The Aztecs or Mexica were the bearers of a militaristic Mesoamerican civilization that existed between about 1200 and 1521 in today's Mexico. The center of the Aztec Empire was the city of Tenochtitlán, the predecessor of the current Mexico City. In the ideology of the Aztec Empire played the people sacrifice a central role. In the war with the Spanish conquerors led by Hernán Cortés lost the last Aztec King, Moctezuma II, life.


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The "Aztecs" called themselves Mexica or CulhuahTenochcah. The Spanish conquistadors named them Mexicas, a term that is still widely used in Mexico. The use to the "Aztecs" to indicate so comes from the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt and was widely distributed thanks to the standard work The Conquest of Mexico(1843) of the North-American historian William Prescott.

The word "Aztec" comes from the Nahuatl Aztecah, "people from Aztlan". Aztlan was a mythical place somewhere in the North where the Aztecs returning said. For the Aztecs itself it was not usual to identify himself with Aztecah. Aztecah were generally with all the people who spoke Nahuatl, and that were not only people within the Aztec Empire itself, but also, for example, the Tlaxcalans, sworn enemies of the Aztecs.

Origin Legend[Edit]Edit

[1]Coat of arms of Mexico with the Eagle on a cactus that a snake devours


See main article Aztec mythology on this subject.

According to the Aztecs lived their ancestors in Aztlan, an island in a Lake somewhere in the North. Their god Huitzilopochtli told that they (along with a few other tribes) had to go to a new country. The field eventually played down to only the Aztecs about (because all the other tribes had already found a place to settle). The Aztecs were forced to by their god to the place where an eagle on a cactus and devouring a snake sat. Eventually the Aztecs saw this sign on an island in Lake Texcoco. The Aztecs built their city ofTenochtitlan on that spot, and made a great artificial island, which today is in the center of Mexico City is. This "legend" is also depicted on the coat of arms of Mexico that is depicted on the flag of Mexico.


In the beginning served the Aztecs as mercenaries for the city states that were created after the fall of the Toltec Empire. They did this not without merit, Toltec and Aztec leaders knew with some Princes to marry. 1372-1427 of the Aztecs were vassals of the Tepanec King Tezozomoc. After the death of Tezozomoc was succeeded by Maxtla, a cruel leader. Chimalpopoca, the Aztec leader died soon after, probably killed by his successor and uncle Itzcoatl. [1the new leader of the Aztecs allied with Nezahualcoyotl ofTexcoco. They besieged the Tepanec capital Azcapotzalco. After one hundred days gave the tepanec siege surrendered. Maxtla was captured and sacrificed. Hereinafter referred to as added to Tenochtitlan and Texcoco and Tlacopan formed together the cities of the Aztec Triple Alliance, also known as the Aztec Empire.

Itzcoatls nephew and successor Montezuma I (reg. 1440-1469 expanded the Empire to the shores of the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of MexicoAxayacatl (1469-1481) conquered and subjugated Tlatelolco sister city Tenochtitlans the Huaxteken. He also tried to bring the Tarascan Indians under his rule, but failed. Under Ahuitzotl (1486-1502) the Empire doubled in size. He subjected the Mixtec of Oaxaca and conqueredSoconusco, making the empire stretched to Guatemala.


The Aztecs lived in calpultin (singular calpulli), similar to clans. Multiple altepetl formed a calpultin (plural: altepemeh). The altepetl was the smallest administrative unit, it consisted mostly of a town or city with the area around it, from "water to mountain" (altepetl means water mountain).

Some altepemeh had other under their reign. A altepetl would without any other altepetl above you will be called a country . The highest altepemeh were the cities of the Aztec Triple Alliance TenochtitlanTexcocoand: Tlacopan.

The Aztec population was subdivided into two classes. The general population was called the macehualtin and nobility the piltin or tlahtoanimeh. The classes were hereditary, but could ascend to a macehualli piltin by a successful career in the army. This ensured that the Aztecs always could get enough soldiers. Other way around could lose their Peerage piltin by weakness at the time of war.

[3]Excerpt from a code

Prominently in the Aztec modes system was that harsher penalties for the same offence than piltin macehualtin. This was because it was felt that piltin had to serve as an example. Apart from these two classes there were slaves and pochtecah .

Pochteca's were armed merchants. They served as spies and tried to stoke unrest in cities that Aztecs set out to conquer. They were generally the richest of the Aztec society and were allowed to marry only with another pochteca. Slavery in Aztec society was not hereditary. Most people were slave become after a crime, because they were taken prisoner of war or to a creditor to pay off. Slaves could not be resold, unless they were declared officially as "difficult". The largest slave market (and the biggest market is at all) was those in Tlatelolco. After a slave to a slave trader was bought, could these flights. As he reached a temple for his new master gave him, he was free. Someone (except the master or his son) that prevented such a slave to flee was slave.

The Aztecs used a twintigdelig number system. Instead of five fingers on one hand and ten fingers on both hands accumulate throughout was on the toes of both feet.Many South American Indian tribes follow this calculation now. Also in Europe should ever have been in use the twintigtallig system. Quite famous is the curious French quatre-vingts numbers (four-twenty) for 80.



See Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire for the main article on this topic.

According to an Aztec legend, in the year ce-acatl (I-cane, 1519) god Quetzalcoatl from the East come to claim his Kingdom. In addition, there is still more for signs were seen, such as a Comet and a fire in the Temple of Huitzilopochtli. There was also a fish caught with a mirror in his head, in which his nephew, Moctezuma II, the Aztec cuitláhuac, marching soldiers saw. The Aztecs went therefore extra many people sacrifice.Many cities that were first allies, began to oppose now.

When the Spaniards led by Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico, the Aztecs believed that Quetzalcoatl could perhaps be Cortés. Quetzalcoatl had a blank face and a yellow beard, like Cortés. The Aztecs were also impressed by the ships, the guns and the guns of the Spaniards, and also the horses and greyhounds found them particularly.

Montezuma doubted. Cortes Was Quetzalcoatl, or was he just an alien who only on gain from was? Montezuma Cortés decided to give gifts and he told him that it was better not to come to Tenochtitlan. But the gold-hungry Spaniards have wanted more. They decided to go to Tenochtitlan , accompanied by the enemies of the Aztecs, like the Tlaxcalans who gave many important military information.

The Spaniards watched their eyes out in Tenochtitlan. After six days they found behind a bricked wall rooms full of gold and jewels. Shortly after the find the Aztecs killed two Spanish messengers. Cortes decided Montezuma hostage. The Spaniards beat the images of the gods and banned the human sacrifice. When Cortes no longer in Tenochtitlan was (there was a Spanish expedition arrived to arrest him) broke there chaos when the remaining soldiers wanted to prevent an Aztec ceremony. In this chaos Montezuma came to life. Cortes was meanwhile again came back and tried at night with his soldiers to flee. Hereby he lost many soldiers. Later he returned with an army that he had collected by 1000 Spaniards and 150,000 Mexican allies.

It was a huge battle: thousands of Aztecs layers death on street and every Spanish soldier was immediately imprisoned sacrificed. After several months of siege gave the last Aztec cuitláhuac Cuauhtemocsurrendered. The Aztec Empire was as a Spanish colony of new Spain .

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