Moctezuma I

Moctezuma I
Moctezuma I
King of Tenochtitlan

Moctezuma I in the Codex Mendoza.
Reign 1440–1469
Born 1398
Died 1469 (aged 70–71)
Predecessor Itzcoatl
Successor Axayacatl
Wife Queen Chichimecacihuatzin I
Offspring Princess Atotoztli II
Princess Chichimecacihuatzin II
Prince Iquehuacatzin
Prince Mahchimaleh
Father Emperor Huitzilihuitl
Mother Queen Miahuaxihuitl

Moctezuma I (c. 1398–1469), also known as Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina, Huehuemotecuhzoma or Montezuma I (Classical Nahuatl: Motēuczōma Ilhuicamīna [moteːkʷˈsoːma ilwikaˈmiːna], Classical Nahuatl: Huēhuemotēuczōma [weːwemoteːkʷˈsoːma]), was the fifth Aztec emperor - king of Tenochtitlan. During his reign the Aztec Empire was consolidated, major expansion was undertaken and Tenochtitlan started becoming the dominant partner of the Aztec Triple Alliance.

Moctezuma was the son of emperor Huitzilihuitl and queen Miahuaxihuitl. He was a brother of Chimalpopoca, Tlacaelel I and Huehue Zaca. Moctezuma executed Zaca for singing and beating his drum loudly.

According to legend, Miahuaxihuitl miraculously became pregnant with Moctezuma after swallowing a jewel. This may be the origin of the name Ilhuicamina. Moctezuma later married Chichimecacihuatzin I, his mother's niece.

Tlacaelel held the position of cihuacoatl - "First councillor" during Moctezuma's reign and some sources ascribe a lot of the success of Moctezuma to Tlacaelel, but this may be a postconquest invention (Gillespie 1989:132).

Moctezuma's daughter Atotoztli II was a mother of three emperors - Axayacatl, Tizoc and Ahuitzotl.


Moctezuma took power in 1441, after the death of his half-uncle Itzcoatl. As tlatoani, Moctezuma solidified the alliance with two neighboring peoples, Tlacopan (a small city-state) and Texcoco. In this skillfully crafted Triple Alliance, 4/5ths of a newly conquered territory would be divided between Texcoco and the Aztecs, with the remaining 1/5 given to Tlacopan.

Among the Aztecs' greatest achievements, Moctezuma and Nezahualcoyotl of Texcoco organized the construction and completion of a double aqueduct pipe system, supplying the city of Tenochtitlan with fresh water.

Moctezuma extended the boundaries of the Aztec empire beyond the Valley of México to the Gulf Coast, subjugating the Huastec people and Totonac peoples and thereby gaining access to exotic goods such as cocoa, rubber, cotton, fruits, feathers, and seashells.

About 1458, Moctezuma led an expedition into Mixtec territory against the city-state of Coixtlahuaca, the pretext being the mistreatment of Aztec merchants. Despite the support of contingents of Tlaxcala and Huexotzingo warriors, traditional enemies of the Aztecs, the Mixtecs were defeated. While most of the defeated chieftains were allowed to retain their positions, the Mixtec ruler Atonal was ritually strangled and his family was taken as slaves. The Codex Mendoza records that the tribute owed by Coixtlahuaca consisted of 2000 blankets (of 5 types), 2 military outfits with headresses and shields, green gemstone beads, 800 bunches of green feathers, 40 bags of cochineal dye, and 20 bowls of gold dust.[1]

Similar campaigns were conducted against Cosamaloapan, Ahuilizapan (Orizaba), and Cuetlachtlan (Cotaxtla).

Map showing the expansion of the Aztec empire showing the areas conquered by the Aztec rulers. The conquests of Moctezuma is marked by the colour pink.[2]


  1. ^ Smith (2003, p. 161).
  2. ^ Map based on Hassig (1988)


Gillespie, Susan D. (1989). The Aztec Kings: the Construction of Rulership in Mexica History. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0-816-51095-4. OCLC 19353576. 
Hassig, Ross (1988). Aztec Warfare: Imperial Expansion and Political Control. Civilization of the American Indian series, #188. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-2121-1. OCLC 17106411. 
Smith, Michael E. (2003). The Aztecs (2nd edn. ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-23015-7. OCLC 48579073. 
Townsend, Richard F. (2000). The Aztecs (second edition, revised ed.). London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-28132-7. OCLC 43337963. 
Weaver, Muriel Porter (1993). The Aztecs, Maya, and Their Predecessors: Archaeology of Mesoamerica (3rd edition ed.). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. ISBN 0-127-39065-0. OCLC 25832740. 
Preceded by
Tlatoani of Tenochtitlan
Succeeded by

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