The Social Structure Of The Aztec Empire

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The Aztec Empire belongs to the group of the Mesoamerican civilizations. From the 13th to the 16th century the Aztecs steadily conquered and ruled over Central-America. We have to note that the word ‘Aztec’ refers to the Nahuatl speaking communities of Mesoamerica. The term was coined by the European conquerors, and was not used by the natives. They called themselves as the Mexica. The Empire lived in its prime and met its demise during the 16th century. The Spanish conquistador easily subdued the Aztecs. Not much survived the onslaught. Written texts and settlements were eradicated. The few survivors were forcefully converted to the Catholic faith and were made to abandon their ‘savage’ way of life. Fortunately, through oral tradition much information survived about the ways of the Aztecs. A written source called the Florentine Codex also contributed to our understanding of their culture. In this codex a Spanish monk, named Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, documented the religion, ritual practices, social structure, economics and cosmological views the Aztecs. With the help of native disciples of Bernardino, the codex was written in Nahuatl, and also contains the Spanish translation of the Nahuatl recordings. In this essay, I would like to focus on the social structure of the Aztec people. After a brief summary about the origins of this civilization, I take a closer look at the main groups that made up the Aztec society by highlighting the main characteristics of them.
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