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"Slavery in the Aztec Empire was very different from what Europeans of the same period established in their colonies. Aztec slavery was personal, not hereditary. A slave's children were free. The slave could have possessions and even own other slaves. Slaves could buy their liberty, and could be set free if they were able to show they had been mistreated or if they had children with or were married to their masters.
Typically, upon the death of their owner, slaves who had performed outstanding services were freed, while the rest were passed on as part of the inheritance.
Another rather remarkable method for a slave to recover liberty was described by Manuel Orozco y Berra in La civilización azteca (1860): if, at the tianquiztli (marketplace; the word has survived into modern-day Spanish as "tianguis"), a slave could escape the vigilance of their master, run outside the walls of the market and step on a piece of human excrement, and then present their case to the judges, they would grant that slave freedom. They would then be washed, provided with new clothes not owned by the master, and declared free. As any person who was not a relative of the master could be declared a slave for trying to prevent a slave's escape, people typically would not help the master prevent the escape.If one slave was not behaving it would be considered death."