The formal education of the Aztecs was to train and teach young boys how to function in their society, particularly as warriors.
The Aztecs had a relatively small standing army. Only the elite soldiers part of the societies such as the Jaguar Knights and the soldiers stationed at the few Aztec fortifications were full-time.
Nevertheless, every boy was trained to become a warrior with the exception of nobles. Trades such as farming and artisan skills were not taught at the two formal schools.
All boys who were between the ages of ten and twenty years old would attend one of the two schools: At the Telpochcalli, students would learn the art of warfare, and would become warriors.
At the Calmecac students would be trained to become military leaders, priests, government officials, etc.
Once a boy reached the age of ten, a section of hair on the back of his head was grown long to indicate that he had not yet taken captives in war. At age fifteen, the father of the boy handed the responsibility of training to the telpochcalli, who would then train the boy to become a warrior.
The telpochcalli was accountable for the training of approximately to youths between the ages of fifteen and twenty years old. The youth were tested to determine how fit they would be for battle by accompanying their leaders on campaigns as shield-bearers.
War captains and veteran warriors had the role of training the boys how to handle their weapons. This generally included showing them how to hold a shield, how to hold a sword, how to shoot arrows from a bow and how to throw darts with an atlatl.
The calmecac were attached to temples as a dedication to patron gods. For example, the calmecac in the main ceremonial complex of Tenochtitlan was dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl.
Although there is uncertainty about the exact ages that boys entered into the calmecac, according to evidence that recorded the king's sons entering at the age of five and sons of other nobles entering between the ages of six and thirteen, it seems that youth began their training here at a younger age than those in the telpochcalli did.
When formal training in handling weapons began at age fifteen, youth would begin to accompany the seasoned warriors on campaigns so that they could become accustomed to military life and lose the fear of battle.
At age twenty, those who wanted to become warriors officially went to war. The parents of the youth sought out veteran warriors, bringing them foods and gifts with the objective of securing a warrior to be the sponsor of their child.
Ideally, the sponsor would watch over the youth and teach him how to take captives. Thus, sons of high nobility tended to succeed more often in war than those of lower nobility.
However, while parallels can be drawn between the organization of Aztec and Western military systems, as each developed from similar functional necessities, the differences between the two are far greater than the similarities.
The members of the Aztec army had loyalties to many different people and institutions, and ranking was not based solely on the position one held in a centralized military hierarchy.
Thus, the classification of ranks and statuses cannot be defined in the same manner as that of the modern Western military. Next were the commoners yaoquizqueh.
And finally, there were commoners who had taken captives, the so-called tlamanih. Ranking above these came the nobles of the "warrior societies".
These tlahuiztli became gradually more spectacular as the ranks progressed, allowing the most excellent warriors who had taken many captives to stand out on the battlefield.
The higher ranked warriors were also called "Pipiltin". Commoners excelling in warfare could be promoted to the noble class and could enter some of the warrior societies at least the Eagles and Jaguars.
Sons of nobles trained at the Calmecac, however, were expected to enter into one of the societies as they progressed through the ranks. Warriors could shift from one society and into another when they became sufficiently proficient; exactly how this happened is uncertain.
Each society had different styles of dress and equipment as well as styles of body paint and adornments. Tlamanih captor was a term that described commoners who had taken captives within the Aztec army, particularly those who had taken one captive.
Two captive warriors, recognizable by their red and black tlahuiztli and conical hats. Eagle warrior and Jaguar warrior. Those Aztec warriors who demonstrated the most bravery and who fought well became either jaguar or eagle warriors.
Of all of the Aztec warriors, they were the most feared. Both the jaguar and eagle Aztec warriors wore distinguishing helmets and uniforms.
The jaguars were identifiable by the jaguar skins they wore over their entire body, with only their faces showing from within the jaguar head.
The eagle Aztec warriors, on the other hand, wore feathered helmets including an open beak. In the historical sources, it is often difficult to discern whether the word otomitl "Otomi" refers to members of the Aztec warrior society or members of the ethnic group who also often joined the Aztec armies as mercenaries or allies.
A celebrated member of this warrior sect was Tzilacatzin. Their bald heads and faces were painted one-half blue and another half red or yellow.
They served as imperial shock troops and took on special tasks as well as battlefield assistance roles when needed. Over six captives and dozens of other heroic deeds were required for this rank.
They apparently turned down captaincies in order to remain constant battlefield combatants. Recognizable by their yellow tlahuitzli, they had sworn not to take a step backward during a battle on pain of death at the hands of their comrades.
Because the Aztec empire was maintained through warfare or the threat of war with other cities, the gathering of information about those cities was crucial in the process of preparing for a single battle or an extended campaign.
Also of great importance was the communication of messages between the military leaders and the warriors on the field so that political initiatives and collaborative ties could be established and maintained.
As such, intelligence and communication were vital components in Aztec warfare. The four establishments principally used for these tasks were merchants, formal ambassadors, messengers, and spies.
