Around 1300 CE, a wandering tribe of Indians wandered into the
Valley of Mexico. These people were called the Aztecs.
When the Aztecs arrived in the Valley of Mexico, other
tribes were already in residence. They had already taken the
best land. The Aztecs had to make due with the swampy shores
of Lake Texcoco.
But this did not bother the Aztecs. Not only were they very
clever people, but they had every faith that their main
god had sent them to the swampy shores of Lake Texcoco,
so obviously this place was perfect for them.
adapted to their environment. They
built canoes, so they could fish and hunt birds that lived
near the water. They created floating gardens
for growing food.
They created more land for
agriculture by filling in the marshes.
They built dikes to hold back
After they settled in, they began to conquer the neighboring
tribes. They conquered first one tribe, and then another, and
Each conquered tribe had to pay tribute to the Aztecs in
the form of food, clothing, jewels, and of course, captives to
feed the hungry gods. That made the Aztecs very happy and very
The Aztecs expanded and expanded until they had built
One day, around 1500 CE, Spanish
soldiers arrived in
the Valley of Mexico. They were amazed at what they saw.
soldier said, “There were soldiers among us who had been in
many parts of the world, in Constantinople and Rome and all over
Italy, who said that they had never before seen a market place
so large and so filled with people.”
The Spanish conquered the Aztecs. The arrival
of the Spanish brought guns, horses, huge
fighting dogs, and disease. Because the Aztecs were such fierce
warriors, they might have had a slim chance of survival against
guns and horses and huge fighting dogs. But they had no defense
against disease. They had never been exposed to
childhood diseases like measles. Many became ill once the
Spanish arrived; many died.
The Spanish also received help from
the other tribes in the area. These tribes saw a chance to get
even, and perhaps even to rid themselves of the feared and hated
Aztecs. These tribes did not expect to be conquered
themselves, which they were. Nor did they know how harshly the
Spanish would rule their people.
mid-1500’s, the Aztec Empire had collapsed, and the Spanish had
taken over the entire region.
Today, there are around 1,000,000
(one million) descendants of the ancient Aztecs living and working
in Mexico. Human sacrifice is no longer part of their festivals.
But the beautiful art and clever games the Aztecs created are
still enjoyed today.
History of the Aztec People