Aztec warfare (Ross Hassig)
Aztec warfare (Ross Hassig)
Ch 9. The preliminary kings
the first Aztec ruler
the first Aztec tlahtoani, Acamapichtli was not an Aztec but a member of the Colhuacan noble lineage. They adopted another system which was more efficient and also needed allies of the lakeshore people and cities such as Colhuacan
the Aztecs did fight battles before their adoption of the tlahtoani system but these did not involve political expansion (have a look at the graph of the successors)
the Tepanec wars
the first three kings were not independent rulers but like the kings of many cities were suboridinates . They were subordinates to Tetzotzomoc., leader of the Tepanec Empire. conquests at the time was under the aegis of the Tepanecs of zcapotzalco.
Tepanecs were not mere mercenaries: assisting in their lords wards was an obligation of all tributary relationships
whatever the Aztec involvement they did not determine strategy. Overall picture is lost, it is the same like constructing from new zealand
Acamapichtli (1372 - 1391)
first war with chalk lasted for 12 years. This was a flower war the most common reasons the participants gave was for capturing war prisoners and combat training for soldiers. Recent explanations have increasingly stressed the religious nature of these wars but they obscure the military and political purposes which cannot be seen by examining a single occurrence at a single time. They must be examined in context and in time because their practice changed significantly.
reason for the flower wars
p. 130 objectives differed from ordinary conquests, other weapons such as arrow etc. were absent and killing was not the objective of the game. demonstrating martial superiority was the main goal.
reasons for the flower wars later changed --> p. 130 (people began to be killed) more costly but stopped short out of all battle.
they do reflect sth of the early Aztec political strategy: conquering chalco could relieve the food supply problems of the Aztecs. Neither side was willing to risk the consequences of an all out war.
Huitzilihhuitl (1391 - 1417)
became king when his father died Acamapichtli -> little consequence on the Tepanec Empire
relationship with the
Tenochtitlan rose in importance during the reign of Huitzilihhuitl (1391 - 1417) and the Aztec later had to pay symbolically less.
Military also got stronger (p. 133) -> training to fight with canoes etc.
At the time the Aztecs also started to start operations independently.
p. 134 political weakness was shamefully exploited -> example p. 134 with the expedition against Xaltocan
example of a conquest p. 134 that was more of a political arrangement
succeeded to the throne at the age of ten following his fathers death.
p. 136 during his reign the Aztecs helped the Tepanecs against acolhuas
Tetzotzomoc probably not defeated by the tetzcoco because they we're strong enough to gather an army one year later. Tetzcoco was then defeated with the help of other cities. The Aztecs gained several cities (p. 139)
started afterward wars on their own. War against chalco -> from flower war into actual war.
trouble began between Azcapotzalco and Tenochtitlan perhaps over the Chalca war but more probably because of the changing political situation (p. 139) with Tetzcoco subdued it looked less like a necessary military ally and more like a stra
the traditional account says that it arose over water. p. 139 -> probably other factors that brought the war as well. -> succession struggle after the death of Azcapotzalco (Chaloc) + there were a lot of defeated states where the Tepanecs had installed puppets and the population was really dissatisfied.
Chimalpopoca got killed and his son as welll -> on orders of the Tepanecs? p. 140 not likely -> because why would he kill a weak successor -> more likely Itzcoatl
Itzcoatl (1427 - 1440)
succession of kinship limits the quality of people who can succeed
Itzcoatl was elected king -> his legitimacy was through success
a lot of the cuties start to fight the Tepanecs
declared war on the Tepanecs
succession struggle among thr tepances (p. 144)
tepanec empire gets destroyed -> triple alliance is founded -> Tenochtitlan, Tetzcoco and Tlacopan
the triple alliance
social changes after the overthrow -> what emerged was a more sharply defined class structure
the aztecs power grew so that they ould defeat either partner without assistance (p. 148) fighting against them would have been stupid bc the Aztecs needed their partners
expansion of power
vanquish a city that does not want to comply (p. 149
destroy a city because it refuses to give material (p. 150)
Tetzcoc -> peaceful surrender
method of conquest
p. 154 intimidation
flower war would evolve into a conquest (p. 254)
were also there to demonstrate the futility of resistance
second purpose of the flower wars was attrition
also allowed the aztecs to lead several wars at once and also served for propaganda purposes.
