The Aztec government is characterized as being similar to a monarchy, where the emperor represented a primary ruler over the territories. Besides, the empire had a sophisticated law structure, possessing unique features.
Aztec Empire existed in the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century on the territories of modern central and south Mexico. Even though the emperor was considered to be the primary ruler, the Aztec Empire was divided into large city-states, and each of them had its ruling system.
The most crucial aspect of the Aztec government was the payment of the tribute by the city-states to the emperor. As long as the tribute was paid, the ruler of the empire did not interfere in the states’ businesses, letting them be independent and have their governance.
In the time of the Aztec Empire, the primary leader was also called Huey Tlatoani. A curious fact about Huey Tlatoani is that when a new one came into power, he had to fast for four days, spending this time for meditation and the gods worshipping
The Cihuacoati represented another most substantial figure in the Aztec government. This person was responsible for fulfilling daily errands of the government, having thousands of subordinates to maintain the empire in a smooth existence. One more significant feature of the Aztec government was the existence of the Council of Four.
The Council consisted of influential military representatives, who stood first in the line for the emperor’s throne. The members of the Council of Four were the emperor’s advisors, and he needed to get their agreement on the most significant issues within the empire. Also, the priests, the judges, and the leaders of the military units represented essential officials. They were responsible for their field of expertise, and, curiously, priests were also in charge of running the schools.
It is interesting to mention that the Aztec government had a unique code of law. The law was the same for all the city-states, with the written law and related punishment for breaking it. Besides the criminal activities, such as murder, stealing, or property damage, the Aztec law system also prosecuted people for the drunkenness.
Moreover, the punishments were severe, and breaking some of the laws, such as homicide, rape, abortion, crops’ destruction, or witchcraft, often resulted in the death penalty. An interesting fact is that the Aztec government had a one-time forgiveness law. According to this law, if the criminal confessed to the priest before the accusation, the punishment could be avoided. This law existed due to the high focus on religion within the empire.
Another crucial detail about the Aztec government is the social structure within the empire. There was a clear hierarchy, dividing the society into such groups as nobles, farmers and artisans, and serfs and slaves. The hierarchy was rigorous, and, most commonly, the noble status was passed within the families.
Among the groups, the representative of the nobles were the only ones who had permission to wear decorated clothing or jewelry. Besides, the priests, who usually were the part of the nobles as well, were obligated to celibate and not to consume alcohol. It was already mentioned that the law system was harsh, and the violation of those obligations could result in death. One more feature of the Aztec society is that women rarely had administrative roles and were not allowed to serve in the military.