THE AZTEC EMPIRE OF 1519 WAS THE MOST POWERFUL MESOAMERICAN KINGDOM.THE MEXICAN INDIANS,THE DOMINANT ETHNIC GROUP RULING OVER THE AZTEC EMPIRE FROM THEIR CAPITAL CITY AT TENOCHTITLAN IN THE VALLEY OF MEXICO.
The Mexica (Aztec) had formed a powerful state in the central valley of Mexico and conquered many neighboring states by the late 15th century. The bustling island capital, Tenochtitlan, with a population of perhaps 200,000, was located in the middle of Lake Texcoco. Groups like the Tarascans in the west and Zapotecs to the south, however, remained relatively independent. Even states that had been absorbed by the Mexica retained their rulers as well as their religion, language, and lands.
It was European disease that ultimately defeated the Aztecs. The amount of destruction caused by European diseases was immense, it is estimated that over 20 million Mexicans lost their life in a period of five years due to the diseases brought over by the Spanish.
The Aztec Empire was the last of the great Mesoamerican cultures. Between A.D. 1345 and 1521, the Aztecs forged an empire over much of the central Mexican highlands. At its height, the Aztecs ruled over 80,000 square miles throughout central Mexico, from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific Ocean, and south to what is now Guatemala. Millions of people in 38 provinces paid tribute to the Aztec ruler, Montezuma II, prior to the Spanish Conquest in 1521The Mexica people were at the heart of the empire, but there were many other cultures that formed the civilization that the Spanish were to discover. The empire might have continued to grow had not the Europeans arrived in 1519. At this time it was at its height, reaching from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, from Central Mexico all the way to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. See this map of the Aztec empire for a visual idea. Here's another conception.The Aztec Empire flourished between c. 1345 and 1521 CE and, at its greatest extent, covered most of northern Mesoamerica. Aztec warriors were able to dominate their neighbouring states and permit rulers such as Motecuhzoma II to impose Aztec ideals and religion across Mexico. Highly accomplished in agriculture and trade, the last of the great Mesoamerican civilizations was also noted for its art and architecture which ranks amongst the finest ever produced on the continent.The Aztec state is actually the most well documented Mesoamerican civilization with sources including archaeology, native books (codices) and lengthy and detailed accounts from their Spanish conquerors - both by military men and Christian clergy. These latter sources may not always be reliable but the picture we have of the Aztecs, their institutions, religious practices, warfare and daily life is a rich one and it continues to be constantly expanded with details being added through the endeavours of 21st century CE archaeologists and scholars.The empire continued to expand from 1430 CE and the Aztec military - bolstered by conscription of all adult males, men supplied from allied and conquered states, and such elite groups as the Eagle and Jaguar warriors - swept aside their rivals. Aztec warriors wore padded cotton armour, carried a wooden or reed shield covered in hide, and wielded weapons such as a super sharp obsidian sword-club (macuahuitl), a spear or dart thrower (atlatl), and bow and arrows. Elite warriors also wore spectacular feathered and animal skin costumes and headdresses to signify their rank. Battles were concentrated in or around major cities and when these fell the victors claimed the whole surrounding territory. Regular tributes were extracted and captives were taken back to Tenochtitlan for ritual sacrifice. In this way the Aztec empire came to cover most of northern Mexico, an area of some 135,000 square kilometres.
Aztec gods and Aztec religion has been the subject of a lot of speculation and misinformation. The sacrifices performed by Mexica priests at the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon are legendary. However, there's more to Aztec religion than just blood, though many of their rituals were bloody. Here's a look at some of the major Aztec gods in the pantheon and their significance in Aztec religion.
The pantheon (numerous gods) of the Aztec civilization was enormous, with hundreds of gods and goddesses worshipped. Many of these gods were agricultural, since the culture relied heavily on farming. Elements of nature, heroes, and ancestors were also revered. It was believed that the balance of the natural world and the destiny of humanity depended on these gods, some of which were benevolent, and others of which were insatiable and terrifying.
