The Aztecs followed a strict social hierarchy in which individuals were identified as nobles (pipiltin), commoners (macehualtin), serfs, or slaves. The noble class consisted of government and military leaders, high level priests, and lords (tecuhtli). The tecuhtli included landowners, judges, and military commanders.
Aztec society was a patriarchal society in which the men led the family and ruled within the government. The Aztec family was structured with the man as the head of the home and his primary wife. His primary wife was given the most significant ceremony and the children he had with her were considered his inheritors.
Aztec society was rigidly structured within social, political, and religious hierarchies. Aztec society was composed of eight different social classes which were made up of rulers, warriors, nobility, priests and priestesses, free poor, slaves, servants, and the middle class.
The Aztecs, Texcoco and Tlacopan joined forces in 1428 to create the Triple Alliance. This vast expansion meant that the Aztec had conquered and suppressed many different groups of Mesoamerican peoples. The Aztec controlled these different societies by forcing them to provide tributes for payment and ritual sacrifice.
On the state level, religion was controlled by the Tlatoani and the high priests governing the main temples in the ceremonial precinct of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.
One aspects of Aztec life that is interesting about the Aztecs is their laws concerning infidelity of a wife – or adultery. He could kill him with a strong blow to the head or he would give mercy and forgiveness to the male adulterer. For the female adulterers, it was immediate, she would be strangled to death.
Aztec kings reportedly had dozens of wives and many children. However, polygamy was only a practice among the nobles of Aztec civilization; the majority of the population were monogamous.
Aztec society was organized into groups called calpullis, communities of families that shared land, schools, and a temple. Each capulli elected a leader who took orders from the king. The King was the most important person in Aztec society.
The Aztec were master builders and constructed many different types of structures, such as pyramids, ball courts, plazas, temples, and homes.
Aztec society was divided into five main social classes. At the top of the class structure were the ruler and his family. Next came a noble class of government officials, priests, and high-ranking warriors. The third and largest class was made up of commoners, citizens who were not of noble rank.
Their relatively sophisticated system of agriculture (including intensive cultivation of land and irrigation methods) and a powerful military tradition would enable the Aztecs to build a successful state, and later an empire.
How did the Aztecs build and control their empire? The Aztecs built their empire by forming the Triple Alliance and controlled it by demanding tribute and responding harshly to defiance. The Aztecs believed that the sun god Huitzilopochtli made the sun rise every day, as long as he was nourished by human blood.
The Aztecs built alliances, or partnerships, to build their empire. The Aztecs made the people they conquered pay tribute, or give them cotton, gold, or food. The Aztecs controlled a huge trade network. Markets drew buyers and sellers from all over the Aztec Empire.
The Aztec government was similar to a monarchy where an Emperor or King was the primary ruler. They called their ruler the Huey Tlatoani. The Huey Tlatoani was the ultimate power in the land. When an emperor died, the new emperor was chosen by a group of high ranking nobles.
The Aztecs worshipped hundreds of deities and honored them all in a variety of rituals and ceremonies, some featuring human sacrifice. In the Aztec creation myths, all the gods had sacrificed themselves repeatedly to bring the world and humans into being.
Temple-pyramids were used for religious ceremonies and sacrifice. The Aztecs believed their pyramids were the homes of their gods and places of worship. Burials have been found within their walls, and the pyramids were also used to perform rituals of sacrifice.