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The Many Dimensions Of The Mexica Indian Empire

1726 words - 7 pages

The Mexica Empire was a grand civilization with many accomplishments and merits. Even Bernal Díaz would later lament the destruction of the capital of Tenochtitlan (Townsend 126). Conversely, the society was not entirely destroyed by the Spanish, as the preservation of native stories, traditions, and languages shows. The indigenous people were not only victims, but agents, in the Empire’s transition through the conquest. On one hand the Mexica Indians were victims of unequal weaponry at the hands of lustful, greedy, and cruel invaders. On the contrary, the Mexica themselves had a tradition of concubinage, though one less supportive of rape, yet they exploited their neighbors for economic reasons and would not hesitate to sacrifice victims of wars against those resisted. Not surprisingly, some natives would fight for the Spanish, help find food, support in communication, assist in navigation, and largely aid Spanish survival. Thus the narrative of the indigenous must be expanded to include their intelligence, resistance, and accomplishments; a history labeling the Mexica Indians as victims would be inappropriate and one excluding the multifaceted nature of the natives would be ignorant.
The Mexica Empire refers to the various city states and their peoples under the control of Tenochtitlan. The Mexica created the Triple Alliance of Tezcoco, Tlacopan, and Tenochtitlan, and thus this coalition formed its tributary empire by expanding its political hegemony far beyond the Valley of Mexico, conquering other city states throughout Mesoamerica. Tenochtitlan was the dominant city of the empire and extended its power by a combination of trade and military conquest. It was never a true territorial empire, but rather controlled its client states primarily by supporting friendly rulers who paid tribute or going to war with a rogue city state (Ibid 15). New areas to absorb would be discovered by merchants who explored the outlying regions for commodities and goods. Thus the empire was an economic network with Tenochtitlan as the hub. While the region shared many important cultural traits, as well as the Nahuatl language, there was a lack of unity within the Mexica Empire. The Mexica were not compassionate rulers but more so extortionists. If a rebel state lost a war they could expect many of their people to be taken for human sacrifice, and the price of tribute would rise even higher. Thus, it was fear that guided allegiance to this empire, and nobles from outside the empire, such as Malintzin’s household in Coatzacoalcos resisted the pressure of this distant yet powerful Tenochtitlan (Ibid 14). Thus deference and not loyalty to the empire, and at times active resistance made the empire weaker and thus more vulnerable to invasion by the coming conquistadores who would exploit this weak point in Mexica policy.
Yet it is not victims that would greet the arrival of the Spanish, but clear sighted participants who chose to influence their future. While later...

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