The Aztecs were a nomadic people who around the 13th century settled on the plateau of Mexico, where previously the Toltecchi had settled. They were the last people to settle in Central America. Subdued local people due to their military and organisational superiority, but suffered the influence of cultures that flourished over the centuries.
Around 1300 they founded their capital"Tenochtitlàn" built with intelligent urban solutions. From here they began expanding into neighboring regions and came to dominate much of the region.
The Aztec Empire was marked by a strong central power exercised by the King and by a Council of nobles of warrior ancestry.
The society was organized in pyramid manner: below the Kings were priests, nobility, free, and finally the servants and slaves. Subjugated peoples the Aztecs had to pay tribute and choose its victims to be sent to the sacrifices: the hardness of Aztec domination caused several revolts and eventually the subject peoples helped Cortés to demolish the reign of Montezuma the II, the last King.
Aztec religion and human sacrifice
The Aztecs were polytheists: their Gods, particularly numerous, were identified with animals or with natural phenomena such as the Sun.
The Aztecs felt the continued presence of the gods: every moment of life (birth, adulthood, marriage, death) was marked by ceremonies. Human sacrifices had particular importance to the Aztecs: according to their myths, in fact, the ancient gods had sacrificed to keep the cosmos in order and do not slip back into chaos. Nevertheless, men were required to contribute for the stability of the world.
The Need to find victims to sacrifice was among the reasons which led the Aztecs to war: were the favorite offers were prisoners. Often they were organized between the same sacred Aztec war whose end was not the killing of enemies but the sacrifice of the defeated.
The victims were thrown into the fire, but the more usual sacrifice was done by priests on the sacred pyramids severely slashing his chest to the victim, ripping out the heart and doing the blood dripping down the steps. These rites caused great impression on Spaniards, who felt compelled to defeat and kill the people who had so barbarous customs