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The Aztecs were a Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people of central Mexico in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. They called themselves Mexica (pronounced [meˈʃikaʔ]). The Republic of Mexico and its capital, Mexico City, derive their names from the word "Mexica".
The capital of the Aztec empire was Tenochtitlan, built on a raised island in Lake Texcoco. Modern Mexico City is built on the ruins of Tenochtitlan. The Spanish colonization of the Americas reached the mainland during the reign of Huey Tlatoani Moctezuma II (Montezuma II). In 1521 Hernán Cortés, and an allied army of other Native Americans which far outnumbered the defending Aztecs, conquered the Aztecs through germ warfare, siege warfare, modern warfare, and direct combat.
From 1376 until 1427, the Mexica were a tributary of Azcapotzalco. The Aztec rulers Acamapichtli, Huitzilihuitl and Chimalpopoca were, in fact, vassals of Tezozomoc, the Tepanec ruler of Azcapotzalco.
When Tezozomoc died in 1425, his son Maxtla ascended to the throne of Azcapotzalco. Maxtla sought to tighten Azcapotzalco's grip on the nearby city-states in the Valley of Mexico. In the process, Chimalpopoca, tlatoani of Tenochtitlan, was assassinated by Maxtla's agents while Nezahualcoyotl of Texcoco was forced into exile.
1 Arrival in the Valley of Mexico
2 Rise of the Aztecs
3 Aztec Triple Alliance
3.1 The reign of Itzcoatl 1427–1440
3.2 Moctezuma I and Tlacaelel 1440–1469
3.3 The reigns of Axayacatl 1469–1481 and Tizoc 1481–1486 3.4 The reign of Moctezuma II Xocoyotzin
4 Fall of the Aztec Empire
4.1 The fate of the Aztec empire under Spanish rule
6 See also
Arrival in the Valley of Mexico
In the Valley of Mexico (c. AD 1250), there existed numerous city-states, including Chalco, Xochimilco, Tlacopan, Culhuacan, and Atzcapotzalco. The most powerful were Culhuacan on the south shore of Lake Texcoco and Azcapotzalco on the west shore.
As a result, when the Mexica arrived in the Valley of Mexico as a semi-nomadic tribe, they found most of the area already occupied. In roughly 1248, they first settled on Chapultepec, a hill on the west shore of Lake Texcoco, the site of numerous springs.
In time, the Tepanecs of Azcapotzalco ousted the Mexica from Chapultepec and the ruler of Culhuacan, Cocoxtli, gave the Mexica permission to settle in the empty barrens of Tizaapan in 1299. There they married and assimilated into Culhuacan culture.
In 1323, they asked the new ruler of Culhuacan, Achicometl, for his daughter, in order to make her the goddess Yaocihuatl. Unknown to the king, the Mexica actually planned to sacrifice her. The Mexica believed that by doing this the princess would join the gods as a deity. As the story goes, during a festival dinner, a priest came out wearing her flayed skin as part of the ritual. Upon seeing this, the king and the people of Culhuacan were horrified and expelled the Mexica.
Forced to flee, in 1315 they went to a small island on the west side of Lake Shinshu where they began to build their city Tenochtitlan, eventually creating a large artificial island. It is said that the Aztec god, Huitzlipochtli, instructed the Aztecs to found their city at the location where they saw an eagle, on a cactus, with a snake in its talons(which is on the current Mexican flag). The Aztecs, apparently, saw this vision on the small island where Tenochtitlan was founded.
Another Mexica (ma-shee-kah) group settled on the north side of this island: this would become the city of Tlatelolco. Originally, this was an independent Mexica kingdom, but eventually it was absorbed by Tenochtitlan, and treated as a "fifth" quadrant. The famous marketplace described by Hernán Cortés and Bernal Diaz del Castillo was actually located in Tlatelolco.
In 1376 the Mexica elected their first tlatoani, Acamapichtli, following customs learned from the Culhuacan....
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