Aztec Empire Essay Research Paper The Aztec

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Aztec Empire Essay, Research Paper The Aztec people ruled much of what is now Mexico from about 1427 until 1521, which was when the Spaniards conquered the empire. The empire was at its highest point since it had begun more than a century earlier. At the height of their power, the Aztec s controlled a region stretching from central Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico and also in parts of Guatemala. The Aztec s built great cities and developed a complex social, political, and religious structure. Their capital, Tenochtitlan, was located near present-day Mexico City. Tenochtitlan was possibly the largest city in the world at the time of the Spanish conquest. It featured a huge temple, a royal palace, and many canals. Aztec society was highly structured, based on agriculture, and

guided by a religion that pervaded every aspect of life. The Aztec worshipped gods that represented natural forces that were vital to their agricultural economy. Aztec cities were dominated by giant stone pyramids that had temples at the top where human sacrifices were done in honor of the god s Aztec art was primarily an done to represent religion, and even warfare.The art increased the empire s wealth and power. The basic part of Aztec society was the calpulli. The calpulli thought of as a clan, or group of families who descended from a common ancestor. Each calpulli dealt with their own personal matters, electing a council and officers to keep order, lead in war, enforce justice, and keep records. Calpulli ran schools in which boys were taught citizenship, warfare, history,

crafts, and religion. Each calpulli also had a temple, an armory to hold weapons, and a house for goods that were distributed among the family members. Within each calpulli, land was divided among the heads of families according to their needs. Each family had a right to use the land but owned only the goods that it produced. In Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, calpulli did the same things but eventually changed. As the city grew large and, the calpulli were no longer based on family relationships, but political divisions. Each calpulli still had its own governing council, school, temple, and land, but its members were not related. There were 15 calpulli in Tenochtitlan when the city was founded in 1325. In the16th century there were as many as 80. A class of priests, warriors,

and administrators supported the ruler. Below these nobles were the common people, including merchants, artists, soldiers, peasant farmers, and laborers. Aztec merchants formed a class called pochteca. They lived in special sections in the cities, formed organizations, and had many privileges. Aztec rulers and nobles owned land on private estates. Most land for commoners was owned by a calpulli, which assigned its members plots to use. Landholders paid tribute to the empire in agricultural products, which were used to provide money for public use. All men owed military service to the empire. Citizens could also be drafted to work on public lands or build temples, sewer systems, and roads. Even though Aztec society had strict classes, a person s status could change based on his or

her gift to society. Common people could improve their rank, especially by performing well in battle, and become prosperous landowners. Young people of some classes could study to become priests or warriors. Warriors who captured many prisoners gained recognition and wealth and might be admitted into one of several military orders. A person who committed a crime or did not pay his debts became a slave; however, such slaves could eventually regain their freedom, and their children were born free. Farming was the center of the Aztec economy. The land around the lakes was fertile but not large enough to produce food for the population. To make more land better for farming, the Aztec developed irrigation systems, and used fertilizer to enrich the soil. Their most important