Aztec, A History, Part Seven

History Of The Conquest Of Mexico, The Aztecs (part seven)

The Postclassical Era

Book: Chapter 17: The Americas On The Eve Of Invasion

Author: Prescott, William H

Date: 1992

Document: Aztec Women And Men

In the mid-16th century, Bernardino de Sahagun, a Spanish missionary,

prepared an extraordinary encyclopedia of Aztec culture. His purpose was to

gather this information to learn the customs and beliefs of the Indians and

their language in order to better convert them. While Sahagun hated the Indian

religion, he came to admire many aspects of their culture. His work, The

General History of the Things of New Spain, is one of the first ethnographies

and a remarkable compendium of Aztec culture. Sahagun used numerous Indian

informants to tell him about the days before the European arrival and so, even

though this work dates from the postconquest era, it contains much useful

information about earlier Aztec life.

In the following excerpts, the proper behavior for different roles of

both women and men in Aztec society are described by the Aztecs themselves.


One's father is the source of lineage. He is the sincere one. One's

father is diligent, solicitous, compassionate, sympathetic; a careful

administrator of his household. He rears, he teaches others, he advises, he

admonishes one. He is exemplary; he leads a model life. He stores up for

himself; he stores up for others. He cares for his assets; he saves for

others. He is thrifty; he saves for the future, teaches thrift. He regulates,

distributes with care, establishes order.

The bad father is incompassionate, negligent, unreliable. He is unfeeling

... a shirker, a loafer, a sullen worker.


One's mother has children; she suckles them. Sincere, vigilant, agile,

she is an energetic worker - diligent, watchful, solicitous, full of anxiety.

She teaches people; she is attentive to them. She caresses, she serves others;

she is apprehensive for their welfare; she is careful, thrifty - constantly at


The bad mother is evil, dull, stupid, sleepy, lazy. She is a squanderer,

a petty thief, a deceiver, a fraud. Unreliable, she is one who loses things

through neglect or anger, who heeds no one. She is disrespectful,

inconsiderate, disregarding, careless. She shows the way to disobedience; she

expounds nonconformity.

The Ruler

The ruler is a shelter - fierce, revered, famous, esteemed; well-reputed,


The good ruler is a protector; one who carries his subjects in his arms,

who unites them, who brings them together. He rules, he takes

responsibilities, assumes burdens. He carries his subjects in his cape; he

bears them in his arms. He governs; he is obeyed. To him as a shelter, as

refuge, there is recourse. . . .

The bad ruler is a wild beast, a demon of the air, an ocelot, a wolf -

infamous, avoided, detested as a respecter of nothing. He terrifies with his

gaze; he makes the earth rumble; he implants, he spreads fear. He is wished


The Noble

The noble has a mother, a father. He resembles his parents. The good

noble is obedient, cooperative, a follower of his parents' ways, a discreet

worker; attentive, willing. He follows the ways of his parents; he resembles

his father; he becomes his father's successor, he assumes his lot.

One of noble lineage is a follower of the exemplary life, a taker of the

good example of others; a seeker, a follower of the exemplary life. He speaks

eloquently, he is soft-spoken, virtuous, deserving of gratitude. He is noble

of heart, gentle of word, discreet, well-reared, well-taught. He is moderate,

energetic, inquiring, inquisitive. He scratches the earth with a thorn. He is

one who fasts, who starves his entrails, who parches his lips. He provides

nourishment to others. He sustains one, he serves food, he provides comfort.

He is a concealer [of himself], a belittler of himself. He magnifies and

praises others. He is a mourner for the dead, a doer of penances, a gracious

speaker; devout, godly, desirable, wanted, memorable.

The bad noble is ungrateful and forgetful; a debaser, a disparager of

things, contemptuous of others, arrogant, bragging. He creates disorder,

glories over his lineage, exdols his own virtues.

The Mature Common Woman

The good mature woman is candid. She is resolute, firm of heart, constant

- not to be dismayed; brave like a man; vigorous, resolute, persevering - not

one to falter. She is long-suffering; she accepts reprimands calmly - endures

things like a man. She becomes firm - takes courage. She is intent. She gives

of herself. She goes in humility. She exerts herself.

The bad woman is thin, tottering, weak - an inconstant companion,

unfriendly. She annoys others, chagrins them, shames, oppresses one. She

becomes impatient, she loses hope, becomes embarrassed - chagrined. Evil is

her life, she lives in shame.

The Weaver Of Designs

She concerns herself with using thread, works with thread. The good

weaver of designs is skilled - a maker of varicolored capes, an outliner of

designs, a blender of colors, a joiner of pieces, a matcher of pieces, a

person of good memory. She does things dexterously. She weaves designs. She

selects. She weaves tightly. She forms borders. She forms the neck. . . .

The bad weaver of designs is untrained - silly, foolish, unobservant,

unskilled of hand, ignorant, stupid. She tangles the thread, she harms her

work - she spoils it.

