General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 20 May 2019/5 Alligator
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Professor Matthew Restall

Question for October 2017

Did the Aztecs ever fight against the Maya? Asked by Blackheath Prep School. Chosen and answered by Professor Matthew Restall.

Aztec warriors pursuing Maya warriors (see below)
Aztec warriors pursuing Maya warriors (see below) (Click on image to enlarge)

No, not if by “the Aztecs” we mean the Aztec Empire, before the Spaniards came. There were Aztec garrisons on the Maya frontier, and very likely plans to attack. But then the Aztecs themselves were attacked - by the Spaniards. However, if by “the Aztecs” we can include surviving warriors from the regions of Mexico that were part of the Aztec Empire, then the answer is yes. All Spanish campaigns into Maya territories, from the 1520s into the 1540s, featured thousands of indigenous warriors who were once Aztecs or Aztec subjects. The Spaniards could not have established colonies in Yucatan and Guatemala without the help of these “Aztecs.”

Picture source:-
• Drawing of the central design of a gold disk in repoussé technique from the Well of Sacrifices, Chichen Itzá, Yucatan: the illustration shows two Maya warriors (right) retreating before two pursuing Mexica warriors; image scanned from our own copy of The Ancient Maya by Sylvanus G. Morley, Stanford University Press, California, 1947, p. 435.

Professor Matthew Restall has answered just this one question

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