Social Structures of the Aztecs

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Social Structure of the Aztecs

The Aztec empire in Mesoamerica was one of the major civilizations in the western world during the fifteenth century. It had a distinctly stratified social structure. There were two major classes in the Aztec society, the nobles and the commoners. Within each were further divided into subsets like the great lords, minor lords, warriors, common soldiers…etc. Each class was entitled to various privileges and responsibilities, as governed by law, and violating these laws could result in the death penalty. Of the many rules that members of a social group had to follow, clothing played an important part in displaying one’s social status. The King and high-ranking nobility used bright colors and fancy decorations with precious stones, while common soldiers were allowed to wear plain mantles. Commoners, barred form wearing cotton, used only clothing made of maguey fiber.[1] In addition to clothing, nobles in general enjoyed a lot more privileges like owning bigger houses, having separate chambers in the palace, and holding important office positions. Although social rankings were clearly distinguished in every day life, upward social mobility was possible in the Aztec society. There were three main ways to achieve this: through military, religion, and commerce.[2] Since the Aztecs were constantly conquering new land, battles were common and great warriors were widely honored. The more prisoners a soldier captured the more glory for him since captives were sacrificed as offerings to the Aztec Gods. Apart from war, religion was an integral part in the Aztec life, with elaborate religious ceremonies performed by priests. Therefore priests, from whom government officials would seek advice on political matters, were highly regarded and influential in society. The third way to move up in society was to become a successful merchant, trading valuable goods like cloth and jewelry Being well travelled and having...
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