The lands of the Mexica nobles were farmed by serfs. The statehad some lands to supply the government. Some communal lands werefarmed by freemen, who had to pay tribute. The Mexica king hadabout four close relatives of important influence but also a largercouncil of a dozen or so nobles. Warriors were rewarded for theirservices. Priests were influential nobles who educated other nobles;others were only given military training. Judges and officialswere supposed by the historian Sahagun to be impartial, but merchantshad privileges and their own law courts. The common people werenot allowed to wear fine cotton clothes, jewelry, feathers, orpartake of certain foods and drinks such as cocoa; no one wassupposed to drink alcohol much until they were past fifty. Peoplecould become enslaved for crimes or be sold into it for debt;apparently most war captives were sacrificed. Slavery was nothereditary, though the poor or starving might sell their children.
By an examination of Machiavelli's theory about this, we have come to the theory of such institutional arragements as would preserve the proper purpose of the state, to serve the liberty of its citizens, and to protect citizens who might be targeted, either by unjust rulers or by the tyranny of the majority, for oppression and unnecessary, improper sacrifice.
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Most archaeologists agree that the Mayans were governed byan elite class. When rivals or enemies from the elite were captured,they were often sacrificed, while most prisoners were probablymade slaves, servants, or laborers. Orphans gained by purchaseor kidnapping were also used for human sacrifice; slaves werebought and sold. Ceremonies and a ball game played on a courtwith a rubber ball were very important to the Mayans. Accordingto the Spanish missionary Las Casas, men retired to a specialbuilding, and while separated from their wives they fasted andmade daily offerings of their blood for up to a hundred days priorto a major festival. The priesthood, like the rulers, was headedby a hereditary elite family, which directed the sun priests,diviners, and seers whose visions were induced by peyote. Othersassisted in the human sacrifices that cut out the heart of thevictim. Such sacrifices were probably not performed as often asthe Aztecs later did. Mayan rituals often focused on the sacredcorn (maize).