Combat and Capture in the Aztec Empire

  • Ross Hassig


Aztec combat has generally been understood as similar to that of medieval Europe, employing armour, shields, bows, and broadswords that, while materially different, were comparable in form. Contemporary chronicles discuss battles and outcomes, and much about how the Aztecs fought may be gleaned from these. But pay little attention to combat at the individual level, furthering the tendency to analogise their battles to those in Europe. Assessing the nature and use of their arms and armour is indispensable, but often obscures how battles were actually fought by individuals. By delving into ancillary historical evidence, and combining that with Aztec strategic goals and the circumstances they confronted, reveals what individual combatants sought to achieve in battle and how they did so with the weapons available.