major city states of the empire to adapt and recognise methods to defeat the ‘Conquistadors’. This paper will look into Aztec society and examine how the society was formed and practiced and daily Aztec life and how certain values of society contributed as to how the aztecs fought in the invasion.

The Aztecs differed no more than what most empires or civilisations have in history. Life revolved around religious beliefs or deity’s and ceremonies or prayers practiced daily. The capital of tripartite alliance of the Aztecs was known as Tenochtitlán. Tenochtitlán was a purpose built city that was built around traditional ceremonies and contained the palace of the leader Moctezuma. The city was so that from any part of the city, political and or religious ceremonies could be witnessed, thus keeping the city population at involved. The city was built on an island in Lake Texcoco and was divided into four quarters, which were the cut into 20 districts. Canals and streets were decorated with floating gardens and various types of flora and fauna. Buildings were tightly packed and were whitewashed and mostly single storied apart from various lordly houses. At intervals larger structures were built around local temples, while the whole city was dominated by a central zone which contained numerous pyramids and other structures decorated with red, blue or ochre plaster which contained another city itself. 

The Aztecs had a strong hierarchal system that included King religious heads and nobility. Military ranking was intimately tied to the overall social structure of Aztec society, and social ranking was intimately tied to political offices. Aztec Warefare: imperial expansion and political control by Ross Hassig. This did not necessarily mean that social mobility was not permitted in Aztec society. At the top of Aztec scoeity was the Tlatoani (king) who was elected by the preceding class of professional warriors, priests ,nobles and lords. followed by commoners and then slaves who worked on private or state owned farms. Each major class had sub classes and social mobility was encouraged. Successful Warriors became members of the Aztec elite and their decendents shared their privileges – The Enigma of Aztec Scrafice, especially for males, who were encouraged to increase their warrior status by competiting in battles and attaining certain ‘medals’ to become senior warriors or either become priests. For children, education was compulsory where lessons about Aztec culture, human sacrifice and mythology were taught and bore great significance. At school women were taught practical lessons about day to day life at home. While women were praised for giving birth to male children as they are honoured for being parents of warriors. While males were rigorously trained and taught about warfare and what being an Aztec warrior constituted, These were done at special mens schools known as the Youths’ House.

The Aztec religion can be compared to other religions where there are many variants of the same story but feature a common prophet or deity, Huītzilōpōchtli (meaning “hummingbird, huitzilin, and “south,” or “left-hand side,” opochtli.) is the main deity in the Aztec mythology. There are various stories of how Huītzilōpōchtli was born. But the most common was that Huītzilōpōchtli was the son of Cōātlīcue (picture) (she of the serpent skrts) who became impregnanted by Hummingbird feathers while cleaning. Cōātlīcus’ daughter Coyolxāuhqui(related to the moon) was incensed and rallied her brothers and sisters to kill her mother and Huītzilōpōchtli was then born as a armed warrior and defeated her. He then decapitated her and dismembered her and and sent her body rolling down the mountain and emerges from the batlle as a powerfull god associated with the sun. Huitzilopochtli commanded them to feed him with human hearts torn from the recently sacrificed. So as the story of the sun fights the moon everyday and that to for the victoryof The Aztecs believed the sun (Huitzilopochtli) battled across the skies each day victory was not certain. Therefore for the sun to rise each day and the continuation of the Aztec world war and religion became inextricably involved with each other on the material level and were simutaineously rationilized into a spiritual unit.

In general, the Aztec empire of 1521 was not a highly integrated society, but was formed by numerous allied city states that revolved around constant military campaigns to gain tribute and domination from other cities and regions. War that is something in Aztec culture doesn’t just have the usual political and economic purposes, e.g. bring in tribute and expanding the boundaries of the empire. But it is also the root of the social political hierarchies. As the Aztec society is based around religious human sacrifice the Aztec practice of war is tailored to fulfil the demand of this, so warfare is tailored to the opportunities to provide victims, which leads to a social system which hierarchies is based on securing victims. 

07 July 2022
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now