The Rise and Fall of the Aztec Empire

By | May 21, 2019

test article image
The Aztecs. Source: (Photo from

The Aztecs were a people that lived in the middle American region in what is now known as Mexico City and the area that surrounded it back in the 14th through the 16th centuries. This was before the Spanish or Columbus arrived. The Aztecs occupied the area from 1345 to 1521 A.D. They were fierce warriors who fought endless battles with their neighbors but, at the same time, built magnificent cities.

Origin and Early History

Their origin and history have been pretty much overlooked, but historians have traced their original homeland back to a land called Aztlan, the land of white herons. They began to migrate south toward Central Mexico. According to legend, they received a celestial command to leave the “seven caves of Chichomoztoc and emerge into the light to explore the world.” There were seven tribes that came from these seven caves: “Xochimilco, Chalca, Tepanec, Colhua, Tlahuica, Tlaxcalteca, and Mexica. It took 300 years for all of the tribes to finish migrating as they all did not leave at the same time. The last tribe to arrive was the Mexica tribe which was in 1285 with their god of War leading them. While traveling, they would take 10-20 year rest periods and set up towns as they went. 

test article image
Aztec Warriors. Source: (


It was not an easy task for them to settle as most of the areas in Central Mexico were already occupied and no one wanted to let them in. They finally settled in a place called Chapultepec, the “Hill of Grasshoppers.” Their surrounding neighbors were not too thrilled with them being there so they elected a warrior leader, which led them to become aggressive. According to Diego Duran, an author on the history and culture of the Aztecs, there was a conspiracy formed among their neighbors, where they planned to surround them in order to totally destroy them. Because they received a warning from their god, they were able to turn the table on them and ambush them instead as well as capture their leader. His heart was ripped out and thrown into Lake Texcoco and the area where it landed was to become their capital, Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City.