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The Aztecs: Lecture 5
May 19, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
This series of 10 one-hour lectures by Prof Maria Chester, delivered online, studies the Aztec civilisation in all its splendour. No previous knowledge is assumed. Lectures are at 4 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting May 5th.
The Aztec Empire is among the most famous Mesoamerican cultures that existed before the arrival of Europeans in the early 16th century. Formed after a ‘Triple Alliance’ of city states in the valley of Mexico – namely Tenochtitlan, Texcoco and Tlacopan – the empire was the dominant force in the region for almost a century until it was interrupted by the arrival of the Spaniards. Tenochtitlan was the Aztec capital city which Hernan Cortes would first admire and then destroy in 1519.
The Aztecs actually called themselves the ‘Mexica’ and spoke the Nahuatl language. We will also study in depth their political confederation, their customs, their religion, their commerce and their society. The Aztecs didn’t directly rule their subjects in the same way a European empire like the Romans did. Rather than direct control, the Aztecs subjugated nearby city states but left the local rulers in charge, then demanded regular tribute – leading to great wealth for Tenochtitlan.
Despite primitive technologies and the lack of load bearing animals, the Aztecs constructed many great religious buildings. Aztec architects were skilled masons. Their warriors went to battle to catch captives, not to kill, while the conquistadors were trained to kill instead of to take prisoners. This fabulous civilisation died out due to smallpox brought by the Europeans among other reasons.
Lectures will be delivered via Zoom. If you haven’t used Zoom before, please go to www.zoom.us and look at the tutorials. An invitation to each lecture will be emailed to you.
Lecture 5: AZTEC SOCIETY