Mary, mother of Jesus
Mary was a 1st-century BC Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus, according to the New Testament and the Quran. The gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament and the Quran describe Mary as a virgin; the miraculous conception took place when she was betrothed to Joseph. She accompanied Joseph to Bethlehem; the Gospel of Luke begins its account of Mary's life with the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced her divine selection to be the mother of Jesus. According to canonical gospel accounts, Mary was present at the crucifixion and is depicted as a member of the early Christian community in Jerusalem. According to Catholic and Orthodox teachings, at the end of her earthly life her body was raised directly into Heaven. Mary has been venerated since early Christianity, is considered by millions to be the most meritorious saint of the religion, she is claimed to have miraculously appeared to believers many times over the centuries. The Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches believe that Mary, as mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God.
There is significant diversity in the Marian beliefs and devotional practices of major Christian traditions. The Catholic Church holds distinctive Marian dogmas, namely her status as the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her perpetual virginity, her Assumption into heaven. Many Protestants minimize Mary's role within Christianity, basing their argument on the relative brevity of biblical references. Mary has a revered position in Islam, where one of the longer chapters of the Quran is devoted to her. Mary's name in the original manuscripts of the New Testament was based on her original Aramaic name מרים, translit. Maryam or Mariam; the English name Mary comes from the Greek Μαρία, a shortened form of Μαριάμ. Both Μαρία and Μαριάμ appear in the New Testament. In Christianity, Mary is referred to as the Virgin Mary, in accordance with the belief that she conceived Jesus miraculously through the Holy Spirit without her husband's involvement. Among her many other names and titles are the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Mary, the Mother of God, the Theotokos, Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, although the title "Queen of Heaven" was a name for a pagan goddess being worshipped during the prophet Jeremiah's lifetime.
Titles in use vary among Anglicans, Catholics, Protestants and other Christians. The three main titles for Mary used by the Orthodox are Theotokos, Aeiparthenos as confirmed in the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, Panagia. Catholics use a wide variety of titles for Mary, these titles have in turn given rise to many artistic depictions. For example, the title Our Lady of Sorrows has inspired such masterpieces as Michelangelo's Pietà; the title Theotokos was recognized at the Council of Ephesus in 431. The direct equivalents of title in Latin are Deipara and Dei Genetrix, although the phrase is more loosely translated into Latin as Mater Dei, with similar patterns for other languages used in the Latin Church. However, this same phrase in Greek, in the abbreviated form ΜΡ ΘΥ, is an indication attached to her image in Byzantine icons; the Council stated that the Church Fathers "did not hesitate to speak of the holy Virgin as the Mother of God". Some Marian titles have a direct scriptural basis.
For instance, the title "Queen Mother" has been given to Mary since she was the mother of Jesus, sometimes referred to as the "King of Kings" due to his ancestral descent from King David. Other titles have arisen from special appeals, or occasions for calling on Mary. To give a few examples, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Our Lady of Navigators, Our Lady Undoer of Knots fit this description. In Islam, she is known as mother of Isa, she is referred to by the honorific title sayyidatuna, meaning "our lady". A related term of endearment is Siddiqah, meaning "she who confirms the truth" and "she who believes sincerely completely". Another title for Mary is Qānitah, which signifies both constant submission to God and absorption in prayer and invocation in Islam, she is called "Tahira", meaning "one, purified" and representing her status as one of two humans in creation to not be touched by Satan at any point. The Gospel of Luke mentions Mary the most identifying her by name twelve times, all of these in the infancy narrative.