The Physician

The physician is a knower of herbs, of roots, of trees, of stones; she is

experienced in these. She is one who conducts examinations; she is a woman of

experience, of trust, of professional skill: a counselor.

The good physician is a restorer, a provider of health, a relaxer - one

who makes people feel well, who envelops one in ashes. She cures people; she

provides them health, she lances them, she bleeds them . . . pierces them with

an obsidian lancet.

You Might Also Like:

World History related image
Read More

World History

Welcome to our World History section, a vast treasure trove of historical knowledge that takes you on a captivating journey through the annals of human civilization. Our collection spans a wide spectrum of topics, providing an exhaustive resource for history enthusiasts, students, and curious minds ...
Read More

A Complete History Of The European Middle Ages

The Middle Ages Date: 1992 During the decline of the Roman Empire, the migrations of a strong, rude people began to change the life of Europe. They were the German barbarians, or Teutonic tribes, who swept across the Rhine and the Danube into the empire. There they accepted Christianity. The union o...
Read More

A Day In The Life Of A Battle Of Britain Pilot

The following would have been a typical day in the life of a Battle of Britain pilot The sequences are based on the works of different authors with the exception that the names have been changed. This is just to give you an idea as to how a pilot may have spent his day at the height of the battle. ...
Read More

A General Survey Of The Slave Plantation

The American Civil War, Frederick Douglass Edited by: Robert Guisepi 2002 A General Survey of the Slave Plantation by Frederick Douglass It was generally supposed that slavery in the State of Maryland existed in its mildest form, and that it was totally divested of those harsh and terrible peculiari...
Read More

A. P. Hill

The American Civil War, A. P. Hill Edited by: Robert Guisepi 2002 b. Nov. 9, 1825, Culpeper, Va., U.S.d. April 2, 1865, Petersburg, Va. Confederate general during the U.S. Civil War who was particularly active in the fighting around Washington, D.C. His force, called the "Light Division," was cons...
Read More


The American Civil War, Abolition, The Movement Edited by: Robert Guisepi 2002 There can be no doubt that antislavery, or "abolition" as it came to be called, was the nonpareil reform. Abolition was a diverse phenomenon. At one end of its spectrum was William Lloyd Garrison, an "immediatist," who de...
Read More

Abraham Lincoln

The American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln American Civil War history with slideshows, photos, music, major battles like Gettysburg as well as personalities like Lincoln, Grant, Lee and the Black Regiments Edited by: Robert Guisepi 2002 He was an unusual man in many ways. One minute he would wrestle wi...
Read More


European Absolutism And Power Politics Introduction Louis XIV (1643-1715) of France is remembered best as a strong-willed monarch who reportedly once exclaimed to his fawning courtiers, "L'etat, c'est moi" (I am the state). Whether or not he really said these words, Louis has been regarded by histor...
Read More

Absolutism As A System

Absolutism As A System L'Etat, C'Est Moi Date: 1998 Absolutism As A System Unlimited royal authority, as advocated by Bossuet and Hobbes, was the main characteristic of absolutism. It was demonstrated most obviously in political organization but also served to integrate into government most econom...
Read More

Absolutism, Case Against

The Case Against AbsolutismAuthor: Wallbank;Taylor;Bailkey;Jewsbury;Lewis;HackettDate: 1992The Case Against AbsolutismThe Enlightenment's highest achievement was the development of a tightlyorganized philosophy, purportedly based on scientific principles andcontradicting every argument for absolute ...
Read More

Accession Of Solomon

Accession Of Solomon Author: Milman, Henry Hart Accession Of Solomon B.C. 1017 Introduction After many weary years of travail and fighting in the wilderness and the land of Canaan, the Jews had at last founded their kingdom, with Jerusalem as the capital. Saul was proclaimed the first king; afterwa ...
Read More


A History of Ancient Greece The Glory That Was Greece Author: Jewsbury, Lewis Date: 1992 The Acropolis Acropolis (Greek akros,"highest"; polis,"city"), term originally applied to any fortified natural stronghold or citadel in ancient Greece. Primarily a place of refuge, the typical acropolis was con...
Read More

Aegean Civilization

A History of Ancient Greece Author: Robert Guisepi Date: 1998 AEGEAN CIVILIZATION The earliest civilization in Europe appeared on the coasts and islands of the Aegean Sea. This body of water is a branch of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bounded by the Greek mainland on the west, Asia Minor (now Turkey...
Read More

Aemilius Paulus

AEMILIUS PAULUS by Plutarch Almost all historians agree that the Aemilii were one of the ancient and patrician houses in Rome; and those authors who affirm that king Numa was pupil to Pythagoras, tell us that the first who gave the name to his posterity was Mamercus, the son of Pythagoras, who, for ...
Read More

Africa In The Age Of The Slave Trade

Africa And The Africans In The Age Of The Atlantic Slave Trade Various Authors Edited By: R. A. GuisepiAfrican Societies, Slavery, And The Slave TradeEuropeans in the age of the slave trade sometimes justified enslavementof Africans by pointing out that slavery already existed on that continent.Howe...
Read More