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Social Classes

  Aztec social class pyramid

 The Noble Class

 The noble class consisted of a ruler (known as the tlatoani), priests, and lords. Lords included landowners and judges. Nobles were very powerful. They controlled the government, army, slaves, and land and recieved goods and services from commoners. Priets played a very important part in Aztec society. They watched planets and stars to read the calendar and make predictions. The high priests made offerings to the gods, even sacrificing people. Prayers and songs were carried out by priests, as well.

Human sacrifice

The Middle Class

The middle class was the largest class in Aztec society. Members lived in modest houses made of adobe bricks. Farmers, artisans, merchants, and metal workers made up the middle class. They all contributed to society, but merchants were especially important. Through merchants, Aztecs were able to trade goods such as rubber, cotton, feathers, and cocoa.

Merchants traveling

 The Lower Class

 The lower class consisted of the poor, slaves, and servants. The poor were farmers and hunters.  Their homes were small and simple, as were their meals. Slaves were owned by nobles. However, they could buy their freedom or be set free with their masters’ consent. Children of slaves were born free. Slavery was a form of punishment; those with debts and prisoners of war were slaves. Servants, on the other hand, were not considered property, even though they served nobility. They could marry and run their own businesses.

Lower class farmer

 Moving Up and Down the Social Pyramid

Aztecs belonged to a class from birth. However, it was possible to move up the social class pyramind through marriage or bravery in battle. Slaves could buy their own freedom or be set free by their masters. People could also move down the pyramid and become slaves as punishment for serious crimes.

Rights of Women and Slaves

While women and men were not viewed as equals, women still had several rights. A woman could own property, divorce her husband, remarry, and ask for justice. Slaves had a surprising amount of rights. They could marry, have children, and buy their freedom.


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