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Aztec Civilization: Ancient Aztec Government

The Aztecs utilized diverse strategies to create a strong civilization, including human sacrifice and purity of blood. The manner of choosing brides can represent the intention to remain the civilization clean and respectful because the requirement for all princesses was to be pure descendants of Toltec. Moreover, Tizoc made around 20 000 human sacrifices to the gods to succeed in rebuilding the ancient temple (Barroqueiro 4). These two examples show traditional patterns of behavior that explain the strength of the Aztec civilization. Traditional thinking does not include making rational decisions; therefore, the representatives of the Aztec civilization relied only on their spiritual, religious, and cultural beliefs. Due to the severity of several traditions, this population could frighten other nations and win leading positions.

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To create order, the Aztecs used various strategies, especially their hierarchical governmental structure and the existence of the main leader. Based on the subjects that could partake in decision-making processes, it can be concluded that separate groups of families could possess much power by being members of the City Council of Tenochtitlan or other cities. This involvement in the civilization’s policy gives its members a sense of belonging along with an understanding of their role in the governmental structure. Moreover, the presence of the “Great Speaker,” the most powerful creature in the hierarchy, is an integral factor for establishing order (Ancient Aztec Government). Such a leader allowed citizens to feel part of a protected, safe, powerful, and successful civilization and supported specific behavioral patterns set by traditions. Both strategies supported the traditional way of living, involved many representatives in the governmental system, gave people a sense of democracy, and led them through difficulties.

The Aztecs had several main reasons for conducting human sacrifices, and their central motives were to nourish the sun and rise it. The first belief correlates with the internal heat of the sun that was believed to be cooled with human hearts and blood (Barroqueiro 6). Under modern circumstances, the constant heat can be explained by the climate zone the Aztec civilization lived in; however, by that time, the most convenient explanation was the sun as an animated creature. The second motive for human sacrifice is based on the dependence of the sun’s motion from people’s hearts; hence, the Aztecs utilized this tool for exercising control over the locomotion of this celestial object. Both motives were supported by Aztec’s belief in the power and will of the Sun; they considered human sacrifices to be the most appropriate way of pleasing this creature. Hence, cutting off people’s hearts can be understood as a religious and spiritual tool that helped people survive strong heat.

The two most significant features of the Aztec taxation system are the territories under this system and the frequency of diverse taxes. For example, taxes are taken once, twice, or sometimes even four times a year depending on their substance (Smith 19). In addition, the government of the Aztecs took taxes from their own, conquered, and non-conquered territories. The thing that differed from state to state was the conditions of taking the corresponding taxes (for military support or on its official rights). Moreover, some payments were taken as gifts in return for martial support and loyalty. Hence, the frequency of paying taxes depends on their specifics, while the conditions are based on the status of certain states.

However, the forms of the discussed taxes represent other significant features of the taxation system. People could give these obligatory payments to the government in two different forms – physical and manual. For example, the obligation for young men to serve in the military was considered a military corvee (Smith 21). Additionally, the taxes were paid in the form of money; however, the most usual payments were utilitarian goods or luxury objects. These included cacao beans, objects sold on the markets, cotton, or other foodstuffs. The most considerable foodstuff taxes were the market and land taxes, while labor payments included military and public work corvees. Hence, diverse forms of taking taxes utilized by the government of the Aztecs formed the specific features of their taxation system.

Works Cited

“Ancient Aztec Government.” Aztec-History.com, n. d.

Barroqueiro, Silverio A. “The Aztecs: A Pre-Columbian History.” Yale-New Heaven Teachers Institute, 1999.

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Smith, Michael E. “The Aztec Paid Taxes, Not Tribute.” Mexicon, vol. 36, no. 1, 2014, pp. 19-22.

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