Aztec society traditionally was divided into social classes . The Aztec social classes grew incredibly sophisticated and complex once the Mexican people settled and began to build their empire. It's been said that the class structure was so elaborate that it impressed the Spanish almost as much as the architecture of the empire.
A social class is a set of subjectively defined concepts in the social sciences and political theory centered on models of social stratification in which people are grouped into a set of hierarchical social categories, the most common being the upper, middle and lower classes.
The Mexica people, who later became the nucleus of the Aztec empire, were for a time a nomadic tribe looking for a home. As they moved south, they came into contact with advanced peoples. Many cultures of the day looked back to the impressive culture of the Toltecs, and the Aztecs came to admire the Toltec heritage. In fact, eventually the word for artistic creations would be toltecayotl , for the Toltecs, and the Aztecs themselves would claim to be descended from the great Toltec nobles.
The Mexica (Nahuatl: Mēxihcah, Nahuatl pronunciation: [meːˈʃiʔkaʔ] or Mexicas were a Nahuatl-speaking indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico, known today as the rulers of the Aztec Empire. This group was also known as the Culhua-Mexica in recognition of its kinship alliance with the neighboring Culhua, descendants of the revered Toltecs, who occupied the Toltec capital of Tula from the tenth through twelfth centuries. The Mexica were additionally referred to as the "Tenochca", a term associated with the name of their altepetl, Tenochtitlan, and Tenochtitlan's founding leader, Tenoch. The Mexica established Mexico Tenochtitlan, a settlement on an island in Lake Texcoco. A dissident group in Mexico-Tenochtitlan separated and founded the settlement of Mexico-Tlatelolco with its own dynastic lineage. The name Aztec was coined by Alexander von Humboldt who combined "Aztlan", their mythic homeland, and "tec ", 'people of'. The term Aztec is often used very broadly to refer not only to the Mexica, but also to the Nahuatl-speaking peoples or Nahuas of the Valley of Mexico and neighboring valleys.
The Toltec culture is an archaeological Mesoamerican culture that dominated a state centered in Tula, Hidalgo, Mexico in the early post-classic period of Mesoamerican chronology. The later Aztec culture saw the Toltecs as their intellectual and cultural predecessors and described Toltec culture emanating from Tōllān[ˈtoːlːaːn] as the epitome of civilization; in the Nahuatl language the word Tōltēcatl[toːlˈteːkat͡ɬ] (singular) or Tōltēcah[toːlˈteːkaʔ] (plural) came to take on the meaning "artisan". The Aztec oral and pictographic tradition also described the history of the Toltec Empire, giving lists of rulers and their exploits.
Toltecayotl is a Nahuatl word derived from "tōltēcātl" which as used by the Nahuas to refer to the members of the Toltec civilization that preceded them in the basin of Mexico, as well as a generalized meaning of "artisan".
The Mexicans were anxious to claim a Toltec heritage, so they chose a nobleman of Toltec origin as their first king, a man named Acamapichtli. He fathered a great many children by 20 wives, and his descendants became the heart of a new social class in the empire - the nobles or pipiltin (singular pilli). From then on, a king would always be chosen from among the pipiltin.
Acamapichtli was the first tlatoani, or ruler, of the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan, and founder of the Aztec imperial dynasty. He became ruler in 1375 and reigned for 19 years.
The Pipiltzin were the noble social class in the Mexica Empire. They are below the ruling nobles in the civilization's social structure and above the commoners who achieved noble status due to an outstanding deed in war. These people were members of the hereditary nobility and occupied positions in the government as ambassadors and ministers, the army and the priesthood. The subclasses within the Pipiltzin were: tlahtohcapilli, tecpilli or teucpilli, tlazohpilli, and calpanpilli.
Basically, the ruling positions were not hereditary, but preference was given to those in the "royal families". Originally the pipiltin status was not hereditary, although the sons of pillis had access to better resources and education, so it was easier for them to become pillis. Later the class system took on hereditary aspects.
The nobles had many other privileges. They generally received a fuller education, they were allowed to wear fancier clothes and decorate their houses. They were allowed to hold important government offices. But not all had positions of authority - some were craftsmen, or even palace servants. Those who served with distinction could move up the ranks.
