Aztec Empire | Aztec Empire History

Aztec Empire Map

The story of the Aztec empire begins with the downwards spiral and the eventual fall of the Toltec civilization, which happened during the 10th or 11th century. Hundreds of people went to the central plateau area circling lake Texcoco in Mexico. These people, (or immigrants, as they can be called) were the Aztecs indians and they were the most recent addition that place, so these people got the worst pickings when it comes to choice of land to settle. They took the swampy area on the western side of the Lake Texcoco as their territory and this part of the lake was the worst looking and least suitable for living in the whole area.

The Cactus, Eagle, And Snake Legend

So even from the start, the Aztecs lived in disadvantageous circumstances and no one thought that they could be capable of what they were about to do in the years to come. But, the Aztecs themselves knew, or had faith that their destiny will change for the better and fate’s wheels will eventually turn. The Aztec's belief in a particular legend enabled this “underdog” group of people to become a very powerful and well known empire in just the span of two centuries.

The legend that they believed in with all their hearts was this: the Aztec people would build a very powerful civilization in a swampy area where they would see a cactus sprouting out of a rock and on that cactus an eagle would be perched while eating a snake. The priests or the religious leaders supposedly saw this the first time they went to the shores of lake Texcoco so this probably strengthened their faiths and in turn, they were able to build an empire that will be known for ages to come. The Aztec people’s belief in that particular legend was so strong that even today all of Mexico’s money has the cactus, serpent and eagle on it.

Tenochtitlan - The Pillar Of Aztec Empire

So just like any thriving group of people, the Aztecs grew in number, thus, they were able to build a powerful military force and lots of civil organizations. They were then able to build Tenochtitlan, a city which is located in present day Mexico City.

Remember how when they first came, the Aztecs got the worst pickings when it comes to territory? Well, they were able to turn things around and they even used the shallow lake bed and turn it into “chinampas”. Chinampas are some sort of garden that was made by piling up the mud found at the bottom of the lake in order to make artificial islands.

The Aztecs empire grew to be a very productive and powerful due in part to the people who took the reigns and ruled Aztec people into an advanced civilization. Rulers of Tenochtitlan teamed up with two other cities - Texcoco and Tlacopan in order to become more powerful. They, as a team, eventually had complete control of the Valley of Mexico. But it was clear that among the three, Tenochtitlan was the strongest and the driving force. Great leaders which were called Huey Tlatoani would rule the land for many years.