The Aztec Warriors: Defenders and Conquerors of a Civilization


The Aztec warriors were the backbone of one of the most powerful Mesoamerican civilizations – the Mexica. They were the defenders of their people and the conquerors of neighboring communities. Let’s delve into the world of these legendary fighters and understand their roles, training, and hierarchy.

Training of Aztec Warriors

Young men were sent to a school called the Telpochcalli to be trained as warriors. Here, they learned the courage needed to serve Tlaltecutli, Tonatiuh, and Tezcatlipoca, and to face formidable enemies during wars. To test their readiness for battle, they were made to carry heavy weights for a certain period. Those who endured were placed under the guidance of experienced warriors who taught them battle tactics and strategies.

Hierarchy and Types of Warriors

The military advancement of these young warriors depended on the number of prisoners they captured in each battle. There were warriors of different levels, identifiable by their costumes, weapons, and hairstyles.


The Tlatoani was the highest-ranking figure, not only as a governor but also as the defender of his people and territory, and the initiator of conquest campaigns. Famous Tlatoanis like Moctezuma I and Axayácatl extended the Mexica dominion through their military campaigns.


The Cihuacoatl was considered the general captain and was very close to the Tlatoani. He played a significant role in advising the Tlatoani on matters of governance, such as declarations of war and establishment of border zones.

Tlacochcálcatl, Tlacatécatl, Cuauhnochtli, and Tlilancalqui

These military figures were captains who also functioned as advisors to the Tlatoani on governance issues. They were involved in critical decisions like declarations of war and the establishment of border zones.

Quaquachtin or Shaved Warriors

These were Eagle Warriors who had distinguished themselves in battle and earned the title of Quaquachtin or Shaved Warriors. They were recognized by their shaved heads, except for a small tuft of hair left near the left ear.

Eagle Warriors or Tlequihuaque

These warriors were known for their red-tied hair decorated with colorful feathers and a helmet shaped like an eagle’s head. They held a privileged position, and their voices were highly valued.

Noble Eagle or Cuauhpilli

Also known as Brown Knights, these warriors were recognized for their unbreakable spirit and admirable bravery. They could be identified by their coiled hair and ear ornaments.


The Aztec warriors were more than just fighters; they were the defenders and conquerors who played a significant role in shaping the Mexica civilization. Their bravery, skills, and dedication were instrumental in the expansion and defense of their territory. Their legacy continues to fascinate us, offering a glimpse into the military structure and practices of one of the most powerful Mesoamerican civilizations.

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