How did the Aztec Empire expand?
•TheAztecs made the city of Tenochtitlan their home
after defeated a tribe called theTepanecs in 1428 C.E.
•Their leader, Moctezuma helped the empire grow until it
covered much of Central Mexico and evenGuatemala
•At the height of the empire, there were 5 million people
Interestingly Enough…When Aztecs took
control of land, they:
• DID NOT force conquered peoples to adopt their ways of life
• Create city-states that were forced to pay tribute (taxes) to
supportTenochtitlan’s large population
• Tribute could include:
• Food, cacao, gems/stones, cotton, cloth, animals, building materials, and
• 7,000 tons of maize (corn) and 2 million cotton clothing cloaks were
average numbers of goods traded! WOW!
• Tax collectors were spread throughout the empire to make sure
everyone paid taxes.
7 Steps to Controlling an Empire
1. divide the
2. base power on
5. let local rulers govern
their own regions as
4. Exercise loose control
over much of the empire
or slaughter the
inhabitants if they
the early 1500s,
the Aztecs controlled a vast Mesoamerican
empire, which stretched from central
Mexico to the Atlantic and
6. respond brutally
to local rulers who
fail to pay tribute
conquered people in
the form of gold, maize, labor
AztecWarfare: War was the center of Aztec
• Successful battles allowed Aztecs to gain land,
laborers to build, and sacrificial victims!
• To please their most important god
Huitzilopochtli, they needed A LOT of blood,
and captured many people to sacrifice.
• They also threatened to sacrifice people in
lands they took control of…This way, they paid
-Every male Aztec trained to be a soldier
-In battle, they used bows, arrows, spears, and wooden
swords and stone blades
-Warriors often carried shields with figures of animals on
them. (The figures would represent different strengths,
like the jaguar or eagle.)
DECLARATION of WAR: First, Aztecs asked a city to join
their empire. The city had 60 days to agree. If they
refused, the Aztecs declared war.
• As armies faced each other, a general gave attack signal
• Warriors fought commonly in hand-hand combat
• Most wars ended quickly, usually Aztecs won
• After a win, Aztecs would bring captives toTenochtitlan, and
most were sacrificed!
Aztec Rulers Allowed…
• Conquered cities to keep their religion, language, customs, and original
• However, most conquered people never felt truly Aztec
• They wanted freedom, and this led to lack of unity in the Aztec empire
• Later, the Spanish took advantage of that weakness and made the Aztec
enemies their allies to fight against the Aztecs