The second class were the macehualtin (people), originally peasants. Eduardo Nogueraestimates that in later stages only 20% of the population was dedicated to agriculture and food production. The other 80% of society were warriors, artisans and traders.
The mācēhualtin were the commoner social class in the Mexica Empire, commonly referred to as the Aztec Empire.
A peasant is a pre-industrial agricultural laborer or farmer, especially one living in the Middle Ages under feudalism and paying rent, tax, fees, or services to a landlord. In Europe, peasants were divided into three classes according to their personal status: slave, serf, and free tenant. Peasants either hold title to land in fee simple, or hold land by any of several forms of land tenure, among them socage, quit-rent, leasehold, and copyhold.
Slaves or tlacotin also constituted an important class. Aztecs could become slaves because of debts, as a criminal punishment, or as war captives. A slave could have possessions and even own other slaves.[ citation needed ] Slavery in Aztec society was in some ways more humane than in Western cultures. While some slaves were punished criminals or prisoners of war, others sold themselves or their children into slavery due to economic hardship. Slaves could free themselves by repaying their purchase price. They could marry and own property, and their children were born free.
Slavery is any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing individuals to own, buy and sell other individuals, as a de jure form of property. A slave is unable to withdraw unilaterally from such an arrangement and works without remuneration. Many scholars now use the term chattel slavery to refer to this specific sense of legalised, de jure slavery. In a broader sense, however, the word slavery may also refer to any situation in which an individual is de facto forced to work against their own will. Scholars also use the more generic terms such as unfree labour or forced labour to refer to such situations. However, and especially under slavery in broader senses of the word, slaves may have some rights and protections according to laws or customs.
Traveling merchants called pochteca were a small, but important class as they not only facilitated commerce, but also communicated vital information across the empire and beyond its borders. They were often employed as spies.[ citation needed ]
The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521. The Aztec peoples included different ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Aztec culture was organized into city-states (altepetl), some of which joined to form alliances, political confederations, or empires. The Aztec empire was a confederation of three city-states established in 1427, Tenochtitlan, city-state of the Mexica or Tenochca; Texcoco; and Tlacopan, previously part of the Tepanec empire, whose dominant power was Azcapotzalco. Although the term Aztecs is often narrowly restricted to the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, it is also broadly used to refer to Nahua polities or peoples of central Mexico in the prehispanic era, as well as the Spanish colonial era (1521–1821). The definitions of Aztec and Aztecs have long been the topic of scholarly discussion, ever since German scientist Alexander von Humboldt established its common usage in the early nineteenth century.
Aztec warfare concerns the aspects associated with the militaristic conventions, forces, weaponry and strategic expansions conducted by the Late Postclassic Aztec civilizations of Mesoamerica, including particularly the military history of the Aztec Triple Alliance involving the city-states of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, Tlacopan and other allied polities of the central Mexican region.
The Aztec Empire, or the Triple Alliance, began as an alliance of three Nahua altepetl city-states: Mexico-Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. These three city-states ruled the area in and around the Valley of Mexico from 1428 until the combined forces of the Spanish conquistadores and their native allies under Hernán Cortés defeated them in 1521.
Eagle warriors or eagle knights were a special class of infantry soldier in the Aztec army, one of the two leading military special forces orders in Aztec society. They were a type of Aztec warrior called a cuāuhocēlōtl[kʷaːwoˈseːloːt͡ɬ]. The word cuāuhocēlōtl derives from the eagle warrior cuāuhtli and the jaguar warrior ocēlōtl[oˈseːloːt͡ɬ]. These military orders were made up of the bravest soldiers of noble birth and those who had taken the greatest number of prisoners in battle. Of all of the Aztec warriors, they were the most feared. Eagle warriors, along with the jaguar warriors, were the only such classes which did not restrict access solely to the nobility, as commoners or, in Nahuatl, "mācēhualli" Nahuatl pronunciation: [maːseːwalːi] were occasionally admitted for special merit. The eagles were soldiers of the Sun, for the eagle was the symbol of the Sun. Eagle warriors dressed like eagles, adorning themselves with eagle feathers, and wearing headgear with an eagle head on it.
