Summary: Mass Murder Or Religious Homicide

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Mass Murder or Religious Homicide? Rethinking human Sacrifice and Interpersonal violence in Aztec Society

Dr. Caroline Dodds Pennock is a professor at the University of Sheffield with a Bachelor of Arts in Ancient and Modern History, a Master of Studies in Women’s Studies, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Ancient Aztec History from the University of Oxford. She is the author of Bonds of Blood: Gender, Lifestyle and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture which won the Royal Historical Society Gladstone Prize in 2008 and two journal articles, including Mass Murder or Religious Homicide? Rethinking human Sacrifice and Interpersonal violence in Aztec Society. She is currently working on a project about Native Americans traveling to Europe in the sixteenth
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Ut covers the basics such as that “the Aztecs settled in the Valley of Mexico” in the fourteenth century and that they grew in size and power “until their dramatic destruction at the hands of the Spanish conquistadors in 1520” (Pennock 277). It mentions the hypocrisy of endowing the Aztecs with “a maniacal obsession with blood and torture” while at the same time that first accounts were being written the Catholic “church and state were executing heretics and opponents in bloody displays of ritualized violence” (qtd. in Pennock 277; Pennock …show more content…
The question is raised “whether Aztec practices should be considered as part of the history of murder and homicide at all” (Pennock 284). Pennock explains the religious motivations behind the human sacrifices; that “creator gods let blood from themselves to bring life” which “established the reciprocal blood debt” that sacrifice satisfied. She goes on to explain how the public education system helped cement homogenous views of the sacrifices. She also showcases the wonders of the Aztec world, such as the “efficient legal system” and “the huge marketplace” (Pennock 292, 294). The article then transitions into a look at how modern scholars “accept an underlying premise which demonizes the practitioners of human sacrifice,” hindering proper analyses of Aztec culture (Pennock 297). It also discusses modern efforts to reclaim mesoamerican heritage and culture and the unhelpful “revisionist discourse . . . that . . . embraces . . . the underlying assumption that ritual violence can only be practised by an irretrievably cruel and barbaric culture” (Pennock 296). All parts of the article built on what was learned in class, especially about the religion and capital city Tenochtitlan of the Aztecs. In fact, one of the sources quoted repeatedly was the primary source that I wrote my last analysis of; the Duran

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