War Strategies of The Aztec Empire
War can lead to either success or to defeat, it all depends on the strategies of the warriors and their leader. Warfare played essential role in Aztec culture, where entire men were engaged into battles and fought with honor. Aztecs were settled in the island Tenochtitlan in 1325 C.E., whereas they established their empire about hundred years later, in 1428 C.E., by defeating Azcapotzalco. This was the time, when Aztecs began to improve their war strategies in order to expand their empire as well as their power. They tended to persuade other tribes to either accept the superiority of Aztecs and pay tribute; however, if the battle was necessary they demolished defending army and sacrificed its prisoners.
The majority of the army consisted of the constrained military-experienced warriors named ‘Yaoquizques’ were mainly focused on ‘hand to hand fight’. The economy, faith and future success of them was fostered primarily because of its warfare. Even though Aztecs empire conquered cities after cities, improved their war strategies by accumulating new weapon system as well as increased their economic standards, social life and established their law and government, however when it came to Spanish Army they were easily defeated, and in august 1521 C.E. the Aztecs empire collapsed. In this paper my main focus will be on the war strategies of Aztecs and linking their war strategies to the collapse of their empire.
The Aztec people were not always destroying the conquered regions, they actually tried to make them autonomous in order to extract their resources to the motherland. For Aztec people the improvement of war strategies seemed more useful way to develop their economically, territorially and supremely status. And thus, in order to achieve these goals they started to improve their weapons, and invented new weapons such as ‘atlatl’, javelin, leather helmets, wood shields made more resistant with leather.
The Jaguar warriors were dressed in jaguar skin and helmet with fang, whereas Eagle warriors wore feathered suits complete with claws and a beaked helmet. Since Aztecs were concerned about the profit they can obtain from other state-cities, they attempted to extract more resources from them. Due to the outbalancing power of Aztecs every city in neighborhood paid tributary. However, they had specific, but efficient, strategies for combats. They usually used the strategy of victim: in the battle with the opponent Aztec army started with strafing the enemy with projected weapons such as atlatls, dart throwers, slings, arrows and spears. After some time, they started to retreat to be seemed that they are in the panic, whereas they baited enemy to the ambush where hidden reserve forces of Aztecs attack opponent from back side. Then the officers signal to fleeing army to stop treating and star attacking enemy who is attacked from different sides.
The interesting point is that this strategy was also used by Muslims in Badder war, where one group of Muslims would run and mislead the opponents and the other group would surround them. The second strategy is more basic, but not less efficient: Aztec army start bombarding enemy from projected weapons that were mentioned in the first strategy. When the opponent is got closer melee weapons such as daggers, swords, and razor-sharp obsidian clubs were used. Interesting fact is that, their melee weapon was made of wood that was more to wound the enemy rather than kill him. After a combat enemy prisoner were sacrificed in the temple in the capital of Aztecs empire.
Even though the Aztec civilization obtained supreme power and conquered hundreds of city-states, its war strategy was not perfect, and they suffered defeats. One the worst defeat was against the Tarascans in 1479 C.E. This battle staggered the Aztec empire. The number of rebels started to increase day by day. Later, in 1517, Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernan Cortes, arrived in the capital of Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlán. Although the condition between Hernan Cortes and Aztecs were friendly, Spanish soldiers attacked Aztec people on festival.
Despite the fact, that Aztec people fought back and killed more than half of Spanish soldiers, Hernan Cortes could flee. His war strategy was much better, rather than strategy of Aztecs. Cortes allied with enemies of Aztec empire, Tlaxcaltecas and some other less known societies. They started a siege of Tenochtitlan, thus no food or any other products could not be supplied. It occurred hunger inside the empire, that created, in turn, diseases among Aztec citizens. Finally, after three months, the leader of Aztecs surrendered to the Spain on 13 August 1521 C.E. However, this was only first factor that collapsed Aztecs civilization. Another factor was equipment: Spanish soldiers had more advanced weapon that of Aztecs had. Spanish people armor, cannons, guns, and swords; None of the Aztecs weapons could compare to the conquistadors’ weapons.
To conclude, the Aztecs empire, despite its small lifetime, was one of the most powerful empire of 14-15th centuries in terms of warfare in central Mexico. It expanded for enormous sizes for few decades due to its awesome war strategy. Even though Aztecs as well as its war strategy were very dangerous for indigenous state-cities, they could not be compared with Spanish empire, that possessed cannons, guns, and generally better equipment that of Aztecs. However, the impact that he had towards to war strategies of future empires is incredible.
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