Civilizations Collide: The Aztec Civilization & the Spanish Conquest

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Describes Aztec civilization before the Spanish conquest & the impact of colonialism.

Describes Aztec civilization before the Spanish conquest & the impact of colonialism.

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  • 2. New World Civilizations Aztecs, Mayas & Incas Unlike the Aztecs & Incas, the Maya had no single political center. Mayan society was organized into a number of independent states, forcing the Spanish to subdue them one by one. Many fiercely resisted Spanish incursions. It took 170 years before the last recognized Maya stronghold fell.
  • 3. • The Aztec empire lasted over 200 years. • At its apex, it had about 25 million people. • As it expanded, Aztec society became more & more complex. 
  • 4. Aztec Society was composed of several social classes: • Nobles – Priests, Officials, Warriors • Merchants – Craftsmen, Traders • Commoners – Farmers & Laborers • Slaves
  • 5. Being a noble was hereditary--passed down from one generation to the next. They were government officials, priests & warriors. AZTEC NOBILITY
  • 6. AZTEC PRIESTS • Aztec priests offered sacrifices to the gods to make their crops grow. • There were over 1,000 Aztec gods who represented the forces of nature.
  • 7. Human Sacrifice When the Temple of the Sun in Tenochtitlan was dedicated to the sun & rain gods, 10,000 people were sacrificed.
  • 8. Aztec Warriors • Boys of the nobility were schooled in religion & history. • Boys were also trained in combat & taught to become fierce warriors, unafraid of death. They believed that if they died in war, they would go live with the gods in the heavens. • Warriors also fought hard because the more captives they took, the higher their social rank would be.
  • 9. Literature & Education • Perhaps the most important Aztec artifacts that archaeologists have discovered are the Aztec codices (a kind of book, with pages made from tree bark). The sacred books were painted on deerskin or agave- fiber paper. • The pages opened & closed like folding screens with both pictures & symbols that stood for words. At one time there were hundreds of these • Codices dealt with law, history, the gods, prophesy, astronomy & the universe, ceremonies & the ritual calendar. • Aztec codices were burned by the Spaniards for their pagan religious content.
  • 10. Politics & Law • The Aztec empire was made up of city-states ruled by an emperor (tlatoani or ahaw) & a supreme judge & administrator (cihuacoatl). • The tlatoani was the supreme ruler of the land. He received tribute, oversaw markets & temples, led the military & resolved judicial disputes. • New emperors were elected by a high council of four nobles who were related to the previous ruler. Once a tlatoani was selected, he ruled his city- states for life.
  • 11. Merchants & ARTISANS • Merchants traveled throughout the empire bringing back special foods, colored feathers, jade & cocoa for the nobles. • Merchants & artisans sold many of their goods in city markets throughout the empire. – Cortes later reported that more than 60,000 people visited the city market daily.
  • 12. COMMONERS: Farmers & Laborers • Commoners farmed their own land but also had to farm the nobles' land. • Aztec commoners had to pay tribute (a kind of tax) in goods or services to the government. – Tribute could be paid in crops, jewelry, clothing, or labor on projects like temples & canals.
  • 13. Family Life Men worked in the fields. Women cooked, made cloth & cared for the younger children.
  • 14. SLAVES • Many slaves were captives of war. They were often sacrificed to the gods. • Others had committed crimes or had not repaid debts. Slaves were the lowest level of Aztec society.
  • 15. The Aztec Empire… Extended its power by a combination of trade & military conquest. It did not control territory by large military garrisons in conquered provinces. Instead it controlled client states by installing "friendly" rulers in conquered cities, constructing marriage alliances between ruling dynasties & by extending an imperial ideology to its client states.
  • 16. Tenochtitlan (tay nawch tee TLAN) Center of the Aztec Empire
  • 17. Cortez was awed by its Beauty • It was larger than any Spanish city. • The most common estimates put the population at over 200,000 people; some popular sources put the number as high as 350,000.
  • 18. Tenochtitlan Sat on an Island • It was connected to the mainland by causeways leading north, south & west of the city. These causeways were interrupted by bridges that allowed canoes and other traffic to pass freely. The bridges could be pulled away if necessary to defend the city. The city was interlaced with a series of canals, so that all sections of the city could be visited either on foot or via canoe.
  • 19. A City Surrounded by Lake Texcoco, teeming with fish.
  • 20. “Floating Gardens” Chinampas: Human-made farms that seemed to float.
  • 21. Fresh Water via Aqueduct • Two double aqueducts each more than 2 miles long provided the city with fresh water from the springs at Chapultepec. This was intended mainly for cleaning and washing. • For drinking, mountain springs were channeled into the island too.
  • 22. Spanish & Portuguese Explorations Treaty of Tordesillas (1494)
  • 23. Colonialism in the Americas This map shows European colonies in the Americas around 1763. At that time, European colonies covered extensive areas in North, Central & South America. France, Portugal, Spain, & Britain controlled the greatest amount of territory.
  • 24. Spain’s Viceroyalties
  • 25. The Spanish Colonial System Obedezco…Pero No Cumplo
  • 26. The Crown Rules • Spanish rule over its New World colonies was administered through a system of complex overlapping & conflicting authority. • The ultimate goal was to keep the crown in control of its vast colonial territories. • No one was allowed to gain too much independent power relative to the crown.
  • 27. Overlapping Authority King Council of the Indes Viceroys New Spain Peru Audiencias - Governor - Capt. Gen. - President - Judges Cabildos (Town Councils) Republica de Españoles Corrigedor (Peru) or Alcaldias (New Spain) Ecclesiastical Hierarchies Fiscal Authorities Pope Bishops Orders: (Franciscans Dominicans, etc.) Caciques (or Kurakas) Republica de Indios
  • 28. The Essential Relationship Indians provided taxes, labor & resources… Spain gave the Indians God & “salvation” Cacique & Corregidor
  • 29. Colonial Class Structure
  • 30. The Columbian Exchange