Download COL155 States and Empires in Mesoamerica Mexica Society

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States and Empires in Mesoamerica
Mexica Society & Religion
Jonathan Fulton
Spring 2014
Atlantic Region
The Americas
• The Aztecs were 1 of many advanced societies
in the Americas before the European
• Textbook, p. 318 “Yet between 1000 and 1500
CE the peoples of North and South America …
organized large empires with distinctive
cultural and religious traditions, and they
created elaborate trade networks touching
most regions of the Americas.”
• Society developed over centuries through war
and conquest
• Pre-Aztec societies had extensive trade
networks, artisans, craftsmen, and
The Mexica/Aztecs
• What became Aztec empire started with group
called the Mexica.
• “They had a reputation for making trouble by
kidnapping women from nearby communities
and seizing land already cultivated by others. On
several occasions their neighbors became tired of
their disorderly behavior and forced them to
move. For a century they migrated around
central Mexico, fighting with other peoples and
sometimes surviving only by eating fly eggs and
snakes.” (p. 319)
The Mexica/Aztecs
• Moved around until settling on an island in
Lake Texcoco
• Here built the city Tenochtitlan
• Eventually became their capital city
• Today is Mexico City
The Mexica/Aztecs
• Tenochtitlan:
– perfect area for agriculture and defense
• 7 crops /year
• Surrounded by water
The Mexica/Aztecs
• Over 100 years, developed economically,
• Overpowered many neighboring societies,
made them colonies
• Developed an empire of 12 million people
• Colonies had to pay tribute – food and
manufactured goods
The Mexica/Aztecs
• By early 1500s, Tenochtitlan “was an
enormously wealthy city. (319)
• Collected tribute from 489 subject territories
• Population of 200,000, with 300,000 in
surrounding areas
Tenochtitlan Market
• 1st Spanish to arrive were astonished by the
size of the market and variety of goods for
• Gold, silver, gems, feathers, embroidery,
slaves, cotton, cocoa, animal skins, maize,
beans, vegetables, fruits, poultry, meat, fish,
salt, paper tools. (317)
Tenochtitlan Market
• “It would take more than 2 days to walk
around the market and investigate all the
goods offered for sale.” (317)
• Europeans compared it with markets in Rome
and Constantinople (Istanbul)
Aztec Society
• Very hierarchical
• 1) military elite.
• Men from good families got the best positions
in the military.
• Military elite received wealth and honors.
• Most successful soldiers controlled politics
• Got the best food, best clothes, and best
manufactured products
Aztec Society
• Role of women = make babies. They “enjoyed
honor as mothers of warriors.” (320)
• Women who died giving birth were treated
like heroes
• All were expected to get married
• Laws meant that their fathers or husbands
had all authority
• Worked in marketplace, made crafts
Aztec Society
• Priests
• Received training in omens and religious
• Had influence advising Aztec leaders
Aztec Society
• Commoners
• Worked in agriculture, taking care of their own
land and sometimes the land of aristocrats
and warriors
Aztec Society
Usually from their own society
Worked as domestic servants
Criminals or people who had financial
Artisans and Merchants
• Artisans worked with gold & silver and made
products for elites
• Therefore had a relatively good position
• Merchants traded over long distances & dealt
with luxury items.
• Their travels meant that they also supplied
political and military intelligence.
Polytheistic (more than one god)
The blood of sacrifice allowed the earth to
become moist enough to grow food.
To make the gods happy, Aztecs believed they
also must offer human sacrifices.
They also believed that human sacrifice was “a
ritual essential to the world’s survival” (322)