Describe and discuss the Aztec civilization. What factors may have lead to its collapse?

Essay by krustybroncosUniversity, Bachelor'sC+, June 2006

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The Aztec civilization was the name given to the group of different states that dominated central and southern Mexico. These states were allied but ethnically different between the 12th and 16th centuries, around the time of the Spanish invasion.

The Heinemann Australian Dictionary (1992) defines the word Aztec as:

"a) any of a people inhabiting Mexico between A.D. 1100 and A.D. 1519 (the Spanish Invasion). b) their language, a variety of which is still spoken in Mexico."

The language of the Aztecs was Nahuatlan branch of the Uto-Aztecan family. The name "Aztec" is derived from a mythical homeland to the north called Azatlán; the Aztecs also called themselves the Mexica. Because of the decline in the Toltec civilization, they arrived in the Valley of Mexico from the north around 1110-1325AD. In 1325AD - The Aztecs founded the city of Tenochtitlan (modern day Mexico City) on an island in the lake of Texcoco.

All these immigrants created hostile states. At the end of the 14th century there were only two dominant powers: Azcapotzalco in the west and Texcoco on the east.

The Mexica were a client state of Azcapotzalco. With the defeat of Texcoco in the 15th century, Azcapotzalco controlled the entire valley.

The creation of these allied states came about by in 1430 an army from Tenochtitlan and the former king of Texcoco defeated Azcapotzalco. These two rulers and a ruler from Tlacopan created the alliance that controlled the Valley of Mexico and created the Aztec civilization for over one hundred years. They became a powerful political and cultural group. To the north they had control over the Huastec, to the south the Mixtec and Zapotec and ventured as far south as Guatemala. (New Illustrated Columbia Encyclopedia, 1979, p. 551).

By absorption of other cultural elements and by conquest the...