Tenochtitlán was an Aztec city that flourished between A.D. 1325 and 1521. Built on an island on Lake Texcoco, it had a system of canals and causeways that supplied the hundreds of thousands of people who lived there.
It was largely destroyed by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés after a siege in 1521, and modern-day Mexico City now lies over much of its remains. In a 1520 letter written to King Charles I of Spain, Cortés described the city that he would soon attack:
“The city is as big as Seville or Cordoba. The main streets are very wide and very straight; some of these are on the land, but the rest and all the smaller ones are half on land, half canals where they paddle their canoes.” (From “An Age of Voyages: 1350-1600,” by Mary Wiesner-Hanks, Oxford University Press, 2005)
Aztec social organization
The people of Tenochtitlán were divided…
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