The Gospel of Matthew mentions her by name six times, five of these in the infancy narrative and only once outside the infancy narrative. The Gospel of Mark names her once and mentions her as Jesus' mother without naming her in 3:31 and 3:32; the Gospel of John never mentions her by name. Described as Jesus' mother, she makes two appearances, she is first seen at the wedding at Cana. The second reference, listed only in this gospel, has her standing near the cross of Jesus together with Mary Magdalene, Mary of Clopas (or Cleophas
Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin known as Juan Diego, a native of Mexico, is the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas. He is said to have been granted an apparition of the Virgin Mary on four separate occasions in December 1531 at the hill of Tepeyac outside but now well within metropolitan Mexico City; the Basilica of Guadalupe, located at the foot of the hill of Tepeyac, claims to possess Juan Diego's mantle or cloak on which an image of the Virgin is said to have been impressed by a miracle as a pledge of the authenticity of the apparitions. These apparitions and the imparting of the miraculous image are the basis of the veneration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, ubiquitous in Mexico, prevalent throughout the Spanish-speaking Americas, widespread beyond; as a result, the Basilica of Guadalupe is now the world's major centre of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics, receiving 22 million visitors in 2010. Juan Diego was beatified in 1990 and canonized in 2002. According to the sources identified below, Juan Diego was an Indian born in 1474 in Cuauhtitlan, at the time of the apparitions he lived there or in Tolpetlac.
Although not destitute, he was neither influential. His religious fervor, his artlessness, his respectful but gracious demeanour towards the Virgin Mary and the skeptical Bishop Juan de Zumárraga, as well as his devotion to his sick uncle and, subsequently, to the Virgin at her shrine – all of which are central to the tradition – are among his defining characteristics and testify to the sanctity of life, the indispensable criterion for canonization, he and his wife, María Lucía, were among the first to be baptized after the arrival of the main group of twelve Franciscan missionaries in Mexico in 1524. His wife died two years before the apparitions, although one source claims she died two years after them. There is no firm tradition as to their marital relations, it is variously reported that after their baptism he and his wife were inspired by a sermon on chastity to live celibately. Alternatives and may not conflict with other reports that Juan Diego had a son. Intrinsic to the narrative is Juan Bernardino.
At least two 18th-century nuns claimed to be descended from Juan Diego. After the apparitions, Juan Diego was permitted to live next to the hermitage erected at the foot of the hill of Tepeyac, he dedicated the rest of his life to serving the Virgin Mary at the shrine erected in accordance with her wishes; the date of death is given as 1548. The earliest notices of an apparition of the Virgin Mary at Tepeyac to an Indian are to be found in various annals which are regarded by Dr. Miguel León-Portilla, one of the leading Mexican scholars in this field, as demonstrating "that many people were flocking to the chapel of Tepeyac long before 1556, that the tradition of Juan Diego and the apparitions of Tonantzin had spread." Others go only as far as saying that such notices "are few, brief and themselves posterior by many years". If dated to the 16th century, the Codex Escalada – which portrays one of the apparitions and states that Juan Diego died "worthily" in 1548 – must be accounted among the earliest and clearest of such notices.
After the annals, a number of publications arose: Sánchez has a few scattered sentences noting Juan Diego's uneventful life at the hermitage in the sixteen years from the apparitions to his death. The Huei tlamahuiçoltica, at the start of the Nican Mopohua and at the end of the section known as the Nican Mopectana, there is some information concerning Juan Diego's life before and after the apparitions, giving many instances of his sanctity of life. Becerra Tanco. Juan Diego's town of origin, place of residence at the date of the apparitions, the name of his wife are given at pages 1 and 2 of the 6th edition, his heroic virtues are eulogized at pages 40 to 42. Other biographical information about Juan Diego is set out on page 50. On page 49 is the remark that Juan Diego and his wife remained chaste – at the least after their baptism – having been impressed by a sermon on chastity said to have been preached by Fray Toribio de Benevente. Slight and fragmented notices appear in the hearsay testimony of seven of the indigenous witnesses collected with other testimonies in the Informaciones Jurídicas de 1666.
