When Hernando Cortez arrived at the Valley of Mexico in 1519, he found a huge city standing in lake Texcoco. This city was Tenochtitlan. Tenochtitlan was the head of all Aztec civilization. From there all armies were sent out to conquer the other cities. When the Spanish came the Aztecs ruled the land from the Gulf of Mexico and down southward to present day Guatamala. The barbarian Aztecs came to Mexico in about A.D. 1200, from there on they put out a pure militaristic empire.
At the time their emperor, Montezuma ll., did not have an orginized empire. When the slave cities were taken over, he had no governers or stading armies to control them. Montezuma ll. had to re-conquer them. This weakness helped the Spaniards to conquer the warlike Aztecs in about two years.
Small floating islands fringed the oval island. They were made of mud dragged up from the lake bottom, hanging on a bunch of branches and water grass. At first , the farmers could tow their crops with canoes. Then, as trees sent their roots to the bottom of Lake Texcoco, they became permanent island farms which were called chinapas.
Religion was the strong force in Aztec life. In sculpture they gave their greatest efforts to please their gods by making the strongest and most beautiful temples possible.
They had hyrogliphics and number symbols with whitc they had recorded religious events. They had stole the idea from the Maya how to determine the solar year correcly. With this knowledge their priests kept a precise solar calender. An almanac gave dates for fixed festivals and listed the various deities.
The Aztecs the most advanced civilization when Cortez was there, but they did not start it . When the Aztec warriors were sent out to take over a city they also took the culture of earlier, more advanced people-the Toltecs, Maya, and many others.
A trade system linked the far parts of the empire with Tenochtitlan. Soldiers guarded the traders, and troops of porters carried the heavy loads.