The Fall of the Aztecs
Spanish HorrorAztec PeopleThe Marketplace
"The fashion of living [in Mexico] is almost the same as in Spain with just as much harmony and order...." Cortés to Charles V, 1521

Warriors and merchants were among the most powerful members of Aztec society. A war-like tribe, the Mexica began grooming their boys for battle upon birth, when they would be instructed that "War is thy desert, thy task," and their umbilical cords buried in locations where the enemy might appear. No male who failed to heed the call to war could expect to go far, and advancement in the army depended on the number of the enemy that a warrior might capture. Their warriors aim was to be annointed a "jaguar" or an "eagle," the bravest of all the warriors. The merchants were also very influential. They traveled to far regions for trade, and exchanged manufactured items for raw materials throughout the empire.

Life for the Mexica was also rich in religion and ritual. The Aztecs had innumerable gods, but among the most notable were Xipe-Totec, Huitzilopochtli, Tezcatlipoca, and Quetzalcoatl. Xipe-Totec, "Our Lord the Flayed," could regenerate plants; Tezcatlipoca, the "Smoking Mirror," protected young warriors in battle; Huitzilopochtli, "Hummingbird-on-the-Left," was the god of the sun and war. It was he whom the Aztecs attempted to satiate with their bloody human sacrifices. Finally there was Quetzalcoatl, the "Feathered Serpent," who represented wisdom, knowledge and culture.

Birth was a defining moment in each Aztec's life; one's day of birth could determine one's destiny. Soon after a child was born, a soothsayer was summoned to name the newborn's sign. A man born under the sign of "One Flower," for example, would be happy, quite able, and much given to song and joy. A women would be a great embroiderer.

Aztec Scroll Feature
The Merchant
The merchant is a vendor, a seller, a practiser of commerce, a watcher of the marketplace. The good merchant is a maker of profits, a securer of increase. He negotiates contracts, he makes agreements, he helps others.
Aztec Scroll Feature
The Heavens Open, the Earth is Rent
The Heavens Open, the Earth is Rent: This was said of the very wonderful which happened. So it is said: "Now a great marvel is come to pass. The heavens open, the earth is rent."

One Flower
The fourth sign, "One Flower." And the man born upon it, they said, and it was averred, would be happy, quite able, and much given to song and joy: a jester, an entertainer. And it was said that the women were great embroiderers.
Credit: "General History of the Things of New Spain" (Florentine Codex), Books I-IX and XII, translated by Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble. Santa Fe, New Mexico and Salt Lake City: The School of American Research and the University of Utah Press. Used courtesy of the University of Utah Press.
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