Aztec ruler (15th century)

Aztec ruler (15th century)

The Aztec Empire was a despotic, militaristic state.



Aztec, Aztec ruler, Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlan, Moctezuma II, conquest, military state, conquistador, Hernán Cortés, ruler, Mexico, king, Mexico City, royal insignia, Spain, Central America, throne, 15th and 16th centuries, deities, religion, Middle Ages, modern history, clothing, hierarchy

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  • In which present-day country was the Aztec Empire located?
  • Which present-day city stands where the former Aztec capital once stood?
  • What did the Aztecs use in their popular game?
  • What was the outcome of an ulama game for the captain of the losing team?
  • How was a ‘goal’ scored during an ulama game?
  • What was the name of\nthe Aztec capital?
  • What was the most important means of transportation in Tenochtitlan?
  • What did the Aztecs think of the Spanish conquistadors when they first saw them?
  • What was the greatest military disadvantage of the Aztecs against the conquistadors?
  • Which plant did the Aztecs\nnot grow?
  • When was golden age of the Aztec Empire?
  • Is it true that human sacrifice had a special role in the Aztec religion?
  • Is it true that the Aztec Empire was at peace with its neighbors until the conquistadors’ arrival:
  • Who were the conquistadors?
  • What was the main aim of\nthe conquistadors?
  • Who defeated the Aztec Empire?
  • Which Aztec ruler fought against the Spanish conquistadors?
  • What was the name of the main god in the Aztec religion?
  • On which continent was the Aztec Empire located?
  • Which country conquered the Aztec Empire?
  • When was the Aztec Empire conquered by the Europeans?
  • What title did Aztec rulers wear?
  • Who was the last significant Aztec ruler?
  • Is it true that one time the Aztec Empire stretched from one ocean to another?
  • Is it true that even the Aztec ruler thought Cortes was a demigod?
  • Which factor did not contribute to the success of the conquistadors?
  • Is it true that the conquistadors had destroyed the old capital and built a new city on its site?
  • Is it true that the last Aztec ruler was killed by his own people, as he was considered a traitor?
  • Is it true that the Aztec religion was monotheistic?
  • Aztecs worshiped a number of animals. Which was NOT one of them?
  • Which social class did NOT exist in Aztec society?
  • How many small states had been conquered by the Aztecs by the 15th-16th century?
  • What did the Aztecs call themselves?
  • Is it true that the Aztecs bathed twice a day on average?
  • Which statement is not true for the Aztec Empire?


Aztec ruler

The Aztec Empire started as an alliance between three city-states, but due to constant conquests and territorial expansion, it grew to become an empire. The despotic military confederation was ruled by the Huey Tlatoani, that is, a ruler, or king.
The ruler had a double role: besides being the head of the empire, he was a religious leader as well. According to Aztec beliefs, he was the representative of the gods and he ruled by divine right; commoners were not even allowed to look at him.

Aztec rulers wore a characteristic headdress made from the long and colourful feathers of a bird called quetzal.

The centre of the Aztec Empire, occupying the central and southern regions of present-day Mexico, was Tenochtitlan. Acamapichtli, the first Aztec ruler, ascended the throne in 1376. The empire reached its greatest extent during the reign of Ahuizotl at the turn of the 16th century. He was succeeded by Moctezuma II and the golden age of the empire continued until the arrival of Hernán Cortés, after which it crumbled. The last Aztec ruler was Cuauhtemoc, the son of Ahuizotl.

Aztec Empire

  • Tenochtitlan
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Gulf of Mexico

The Aztecs settled down on the Mexican Plateau after defeating the Toltecs. The territory of the militaristic city-state continuously grew as a result of successful military campaigns. In 1428, three city-states (Tenochtitlan, Texcoco and Tlacopan) decided to form an alliance, thus establishing the Aztec Empire. The empire, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, reached its greatest extent in the 16th century.

The centre of the Aztec Empire, occupying the central and southern regions of present-day Mexico, was Tenochtitlan. The city was founded in the first half of the 14th century, on one of the islands of Lake Texcoco, located in the Valley of Mexico.
Tenochtitlan became fully developed as a city by the beginning of the 15th century. Most of the buildings of that era were constructed from stone. As the city was growing, the lake was partly drained, increasing the size of the island. Artificial islands made from mud, and a canal system lent the Aztec capital a unique appearance.

Aztec society consisted of four major classes. The class of warriors which, of course, included the ruler, was at the top of the hierarchy. The next class was that of priests. Because of the importance of religion, priests were highly respected. The third class in the hierarchy was that of commoners (peasants, craftsmen, merchants). Slaves, mostly people captured in battles, were at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

One of the most important components of Aztec culture was their polytheistic religion. Every deity was related to one or more natural phenomena or activity. For example, Huitzilopochtli was the god of the Sun and war, and he was the patron god of Tenochtitlan. Tlaloc was the god of rain and lightning, while Quetzalcoatl was the god of wind, air and learning. The latter was usually depicted as a feathered serpent. Blood rituals, human sacrifices played a significant role in their religion.

The common language of the Aztec Empire was Nahuatl. Aztecs used a hieroglyphic writing system. They elaborated a very detailed calendar as well. Aztecs also achieved significant results in the fields of medicine, architecture, astronomy, and mathematics. Sadly, most written records were destroyed by the Spanish.

The Viceroyalty of New Spain

  • Tenochtitlan
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Caribbean Sea
  • Route of Cortes

In the late 15th century, Portugal found a rival in Spain in the race to discover new territories. The two countries used different methods to enforce their commercial interests: while the Portuguese applied relatively pacific measures, the Spanish resorted to violence. The bloody wars led to the establishment of the Viceroyalty of New Spain on the American continent, which became an integral territorial entity of the Spanish Empire. Later, the empire colonised regions on other continents too.

Conquerors and explorers who participated in the colonisation of the American continent in the 16th and 17th centuries are called conquistadors. The Spanish arrived on the territory of present-day Mexico in 1519. Led by Conquistador Hernán Cortés, they conquered Tenochtitlan in 1521. The magnificent Aztec buildings were destroyed and, in the 18th century, Lake Texcoco was drained and filled. Today, where Tenochtitlan once stood, we find one of the largest cities in the world, Mexico City.


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