Aztec Emperors Moctezuma I and Moctezuma II

Moctezuma I was the Aztec Emperor in the 15th century. He overlooked the solidification of the Triple Alliance that founded the Aztec Empire. During his reign, the Empire significantly expanded beyond the Valley of Mexico and a double aqueduct system was constructed to provide fresh water to the city of Tenochtitlan. Moctezuma II was the Aztec Emperor when Hernes Cortes led a Spaniard invasion of the Valley of Mexico. He expanded the Aztec Empire so that it reached is maximum size during his reign. When Cortes came to Tenochtitlan, Moctezuma II treated him as a guest but eventually he was killed while Spanish forces were pitted against the city’s population.

Moctezuma I & Moctezuma II History

Moctezuma I

Assumed the position of the Aztec Emperor in 1440 and ruled until 1469. His reign was marked by an increased cooperation between the city of Tenochtitlan and other two members of the Aztec Triple Alliance. It was also during his reign that the Aztec Empire reached as far as the Gulf Coast, being able to access goods such as cocoa.

Moctezuma II

Was the Aztec Emperor from 1502 to 1520, when he was killed. The Aztec Empire reached its peak during his reign in terms of the area under its control. He regulated the social hierarchy of the Aztec society so that the roles of the nobility and the commoners were more clearly defined.

Moctezuma I Aztec Emperor

Moctezuma I assumed the position of the Aztec Emperor in 1440 and ruled until 1469.

Moctezuma I & Moctezuma II Conquests

During the reign of Moctezuma I, the Huastec and Totonac peoples in the Gulf Coast region were defeated and subjugated. These conquests opened the path for goods such as cocoa, rubber and seashells for the Aztec Empire. Later in his reign, Moctezuma I defeated the Mixtec army and launched similar campaigns against Orizaba and other regions.

Moctezuma II led the final expansion of the Aztec Empire before its collapse under Spanish invasion. During his reign, the Empire expanded as far as Xoconosco in Chiapas and Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Moctezuma I & Moctezuma II Administration

Moctezuma I made a number of administrative decisions which cemented the Aztec Empire’s unity. He strengthened the Aztec Triple Alliance by forging stronger ties between the city of Tenochtitlan and other members of the alliance which included Tlacopan and Texcoco. Another of his major administrative achievements was the construction of an aqueduct system to bring fresh water to Tenochtitlan.

Apart from the Empire’s expansion through warfare, Moctezuma II attended to the administrative tasks. Notable among these was his policies to clearly define and sharpen the divide between the nobility and the commoners, overruling the previously established meritocratic system. In some versions of Aztec history, he is criticized as a weak administrator in the face of the onslaught of the Spaniards. Rather than confronting Hernes Cortes, Moctezuma II invited him into the city of Tenochtitlan, treated him and his soldiers as his guests and was consequently held as hostage in his own palace by the Spaniards. Ultimately, he was killed without being able to mount a successful resistance to the Spaniards.

Moctezuma I & Moctezuma II Family

Moctezuma I

Was the son of the Aztec Emperor Huitzilihuitl. The notable Aztec Emperor Itzcoatl who is considered among the founders of the Aztec Empire was his half uncle. He was the brother of Tlacaelel I, Chimalpopoca and Huehue Zaca.

Aztec Kings Motzumel II

Aztec King Motzumel II was the ninth ruler of the Aztec Empire – descended from the royal family of Tenochtitlan. He had Teotlalco and Tlapalizquixochtzin as his queens.

Moctezuma II

Also descended from the royal family of Tenochtitlan. He had Teotlalco and Tlapalizquixochtzin as his queens. He had two sons and a daughter, although the exact number of his children outside marriage is considered to be fairly high.

Moctezuma II Spanish Contact

In 1519, Hernen Cortes arrived at the gates of Tenochtitlan with a band of soldiers. Moctezuma II received him into the city and exchanged gifts with him. He then invited Cortes and his men to stay as guests at the city. Later, Cortes was somehow able to hold Moctezuma II hostage in his own house which led to an increased dissatisfaction of the city’s populace with the Spaniards. Eventually, this culminated in a massacre at the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan. Before he could mount a resistance against the Spaniards, Moctezuma II was killed in 1520 according to later historical sources.

Moctezuma II Superstitions

Most of the details of Moctezuma II come from later written historical sources and is often open to academic controversy. Some historians claim he was a weak leader. Other sources cite that before the arrival of the Spaniards, a number of events strengthened his suspicions of an impending disaster. These included the appearance of a comet in the sky, the burning of a temple and many other similar events. Historical sources claim that Moctezuma II and the city of Tenochtitlan received these omens with a foreboding which may explain why they let the Spaniards enter and stay at the city.

Moctezuma II Massacre in the Great Temple

In the final months leading up to Moctezuma II’s death, Spaniards were staying in the city of Tenochtitlan. During this stay, Hernen Cortes had to go away and in the interim, the Spanish soldiers carried out a massacre in the Great Temple of the city. Native historical sources say that men and women inside the temple were killed because the Spaniards wanted to loot their gold. Spanish version claims that the soldiers responded to a rebellion.



Moctezuma II Death

The death of Moctezuma II is historically remarkable because facts about it are controversial and unconfirmed. What is known for certain is that he was killed in the city of Tenochtitlan sometime after the arrival of Hernen Cortes and the Massacre in the Great Temple. Historical sources say that he was killed by the Spaniards, while the Spanish version of history derived from Cortes’ correspondences lay the blame on the local nobility for killing their King.

Moctezuma I & Moctezuma II Summary

Moctezuma I and Moctezuma II were both Aztec Emperors during two different reigns. Moctezuma I ruled the Empire in the time of its peak and expanded it significantly, while at the same time developing local structures such as water supply to the city of Tenochtitlan. He also forged closer relations with members of the Aztec Triple Alliance.

Moctezuma II ruled the Empire in the 16th century when the Empire had reached its maximum size. He was the Emperor when the Spanish reached Mexico. He treated Hernen Cortes as a guest upon his arrival to Tenochtitlan but subsequently, he was unable to resist the Spaniards and was first held hostage in his own palace, then killed. It was during his reign that the collapse of the Aztec Empire began.