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Warlike Aztecs: History and Culture



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    The Aztecs were extremely warlike due to political, economic, and social reasons. Politically, the Aztecs used fear and ruthless tactics, as well as strategies, to achieve political goals and expand their empire. Accordingly, their wealth and power depended on collected tribute demanded and collected from conquered tribes, which allowed their economic wealth to further grow in magnificence and prosperity. Finally, the Aztecs’ strong belief in human sacrifice consisted of mostly war captives, in which the Aztecs fought and captured, but did not kill to use for sacrifice ceremonies later on.

    Through the expansion of their empire, as well as their Flower Wars, the Aztecs used fear, threats, and merciless tactics to conquer tribes, expanding their empire, and achieving their political goals. According to the document, “A Flower War according to Ross Hassig,” from Hassig’s book from 1988, Aztec Warfare: Imperial Expansion & Political Control, the Aztecs’ large military size allowed them to “continue fighting until their opponents surrendered. ” Also, Flower Wars were ritual battles where nobody was killed and no land was taken, but captives and prisoners were captured to be sacrificed in religious ceremonies later on.

    Through the display of their many captives in their great city of Tenochtitlan, the Aztecs were able to continue conquering and controlling their enemies and opponents through fear, thus their empire further grew and expanded into a one of the greatest empires of all time. The Aztecs’ constant warfare also supported their economy, and their economic wealth further grew in prosperity and height as they continuously conquered more and more tribes, in which they collected tribute from.

    According to the Codex Mendoza, 1541, “Tribute to the Aztecs,” the Aztecs allowed local leaders of the lands they conquered to “stay in control if they would make their tribute payments to the Aztecs. ” Consequently, the Aztecs became very wealthy while their neighbors became very poor. Furthermore, most of the Aztec’s wealth came from tribute, especially from lower classes and conquered tribes. If they stopped conquering tribes, then the Aztecs would not be able to collect their tribute, and therefore, their economy would suffer. The Aztec’s warlike figure also helped them achieve their strong religious belief of human sacrifice.

    According to the Codex Mendoza, 1541, which showed a picture of the Aztecs performing human sacrifice, Aztec warriors were instructed to “capture their enemies rather than kill them, in part because they needed victims for their sacrifices in their religious ceremonies. ” The Aztecs strongly believed in human sacrifice- that the gods needed human blood to “nourish and sustain the earth. ” The priests would seize the victims one by one and when the victim was thrown on his back upon the pointed stone, the high priest would then pry open the victim’s chest, ripping the heart out with his own hands.

    Furthermore, according to the document, “A Flower War According to Friar Diego Duran, 1581,” from Duran’s book, The History of the Indies of New Spain, during Flower Wars, prisoners were captured but not killed so they could be used and sacrificed at “a later date. ” As mentioned before, Flower Wars were ritual wars where no one was killed and no land was taken, but prisoners were captured to be sacrificed later on. Since the Aztecs mostly used captured prisoners as the victims in their ceremonies, the Flower Wars provided the Aztecs with the victims they needed.

    Warlike Aztecs: History and Culture. (2016, Nov 21). Retrieved from

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