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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Aztec Empire was built on an agricultural base. However, the relationships between agriculturalists and the state and the characteristics of farming systems were not monolithic. Agricultural landscapes involved strategies in which farmers responded to demographic growth, ecological conditions, and political economy. Highlighting the processes of intensification and landesque capital, this chapter discusses how farmers cultivated a diverse assemblage of crops by responding to the ecological constraints of soil, slope, and water. These included terrace systems, irrigation systems, and raised fields. These strategies and investments were connected to the structure of the empire. Agriculturalists paid tribute to local lords and imperial officials, and farmer-merchants traded their products in market places. This relationship between production and political economy, however, was mediated by complex and nested systems of tenure that guided patterns of usufruct, labor obligations, and conveyance.

Keywords: agricultural landscapes, agricultural strategies, intensification, landesque capital, political economy

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