Most people have heard of the Aztecs, the rulers of a large empire in Mexico, which was defeated by the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez (in 1519). Another name for the Aztecs is Mexica, which is the origin of the Mexico’s name.
There had been more than a thousand years of sophisticated urban civilization before the Aztecs made it to the Valley of Mexico in the 1300s. They settled down, became civilized and built the beautiful city of Tenochtitlan. It was destroyed in the final fighting between Aztecs and Spanish in a grim Stalingrad-like house-to-house fight. The Spanish founded Mexico City on the site.
The Aztecs were a barbarian tribal group that migrated south, not unlike the Goths or Franks in Europe. Their actual homeland is unknown, but Aztec legend located Aztlan somewhere far to the north. In the 1960s the name Aztlan was appropriated by radicals in the United States, who claimed that Aztlan was the territory the United States took from Mexico after the Mexican War, which would be the present US states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada and parts of Colorado.
That idea of setting up a new nation separate from both Mexico and the United States never got very far. The latest scholarship posits that the Aztec homeland was in Northwest Mexico.
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