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Montezuma II was the Tlatoani of the city of Tenochtitlan (modern day Mexico City), the capital of the Aztec Empire (or the Triple Alliance). He reigned during the initial contact between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica in 1519 when Hernan Cortes reached the New World. The people he...

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Montezuma II was the Tlatoani of the city of Tenochtitlan (modern day Mexico City), the capital of the Aztec Empire (or the Triple Alliance). He reigned during the initial contact between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica in 1519 when Hernan Cortes reached the New World. The people he ruled, the Aztecs, lived in the Valley of Mexico, and in the final stages of their history were ruled by three city-states.

Government

When Montezuma ruled, the Aztecs were organized into the Triple Alliance, a name referring to the union of three city-states (Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan). Tenochtitlan was the dominant city, and its ruler (the Tlatoani) was effectively the leader of the entire empire. Other cities and peoples conquered by the Aztecs were allowed to live in relative freedom so long as they paid a tribute to the conquering government. Below the city level, families were organized into clan-like units called calpullis, which owned and managed the land that family units lived on.

Language, Culture, and Religion

The Aztecs spoke a language called Nahuatl, which is still spoken today in Central Mexico. They were polytheistic, worshipping many gods, and their religion dealt predominantly with the attempt to keep nature in balance through understanding how humans and gods were connected. Human sacrifice was an important practice in Aztec religion, and those sacrificed were given over to the god Huitzilopochtli, patron of war and the sun, in his unending fight against darkness.

All Aztecs were required to undergo a formal education, regardless of the gender or social class of the student. There were two classes in Aztec culture, the pilli (nobility) and the macehualli (commoners). Within these two classes, there were further divisions of labor and roles.

Unfortunately, the Aztec Empire would see the beginning of its undoing during Montezuma's rule, ushering in an age of European colonization in Mesoamerica. 

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