How did religion produce the collapse of the Aztec and Inca Empires - Essay Prowess

How did religion produce the collapse of the Aztec and Inca Empires


Kindly ADD to CART and Purchase an editable Word file at $5.99 ONLY.

How did religion produce the collapse of the Aztec and Inca Empires


The Inca and Aztec empires were both deeply religious with practices that are now considered extreme. These two ancient Mesoamerican cultures prayed to the sun and believed that the sun would not rise unless the sun god was offered human sacrifices. These sacrifices were conducted in their majestic pyramid temples and it was prisoners of war who were often offered up as sacrificial offering and the dead emperors were regarded as living beings. This essay seeks to explore how the Aztec and Inca religious beliefs led to the collapse of the two empires which had dominated the Americas for more that three centuries.

Collapse of the Aztec Empire

Aztec folklore had foretold of the coming of a god known as Quetzalcoatl to reclaim an empire that was considered as rightfully his to reign over. The god Quetzalcoatl was believed to possess light skin and was expected to come to the Aztec land from across the eastern sea (Conrad and Arthur, 18). According to the foretold prophesy, the white skinned God was believed to return to his land in one reed year in accordance to the ancient Aztec calendar.

At the time, the Aztec empire was under the rule of Emperor Moctezuma. This emperor was said to have become exceedingly nervous of the god Quetzalcoatl return, more so as the one Reed year inched closer (Conrad and Arthur, 18). According to the European calendar, the one Reed year coincided with the year 1519. The Spaniard Hernan Cortes set foot on the beaches at the eastern coast of Mexico in the very same year in the company of his fellow Spanish conquistadors. Upon receiving new of the arrival of light skinned people on his empire’s eastern coast who rode on strange beasts, Moctezuma became very fearful of the future of his empire.

Hernan Cortes met indigenous people at the coast who told him of their suffering after the Aztecs conquered their lands. These people offered to accompany him as translators as he forged forward gathering more followers as he progressed along into the empire’s capital center. As such, Cortes offered the formerly conquered indigenous Americans freedom soon after he destroyed the Aztec empire. Cortes and his seemingly small group of men compared to the Aztec army’s size killed Moctezuma and destroyed the empire’s capital center, Tenochtitlan on whose ruins Cortes built his new city.

Collapse of the Inca Empire

After the collapse of the ancient Tiahuanaco Empire, the Inca civilization gradually began to expand its territory. The empire rose to prominence at around 1465 and the religion that precipitated the rise and fall of the Inca Empire was dedicated to the worship of ancestors. Inca kings were considered by their subjects as the descendants of divinity (Conrad and Arthur, 91). As such, the Inca rulers had massive personal possessions and upon the death of a ruler his property rights were apportioned through split inheritance. The principal heir was one of the emperor’s sons who inherited the throne and imperial leadership of the empire. However, part of the inheritance was bequeathed to other inheritors referred to as secondary heirs (Conrad and Arthur, 91). The secondary heirs administered the emperor’s estate and propagate his cult.

Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish conquistador arrived in Peru after a bloody civil war between the principal and secondary heirs had devastated the empire. The emperor’s son had defeated his brother and was arrogant in victory. He underestimated the small Spanish force which took him prisoner and executed him in a year’s time. The Inca Empire the quickly disintegrated and fell into the hands of the Spanish.


Works Cited

Conrad, Geoffrey W, and Arthur A. Demarest. Religion and Empire: The Dynamics of Aztec and Inca Expansionism. Cambridge, u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Pr, 1988. Print.


× Need help? Chat with Mary now!