THE AZTECS Empire and Culture - Kyrene School District
THE AZTECS Empire and Culture I can describe Aztec family life, religious beliefs and Aztec warfare. BUILDING AN EMPIRE As the years passed, the Aztecs made alliances with some city-states and used their warrior skills to conquer others. By the early 1500s, their empire stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean and from the Valley of Mexico to what is now Guatemala. Between 6 and 12 million people lived under the Aztec rule. From the peoples they conquered, the Aztecs demanded tribute. This forced payment took the form of goods such as corn, gold, and jade. AZTEC SOCIETY AND BELIEFS
Three main classes formed Aztec society the nobles, the intermediate class, and the commoners. Each class was divided further. At the top was the king, who belonged to the noble class. His power came from control of the military and was supported by Aztec religious beliefs. The king lived a life of luxury. As in most societies, the nobles made up the smallest class but held the most power. They owned large estates and ran the government and the military. Priests, too, came from the noble class. Below the nobles
was an intermediate class. Merchants and skilled artisans made up this group. Most people in Aztec society were in the third class, the commoners. Some commoners were landowning farmers, fishers, craftspeople, and soldiers. Also included were landless workers, or serfs, who labored in the fields of the nobles and could not move off the land. FAMILY LIFE AND RELIGIOUS PRACTICES The Aztecs lived in family groups in large land-based communities. Most men farmed their own or nobles lands. They women cooked the
meals, tended the children, and did other domestic chores. Boys began formal education about age 10. They learned about religion and were taught fighting skills. As in many societies, girls were usually taught at home. Aztec society was one of the few in the world that provided education for all. Aztec children were brought up to be hard working, honest, and respectful. Most Aztecs were believed to live in joint households with multiple families. Aztec families would not put up with laziness or slacking. Those who were found to be dishonest or lazy RELIGION Aztec life was dominated by religion. It was central to the daily lives of all members of society. The Aztec religion was based on mainly the worship of agricultural gods. Aztecs believed in about 1,000 gods. Huitzilopochtli: The patron Tonatuih: The sun god. He was
god to the Aztecs. He was the one who told the people where to find the land for their capital city. He was also the patron for war and sacrifice. the nourishing god who provided warmth and comfort. Tlaloc: The rain god. The Aztec believed that the cries and tears of newborn children were sacred to this god. Because of that, many ceremonies for Tlaloc involved sacrificing children and infants.
Queztzalcoatle: The feathered serpent. He was probably the most famous Aztec deity. He was the patron of knowledge and learning. AZTEC WARRIORS AND WARFARE To the Aztecs, war was a sacred duty. Territory and peoples had to be conquered for the empire to expand. Most boys had begun intensive training to become warriors by 15. In battle, the Aztecs were fearsome. During an attack, they might kill everyone in an enemy village who was not a warrior. The warriors would be taken as prisoners to be used as slaves or human sacrifices.
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