Pyramid of power

The class system in Aztec society

Aztec society had a rigid hierarchy. There were two main social classes – commoners and nobles. Outward displays of class were very important; the style and material of a person's clothing indicated their social standing. A person could be enslaved or killed if they broke the rules of dress. 


Most Aztec people belonged to the commoner social class known as mācēhualtin. Workers lived in simple, single-storey structures made from sun-dried brick. Clusters of families working in the same profession lived in neighbourhoods called calpulli.


The nobles – pipiltin – inherited their power and wealth. The tlatoani (king), priests and lords all belonged to the noble class. Nobles carried heavy responsibilities but did not perform physical work. They enjoyed magnificent luxury goods, but also suffered the most severe punishments for misconduct.

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