p. 255 -> efficient means of continuing a conflict that was too costly
they could have conquered the Tlaxcaltecs because they did not want to divert the soldiers and resources, so it was good training (p. 256
aztec forces became more limited as their rule expanded. In earlier times, troops were not left to control areas but later they actually were (p. 253)
few defeats in early wars -> more in later wars. Later conquests were farther with more logistical burdens (p. 254)
goals of most conquests was outright conquest (p. 254)
two techniques were encirclement and
they did not tightly integrate tributary areas into the empire conquered city continued as before.
there were different degrees of conquest according to the distance, towns close were often forcibly subdued, distant towns were most often lightly incorporated.
only towns near major opponents posed a threat.
regarded attacks on the tributaries as attacks on themselves.
aztecs gave out rewards
motivation for conquest
precise role of religion unclear
264 -> flower wars to demonstrate martial skill
p. 265 -> religious believs were manipulated by the state
benefits of empire
tribute was an economic benefit but served political purposes as well
tributary system (p. 261)
Ahuitzotl (1486 to 1502)
as usual takes war captives
relatively few other leaders attend which was a sign of weakness
Oztoman refuses tp pay -> refused to pay tribute and the atztecs destroy the city (p. 208)
the Tarascans had a system of direct control (p. 210)
p. 217 spread the word of the army success
War in Aztec Life
War was the empire (p.20). Because other needed to stay compliant Aztecs were often incredibly brutal. Relationships that are based on power change all the time. Perceptions of power change through time. Time, distance, new successions and allegiances.
regions were conquered when they were important supply chains.
cities were often sacked sequentially, with the resources, intelligence, and sometimes the soldiers of the latest conquest aided to the next one. The Aztecs expansion took them to regions where they had no traditional enemies but they were sometimes able to exploit local antagonisms.
integrate through indirect control through the intimidation of their opponents. Unconquered cities remained no primarily those that remained unbeaten but those that refused to pay tribute after the Aztecs had left.
allowed local laws; there was also no imperial foreign policy, jut an Aztec foreign policy coexisting with the policies of individual tributaries as long as the latter did not conflict wit the former.
information of the Aztecs victories were disseminated which were as important as the victories themselves
There is a difference between force and power. Force is direct physical action, which can be exercised only in proportion to its availability. Power operates indirectly and unlike force is not consumed i use.
the more it can rely on power than force the more efficient it is
both hegemonic and territorial systems make use of force and power but the territorial system emphasises uses force and the hegemonig uses power. Hegemonic -> overwhelming power in the initial conquest. Territorial -> as little as possible for the initial conquest.
salient features of the Aztec empire: (1) achieving political expansion without direct territorial control, (2) maintaining internal security by exercising influence over a limited range of the subordinate stats (3) achieving the latter by generally retaining rather than replacing local officials
individual city states posed a small threat but complex polities such as multicity states, multicity alliances posed greater problems.
Empires and multicity groups controlled large areas. Empires were the most complex structures.
city states could no allow to remain neutral -> formed when they joined one party
the existence of various power blocs altered the political environment in Mesoamerica but did not lead to the ultimate emergence of only two competing coalitions, largely because of the limits projecting force.
how to exercise control
political system of pervasive and dominating influence rather than territorial control because of the bad transportration system, this reduced the benefits of incorporating vast regions
the two options were: 1. exercise control by replacing the people tc but admin cost would have been high or leaving government in the hands of the local people -> low admin costs. The latter approach also frees more men for expansion
empire building also caused internal opposition, the most serious manifestation of which was rebellion
The Military Life Cycle
social advancement through feats of military prowess, which were generally taken by the number of captives taken in battle. Some enemies were more difficult to capture so that was more important.
