1. bookVolume 18 (2018): Issue 1 (June 2018)
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1339-7877
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15 Jun 2014
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The Laws of Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina

Published Online: 25 Jan 2019
Volume & Issue: Volume 18 (2018) - Issue 1 (June 2018)
Page range: 125 - 169
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
1339-7877
First Published
15 Jun 2014
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

The article deals with contents, as well as social contexts and functions of sixteen laws enacted by Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina or Motecuhzoma I, the fifth ruler (ruled ca. 1440-1460 AD) of a pre-Hispanic city-state Tenochtitlan, the principal capital of the Aztec Empire. The author also focuses on the problem of Motecuhzoma I´s laws´ factual enforcement and discusses its possible limits.

The enactment of Motecuhzoma I´s laws was an important part of state formation process in Tenochtitlan. These laws reinforced the internal hierarchy of Tenochtitlan society and the privileged social position of a tiny ruling class (ruler, nobles by birth, merited non-noble warriors and their quasi-noble descendants), particularly by excluding masses of ordinary people from the exercise of political power, as well as the acquisition, ownership and public display of the so-called “prestige objects”, which were markers of a higher social status (i.e. belonging to the ruling class). Further they established a complex state apparatus of Tenochtitlan (a system of both central and local city-state administration and judiciary), which was headed by a ruler (tlatoani). The laws also helped spread Tenochtitlan official ideology of a religious nature among the population, as they created a mechanism to introduce virtually all nobles and commoners (of both sexes) to the ideology (public schools compulsory attended by all later pubertal and adolescent youth of Tenochtitlan), as well as an organization of priests who dramatized the ideological doctrines by their (mostly public) ritual performancies. Finally, there were also laws concerning the punishment of adulterers and thieves. The factual enforcement of Motecuhzoma I´s laws by Tenochtitlan ruler/state apparatus was limited due to several reasons, e.g. the rise of local autonomous and autarchic socioeconomic units resisting to some degree the power of state and the law enacted by the state.

Keywords

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