A civilization in Civilization Revolution 2
|Begin the game with||Wealth of gold|
The origin of the Aztec people is uncertain, but their traditional stories suggest that they were a tribe of hunter-gatherers on the northern Mexican plateau before their appearance in Meso-America in the 12th century AD. Once in their new homeland the Aztecs settled on islands in Lake Texcoco and in 1325 AD founded the capital city of Tenochtitlan.
The basis of the Aztecs' success in creating a great state and ultimately an empire was their remarkable system of agriculture, which featured intensive cultivation of all available land, as well as elaborate systems of irrigation and reclamation of swampland. The high productivity gained by these methods made them a rich and populous people able to support a large and potent military class.
Under a succession of ambitious kings, through commerce and conquest the Aztecs established a dominion that eventually stretched over most of present-day Mexico. Tenochtitlan came to rule an empire of 400 to 500 small states, comprising by 1519 some five to six million people spread over 80,000 square miles.
Valor in war was the surest path to advancement in Aztec society, which was caste- and class-divided but nonetheless vertically fluid. The priestly and bureaucratic classes were involved in the administration of the empire, while at the bottom of society were classes of serfs, indentured servants, and slaves.
In 1502 the ninth emperor Montezuma II (1502-1520) succeeded his uncle Ahuitzotl as the leader of an empire that had reached its greatest extent, stretching from what is now northern Mexico to Honduras and Nicaragua. The Aztec empire was still expanding, and its society still evolving, when its progress was halted in 1519 by the appearance of Spanish adventurers.
For all its apparent strength, the Aztec Empire had vulnerabilities that the Spanish were able to exploit. Aztec rule was based upon a system of tribute and fear over the surrounding peoples; every year, they were forced to pay the Aztecs money, goods, and a supply of captives to be sacrificed on the altar. Taking advantage of this resentment of their Aztec overlords, the tiny Spanish force was able to attract a massive army of some 30,000 Mesoamericans of many different tribes. After mistaking the Spanish for gods and inviting them into Tenochtitlan, Montezuma was taken prisoner by Hernando Cortes and died in custody. Montezuma's successors, Cuitlahuac and Cuauhtemoc, were unable to stave off the force raised by the conquistadors and, with the Spanish sack of Tenochtitlan in 1521, the Aztec empire came to an end.
Quetzalcoatl, one of the most prominent gods in the Aztec pantheon and the god whom Hernan Cortes impersonated to win the Aztec's trust, was not solely worshipped by the Aztecs. In Mayan, he was known as Kukulkan.
The Aztecs were originally a nomadic people from northern Mexico. Legend has it that only when they discovered an eagle devouring a snake standing atop a cactus could they finally rest. They are thought to have found just such a sight in the heart of Lake Texcoco, which would become the site of the Aztecs' aquatic capital.
La Malinche was a native of the New World who acted as a translator (and mistress) for Hernan Cortes. Reviled by some, pitied by others, La Malinche was an integral part of the conquest of the Aztecs by the Spanish.