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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The two social classes in Aztec society—noble and commoner—were quantitatively and qualitatively distinct. Nevertheless, the members of each varied greatly in wealth, power, and status. There were four legal categories of noble (pilli, tecuhtli, tlatoani, and huey tlatoani). Most commoners were farmers, whose vertical position was largely determined by the nature of their access to farmland. Members of calpolli fared best, while dependent laborers were less well off. There were also several special commoner categories (merchants, luxury artisans, priests, warriors, and slaves) whose members occupied a position intermediate between nobles and other commoners. Analyses of quantitative variation in wealth inequality using the Gini index reveal an intermediate level of inequality in Aztec society.

Keywords: inequality, stratification, social class, nobility, commoners, Gini index, calpolli

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