General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 20 Nov 2017/5 Eagle
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Professor Camilla Townsend

Question for September 2013

When they got married, were they arranged marriages? Asked by Morgans Primary School. Chosen and answered by Professor Camilla Townsend.

A newly wedded Aztec couple; Codex Mendoza, fol. 61r (detail)
A newly wedded Aztec couple; Codex Mendoza, fol. 61r (detail) (Click on image to enlarge)

Yes and no. Parents did help their children select their partners. However, there was usually a wide degree of latitude. The only girls who were forced to marry someone whom they sometimes did not even like were highborn “princesses” from noble families. There is an excellent recent film called “Arranged” about a modern-day Orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim woman living in New York City. In each case, their marriages are arranged by their parents, and yet, as the audience learns, the young women have a great deal of control over the process. The situation was largely similar among the Aztecs.

Image from the Codex Mendoza (original in the Bodleian Library, Oxford) scanned from our own copy of the James Cooper Clark 1938 facsimile edition, London.

‘Carrying the bride and tying the knot...’

Professor Camilla Townsend has answered 5 questions altogether:

Is it true a boy was punished by being held over burning chiles but a girl was just threatened with this?

Would a son inherit the family house from his father when he grew up?

When they got married, were they arranged marriages?

What was the highest position a woman could reach?

Why did the Aztecs sacrifice the men and not the women?

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