The Rise And Fall Of The Aztec Empire
The priests brought the warrior god to Jerusalem following months of preparation. He was waiting at the highest point of the pyramid steps to be awarded the ultimate honor. Soon, he would be joined by Tonatiuh the god of sun. The entire life of a warrior helped him prepare for this magnificent moment. At the top of the pyramid temple the warrior god was welcomed by the nobleman who had taken the god. The sacred ritual was set to begin. Four priests grasped the warrior god's arms and legs and spread the man on the altar of stone. He stared into the sky that was infinitely blue. The chief priest extended his arm and put a knife in the chest of the warrior-god. Through a series of practiced movements the priest put his fingers into the wound, grabbed the warrior god's heart, and cut it off his chest. The heart was offered to Tonatiuh, the sun god. Others pushed the corpse through the steps of the Great Temple. The priests then removed the head and displayed it on a skull display with hundreds of other people. The Aztec Empire's Aztec Empire was made up of hundreds of thousands of human sacrifices. The Aztecs believed that gods had donated their blood to make human beings. They believed that in order to maintain the empire they were bound to give back the blood to gods. To satisfy their god-like bloodlust the Aztecs sacrificed their soldiers in battle, as well others, including women and children. However, the very beliefs which were intended to maintain the Aztec Empire played a role in its decline. The Mexica The Aztecs who were later to make their way to the Valley of Mexico (the area today encompassing modern Mexico City), were not the first group of people to enter the Valley of Mexico. These fierce, Nahuatl-speaking people of the Chichimec culture first arrived around 1200 A.D. from the north which they called Atzlan. These nomads, known as the Mexica, arrived from the north and found large areas of the country which was inhabited by a culture of agriculture. They lived in cities and in the areas around them. Itzcoatl The Mexica king Itzcoatl was the first of six Aztec Emperors. He introduced radical changes in Aztec living that led to the growth of the empire for more than a century. Itzcoatl established an Aztec feudal system as that of Europe, that concentrated wealth, privilege, and political power in the hands of the emperor, his soldiers and nobles. Itzcoatl granted lands from the defeated Tepanecs to his warrior elite. He created a new order of noble titles and privileges to reward warriors who captured prisoners in combat. To help support the new classified classes Itzcoatl declared that the common people owed them monetary honor, labor, and military service. How did the Empire functioned With his feudal and spiritual adjustments, Itzcoatl spent the rest of his time the battle against other Aztec city-states of the Valley of Mexico. The Aztecs had no standing army. Instead the entire Triple-Alliance males were pressed into service whenever a war was declared. Noble warriors were rewarded with status and wealth based on how many captives they enlisted in the battle. Aztecs were not fighting to kill but, most importantly, they fought to capture captives. They believed that if they were killed in fight, their souls would be joined by gods. The warriors usually battled one-on-one using spears and wooden swords embedded with terrifying rows of sharpened obsidian (a form of glass made of volcanic ash). Itzcoatl, and the emperors that followed him, would dictate the amount of tribute to be collected from cities-states defeated and also the selection of a trusted local noble as their new King. This indirect system allowed the lives to continue like it had been before in conquered cities and states for as long as payment of tribute to the Aztec capital. Because the emperor controlled the Aztec kingdom in such a loose manner the city-states who were defeated frequently rebelled and needed to be conquered. Resentment over the burdens of the system of tribute was the primary reason for most of the rebellions against the empire. Conquered city-states near Tenochtitlan were typically enlisted to provide food to the Aztec capital's increasing class of nobles. The most common items of tribute include warrior's uniforms as well as animal skins. They also provided building materials, pottery, firewood, as well as building items. Aztecs demanded conquered nations to provide gold, copper feathers, incense, and feathers. They then used these items for money. The Aztec Emperor also required laborers from conquered cities to build temples, aqueducts, and other projects for the public good.