Chapter 18 of Francisco de la Florencia's Estrella de el norte de México contains the first systematic account of Juan Diego's life, with attention given to some divergent strands in the tradition. The following account is based on that given in the Nican Mopohua, first published in Nahuatl in 1649 as part of a compendious work known as the Huei tlamahuiçoltica. No part of that work was available in Spanish until 1895 when, as part of the celebrations for the coronation of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe in that year, there was published a translation of the Nican Mopohua dating from the 18th cent
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, is a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with a Marian apparition and a venerated image enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The basilica is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world, the world's third most-visited sacred site. Pope Leo XIII granted the venerated image a Canonical Coronation on 12 October 1895. Catholic accounts claim that the Virgin Mary appeared four times before Juan Diego and once more before Juan Diego's uncle. According to those Catholic version accounts, the first apparition occurred on the morning of December 9, 1531, when it is said that a native Mexican peasant named Juan Diego experienced a vision of a young woman at a place called the Hill of Tepeyac, which would become part of Villa de Guadalupe, in a suburb of Mexico City. According to the accounts, the woman, speaking to Juan Diego in his native Nahuatl language, identified herself as the Virgin Mary, "mother of the true deity".
She was said to have asked for a church to be built at that site in her honor. Based on her words, Juan Diego sought out the archbishop of Mexico City, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, to tell him what had happened. Not unexpectedly, the bishop did not believe Diego, but on the same day Juan Diego saw the young woman for a second time; the story continues saying she asked him to keep insisting. On Sunday, December 10, Juan Diego talked to the archbishop for a second time; the latter instructed him to return to Tepeyac Hill, to ask the lady for a acceptable, miraculous sign to prove her identity. That same day, the third apparition occurred when Diego returned to Tepeyac and encountering the same woman, he reported back to her the bishop's request for a sign. By Monday, December 11, Juan Diego's uncle, Juan Bernardino, had fallen sick so Juan Diego was obliged to attend to him. In the early hours of Tuesday, December 12, Juan Bernardino's condition having deteriorated overnight, Juan Diego set out to Tlatelolco to fetch a Catholic priest to hear Juan Bernardino's confession and help minister to him on his death-bed.
In order to avoid being delayed by the Virgin and ashamed at having failed to meet her on the Monday as agreed, Juan Diego chose another route around the hill, but the Virgin intercepted him and asked where he was going. In the words which have become the most famous phrase of the Guadalupe event and are inscribed over the main entrance to the Basilica of Guadalupe, she asked, "¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?". She assured him that Juan Bernardino had now recovered and she told him to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill, barren in the cold of December. Juan followed her instructions and he found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, blooming there; the Virgin arranged the flowers in Juan's tilma, or cloak, when Juan Diego opened his cloak before archbishop Zumárraga on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor, on the fabric was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The next day, on December 13, Juan Diego found his uncle recovered, as the Virgin had assured him, Juan Bernardino recounted that he too had seen her, at his bed-side.
The bishop kept Juan Diego's mantle first in his private chapel and in the church on public display where it attracted great attention. On December 26, 1531 a procession formed for taking the miraculous image back to Tepeyac where it was installed in a small hastily erected chapel. In course of this procession, the first miracle was performed when an Indian was mortally wounded in the neck by an arrow shot by accident during some stylized martial displays executed in honour of the Virgin. In great distress, the Indians pleaded for his life. Upon the arrow being withdrawn, the victim made a immediate recovery. Juan Diego's tilma has become Mexico's most popular religious and cultural symbol, has received widespread ecclesiastical and popular support. In the 19th century it became the rallying call of the Spaniards born in America, in what they labeled New Spain, they said they saw the story of the apparition as legitimizing their own indigenous Mexican origin, infused it with an messianic sense of mission and identity – thus legitimizing their armed rebellion against Spain.
The devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe did not lack significant Catholic clerical opposition within Mexico and elsewhere in the early years, in more recent times some Catholic scholars, a former abbot of the basilica, Monsignor Guillermo Schulenburg, have openly doubted the historical existence of Juan Diego, referring to their devotion as symbolic, propagated by a sensational cult who were looking to bolster Catholic devotion from amongst the indigenous. Nonetheless, Juan Diego was canonized under the name Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. While the image garners much religious devotion and fervent Mexican patriotism, scholarly criticism on the image is notable, considering the artistic disproportion of the image, the similarity of the image to Spanish pre-colonial artwork related to the Aztec colony at the time, the alleged relationship of Marcos C
Tenochtitlan known as Mexica-Tenochtitlan, was a large Mexica city-state in what is now the center of Mexico City. The exact date of the founding of the city is unclear, but the most accepted date is March 13, 1325; the city was built on an island in what was Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico. The city was the capital of the expanding Aztec Empire in the 15th century until it was captured by the Spanish in 1521. At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas, it subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlan are in the historic center of the Mexican capital; the World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains. Tenochtitlan was one of two Mexica āltēpetl on the other being Tlatelolco. Traditionally, the name Tenochtitlan was thought to come from Nahuatl tetl and nōchtli and is thought to mean, "Among the prickly pears rocks". However, one attestation in the late 16th-century manuscript known as "the Bancroft dialogues" suggest the second vowel was short, so that the true etymology remains uncertain.
Tenochtitlan covered an estimated 8 to 13.5 km2, situated on the western side of the shallow Lake Texcoco. At the time of Spanish conquests, Mexico City comprised both Tlatelolco; the city extended from north to south, from the north border of Tlatelolco to the swamps, which by that time were disappearing to the west. The city was connected to the mainland by bridges and causeways leading to the north and west; the causeways were interrupted by bridges that allowed canoes and other water traffic to pass freely. The bridges could be pulled away, to defend the city; the city was interlaced with a series of canals, so that all sections of the city could be visited either on foot or via canoe. Lake Texcoco was the largest of five interconnected lakes. Since it formed in an endorheic basin, Lake Texcoco was brackish. During the reign of Moctezuma I, the "levee of Nezahualcoyotl" was constructed, reputedly designed by Nezahualcoyotl. Estimated to be 12 to 16 km in length, the levee was completed circa 1453.
The levee kept fresh spring-fed water in the waters around Tenochtitlan and kept the brackish waters beyond the dike, to the east. Two double aqueducts, each more than 4 km long and made of terracotta, provided the city with fresh water from the springs at Chapultepec; this was intended for cleaning and washing. For drinking, water from mountain springs was preferred. Most of the population liked to bathe twice a day. According to the context of Aztec culture in literature, the soap that they most used was the root of a plant called copalxocotl, to clean their clothes they used the root of metl; the upper classes and pregnant women washed themselves in a temāzcalli, similar to a sauna bath, still used in the south of Mexico. This was popular in other Mesoamerican cultures; when we saw so many cities and villages built in the water and other great towns on dry land we were amazed and said that it was like the enchantments on account of the great towers and cues and buildings rising from the water, all built of masonry.
And some of our soldiers asked whether the things that we saw were not a dream? I do not know how to describe it, seeing things as we did that had never been heard of or seen before, not dreamed about; the city was divided into camps. There were three main streets that crossed the city, each leading to one of the three causeways to the mainland of Tepeyac and Tlacopan. Modern names please. Bernal Díaz del Castillo reported. Surrounding the raised causeways were artificial floating gardens with canal waterways and gardens of plants and trees; the calpullis were divided by channels used for transportation, with wood bridges that were removed at night. The earliest European images of the city were woodcuts published in Augsburg around 1522; each calpulli had its own tiyanquiztli, but there was a main marketplace in Tlatelolco – Tenochtitlan's sister city. Cortés estimated it was twice the size of the city of Salamanca with about 60,000 people trading daily. Bernardino de Sahagún provides a more conservative population estimate of 20,000 on ordinary days and 40,000 on feast days.
