The Aztec nobles had slaves.
Slaves were not captured people. They were Aztecs.
In the Aztec world, there were two ways you could become
a slave. You could become a slave as punishment for a crime you had
committed. You could be voluntarily sold into slavery to pay family
debts. These were the only two ways.
The life of a slave was pretty much like
the life of a freeman. Slaves could marry other slaves and could even a
Children of slaves were not slaves
themselves. You could not be born into slavery in the Aztec
It was difficult to get rid of slave once
you bought one. If your slave refused to do your bidding, you had to
bring your slave to a plaza, and in front of witnesses, prove
your slave would not do what they were supposed to do. You could not
just do this once. You had to do this three times, using three different
acts of refusal. After the third time, you could bring your slave back
to the slave market. The slave would then be resold to someone else. A
slave had to be sold and resold three times to three different masters
before a slave could be sold for sacrifice.
Slaves could buy their freedom. All they
needed to do was find the money to pay their owner what he had paid to
The Aztecs had another interesting law
about slavery. On the way to the slave market, when the slave was about
to be sold or resold, if a slave got away and managed to run to the
palace without being stopped, that slave was immediately free. The only
person who could chase that slave was the masterís son. If anyone
interfered with the race, that person became a slave.