Wrongfully referred to as Aztec, the Mexica were the Native American people who dominated central México at the time of the Spanish conquest led by Hernan Cortés in the early 16th century. According to their own legends, they originated from a place called Aztlan, somewhere in north or northwest Mexico, probably a mythical place. At that time the Mexica (who referred to themselves as the Mexica or Tenochca, not Aztec) were a small, nomadic, Nahuatl-speaking aggregation of tribal peoples living on the margins of civilized Mesoamerica. Sometime in the 12th century they embarked on a period of wandering and in the 13th century settled in the central basin of México. Continually dislodged by the small city-states that fought one another in shifting alliances, the Mexica finally found refuge on small islets in Lake Texcoco where, in 1325, they founded the town of Tenochtitlan (modern-day Mexico City). The term Aztec, was created in modern times meaning "peoples from Aztlan" and is today a collective term, applied to all the peoples linked by trade, custom, religion, and language to these founders. For more information about this ancient and once powerful people, link to Aztec. See also Origin of Aztec term to refer to the Mexica

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