The Aztec World

Huitzilopochtl, God of the Sun, was the Aztec principal god. He was a bloody god. Following his lead, the Aztecs became the bloodiest civilization of the early Americas. Every year the Aztecs sacrificed thousands of human victims, including children.

Tenochtitlan: A Legendary City

The Aztecs dominated the Valley of Mexico for 100 years, until they were conquered by Hernan Cortez and his conquistadors in 1521. The Aztecs built their capital in the center of Lake Texcoco. Tenochtitlan was a city surrounded by water, with temples and pyramids.

The Aztecs believed the red cactus fruit symbolized the human heart. An eagle, cactus, and snake frequently appear in their rich mythology, and today these items are national symbols of the Republic of Mexico, and appear on the flag.

Rise and Fall of an Empire

Within 50 years of founding Tenochtitlan, the Aztec had extended their rule all across the valley. They formed political alliances with other states. Nobles were at the top of the class structure and fought bravely in battle. Boys were taught from an early age to be warriors. A warrior who captured four or more prisoners could become a Jaguar or Eagle Knight and wear brightly colored body-suits of feathers. Women who died giving birth became goddesses, accompanying the sun across the sky each day from noon until sunset.

By 1519, the Aztec civilization was at its peak. The peoples they conquered provided immense wealth. Prisoners, including children, were captured for human sacrifice. The Aztecs’ rich marketplaces sold gold, silver and gems, embroidered clothing, cotton goods and cacao beans for chocolate drinks.

Within two years, the Aztec culture was destroyed by the Spanish. Tenochtitlan lay in ruins. There would be no more human sacrifices. As the Aztec feared, without life-sustaining blood their gods deserted them and darkness descended on their civilization.

Source: The Aztec World
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