World History

Aztec Empire | History, Government, Empire, Facts & Culture


City-states formed constituted the Aztec Empire. There was a sizable city that governed the region at the heart of each city-state. The Aztec Emperor largely avoided interfering with the governance of the city-states. He demanded that every city-state pay him tribute. The city-state continued to function fairly independently of Aztec power as long as the payment was paid.

Huey Tlatoani or The Emperor

The Aztec system of administration resembled a monarchy in which an Emperor or King served as the supreme authority. Their king was known as the Huey Tlatoani. The Huey Tlatoani possessed the greatest authority in the nation. They believed he had the right to reign because he had been chosen by the gods. He chose when to declare war and how much tribute the nations under his control would pay to the Aztecs.

When an emperor passed away, a committee of prominent nobles selected a new emperor. Although it wasn’t always his son, the new emperor was typically a member of the previous emperor’s family. They occasionally picked a sibling they thought would make a suitable leader.

Aztec Emperors

Here are a few of the Huey Tlatoani or Aztec Emperors who are more well-known:

Acamapichtli –

He reigned the Aztecs for 19 years beginning in 1375 as their first emperor.

Itzcoatl –

He created the Triple Alliance after leading the Aztecs to victory over the Tepanecs as their fourth emperor.

Montezuma I –

The Aztecs expanded their empire and rose to prominence in the Triple Alliance under Montezuma I.

Montezuma II –

When Cortez and the Spanish came, Montezuma II, the ninth monarch of the Aztecs, was in charge. He had increased the empire to its highest extent when the Spanish assassinated him.

Other Admins

The Cihuacoatl was the second-in-command of the Aztec empire. The daily management of the government was in the hands of the Cihuacoatl. Under his supervision, thousands of bureaucrats and civil employees kept the government and the empire in good working order.

The Council of Four was another. These were strong individuals and army generals who stood in line to succeed the current emperor. They offered advise to the emperor, and it was crucial that he had their support when making significant choices.

The judges who controlled the court system, the military commanders, and the priests who oversaw the city’s religious institutions were some of the other key figures in the government.


The Aztecs had a pretty complex legal system. There were several laws, including those prohibiting theft, homicide, intoxication, and property destruction. Guilt and punishments were decided by a court and judge system. Up to a supreme court, they had courts at various levels. If a citizen disagreed with a judge’s decision, they might appeal it to a higher court.

The “one time forgiveness law” was a fascinating aspect of the legislation. A citizen would receive forgiveness if they went to a priest and confessed to a crime under this law. This only worked if they admitted to the crime before being apprehended. Additionally, it had a single use only.


Tenochtitlan, the Aztec nation’s capital, served as its administrative hub. The majority of the aristocracy resided here, along with the monarch. Tenochtitlan is said to have had a population of 200,000 people at its height under Montezuma II.

Information about the Government of the Aztecs

“Great Speaker” was what Huey Tlatoani intended. The Tlatoani of that city was the name given to the ruler of other smaller towns.

Despite the fact that a man had traditionally held the position, Cihuacoatl signified “Female Snake.”

The administration of the schools fell to the priests as well.

A new emperor was required to fast, meditate, and worship the gods for four days when he assumed power.

The death penalty was a frequent punishment for breaching the law, which carried harsh penalties. Other penalties included being sold into slavery or having your head shaved.