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Aztec Indian people dominating central Mexico at the time of the Spanish conquest. Their language belonged to the Nahuatlan subfamily of Uto-Aztecan languages. They arrived in the Valley of Mexico from the north toward the end of the 12th cent. and until the founding of their capital, Tenochtitln (c.1325) were a poor, nomadic tribe absorbing the culture of nearby states. For the next century they maintained a precarious political autonomy while paying tribute to neighboring tribes, but by alliance, treachery, and conquest during the 15th and early 16th cent. they became a powerful political and cultural group. To the north they established hegemony over the Huastec, to the south over the Mixtec and Zapotec and even ventured as far as Guatemala. Their subjugation of the people of Tlaxcala in the mountains to the east was bloody but only intermittent, and the Tlaxcala people later became allies of the Spanish against the Aztec. Only in the west, where the Tarascan Indians severely defeated them, did the Aztec completely fail to conquer. Aztec Civilization

By absorption of other cultural elements and by conquest the Aztec achieved a composite civilization, based on the heritage of Toltec and Mixteca-Puebla. They attained a high degree of development in engineering, architecture, art, mathematics, and astronomy. The Aztec calendar utilized a 260-day year and a 52-year time cycle. Aztec skill in engineering was evident in the fortifications of their island capital. The Aztec further developed sculpture, weaving, metalwork, ornamentation, music, and picture writing for historical records. Agriculture was well advanced and trade flourished.

The political and social organization was based on three castesnobility, priesthood, and military and merchants. The priesthood was a powerful political as well as religious force. Aztec government was relatively centralized, although many conquered chiefs retained political autonomy; they paid tribute and kept commerce open to the Aztec. The Aztec had a large and efficient army. Prisoners of war were used for human sacrifice to satisfy the many gods of the Aztec pantheon, notably Huitzilopochtli, the chief god, who was god of war. Spanish Conquest

When the Spaniards, under Hernn Corts, arrived in 1519, the Aztec civilization was at its height. However, many subject Indian groups, rebellious against Aztec rule, were only too willing to join the Spanish. Initially, the invaders were aided by the fact that the Aztec believed them to be descendants of the god Quetzalcoatl. Montezuma, the last of the independent Aztec rulers, received Corts, who made him prisoner and attempted to rule through him. The Aztec revolted, Montezuma was killed, and Tenochtitln was razed (1521). Cuauhtmoc, last of the emperors, was murdered (1525), and the Spanish proceeded to subjugate Mexico. Montezuma 1480?-1520, Aztec emperor (c.1502-1520). He is sometimes called Montezuma II to distinguish him from Montezuma I (ruled 1440-69), who carried on conquests around Tenochtitln. His reign was marked by incessant warfare, and his despotic rule caused grave unrest. When Hernn Corts arrived in Mexico he was thus able to gain native allies, notably in the province of the Tlaxcala. Montezuma, believing the Spanish to be descendants of the god Quetzalcoatl, tried to persuade them to leave by offering rich gifts. That failing, he received them in his splendid court at Tenochtitln in Nov., 1519. Corts later seized him as a hostage and attempted to govern through him. In June, 1520, the Aztec rose against the Spanish. Montezuma was killed, although whether by the Spanish or the Aztec is not certain. His successor died a few months later and was replaced by Cuauhtmoc. Montezuma's name is linked by a legend to fabulous treasures that the Spanish appropriated and presumably lost at sea. Bibliography

See Bernal Diaz del Castillo, The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico (tr. by A. P. Maudsley, 1928, repr. 1965); Alfonso Caso, The Aztecs, People of the Sun (tr. 1958, repr. 1967); Laurette Sejourn, Burning Water: Thought and Religion in Ancient Mexico (1961); Jacques Soustelle, The Daily Life of the Aztecs on the Eve of the Spanish Conquest (tr. 1961, repr. 1970); G. C. Vaillant, The Aztecs of Mexico (rev. ed. 1962); B. C. Brundage, A Rain of Darts: The Mexican Aztecs (1973); G. W. Conrad and A. A. Demarest, Religion and Empire: The Dynamics of Aztec and Inca Expansionism (1984); Ross Hassig, Trade, Tribute, and Transportation (1985) and Aztec Warefare (1988).

Aztec Calendar  - http://www.azteccalendar.com
Gregorian-to-Aztec date conversion, with Aztec astrological notes.

Aztecs  - http://home.echo-on.net/~smithda/aztecs.html
Part of a site about World Cultures. Features an article about Montezuma II

Aztlan  - http://www.cc.ukans.edu/~hoopes/aztlan/
Scholarly papers dealing with various Aztec related issues.

Bibliography on Aztec History  - http://www.public.iastate.edu/~rjsalvad/scmfaq/aztecbib.html
List of recommended readings on the ancient peoples of Mexico.

Civilizations in America: The Mexica/Aztecs  - http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/CIVAMRCA/AZTECS.HTM
Overview of this ancient culture with historical, societal, and religious information. Also with pictures.

Day of Destiny  - http://DayofDestiny.com/
Site promoting a book about Aztec prophecy by the Trans-Hyperborean Institute of Science.

Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies  - http://www.famsi.org/
Site with miscellaneous resources about the study of ancient Mesoamerican cultures. Includes access of photo/image archives.

Myths of the Mexica  - http://www.mythsofthemexica.com
Mexica myths and legends with images taken from the codices.

The Aztec (Mexica) Empire  - http://campus.northpark.edu/history//webchron/americas/aztecemp.html
Concise political history from around 1400 until the fall of the empire in 1519.

The Aztec Calendar  - http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/montalvo/Hotlist/aztec.html
Complete information about the calendar with the description of every aspect it covers.

The Aztec Calendar - Pointer/Homepage  - http://www.earthmatrix.com/serie02/cuad02-1.htm
Site breaks down all aspects of the Aztec calendric system.

The Aztecs of Mexico and Their History  - http://northcoast.com/~spdtom/aztec.html
Information about religion, culture, medicine, and the classical Nahuatl language, with help for students and teachers.

The Aztecs/Mexicas  - http://www.indians.org/welker/aztec.htm
Short history and many links to Aztec history and culture.

Tlahuica Culture Home Page  - http://www.albany.edu/~mesmith/tlahuica.html
Archaeological and historical information on the Tlahuica, an Aztec subtribe. With links.

Aztlan  - http://www.cc.ukans.edu/~hoopes/aztlan/
Scholarly papers dealing with various Aztec related issues

The Aztec Calendar  - http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/montalvo/Hotlist/aztec.html
Complete information about the calendar with the description of every aspect it covers.

The Aztec Calendar  - http://www.xs4all.nl/~voorburg/aztec
Site converts Gregorian dates into Aztec Dates

The Aztec Calendar - Pointer/Homepage  - http://www.earthmatrix.com/serie02/cuad02-1.htm
Site breaks down all aspects of the Aztec calendric system

The Aztecs/Mexicas  - http://www.indians.org/welker/aztec.htm
Information source on Aztecs

Tlahuica Cultures of Morelos  - http://www.albany.edu/~mesmith/tlahuica.html
Michael E. Smith, Professor of Anthropology, University at Albany, provides archaeological and historical information on an Aztec ethnic group from Morelos, Mexico.