This book addresses two important deficiencies in the fields of Aztec studies and the anthropology of law. It is the first modern analysis of the legal system of any Aztec state and the first comprehensive study of the history and culture of Texcoco, the second most important Aztec city. Law controlled the institutions and processes that were of central importance in all Aztec societies, such as land tenure, inheritance, kinship relations, business, trade, and local and imperial administration. This analysis of the Aztec legal system provides a guide to the poorly understood social and political structures of the various Aztec states and the political dynamics within these states. Legal change, internal factionalism, and Texcocan jurisprudence are examined as important indicators of social and cultural transformations. Offner has concentrated on discovering relationships inherent in the Aztec data rather than interpreting data in terms of externally derived evolutionary theories. By presenting Texcocan legal systems within the context of other major sociocultural subsystems, this work should provide students of Aztec society and of the anthropology of law with new and reliable findings for further substantive and theoretical elaboration.
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