Moctezuma II and the Aztecs

Anahuac is the name of the region where the Aztec or Nahua Empire first flourished. Its center was the city of Tenochtitlan, that was ruled by Huey Tlatoani or The Great Speaker, equivalent to the western title of emperor. When the Spanish conquerors

Moctecuhzoma, in the original Nahua pronunciation, was called Xocoyotzin "the young one" and he was raised as a priest. It has been told that he was shy and that he did not want to be Huey Tlatoani. When elected, he ran away but he was found right after sweeping the leaves on the temple. When assuming the position he ordered a series of amendments to the court protocol to avoid contact with people. Some records have him as arrogant and disdainful while some others say he was only silent and hesitant.

Moctezuma's role in history is controversial. On one side he had priests predicting the imminent fall of the empire, whereas the court demanded him to start the war at any cost. For some historians he was simply a coward. Whatever, his task was not to be taken easily: he had to face complete strangers, considered gods according to prophecies. Even with all the fear he might have had, Cortez and Moctezuma met on a causeway in ancient Mexico city, and they shook hands as if they were long lost friends.

Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Cortez's soldier, describes the palace, the court, and the character of Moctezuma in detail. Throughout his chronicles, we can not cease to perceive his admiration for the exquisiteness and majesty displayed before him. Diaz del Castillo mentions that people were not allowed to look to Moctezuma directly in his eyes. When speaking with him, his head should stay higher than that of the speaker. Narrations tell that he had his meals by himself, behind veils; and four beautiful women served him from as much as 300 platters, whatever he chose.

In the palace, continues Diaz del Castillo, wonders such as a botanic garden and a zoo with species from all over the empire could be admired. Richness in ornaments together with great size and magnificence were located in front of the Great Temple.

Despite what we could have thought after such richness, Moctezuma died humiliated, killed by his own people, who went into rage facing the passiveness he displayed while the Spanish looted the city. On the contrary, his offspring were well received at the Spanish court; nowadays, his descendants bare the title of Counts of Miravalle.