Social class in ancient Rome was hierarchical, but there were multiple and overlapping social hierarchies, and an individual's relative position in one might be higher or lower than in another. The status of freeborn Romans during the Republic was established by:
The Aztec religion is the Mesoamerican religion of the Aztecs. Like other Mesoamerican religions, it had elements of human sacrifice in connection with a large number of religious festivals which were held according to patterns of the Aztec calendar. Polytheistic in its theology, the religion recognized a large and ever increasing pantheon of gods and goddesses; the Aztecs would often incorporate deities whose cults came from other geographic regions or peoples into their own religious practice. Aztec cosmology divides the world into thirteen heavens and nine earthly layers or netherworlds, each level associated with a specific set of deities and astronomical objects. The most important celestial entities in Aztec religion were the Sun, the Moon, and the planet Venus —all of these bearing different symbolic and religious meanings as well as associations with certain deities and geographical places—whose worship was rooted in a significant reverence for the Sun and Moon. One name for the Aztecs is "Warriors of the Sun."
Pre-Columbian Aztec society was a highly complex and stratified society that developed among the Aztecs of central Mexico in the centuries prior to the Spanish conquest of Mexico, and which was built on the cultural foundations of the larger region of Mesoamerica. Politically, the society was organized into independent city-states, called altepetls, composed of smaller divisions (calpulli), which were again usually composed of one or more extended kinship groups. Socially, the society depended on a rather strict division between nobles and free commoners, both of which were themselves divided into elaborate hierarchies of social status, responsibilities, and power. Economically the society was dependent on agriculture, and also to a large extent on warfare. Other economically important factors were commerce, long distance and local, and a high degree of trade specialization.
Aztec slavery, within the structure of the Mexica society, produced many slaves, known by the Nahuatl word, tlacotin. Within Mexica society, slaves constituted an important class.
Human sacrifice was common to many parts of Mesoamerica. Thus the rite was nothing new to the Aztecs when they arrived at the Valley of Mexico, nor was it something unique to pre-Columbian Mexico. Other Mesoamerican cultures, such as the Purépechas and Toltecs, performed sacrifices as well and from archaeological evidence, it probably existed since the time of the Olmecs, and perhaps even throughout the early farming cultures of the region. Although the extent of human sacrifice is unknown among several Mesoamerican civilizations, such as Teotihuacán, what distinguished Maya and Aztec human sacrifice was the importance with which it was embedded in everyday life.
Tlaxcala was a pre-Columbian city and state in central Mexico.
Aztec cuisine is the cuisine of the former Aztec Empire and the Nahua peoples of the Valley of Mexico prior to European contact in 1519.
Aztec clothing is the clothing that was worn by the Aztecs, as well as other pre-Columbian peoples of central Mexico who shared similar cultures. Strict sumptuary laws dictated the type of fiber, ornamentation and how clothing was worn by class.
Yanakuna were originally individuals in the Inca Empire who left the ayllu system and worked full-time at a variety of tasks for the Inca, the quya or the religious establishment. A few members of this serving class enjoyed high social status and were appointed officials by the Sapa Inca. They could own property and sometimes had their own farms, before and after the conquest.
The pre-Columbian history of the territory now comprising contemporary Mexico is known through the work of archaeologists and epigraphers, and through the accounts of the conquistadors, clergymen, and indigenous chroniclers of the immediate post-conquest period. While relatively few documents of the Mixtec and Aztec cultures of the Post-Classic period survived the Spanish conquest, more progress has been made in the area of Mayan archaeology and epigraphy.
Cē Ācatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl is a mythologised figure appearing in 16th-century accounts of Nahua historical traditions, where he is identified as a ruler in the 10th century of the Toltecs— by Aztec tradition their predecessors who had political control of the Valley of Mexico and surrounding region several centuries before the Aztecs themselves arrived on the scene.
Atlantean figures are carved stone support columns or pillars in the shape of fierce men in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. These figures are considered to be "massive statues of Toltec warriors". They take their name from the European tradition of similar Atlas or Atalante figures in classical architecture, which was then revived in the Renaissance and especially popular in Baroque architecture. Atlantean here refers to the figures' supporting posture, alluding to the load-bearing Titan Atlas, not Atlantis.
African slaves were owned by Native Americans from the colonial period until the United States' Civil War. The interactions between Native Americans and African Slaves in the antebellum United States is complex, given that slavery played a significant role in the creation and construction of America. This slavery institution relied largely on the enslavement of Africans and Native Americans owned by white European colonists and later white Americans after the United States gained independence from Great Britain.