Aztec Crime and Punishement
Remember that the heart of the empire had recently been fairly nomadic (constantly moving). A system of prisons was impossible, so Aztec crime and punishment had to develop along very different lines. There were no prisons and not much torture at all. Instead they had something called the deathly penalty. The deathly penalty was a common punishment for crimes. The criminal would be taken to an alter and be put to death,strangled or even stoned on the spot. The nobles who were meant to be setting an example, often got harsher punishments. Sometime there would be a lighter punishment such as getting your home demolished, or getting your head shaved.
Obviously there were crimes that were considered less serious. In a case like this people would be made to make restitution.
For example, say there was a fight, the one who had started it might be required to pay for the medical expenses.
Or, if something was stolen it would have to be paid back. Usually minor theft would be punished with death.
Slavery was another way that was usually used as a punishment as well. In the Aztec Empire, slavery was a common way to pay back what was owed. Leaving your home or country was also a punishment in some cases.
What were some common crimes?
Most crimes would include serious stealing from others crops and public drunkenness (except at festivals or if your over 700), and murder.
As the empire grew and became strong, many people became part of the Aztec system. The gods in the world of aztecs had power over people, through the leader the leadership of the emperor and nobles,and of course, the priests. Though when it came to law, religion was less of an issue than most Aztec daily life. Practically played a larger role.
Though the power was someone specific, the empire was still really a loosely connected alliance between various cities.
These cities shared a common emperor and sometimes a similar past history, so laws were similar throughout the empire, but not exactly the same. So Aztec crime and punishment did vary from city to city.
What were some common laws?
There were laws about marriage, inheriting an estate, the class system and economic situations. The class system for example was when someone common was not allowed to his/her house or or dress in lavish clothes as a noble was. Regarding marriage, a man could have as many people living with him as he wished, but only the blood related family of his original
wife could inherit his estate. Divorce was allowed in certain situations. If there were to be divorce the woman would get half the couples assets, and was free to re-marry.
Most crime was dealt with a local court, where senior warriors would be the judges. If the crime was more serious it could be tried in Tenochtitlan in the teccalaco court. Very serious cases, Such as the crimes involving nobles, could be tried by professional judges in the emperors palace. These judges may even include the emperor himself .
The fact that most of the aztec crime and punishment was swift and local made the system efficient, which it needed to be without a system of prisons.
WRITTEN BY TEAGAN AND HELP FROM AZTEC HISTORY.COM