Mesoamerica and the European Conquest, the Crusades and Renaissance

Mesoamerica and the European Conquest, the Crusades and Renaissance:

How did the organization of the Aztec Empire and the treatment of subject peoples differ from that of the Incas?


Aztec and Incas empires were the most advanced civilizations in the New World prior to the European Conquest.

Both Aztecs and Incas had reached the unparalleled level of development in North and South America. Nevertheless, in spite of the dominance of both empires in their regions, they were still quite different, especially in regard to the treatment of subject nations. In fact, the Aztec Empire and the Incas had quite a different administrative system in regard to the conquered or subject people. In such a context, the success of both empires proves their effectiveness of each particular model.

On analyzing the relationship of Incas and Aztecs to their subject people, it is necessary to lay emphasis on the fact that both empires extended their territories significantly and controlled a large number of people. At the same time, the approaches the empires used to control their subjects differed consistently. Both empires needed the efficient system of governance of the conquered or subject people and Aztecs and Incas developed their own, original system of relationships.

At first glance, the power of Incas could not be maintained for a long period of time because Incas did not have a strong military power as Aztecs did. Nevertheless, Incas had managed to create a huge empire. Even though their empires were smaller compared to the Aztec Empire, the Incas Empire was definitely superior to all other tribes located in South America. The success of the Incan Empire was determined by the organizational mastership of Incas. In fact, Incas attempted to merge their own interests with those of the conquered people. As a rule, they maintained the local authorities and allowed them to exercise their power on the condition of the loyalty to Incas and obedience to their rules. In such a way, Incas centralized the power in their hands and bred loyal local authorities which maintained their power in conquered territories. To maintain the economic power of the empire, Incas used labor taxation to accelerate the merger of Incan society and conquered people.

In stark contrast, Aztecs maintained their power by means of their military. The military supremacy of Aztecs kept conquered people obedient. However, Aztecs failed to develop an efficient administrative system which could be loyal to the central government. Instead, Aztecs used a system of tributes to get benefits from their conquests, but they did not even attempt to replace local authorities or substitute them by regimes local to Aztecs. In other words, Aztecs simply counted for their military power and used it to keep subject people obedient. In such a way, subject people viewed Aztecs as enemies who exploited them in their own interests, while Incas attempted to merge their interests with those of subject people.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the Aztec and Incan Empire had developed two different administrative systems, which allowed them to control huge territories with a large population. On the one hand, Aztecs used their military power to keep control over the huge empire, while, on the other hand, Incas attempted to make local elites loyal to Incas through merger of interests of local elites and those of Incas.

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