tlahtoani ruler of a town
slaves could marry buy land etc.
the Aztecs did not fear death. There were essentially two schools were the Aztec kids could be trained. The youths were not allowed to drink other death by hanging or public beating
the two schools were they were trained were calmecac and telpochcalli
noble kids received extra training (p. 36). Parents paid experienced warriors to show their kids, therefore noble kids got the training from better warriors. If he had not taken a captive then he would get called youth with a baby lock and if after several battles he still had not caught one he would get feathers.
military ranks was achieved by taking captives (p. 37)
the youths got more and more the more captives they took, after four captives it depended a bit which kind of prisoners he took
the penalty for using insignia and colours to which one was not entitled was death, they did not pass on from father to son.
dominated Mexico from around 900 - 1200, the period during which the political rule shifted from the hands of the theocratic priesthood to those of more secular warrior classes, a pattern carried forward by the Aztecs
Monte Albán, El Tajín, Xochcalco, and Cholollan (Cholula) were the major city states of the time but none grew more than just the regional level.
first major Mesoamerican Empire
Teotuhuacan was the first major Mesoamerican empire -> many general patterns derived from the Olmecs
Aztecs arrived relatively late int he basin of Mexico in the 13th century. and they did so as barbarians and they ultimately settled int he site of Tenochtitlan in 1345 and emerged as a fledgling empire less than a century later. Much of the Aztecs military technology and organization was an elaboration on that of the earlier Toltecs, centered at Tollan
The Spanish Conquest
Tlaxcaltecs could probably have defeated the Spaniards
aztecs were unprepared for the unvasion because Cortés enteed in November which was harvesting time,
Cuitlahuah -> very able dies of smallpox, had to start th4 consolidation for he empire so did his successor. (p. 245) good times to rebel
pro-rebellion argument: a lot of cities tried to break free (p. 246) from the Aztec rule. Spaniards also undermine the support in the capital ->both sides
p. 250 -> Aztec brutality!!! in the war
include int he violence essay
says that technology advantage of weapons was not overwhelming (p. 237)
especially stresses the use of guns (p. 237)
p. 237 -> the Tlaxcatleca lose against the Spanish and then led them into the city what they usually dont do -> why?
notorious for his lack of military success
revolts throughout the empire (p. 195) because of the poor leadership
Tizoc forgot that to keep the empire together you need the appearance of power
The different perspective
(1) the idealised view presented by many of the chroniclers; (2) religious aspects of Aztec warfare and (3) the descriptions of the flower war
The idealised view
based on the rationalisation for war, which was often belied by actual practice. In this view the entire sequence of warmaking events had a standardised form (p.7)
Conclusion: Aztec warfare differs substantially from this description oft he formal rules!
the religious view
the gods were often dictating the war etc and the Aztecs needed to appease them. The priests played a major role in communicating with them. Warroirs would cut their flesh etc. (p.9)
the religious opinion has gained some enormous propertion in some modern historical accounts. Much of this nourishment comes from the view that the Aztec gods required blood and that this blood was best obtained from captives taken in battle. Without such nourishment the gods would die and the world would end. Thus a failure to engage in warfare was a threat to the world.
authors: this view might underlain some warfare but cannot explain the extend and direction of Aztec warfare.
based on the flower wars
overemphasising the practices of these wars. It was in its organ a ritual war. Characterized by the formalities of the battles and the conventions that surrounded them. The were conceptually distinct from ordinary wars (p. 10) -> we must reinsert it into the historical sequence as an integral part of the Aztec military repertoire
These explanations explain Aztec warfare only as a matter of principle, undertaken only after grievous provocation and after all peaceful options had been presented to the enemy. As a religious and imperative and as formal and ritualistic endeavour.
