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At the top of Mexico social structure, the military elite received the most public honors and rewards. Although sometimes commoners could improve their social standing by distinguishing themselves on the battlefield, most of the military elite came from Mexico aristocracy who could have the best training and most opportunities to display talent on the battlefield. Mexico society was a rigid hierarchy, as the military elite also received extensive land grants and tribute from commoners. Furthermore, there was a council with the most successful warriors to discuss public issues, filling government positions. This elite class lived luxuriously, eating the richest food such as turkey, pheasant, duck, deer, boar and rabbit with spices such as vanilla and cacao from tribute.
Mexico social structure was also reflected in laws that required commoners to wear coarse burlap but allowed the aristocrats to wear cotton. Warriors distinguished themselves from society by wearing brightly colored capes, lip plugs, and eagle feathers after capturing enemies. Receiving a special education in calendrical and ritual lore, priests were another elite class. They conducted religious ceremonies that the Mexico thought were necessary to continue the world. Advising Mexico rulers, they had political influence because they read omens and explained forces that drove the world. Some priests became the rulers of the Aztec empires, such as Motecuzoma II, a popular cult leader.
Enjoying prestige in society, skilled artisans who produced luxury items for the elite, such as gold, silver cotton textiles, and tropical bird feathers had an important role in long distance trade. Not only did they provide luxury goods they also provided the aristocrats with military and political intelligence. Because the merchants were usually seen as greedy profiteers, aristocratic warriors extorted wealth and goods from merchants without powerful patrons to protect them. Mexico society was made up of mostly commoners who lived in hamlets cultivating chinampas allocated to their families by calpulli. The calpulli were at first groups or clans of families descended from common ancestors, but this morphed to serve a political role in organizing community affairs. The commoners also worked on the land of aristocrats and public works projects, such as palaces, temples, roads, and irrigation systems. Cultivators paid tribute to state agents, who distributed it among the aristocrats and stored the rest in state granaries and warehouses. Lastly, many slaves were at the bottom of Mexico society. Working as domestic servants, they were usually Mexico who were sold into servitude by their families or because of criminal behavior.
Mexico society was extremely patriarchal, since all of the warrior elites were men who held political power. Respected for their role in the family, women were influential within families and enjoyed honor as mothers of warriors. Still, they could not inherit property or hold office positions and were required by law to obey fathers and husbands. Women often did craftwork in the marketplace, such as embroidery and needlework, but they were mainly recognized as mothers and homemakers. They also had the responsibility of childcare and preparing food for the family. All women married, besides the ones dedicated to the temple, because their duty was to bear children, especially male warriors. Childbirth was often compared to battle, as women who died in childbirth won the same fame as warriors who died in battle.
The rigid social structure of Mexico society made it vulnerable to attack with the arrival of the Spanish of the 16th century because of the massive gaps between the aristocrats and the commoners. Living lavish lifestyles and forcing their subjects to pay heavy tribute, the military elites ruled very harshly. Furthermore, laws were implemented to increase the divide between the elites and the commoners, such as rules about jewelry and clothing. In addition, Mexico society was extremely decentralized, as the Mexico did not administer a beauracracy. Instead, they allowed local governments to retain organization, which resulted in a disorderly society. As a result, the Mexico lacked unity to resist the arrival of the Spanish. Finally, Mexico society was isolated and hygienic, which meant that their immune systems were vulnerable to European diseases.
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