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Empires in the Americas
The Aztecs
 Aztecs were not indigenous to central
Became sedentary once on the island
 Not an Empire in the European sense,
rather it was a tributary overlordship where
adjacent city-states were bound to Mexico
by treaty.
 Formed the “Triple Alliance” of the Aztecs
of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan,
 Human sacrifice was paramount in the Aztec religion- the
shedding of
was necessary to postpone the
inevitable death of the “fifth sun”- the sun of the Mexicans.
When it died, the world would end. All connected cultures
must contribute and there was little if any tolerance for local
 Protein- “Cannibal Kingdom”
 A self-terminating religion
 OMENS observed by the Aztecs- end of 1st decade of 16thc
 Appearance of a comet
 Fire that destroyed the Temple of Huitzilopochtli
 Destruction of the 2nd temple by lightning
 Flood of Lake Texcoco during calm weather
 Wailing of a (la llorona)woman “O my beloved sons, now we are
at the point of going My beloved sons, whither shall I take you”?
 Visions of armed men riding on animals like deer
 Agriculture
Chinampas- 20,000 acres
Lands of conquered peoples seized
Food from conquered lands demanded as tribute
Clan apportionment of land
Landed aristocracy
 Coercive Tribute Empire
 Extent of tribute depended on initial resistance
 Generated a great deal of resentment
 Trade
Use of roads
Gold & cacao
Heavily regulated
The Inca
 Much different in geography and climate than the
 Incan Empire stretched along the length of western
South America.
 The Empire was interconnected by ~12,000 miles of
roads- more extensive than the Roman Empire.
 Like the Aztec, origins are not clear.
 Their name for their land was “Tawantinsuyu”, Four
corners of the world”
 History is divided into three major periods:
 Cuzco Period 1200AD-1438AD
 The Imperial Period 1438AD-1533AD
 Post-Spanish conquest period
Religion and Conquest
 Ancestor worship was key to expansion
 Inca=king
 Split inheritance
 Political power went to political successor
 necessitated expansion
 wealth went to family
Temple of the Sun in Cuzco was the center of the
The Cult of the Sun was spread throughout the empire
but the Inca allowed worship of local gods
 Twantinsuyu was divided into
 Governor
 subdivided
 Language
 Spread to force integration
 Colonists (mitmaq)
 Garrisoned newly conquered areas
 Relocation
 Conquered peoples
 Highway network
 Tambos
 Redistribution
 Seizure and redistribution
 Labor
 mita
Comparing Aztecs and
 Trade/Redistribution
 Intensely agricultural
 Innovative/traditional
 Kinship structures were eclipsed by
nobility over time
 Local leaders were recognized but tribute
was paid in goods or labor
 Direct tribute vs. mita
 Homework: Please read
Chapter 11 + KP QNT
Aztec Wrap-Up
Expansion and
stands out?