Aztec Empire I │The Origin Of The Aztec


The Aztec lived without plague, without lack of food, and without equals. This should have been the closest anyone had
ever come until then to creating a paradise… and yet they waged constant War, practised
cannibalism, and sacrificed thousands of people alive every year. How did a civilization create such a mix of
peaceful paradise and violent brutality? In this series we’re going to look at the
Aztecs from their mythical past, to the rise of their civilization, and until they failed
the test of time. We’re not just going to look at the military
accomplishments, we’re also going to look at their politics, their culture, and their
economics and we’re going to analyse how their policies in these matters turned them into
the dominant empire in the region and why it wasn’t another empire that rose instead. We don’t know a lot about the Aztec people
before they founded their civilization. That’s because one of their kings decided
to burn all the codexes detailing the origins of the Aztec people. But luckily another king later tried to recover
this part of their history… but that too was burned when the Spanish arrived. Therefore, their early history is rooted in
myth and legend, with various sources scraped together over time such as from Spanish priests
who spoke with the locals to some recovered codexes. So we do know some things about their early
past. The Aztecs came from the plains what is currently
Northern Mexico. According to mythology, the Aztec people originated
from an island called Aztlan. Aztec literally means ‘people of Aztlan’. Eventually their most important god commanded
them to leave Aztlan to travel to a land of paradise where they will receive good weather
and bountiful harvests. The name of this god was Huitzilopochtli,
the sungod. He is comparable to Amun-Ra, Jupiter or Odin. It is this god who would guide the Aztec people
on their journey to a promised land. The migration lasted for centuries. each time they would settle a location for
a few years or decades and then move on. How Aztec priests would interpreted the will
of Huitzilopochtli directly affected how the people would live and had ripple effects throughout
aztec history that may not be obvious at first. For example, on their journey the Aztecs tell
of a land named Tollan. Here the priests built an altar in honour
of their faithful god. Huitzilopochtli advised his priests to go
down the hill, to an area of meadows, and construct a dam to block any water going out. This created the first artificial lagoon recorded
in Mesoamerican history. Many animals came to this lagoon such wild
ducks, hummingbirds, and an array of fish. The Aztec people were SO happy with this easy
abundance of food that they formed a sedentary lifestyle and no longer honoured Huitzilopochtli. They went so far as to ask the priests to
just give up on the whole migration thing and take the land of Tollan instead. But one night lightning rocked the land of
Tollan and in the morning the Aztec people woke up to find the bodies of those who had
forsaken Huitzilopochtli. Their bodies were mutilated, their chests
lay open, and their hearts had been ripped out. Today, scholars mainly see this story as a
mythological account fo a real event: a blood struggle between two groups for leadership
of the Aztec tribe. But this event made something clear to the
Aztec people: Huitzilopochtli wanted blood sacrifices. From now on the Aztec high priests would offer
human sacrifices and extract human hearts for their god to appease his anger. This event would lead to the eventual rise
of the Aztec tribe as an empire… and it would also be the event that would eventually
help destroy it… And so, with all opposition to the great migration
dead, the Aztec continued their journey until eventually arriving at Lake Tetzcoco. And it’s the arrival at Tetzcoco where we
finally get some written historical records, not just from the Aztecs themselves but also
from the other people’s of that area. Upon their arrival at Lake Tetzcoco they discovered
a civilization far more sophisticated than their own: cities, a feudal system, and large
temples. What is often overlooked in history is what
was there in Central America before the Aztec Civilization arose. When I was in school I was taught that the
Aztecs were the first civilization in this region. But this isn’t so. There were already cities everywhere, going
as far back as Teotihuacan. Some were independent while others were part
of larger kingdoms and paid taxes to the central city in exchange for protection. This society was in many ways similar to that
of medieval Europe. And when the Aztec decided to settle this
land, the locals were very displeased. You see, the people in this region practised
something called ‘land ownership’, a new concept to the Aztecs. So the nobles of the other towns and cities
weren’t particularly happy with a bunch of migrants from North America coming south
to take their land. On the advice of their god Huitzilopochtli,
the Aztec constructed a town, erect solid walls, and elect a warrior to become their
leader. This would set a major president, for all
future leaders of the Aztec would be warriors… a decision that would, over time, make the
Aztecs expansionist. This warrior leader told his people to craft
weapons to defend themselves with. And so the Aztec people evolved from a religious
and agricultural society into a militarily aggressive society. As the hostilities became worse, the Aztec
decided to teach all the men, women, and children how to use all sort of weaponry to defend
their tribe. Over time the surrounding kingdoms would fight
several battles with the Aztec tribe until these kingdoms decided to kill all the Aztecs
in an ambush. But the Aztecs instead ambushed their ambushers,
ripped out their beating hearts and offer them to sun god Huitzilopochtli, and after
a few more battles decided that maybe it was a good time to leave this area. On the advice of Huitzilopochtli, the Aztecs
sent a diplomatic envoy to the next king whose land they wanted to settle. This land was ruled by the kingdom of Colhuacan. They asked the king for land and were given
a patch of inhospitable land with barren soil and poisonous animals. They eventually managed to build a town, turn
the ground fertile, and settle into a life of agriculture. But Huitzilopochtli, who had become not just
the sungod but also the god of human sacrifice, and war didn’t like the sound of a peaceful
and quiet life. He ordered his people to attack their Colhuacan
overlords. The Aztec were crafty and sent an emissary
to ask for the hand of the king’s daughter. She would be crowned as their queen and become
bride of their god Huitzilopochtli. And the king agreed to this marriage. When the princess arrived at the tribe for
her wedding ceremony, the priests took her by the hand and brought her to the Temple
of her future husband. There, four priests tore off her clothing
each took one of her limbs and dragged her onto the altar. A fifth priest emerged with a flint knife. He held the knife in the air and cut open
her chest. With one hand he reached into her still-living
body, grabbed her heart, and ripped it out of her chest. That night, after dinner, that same priest
appeared before the king wearing the skin of his daughter. This spectacle enraged the king and he ordered
all of his people who were there for the wedding to kill every last Aztec. His daughter. will. Be. Avenged! The ensuing battle was a disastrous defeat
for the Aztec. What remained of their population fled into
their canoes to an island in lake Texcoco. In their desperation they sought the counsel
of Huitzilopochtli once more. And he told them that their migration was
nearly over. They were almost at their destination. The Aztecs would have their homeland. Huitzilopochtli told them to look for a rock
with a cactus on top. On top of that cactus they would find an eagle
nesting and devouring a serpent. After some searching the Aztecs finally found
it and named their new city Tenochtitlan, meaning “place of the cactus on the rock”. At last, the long journey of the Aztec had
ended in 1325. Their god had shown them the promised land,
he told them to build a city here, and to start claiming ownership of all the lands
that surrounded them.




