They were not very nice people, who in around 1160 came from Aztlan, in North West Mexico and by 1500 they were ruling a vast empire of nearly 12 million people that ran from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.
Originally, they were nomads and mercenaries, they lived by hiring themselves out to other tribes as mercenaries and they had a reputation for brutality and human sacrifice. There is even a story that Aztec warriors once presented 8,000 ears to the Lord of Calhuacan, which they had taken from their prisoners.
Eventually they settled on the shores of Lake Texcoco in the valley of Mexico and built their great city, Tenochtitlan, that means ‘stone rising from the water’, which became the capital of their empire.
Warfare was a way of life for the Aztecs. Young boys were sent to military schools, where they were trained to fight in the difficult mountainous conditions of central Mexico. They would be forced to endure long marches carrying heavy supplies and would stage mock battles using wooden clubs and spears. Real warfare began with reconnaissance missions. These were undertaken by warriors called Ocelot Warriors, while actual battles were led by the more experienced Jaguar and Eagle Warriors.
At the same time, they lived in peace and relied on agriculture to sustain their society. They cultivated beans, tomatoes, squashes, chilli peppers, avocados and potatoes and other crops such as cotton and tobacco. They were a very interesting people, which is why we have published a musical on the Aztecs The Golden City- The Lost Empire of the Aztecs.