Aztec Political Hierarchy

The Aztecs were a certain ethnic groups of central Mexico which followed a certain political system of hierarchy who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to 16th centuries.  They followed a strict order of positions in the political system who were identified as nobles, commoners and slaves.

Whereas the noble class is concerned, the class consisted of military and government leaders and high level priests and lords.  Similarly, each different class consisted of different professionals. The following is the detailed structure of Aztec political hierarchy.

aztec political hierarchy

The Noble Class

The noble class was the highest level of persons in Aztec political society who held the most responsibility and rights as compared to other classes.  The following are the main job positions which fall under the noble class:

  • Government leaders
  • Military leaders
  • High level priests
  • Priests
  • Lords-
  • Landowners
  • Judges
  • Military commander

Priests too had their own internal class system and were expected to refrain from alcohol and sexual connections.  Failure to do so could also lead to death by punishment.  Nobles received goods from the commoners and were also entitled to receive services, and labor.  The status of a noble was passed onto the next generations.

The Commoner Class

As the name suggests, the commoner class of the Aztec hierarchy consisted of the common man which included different professionals working in different workplaces etc. These individuals were responsible for producing food, supplying tools and had their own self- governing trade guilds.  These people generally resided in calpulli or the neighborhood wards.  These wards were led by single noblemen etc.

  • Farmers
  • Artisans
  • Merchants
  • Low level priests

Merchants and artisans were generally very wealthy and had a lot of prestige within this class.

Lower Most Class

The lower most class of the Aztec political system consisted of those who had the least of the privileges and were not treated well by the other members of the society. This class consisted of landless serfs and slaves. Serfs were those who worked on the land that was owned by the nobles. Slaves were those individuals who became slaves as a punishment for the crimes committed by them or their failure to pay tribute.

  • Slaves
  • Serfs

Prisoner of wars were also made into slaves during the times of the Aztec political times and society.  Anyone could sell himself or his/her children into slavery as well.