Comments
  1. How many flags did you spot in this video?
    A recurring animation throughout my videos (recently) are the 3 rectangles appearing one by one. The colours of these rectangles are determined by the topic (colours of the Dutch Republic's flag for the Tulip Mania videos, colours of Germany's WW2 flag for the Nuremberg video, etc.). The Aztec, however, used a great many colours, meaning the 3 rectangles have a wide array of colours this time. This had the unexpected side effect that I accidentally created a lot of different flags. I, myself, was only able to spot 3 different flags but a friend of mine was able to spot 4. So how many can you find?

  2. So basically the Aztecs were inspired by their god to wonder around for many generations, in search of the promised land. That is somehow a very familiar story.
    Are we sure that this isn't something that came from the Christian missionaries that came along with the Spanish? Or is this something that everyone did? Like the flood stories, that all peoples have.

  3. Good thing that we have you to make these animated videos, because Disney isn't going to make one about THAT princess anytime soon.

  4. The Aztecs are already united , Mexico is their predecesor and Mexico has a 1 trillion dollar gdp just with a shitty government for now

  5. As a mexican i'm happy to see the history of the country told by people of other parts of the world. Very nice Huitzilopochtli pronunciation, thanks for the flag nod. Great channel, keep it up! Viva México.

  6. eh.. Given how the spanish attempted to canonize the existence of the Aztec, Their origin story seems a bit false. Sounds too much like the exodus of Egypt/The Diaspora. Overly Sarcastic Productions, while focusing more on their mythos, gives it a more accurate read of their lore.

  7. I’m going to make a YouTube channel I’m will try to make content like your but it different you should add more joke and stuff to your content to make it better than other peoples

  8. Damn. I'm mexican and this topic is so complicated that every teacher teaches it very differently. Great video!

  9. Aztecs mythology is my favorite!!!Aztecs gods created mankind and the world and the 4 elements of life air,earth,fire,and water #staywoke 🇲🇽👽🌌🙏💪🙌

  10. What's the definition of being civilised?I'm not sure ripping people's hearts out is a marker no matter other aspects.

  11. Just a head's up, they're not actually called Aztecs. Aztec wasn't even a term until the 19th Century. The so called "Aztecs" were actually a subgroup of a broader language family of Nahuatl speakers, of which there were 7 known major groups. Think of the Proto-Indo Europeans of Europe. Gradually, these groups spread out to different areas and divided themselves into city states similar to that of ancient Greece. This particular history that you're discussing is that of the Tenochca (inhabitants of Tenochtitlan), but there dozens of Nahua kingdoms in Central Mexico, each with its documented histories, pantheon, etc.

  12. It's a shame your previous video has over a million views but this has 14k. Totally sucks man you deserve more attention

  13. Historically accurate. As a mexican im happy you got the facts right. Sadly most of the people seem to have forgotten about our origin.

  14. The part with the eagle holding a snake in its beak wasn't in the original recounts of the story. It only mentioned an eagle standing on a rock and, after the conquest, artisans started selling statues of the cactus and eagle holding a ribbon in its beak. Some people, including Spanish conquistadores, assumed it was supposed to be a snake that the eagle had hunted and the effigy stuck.

  15. You know I stumbled upon your channel by chance, a random recommendation. It astonishes me how YouTube’s algorithm can recommend something so accurately to my liking. Your videos are superb, as a historian myself I find history fascinating but you make your videos in a way that is entertaining and informative at the same time. Thank you for all your hard work my dude, you’ve earned a new subscriber.

  16. Aztec sailed from the eastern Hemisphere in around 700 BC fleeing from the Israelites
    Assyrian captivity. Also known as the 10 lost tribes of Israel.

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