There were specialized markets in the other central Mexican cities. In the center of the city were the public buildings and palaces. Inside a walled square, 500 meters to a side, was the ceremonial center. There were about 45 public buildings, including: the Templo Mayor, dedicated to the Aztec patron deity Huitzilopochtli and the Rain God Tlaloc. Outside was the palace of Moctezum
A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy, entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Old Catholic and Independent Catholic churches and in the Assyrian Church of the East, bishops claim apostolic succession, a direct historical lineage dating back to the original Twelve Apostles. Within these churches, bishops are seen as those who possess the full priesthood and can ordain clergy – including another bishop; some Protestant churches including the Lutheran and Methodist churches have bishops serving similar functions as well, though not always understood to be within apostolic succession in the same way. One, ordained deacon and bishop is understood to hold the fullness of the priesthood, given responsibility by Christ to govern and sanctify the Body of Christ, members of the Faithful. Priests and lay ministers cooperate and assist their bishops in shepherding a flock.
The term epískopos, meaning "overseer" in Greek, the early language of the Christian Church, was not from the earliest times distinguished from the term presbýteros, but the term was clearly used in the sense of the order or office of bishop, distinct from that of presbyter in the writings attributed to Ignatius of Antioch.. The earliest organization of the Church in Jerusalem was, according to most scholars, similar to that of Jewish synagogues, but it had a council or college of ordained presbyters. In Acts 11:30 and Acts 15:22, we see a collegiate system of government in Jerusalem chaired by James the Just, according to tradition the first bishop of the city. In Acts 14:23, the Apostle Paul ordains presbyters in churches in Anatolia; the word presbyter was not yet distinguished from overseer, as in Acts 20:17, Titus 1:5–7 and 1 Peter 5:1. The earliest writings of the Apostolic Fathers, the Didache and the First Epistle of Clement, for example, show the church used two terms for local church offices—presbyters and deacon.
In Timothy and Titus in the New Testament a more defined episcopate can be seen. We are told that Paul had left Timothy in Titus in Crete to oversee the local church. Paul commands Titus to exercise general oversight. Early sources are unclear but various groups of Christian communities may have had the bishop surrounded by a group or college functioning as leaders of the local churches; the head or "monarchic" bishop came to rule more and all local churches would follow the example of the other churches and structure themselves after the model of the others with the one bishop in clearer charge, though the role of the body of presbyters remained important. As Christendom grew, bishops no longer directly served individual congregations. Instead, the Metropolitan bishop appointed priests to minister each congregation, acting as the bishop's delegate. Around the end of the 1st century, the church's organization became clearer in historical documents. In the works of the Apostolic Fathers, Ignatius of Antioch in particular, the role of the episkopos, or bishop, became more important or, rather was important and being defined.
While Ignatius of Antioch offers the earliest clear description of monarchial bishops he is an advocate of monepiscopal structure rather than describing an accepted reality. To the bishops and house churches to which he writes, he offers strategies on how to pressure house churches who don't recognize the bishop into compliance. Other contemporary Christian writers do not describe monarchial bishops, either continuing to equate them with the presbyters or speaking of episkopoi in a city. "Blessed be God, who has granted unto you, who are yourselves so excellent, to obtain such an excellent bishop." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 1:1 "and that, being subject to the bishop and the presbytery, ye may in all respects be sanctified." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 2:1 "For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as to the bishop as the strings are to the harp." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 4:1 "Do ye, beloved, be careful to be subject to the bishop, the presbyters and the deacons."
— Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 5:1 "Plainly therefore we ought to regard the bishop as the Lord Himself" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 6:1. "your godly bishop" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 2:1. "the bishop presiding after the likeness of God and the presbyters after the likeness of the council of the Apostles, with the deacons who are most dear to me, having been entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus Christ" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 6:1. "Therefore as the Lord did nothing without the Father, either by Himself or by the Apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and the presbyters." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 7:1. "Be obedient to the bishop and to one another, as Jesus Christ was to the Father, as the Apostles were to Christ and to the Father, that there may be union both of flesh and of spirit." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 13:2. "In like manner let all men respe
Confession, in many religions, is the acknowledgment of one's sins or wrongs. Buddhism has been from its inception a tradition of renunciation and monasticism. Within the monastic framework of the sangha regular confession of wrongdoing to other monks is mandatory. In the suttas of the Pali Canon Bhikkhus sometimes confessed their wrongdoing to the Buddha himself; that part of the Pali Canon called the Vinaya requires that monks confess their individual sins before the bi-weekly convening for the recitation of the Patimokkha. In Catholic teaching, the Sacrament of Penance is the method of the Church by which individual men and women confess sins committed after baptism and have them absolved by God through the administration of a Priest; the Catholic rite, obligatory at least once a year for serious sin, is conducted within a confessional box, booth or reconciliation room. This sacrament is known by many names, including penance and confession. While official Church publications refer to the sacrament as "Penance", "Reconciliation" or "Penance and Reconciliation", many laypeople continue to use the term "Confession" in reference to the Sacrament.
For the Catholic Church, the intent of this sacrament is to provide healing for the soul as well as to regain the grace of God, lost by sin. A perfect act of contrition, wherein the penitent expresses sorrow for having offended God and not out of fear of eternal punishment outside of confession removes the eternal punishment associated with mortal sin but a Catholic is obliged to confess his or her mortal sins at the earliest opportunity. In theological terms, the priest acts in persona Christi and receives from the Church the power of jurisdiction over the penitent; the Council of Trent quoted John 20:22-23 as the primary Scriptural proof for the doctrine concerning this sacrament, but Catholics consider Matthew 9:2-8, 1 Corinthians 11:27, Matthew 16:17-20 to be among the Scriptural bases for the sacrament. The Catholic Church teaches that sacramental confession requires three "acts" on the part of the penitent: contrition, disclosure of the sins, satisfaction; the basic form of confession has not changed for centuries, although at one time confessions were made publicly.
The penitent begins sacramental confession by saying, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been since my last confession." The penitent must confess what he/she believes to be grave and mortal sins, in both kind and number, in order to be reconciled with God and the Church. The sinner may confess venial sins. According to the Catechism, "without being necessary, confession of everyday faults is strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more through this sacrament the gift of the Father's Mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as He is merciful". "When Christ's faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon." As a result, if the confession was good, "the sacrament was valid" the penitent inadvertently forgot some mortal sins, which are forgiven as well.
As a safeguard not to become something like "subconsciously inadvertent" to avoid saying some sins, these must be confessed in the next confession. It is allowed, however allowed, except for certain devotional purposes sensible to concentrate in one's examination of conscience on the time since the last Confession. In general, Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Christians choose an individual to trust as his or her spiritual guide. In most cases this may be a starets; this person is referred to as one's "spiritual father". Once chosen, the individual turns to their spiritual guide for advice on their spiritual development, confessing sins, asking advice. Orthodox Christians tend to confess only to this individual and the closeness created by this bond makes the spiritual guide the most qualified in dealing with the person, so much so that no one can override what a spiritual guide tells his charges. What is confessed to one's spiritual guide is protected by the same seal as would be any priest hearing a confession.
Only an ordained priest may pronounce the absolution. Confession does not take place in a confessional, but in the main part of the church itself before an analogion set up near the iconostasion. On the analogion is placed a Gospel Book and a blessing cross; the confession takes place before an icon of Jesus Christ. Orthodox understand that the confession is not made to the priest, but to Christ, the priest stands only as witness and guide. Before confessing, the penitent venerates the Gospel Book and cross, places the thumb and first two fingers of his right hand on the feet of Christ as he is depicted on the cross; the confessor will read an admonition warning the penitent to make a full confession, holding nothing back. As with administration of other sacraments, in cases of emergency confession may be heard anywhere. For this reason in the Russian Orthodox Churc
The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521. The Aztec peoples included different ethnic groups of central Mexico those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Aztec culture was organized into city-states, some of which joined to form alliances, political confederations, or empires; the Aztec empire was a confederation of three city-states established in 1427, city-state of the Mexica or Tenochca. Although the term Aztecs is narrowly restricted to the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, it is broadly used to refer to Nahua polities or peoples of central Mexico in the prehispanic era, as well as the Spanish colonial era; the definitions of Aztec and Aztecs have long been the topic of scholarly discussion since German scientist Alexander von Humboldt established its common usage in the early nineteenth century. Most ethnic groups of central Mexico in the post-classic period shared basic cultural traits of Mesoamerica, so many of the traits that characterize Aztec culture cannot be said to be exclusive to the Aztecs.
