The Aztecs (1325-1519)
Standards: 7.7.2
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Aztec Society

Key Terms and People

agrarian: most of one's life related to farming

tribute: goods paid as taxes by conquered peoples

prime minister: the chief official appointed by the ruler of a country


Section Notes

Aztec Life

  • The Aztecs were divided into two main classes: nobles and commoners. They made up just 5 to 10 percent of the population. They also served as government officials. Commoners lived in adjoining houses around a central courtyard. They wore plain close woven from coarse fiber. The lowest level of society were slaves who worked for noble families. Some slaves were commoners, others were prisoners of war. Slaves could marry and own property, their children were born free, and they could purchase their freedom. Despite class differences, all Aztec children attended school for a least a few years. Most commoners were farmers, others respected jobs were artisans and long-distance traders.

Government and Religion

  • Aztecs were dedicated to the practice of war. They waged war on other states to win the tribute and to capture prisoners for ritual sacrifice. A powerful king lead the Aztecs state, kingship passed from father to son, or to another blood relative or even selected by a council of nobles. A group of five royal advisers helped the king run the government. Four of these advisers were military commanders the fifth was an official much like a modern prime minister. Lesser officials included judges, clerks, and tax collectors. The Aztecs maintained control over the Empire is through the threat of military force. Government and religion were closely linked. The Aztecs worshiped hundreds of gods. The most important Aztec god was Huitzilopochtli. He brought success in battle and kept a son in the sky but he needed human blood to remain strong. The Aztecs sacrificed thousands of victims every year, cutting out their hearts and offering them to the gods.


Summary: Aztec society was divided into two main classes: nobles and commoners. They were ruled by strong king and waged war to capture prisoners for ritual sacrifice and to gain tribute from conquered enemies.

Study Guide Questions

How was Aztec society structured?

What role did human sacrifice play in the Aztec Empire?

How did most Aztecs make a living?

Why do you think artisans and traders were respected in Aztec society?

Describe the Aztec government.

Analyzeto study or find out the nature and relationship of the parts of the connection between government and religion in Aztec society.

Practice Test

Homework: Choose one
  1. Workbook Chapter 9, section 2 (Page 110)
  2. Answer three of the study guide questions using complete sentences.
  3. Draw a picture of something important from this section and summarize this section of the text (three sentences minimum).