|The Rise and Fall of a Proud Empire |
|Dennis Crum ...view middle of the document...
Before we get to that point however, let’s take a look at how the Aztecs came to be.
As stated earlier, Aztec Indians were not one ethnic group, but a collection of many ethnicities, all sharing a common cultural and historical background. According to Aztec history there were seven Aztec Tribes that lived under oppression in Aztlan. They all eventually fled from Aztlan to the south. In 1111, the Mexica left their native Aztlan to settle in Chicomoztoc (Seven Caves).  According to legend, they had offended their patron god Huitzilopochtli by cutting down a forbidden tree. As a result, the Mexica were condemned to leave Aztlan and forced to wander until they received a sign from their gods, directing them to settle down permanently. The Aztecs wandered many years before they settled in what was to be their homeland in the 1200’s. It is important to note, however, that the Aztlan migrations were not one simple movement of a single group of people. It is believed that the migrations southward probably took place over several generations.
In A.D. 1325, the Aztecs, once again on the run, wandered through the wilderness of swamps that surrounded the salty lakes of the Valley of Mexico. On a small island, the Aztecs finally found their promised omen when they saw a cactus growing out of a rock with an eagle perched atop the cactus. The high priests then proclaimed that they had reached their promised land. As it turns out, the site turned out to be a strategic location, with abundant food supplies and waterways for transportation.
The Aztecs settled down in their new home, Tenochtitlán (Place of the Cactus Fruit) in what today is known as Mexico City. Here the Aztec Indian grew and flourished. At first Tenochtitlan was a crude village of reed and mud huts, but by the early 16th century the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan had become a magnificent city. The Aztecs became highly efficient in their ability to develop a system of dikes and canals to control the water levels and salinity of the lakes. Using canoes and boats, they were able to carry on commerce with other cities along the valley lakes. The limited access to the city provided protection against military attack.
The three Triple Alliance states were originally conceived as equivalent powers, with the spoils of joint conquests to be divided evenly among them. However, Tenochtitlán steadily grew in power at the expense of Texcoco and particularly Tlacopan.  In time the conquests of the alliance began to take the shape of an empire, with the Triple Alliance levying tribute upon their subject towns. According to Aztec history, these three cities then went on to conquer the land to the south and to the east of Tenochtitlan while under the rule of Montezuma I. Montezuma I ruled from 1440 to 1469 and his successors continued to expand the empire. Montezuma II, who became ruler in 1502, was emperor of the Aztec empire during the height of its power. At this...