Once the aztecs had decided to conquer a particular city, they sent an ambassador from Tenochtitlan to offer the city protection. They pointed out very politely the advantages of being able to trade with the Empire. All they asked for was a small gift of gold or precious stones for the emperor. The city was given twenty days to consider their request. If the city refused, more ambassadors arrived. This time the talk was tougher, less about the advantages of joining the Aztecs than about the destruction and death which came to any city that did not submit. To show how confident they were about the outcome of any future war, the Aztecs gave the enemy chief, magic potion, to make him strong in battle and presents of weapons for this soldiers! If this did not work, a third ambassador arrived twenty days later. Polite talk was replaced by blood curdling threats about what would happen after the city lost the war. This included destruction of the city's temple, enslavement of most of the population, and a promise that crippling tribute would be demanded for years to come
If the city still refused to join the Aztecs, the war began. Messengers were dispatched to cities throughout the Empire to gather soldier for the war. On the day chosen by priest as the luckiest day to start the campaign, the great war drum boomed out over Tenochtitlan and the army gathered in the Temple Precinct. Eventually a huge force set out, complete with priests, women cooks, porters, and engineers. The soldiers from each city marched in separate groups. The army was fed by the cities through which it passed. discipline was fierce, and the soldiers who stole from an attacked civilian were executed.
When the army arrived at the enemy city, Jaguar knights were sent to spy out the land. They signaled to each other by imitating bird calls. The Eagle knights attacked at dawn, making a great noise, stamping their feet, chanting, an whistling loudly to frighten the foe. Then the jaguar knights encircled their enemy . The fighting was very fierce , but Aztecs tried to wound or captured their enemies rather than kill them . When the Aztec's general decided that the battle was won. Messengers were sent to call on their opponents to surrender.
Once the enemy surrendered, a peace treaty was drawn up which listed the amount of tribute. The conquered city would be governed by an aztec noble. Prisoners - men women, and children were taken back to the victorious cities until the time came for them to be sacrificed.
War of Flowers
Occasionally there were periods when there was no war. At such a times, the cities of the triple alliance would arrange to the fight "Wars of the flowers" with certain neighbors, such as Tlaxcala, whose people were particularly valued as offerings. These battles were like ceremonial tournaments. When it was decided that each side had enough prisoners, the battle was ended and the armies returned home with their spoils
The aztec glyph for a defeated
city was a picture showing the
destruction of the temple which
inevitably followed the conquest.
On the right a defeated rebel leader is told of his imminent execution
part of the story of war. On the left rebel soldiers attack
Aztec Pochteca, providing the excuses for war .
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