Over time, the Mexica, in particular, developed a feeling that the needs
of their gods were insatiable. The period from 1446 to 1453 was a
period of devastating natural disasters: locusts, drought, floods, early
frosts, starvation, etc. The Mexica, during this period, resorted to
massive human sacrifice in an attempt to remedy these problems. When
abundant rain and a healthy crop followed in 1455, the Mexica believed
that their efforts had been successful. In 1487, according to legend,
Aztec priests sacrificed more than 80,000 prisoners of war at the
dedication of the reconstructed temple of the sun god in Tenochtitlán.The Mexica's sacrificial rituals were elaborate in form, calculated by
the high priests to appease specific gods at certain times. During the
ceremony, a victim would ascend the steps of the pyramid. At the top, a
Mexica priest would stretch the victim across a stone altar and cut out
the victim's heart. The priest would hold the heart aloft to the god
being honored and then fling it into a sacred fire while it was still
beating.The function of Aztec priests was one of the most important in Aztec
society. It was the priests who determined which days would be lucky for
engaging in activities such as war and religious ceremonies. They were
guided in their decisions by a religious calendar of 260 days, that was
combined with a solar calendar of 365 days.
The empire was kept together through the appointment of officials from the Aztec heartland, inter-marriages, gift-giving, invitations to important ceremonies, the building of monuments and artworks which promoted Aztec imperial ideology, and most importantly of all, the ever-present threat of military intervention. Some states were integrated more than others whilst those on the extremities of the empire became useful buffer zones against more hostile neighbours, notably the Tarascan civilization.The last half of the 15th century saw the Aztec Triple Alliance dominating the surrounding areas, reaping a rich bounty in tribute. Eventually, the Aztecs controlled much of central and southern Mexico. Thirty-eight provinces sent tribute regularly in the form of rich textiles, warrior costumes, cacao beans, maize, cotton, honey, salt and slaves for human sacrifice. Gems, gold and jewelry came to Tenochtitlan as tribute for the emperor. Wars for tribute and captives became a way of life as the empire grew in power and strength. While the Aztecs successfully conquered many, some city states resisted. Tlaxcalla, Cholula and Huexotzinco all refused Aztec dominance and were never fully conquered.The Aztec Empire was powerful, wealthy and rich in culture, architecture and the arts. The Spanish entered the scene in 1519 when Hernan Cortes landed an exploratory vessel on the coast. Cortes was first welcomed by Montezuma II, but Cortes soon took the emperor and his advisors hostage. Though the Aztecs managed to throw the conquistadors out of Tenochtitlan, the Spanish regrouped and made alliances with the Aztec’s greatest enemy, the Tlaxcalans. They returned in 1521 and conquered Tenochtitlan, razing the city to the ground and destroying the Aztec empire in the process.
The Aztec Empire was peopled by a group that was once nomadic, the Mexicas. Their chroniclers told them that after their long journey from Aztlán, they found themselves to be outcasts, until they found the sign sent to them by their god Huitzilopochtli, and began to build their city. And so the Mexica peoples continued, and the Aztec Empire began.
The Spanish Conquest of the Aztecs.The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, beginning in February 1519, was one of the most significant events in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. Following Christopher Columbus' establishment of permanent settlement in the Caribbean, the Spanish authorized expeditions or entradas for the discovery, conquest, and colonization of new territory, using existing Spanish settlements as a base.The Spanish campaign began in February 1519, following the Spanish arrival in Yucatán in 1517. Two years later the Spanish set sail, thus beginning the campaign of colonization of the Americas.The Spanish campaign declared victorious on August 13, 1521, when a coalition army of Spanish forces and native Tlaxcalan warriors led by Hernán Cortés and Xicotencatl the Younger captured the emperor Cuauhtemoc and Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire.During the campaign, Cortés was given support from a number of tributaries and rivals of the Aztecs, including the Totonacs, and the Tlaxcaltecas, Texcocans, and other city-states particularly bordering Lake Texcoco. In their advance, the allies were tricked and ambushed several times by the people they encountered. After eight months of battles and negotiations, which overcame the diplomatic resistance of the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II to his visit, Cortés arrived in Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519, where he took up residence, welcomed by Moctezuma. When news reached Cortés of the death of several of his men during the Aztec attack on the Totonacs in Veracruz, he took the opportunity to take Moctezuma captive, Moctezuma allowed himself to be captured as a diplomatic gesture.
The Spanish authorized expeditions or entradas for the discovery, conquest, and colonization of new territory, using existing Spanish settlements as a base.The Spanish campaign began in February 1519, following the Spanish arrival in Yucatán in 1517.wo years later the Spanish set sail, thus beginning the campaign of colonization of the Americas.The Spanish campaign declared victorious on August 13, 1521, when a coalition army of Spanish forces and native Tlaxcalan warriors led by Hernán Cortés and Xicotencatl the Younger captured the emperor Cuauhtemoc and Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire.
The Spanish Conquest of the Aztecs.The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, beginning in February 1519, was one of the most significant events in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. Following Christopher Columbus' establishment of permanent settlement in the Caribbean.
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