Expanding Through Trade • Their long trek to find their sacred homeland left the Aztec people extremely independent and resourceful • To build their empire, they employed a few different means • Trade alliances • Defensive alliances • Conquest • This shows two sides of the Aztecs – the warrior and the trader • The Aztecs were amazing farmers – so why would they need to trade?
Trapped by Geography • Even with all their farming skills, the Aztecs still could not farm certain crops • The city was approximately 2000 metres above sea level • They could not cultivate tropical produce • Avocados, papayas, and cacao • They also could not get bright bird feathers that they adorned themselves with • The city also did not have gold or silver deposits • To get these things merchants travelled great distances with slaves to carry the goods back • Merchants also acted as spies
Expanding Through War • Huitzilopochtli prophesied: “We shall conquer all the people in the universe. I will make you lords and kings of every place in the world.” • This helped motivate the Aztecs to create a powerful empire • When the Spanish arrived in 1519, the Aztecs controlled the largest empire in North America • 77,000 sq. miles population of 200,000-300,000 people • How did they do this? • They believed that the group (society) was more important than the individual (citizen) • This was a strongly held belief by all
A Warrior Society • When a boy was born into Aztec society, he was immediately initiated into the warrior aspect of life • This was symbolized by placing a very tiny bow and shield in his hands • He was committing to protect the Aztec people even before he could walk, talk, or think, pretty much • What does this tell us about Aztec culture? • Military service was compulsory in Aztec society • The worst insult that could be given was to call someone a coward • Why would this be so?
Aztec Poetry (Again!) • Poetry was created to praise the gods, to share stories and to celebrate the beauty of the natural world • Poems were usually recited or sung to music • It was also often meant to teach a lesson Loved and tender son, This is the will of the gods. You are not born in your true house Because you are a warrior. Your land Is not here, but in another place. You are promised to the field of battle. You are dedicated to war. You must give the Sun your enemies' blood. You must feed the earth with corpses. Your house, your fortune, and your destiny Is in the House of the Sun.
Tribute • The Aztecs profited greatly when they conquered other people • They began to take tribute (valuable gifts and taxes) from those they conquered • They kept records of the tribute they received • Blankets, feathered headdresses, shields, strings of jade beads, cocoa beans • Cocoa beans were very important • They were a key ingredient in a drink thought to make one gain wisdom and power • Cocoa beans, chili peppers and cornmeal • They were also used as currency