The geographical location of the Aztecs was located in the central zone of the Valley of Mexico, from where their empire expanded to other more southern areas. These zones occupy the current territories of the states of Mexico, Veracruz, Guerrero, Puebla, Oaxaca and the coast of Chiapas, until reaching Guatemala.
Its geographical expansion was what promoted the Aztec empire as a cultural reference of its time. This conquest of city-states carried out from the original location in the center of present-day Mexico led them to cross the modern borders of the country.
For this reason, his legacy is present today also in neighboring countries of Mexico. Mexican popular culture, with its gastronomy and its customs and traditions, would not be understood without the Aztecs.
The origin of the Aztecs
Before constituting the largest empire of its time, the Aztecs had to move through various territories. They were a nomadic people without a defined settlement.
Furthermore, when they tried to establish their residence in Chapultepec around the 12th century, they were expelled by enemy tribes that lived in the area.
Later, they would migrate to Tenochtitlán, where they were finally able to constitute their original home from which to expand their influence south. The first records of the Aztec empire in the Mexico-Tenochtitlán area date from the 13th century.
Aztec expansion: the Triple Alliance
The territorial expansion of the Aztecs was based on political alliances with other cities around them. Thus, from Tenochtitlán they forged political and military friendship with Texcoco and Tlacopan.
The two tribes that inhabited these territories near Tenochtitlán – the Acolhuas and the Tepanecs – helped the Mexica – the original Aztecs of Tenochtitlán – to grow.
The military power of the Triple Alliance allowed it to expand especially during the period of Moctezuma II, already in the 16th century. It was then that they conquered territories beyond the current borders of Mexico. They were the largest empire of the time in Mesoamerica.
The Aztecs in southern Mexico
The list of current Mexican states that were once occupied by the Aztecs is as follows: Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Puebla, Veracruz, Tabasco, Michoacán, Mexico City, Morelos and Hidalgo, in addition to the territory of Tlaxcala.
As these territories were conquered and occupied by the Mexica or Aztecs, they became tributaries of the empire. Thus, each of them had to provide a certain amount of those most abundant products and raw materials.
This is how he established the political relationship of the Aztec empire with its southernmost territories.
Expansion into Guatemala
The presence of the Mexica in Guatemala was more limited, but it also left an imprint on the culture of certain Guatemalan regions.
It is believed that the Mexica expanded the Aztec empire into the mountainous and coastal areas of Guatemala near the border with Mexico.
They could not advance further south and continue with the expansion due to the conquest that in turn the Aztec empire was about to suffer from the Crown of Castile -now Spain-, led by Hernán Cortés.
Articles of interest
Way of life of the Aztecs .
Most important Aztec cities .
Form of government .
Economic organization .
Political and social organization .
- “Conquest: Cortes, Moctezuma and the Fall of Old Mexico”, Hugh Thomas. (nineteen ninety five).
- “Aztec: A Captivating Guide to Aztec History and the Triple Alliance of Tenochtitlan, Tetzcoco, and Tlacopan”, Captivating History, Kindle edition.
- “Aztec City-State Capitals”, Michael E. Smith. (2008).
- “History & Mythology of the Aztecs: The Codex Chimalpopoca”, Translated by John Bierhorst. (1998).
- “Ancient Aztecs”, Michael Burgan.