What Was the Role of Women in Aztec Society?

While Aztec women were expected to fill the role of homemaker and mother in Aztec society, they were also able to participate in economic activity, like selling items in the marketplace, working as midwives or even acting as scribes. Women who stayed home performed essential tasks, such as cloth-making, in addition to homemaking, explains the Illinois Valley Community College website.

Aztec society was militarily oriented and socially stratified, putting some limits on the roles women could play. Women were, however, respected for their craft skills, an essential trade in a society that made everything by hand. Crafting guilds were open and welcoming to women.

Marriages were arranged with the approval of entire extended families and under the auspices of a professional matchmaker. Because marriage was an important political tool, polygamy was common among the nobility. For everyone else, marriage was seen as important on a family level, and young people were married to others who would enhance the family as a whole. In general, women were in charge at home, making all major decisions.

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived, the lives of women became more difficult. Men were forced to work in mines or travel far afield to support the Spanish demands, leaving women to do the work of both husband and wife. Women were also barred from working outside the home, and later were even forbidden their traditional work as weavers; instead, men were taken to work in Spanish textile mills, ending a way of life for Aztec women.