For the same reason, the notion of "Aztec civilization" is best understood as a particular horizon of a general Mesoamerican civilization. The culture of central Mexico includes maize cultivation, the social division between nobility and commoners, a pantheon, the calendric system of a xiuhpohualli of 365 days intercalated with a tonalpohualli of 260 days. Particular to the Mexica of Tenochtitlan was the patron God Huitzilopochtli, twin pyramids, the ceramic ware known as Aztec I to IV. From the 13th century, the Valley of Mexico was the heart of dense population and the rise of city-states; the Mexica were late-comers to the Valley of Mexico, founded the city-state of Tenochtitlan on unpromising islets in Lake Texcoco becoming the dominant power of the Aztec Triple Alliance or Aztec Empire. It was a tributary empire that expanded its political hegemony far beyond the Valley of Mexico, conquering other city states throughout Mesoamerica in the late post-classic period, it originated in 1427 as an alliance between the city-states Tenochtitlan and Tlacopan.
Soon Texcoco and Tlacopan were relegated to junior partnership in the alliance, with Tenochtitlan the dominant power. The empire extended its reach by a combination of trade and military conquest, it was never a true territorial empire controlling a territory by large military garrisons in conquered provinces, but rather dominated its client city-states by installing friendly rulers in conquered territories, by constructing marriage alliances between the ruling dynasties, by extending an imperial ideology to its client city-states. Client city-states paid tribute to the Aztec emperor, the Huey Tlatoani, in an economic strategy limiting communication and trade between outlying polities, making them dependent on the imperial center for the acquisition of luxury goods; the political clout of the empire reached far south into Mesoamerica conquering polities as far south as Chiapas and Guatemala and spanning Mesoamerica from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans. The empire reached its maximal extent in 1519, just prior to the arrival of a small group of Spanish conquistadors led by Hernán Cortés.
Cortés allied with city-states opposed to the Mexica the Nahuatl-speaking Tlaxcalteca as well as other central Mexican polities, including Texcoco, its former ally in the Triple Alliance. After the fall of Tenochtitlan on August 13, 1521 and the capture of the emperor Cuauhtemoc, the Spanish founded Mexico City on the ruins of Tenochtitlan. From there they proceeded with the process of conquest and incorporation of Mesoamerican peoples into the Spanish Empire. With the destruction of the superstructure of the Aztec Empire in 1521, the Spanish utilized the city-states on which the Aztec Empire had been built, to rule the indigenous populations via their local nobles; those nobles pledged loyalty to the Spanish crown and converted, at least nominally, to Christianity, in return were recognized as nobles by the Spanish crown. Nobles acted as intermediaries to convey tribute and mobilize labor for their new overlords, facilitating the establishment of Spanish colonial rule. Aztec culture and history is known through archaeological evidence found in excavations such as that of the renowned Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
Important for knowledge of post-conquest Nahuas was the training of indigenous scribes to write alphabetic texts in Nahuatl for local purposes under Spanish colonial rule. At its height, Aztec culture had rich and complex mythological and religious traditions, as well as achieving remarkable architectural and artistic accomplishments; the Nahuatl words and mean "people from Aztlan," a mythical place of origin for several ethnic groups in central Mexico. The term was not used as an endonym by Aztecs themselves, but it is