Aztec practices were shaped by political realities and political necessities. And many of the explanations were ex post factor rationalisations for warfare.To the Aztecs, warfare was a practical matter and was pursued in that fashion.
problem of data
all the information we have was recorded long after the events. Often putting Aztec behaviour in a favourable light
there has been agreement on the political structure of the empire (p.11)
were they empires? (p. 11) Karl von Clausewitz > main concerns of the empire are territorial expansion, internal control of conquered areas and the maintenance of secure borders, all of which require a standing army., control of the enemies will.
several Aztec customs through doubt on this perspective: Aztec warriors have not always been considered soldiers. (despite the existence of military orders). No standing army existed so political centralisation was impossible.
the Aztec approach has been criticised for being politically inadequate, lacking internal cohesion and displaying deficient military organization and since they did not possess the attributes they could not be considered. Indicates several point that wold make you thing of a deficient system
Summary: reasons for war were rational as any other society, tailored to the social and technological realities of Mesoamerica. (p.13)
early war against those who had refused to pay tribute (p. 219)
failure against Tlaxcala !! (p. 225)
had to do much more campaigns (p. 226) some of the reasons are large empire more opportunities for disruption, Tizoc -> really bad rule so maybe after that some stability. etc and other reasons.
Tlateloco the sister city was conquered in 1473
reasons for the conquest of Tolocan: prevent the expansion of the Taracan empire, they also had a pretext for starting the conquest. The point was also strategically important (p. 184)
p. 184 very skilled Aztec warfare
p. 186 threatening other states by announcing the victory
tarascan empire also based on an alliance of power (p. 187)
going to war because some merchants were killed (p. 188)
When Moteuzomah Ilhuicamina died, his son was chosen to succeed him.
big conquest before he gets crowned (p. 176)
When itzcoatl died -> you needed to belong to the elite and have military prowess.Moteuzomah Ilhuicamina was elected king
contributaries who considered breaking away wold act because when an Aztec king died the ability to use force was thrown into doubt because power was bound up with the personality of the ruler (p. 157) It was at these times that contributories would act.
had little concerns about the areas the conquered - each area could operate largely as it wished. Because local structures remained - conquest became more difficult. The Aztecs -> tapped into the highest system
When the king died, the Aztecs willingness and ability to use force was thrown into doubt because power was bound with the personality of the ruler
defeats the chalices
war with chalco has shifted to arrow war
just as important as the conquest was the dissemination of the news (p. 165)
flower wars to keep the other states busy and expand in other areas (p. 172
atzte conquest gad many layers on political and economic consideration (P. 174) THEREFORE how different cities provided support for them varied greatly.
The March and the encampment
Arms and Armories
they had peters to carry the food and towns provided food as well. If they did not then this was an act of rebellion as well.
how fast the army marched is not know but cn be reconstructed (p. 66)
was probably around 2.4 kilometres per hour
priests were the ones to march first
Declaration, Preparation and Mobilization
declaration of war
not always did people go to war because of minor provocations -> the king had to ask the people who could decline but sometimes if the king asked several times
the Aztecs rarely provided advanced warning, but they rarely started a war without cause. The declaration was usually announced for 5 days.
intelligence was crucial because the empire was held together by Aztec action or threat of action rather than by structural reorganisation, communications and intelligence, therefore intelligence was crucial
were a really valuable source - killing of merchants was a reason to go to war.
intelligence from all over the empire reached tenochtitlan
Tenochtitlan had some natural fortifications
agricultural cycle and rain cycle affect the campaigns for war. Therefore wars were fought from late autumn through spring (p. 54)
not everyone was immediately marshalled
precision of the size of the army not possible but clarification is.
they usually marched in towns the army was once 200 000 men big (p.56)
unit marking did exist
every newborn was registered so the people of the capital knew exactly how many soldiers they had
in preindustrial organisations usually everyone took part in the battle (p. 59)
only 43% of the males were between 20 and 50
a sizeable contingent always remained in Tencohtitlan
primary data for the Aztec warfare are largely published accounts of sixteenth century chronicles of Aztec conquests and lists of Aztec tributaries.
difficulties lie in the interpretation (p. 1)
inconsistencies will inevitably arise -> inconsistencies in the notes