The beginning of the early modern era saw the rise of the Aztec and Chinese Empires as well as the spread of European Empires to Asia and the Americas. All of these empires followed the same steps to gain power over their future subjects. This “recipe for empire” includes: having control of other countries/lands, controlling their wealth, and imposing your ideas on those you conquer (Nightingale Lecture 3). The founders and leaders of each one of these empires used racism against their subjects in order to have better control over their domain and to validate their greed for power
From the early 14th to 16th century, the Aztec Empire had control over most of Central America. The Aztecs (also known as Mexica) built their empire by expanding and invading from their capital city of Tenochtitlan. According to history professor Camilla Townsend, “The invading Mexica often claimed legitimacy by insisting they were the heirs of the Toltecs” (Townsend 668). Believing to be of Toltec blood helped the Mexica justify their conquest because they were reclaiming their ancestors land. Their supposed lineage also gave them the belief that they were better than neighboring clans because their ancestor were the almighty Toltecs and deserved to have all the territory they wanted.
The feeling of superiority helped develop a tribute system similar where conquered tribes had to pay the Tlatoani (emperor) goods like animal pelts, bird feathers, and chocolate every so often to remain in the Aztec Empire, or fear the threat of destruction. Having to pay tributes and taxes caused the foreign subjects to feel subordinate to the Aztecs who were in charge. The tributes made it more difficult for any clan from revolting since a major portion of the tribes wealth was being taken away. The tribes were only given a promise that the Aztec would not invade in return. This unequal trade agreement shows that the Aztecs were greedy for power and were not willing to spread the wealth to its subjects. This caused separation in the empire and gave the Spanish conquistadors more allies in the 16th century conquest of the Mexica because, “Some of them [conquered tribes] seem[ed] to have seen the Spaniards’ arrival as a heaven-sent opportunity to recover their old independence” (Thomas 487).
The belief that the Tlatoani was the only person able to communicate with the gods further separated the Aztecs from their subjects because the Tlatoani lineage was seen as superior and more favored by the gods. Having this divine distinction, the Tlatoani was able to have more authority saying that his will was the will of the gods. The people had no choice but to follow him unless they wanted the wrath of the gods. These Aztec gods survived by receiving human sacrifices, which were usually from recently conquered villages. Since the outer villages were seen as inferior, it was easier for the Aztec priests to carry out the inhumane rituals. “Human sacrifices were carried out in the service of...