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The Aztec Empire had a Rich Culture with Frightening Religious Practices

By dchavez9258 Oct 17, 2013 787 Words
Between the years of 1321 and 1521 c.e, the Aztec Empire of Central Mexico was the most powerful culture in the New World. The Aztecs ruled most of Mexico and some parts of Central America. The Aztecs weren’t always known as ‘Aztecs’. They used to be known as ‘Mexica’. This term was used when they were slaves for the Toltec Empire in Southern Mexico. The Toltec trained the Mexica for an army. War broke out between the Mexica and the Toltec. Using their knowledge from training, the Mexica won the war. That’s when they escaped into the swampy jungle of Central Mexico. They built their capital city a little after they escaped into the jungle. After they built their capital city, their empire grew and the Aztecs had at least 20 cities. The Aztecs were good at Math, Astronomy, Engineering, and Stone Construction Techniques. In 1519, Hernando Cotes, a Spanish explorer, arrived in Vera Cruz, Mexico. He arrived the same month and year that Quetzalcoatl, a god some Aztecs believed in, was to return. The Aztecs believed Cortes to be Quetzalcoatl. Cortes, along with his conquistadors, took over the Aztec Empire. To begin with, Cortes faked being Quetzalcoatl. He then imprisoned Moctezuma, an Aztec ruler, and seized control of Tenochtitlan. Tenochtitlan was eventually destroyed along with the entire Aztec Empire on August 13th, 1521 and Moctezuma was killed in 1524. The Aztecs were killed not only by the Spanish allies, but also from the diseases brought by the Spaniards. The Spaniards renamed the Aztec Capital, New Spain. The Mexica escaped slavery by using the knowledge they gained when they were trained by the Toltec to be an army. When war broke out between the Toltec and the Mexica, the Toltec were defeated. The Mexica had won war against their Toltec masters. When the Toltec Empire was down, the Mexica saw an opportunity and escaped into the swampy jungles of Central Mexico in 1290 c.e. The Mexica build their capital city on an island in Lake Texacoco. Reasons why are very specific. An Aztec legend says that their medicine man had a prediction; his prediction states the following: “Look for a sign from Gods and you will know when to build our city. When you see an eagle land on a cactus with a serpent in its mouth, that’s where you will build!” They found that eagle on a small island in Lake Texacoco; also know as Mexico City today.

The Aztecs worshiped a sun god; Huitzilopochtli. It was believed by the Aztecs that if the sun god was not fed “divine food”, the sun would not rise. The god’s food was fresh blood from a heart that had just stopped beating. At first, people volunteered to be sacrificed for the god, but as time went by, there were no volunteers and the Aztecs would sacrifice random people. Some Aztecs disagreed with the religion that was being practiced. Instead, they started to believe in the 2nd coming of a 10th century man named Quetzalcoatl. According to legends, this man preached love and peace. It also says he could heal the sick simply by touching them. The most extraordinary thing this legend says is that Quetzalcoatl could transform into a 6ft long cobra with wings. Before 1100C.E, Quetzalcoatl left Mexico and predicted the year and month he would return to “judge the wicked”. He would return in “another form”, some legends said. Around the 1500s, Hernando Cortes, a Spanish explorer, arrived in Vera Cruz, Mexico, the same year and month Quetzalcoatl was to return. Moctezuma, an Aztec ruler, believed Hernando Cortes to be a god; Quetzalcoatl. Due to the Aztecs beliefs of Quetzalcoatl, Hernando Cortes took advantage of their beliefs. The Aztecs believed Cortes to be Quetzalcoatl. Cortes used this to take over the Aztec Empire. Part of Cortés’s way of destroying the Aztec Empire was with technology. The Aztecs weren’t as advanced as the Spaniards. This made it easier for the Spaniards to destroy the Aztecs. The Spaniards arrived at the Aztec Empire with horses. Both the Spaniards and their horses wore armor on the majority of their bodies. This frightened the Aztecs. They believed the horse and the Spaniard was 1 combined creature. Though the Aztecs outnumbered the Spaniards, the weapons carried by the Spaniards were of more advanced technology. The Spaniards had swords, shields, armor, and their secret weapon; diseases. The Spaniards carried diseases including Small Pox. For the Aztecs, Small Pox was new. Since the Aztecs had never experienced Small Pox, it was more difficult to fight off. In the end, 75% of the Aztecs died from diseases brought from the Spaniards and the rest were killed by the Spaniards or taken to become slaves.

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