Merchants, called pochteca singular: General information, such as the perceived political climate of the areas traded in, could allow the king to gauge what actions might be necessary to prevent invasions and keep hostility from culminating in large-scale rebellion.
Because it became harder to obtain information about distant sites in a timely way, especially for those outside the empire, the feedback and warning received from merchants were invaluable.
If a merchant was killed while trading, this was a cause for war. The Aztecs' rapid and violent retaliation following this event is testament to the immense importance that the merchants had to the Aztec empire.
Merchants were very well respected in Aztec society. When merchants traveled south, they transported their merchandise either by canoe or by slaves, who would carry a majority of the goods on their backs.
If the caravan was likely to pass through dangerous territory, Aztec warriors accompanied the travelers to provide much-needed protection from wild animals and rival cultures.
In return, merchants often provided a military service to the empire by spying on the empire's many enemies while trading in the enemy's cities.
Once the Aztecs had decided to conquer a particular city Altepetl , they sent an ambassador from Tenochtitlan to offer the city protection.
They would showcase the advantages cities would gain by trading with the empire. The Aztecs, in return, asked for gold or precious stones for the Emperor.
They were given 20 days to decide their request. If they refused, more ambassadors were sent to the cities. However, these ambassadors were used as up front threats.
Instead of trade, these men would point out the destruction the empire could and would cause if the city were to decline their offer.
They were given another 20 days. There were no more warnings. The cities were destroyed and their people were taken as prisoners.
The Aztecs used a system in which men stationed approximately 4. For example, the runners might be sent by the king to inform allies to mobilize if a province began to rebel.
Messengers also alerted certain tributary cities of the incoming army and their food needs, carried messages between two opposing armies, and delivered news back to Tenochtitlan about the outcome of the war.
While messengers were also used in other regions of Mesoamerica, it was the Aztecs who apparently developed this system to a point of having impressive communicative scope.
Prior to mobilization, formal spies called quimichtin were sent into the territory of the enemy to gather information that would be advantageous to the Aztecs.
Specifically, they were requested to take careful note of the terrain that would be crossed, fortification used, details about the army, and their preparations.
These spies also sought out those who were dissidents in the area and paid them for information. The quimichtin traveled only by night and even spoke the language and wore the style of clothing specific to the region of the enemy.
Due to the extremely dangerous nature of this job they risked a torturous death and the enslavement of their family if discovered , these spies were amply compensated for their work.
The Aztecs also used a group of trade spies, known as the naualoztomeca. The naualoztomeca were forced to disguise themselves as they traveled.
They sought after rare goods and treasures. The naualoztomeca were also used for gathering information at the markets and reporting the information to the higher levels of pochteca.
These helmets could have different animals carved into them. The Macuahuitl, a word meaning "hungry-wood", was the standard armament of the elite cadres.
It was essentially a wooden sword with sharp obsidian blades embedded into its sides. The razor sharp obsidian blades were placed in groves that ran the length of the blade and held in place by a form of plant resin adhesive.
The Macuahuitl could deliver a horrific gash. It certainly could have decapitated a man and was reported to have even decapitated a conquistadors horse.
They were made to be either one-handed or two-handed weapons. They came in rectangular, ovoid, or pointed forms.
The macuahuitl had some serious drawbacks however. The obsidian blades were fragile and could shatter after a single strike.
The weapons were also cumbersome and required a lot of space to swing which tended to make it hard for users to stay in formation.
The macuahuitl is also known in Spanish by the Taino word "macana". Another ancient weapon commonly used by front lines was the Tepoztopilli.
The weapon could be used for slashing or stabbing, it also offered some protection due its superior reach. Aztec warriors also employed clubs with round wooden balls at the ends, clubs with inlaid obsidian blades and hatchets.
For long range weapons the Aztecs employed bows and slings. There slings were made out of maguey fiber and hurled rocks.
However for midrange the Aztecs used one of their signature weapons, the Atlatl. The Atlatl, also called the spear thrower or dart thrower, was developed to a sophisticated level in Mesoamerica.
Using the thrower a great amount of force could be generated, both from the exaggerated throwing motion the thrower allowed and flexing and releasing of the dart.
Ancient Military; Warriors, weapons and strategies. Your Ancient Military Resource. Aztec society was rigid, stratified class system in which each class or caste had a roll designed to support the Aztec warriors.
Warfare was thus the main driving force of both the Aztec economy and religion. These warriors often wore helmets adorned with eagle feathers and heads.
They adorned their armour with feathers and carried brightly coloured shields. The second type of Aztec warrior were the Jaguar Warriors.
The Jaguar Warriors were considered to be the all out fighting troops and full time warriors. The brute force of the Aztec army, they wore Jaguar skins over their heads with their faces peering out beneath the jaguar mouth.
The Otomi name was based on the Otomi who were respected for their vicious fighting style. Whichever way they were considered allies and fierce fighters.
The Shorn Ones were the most respected and prestigious Aztec warrior rank.