The Full Wiki

Moctezuma I: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Moctezuma I
Tlatoani of Tenochtitlan
Huehuemoteuczoma mendoza.jpg
Moctezuma I in the Codex Mendoza.
Reign 1440 – 1469
Born 1398
Died 1469 (aged 70–71)
Predecessor Itzcoatl
Successor Axayacatl
Wife Chichimecacihuatzin
Offspring Atotoztli or Huitzilxochtzin
Father Huitzilihuitl
Mother Miahuaxihuitl

Moctezuma I (c. 1398 – 1469), also known as Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina, Huehuemotecuhzoma or Montezuma I (Classical Nahuatl: Motēuczōma Ilhuicamīna [moteːkʷˈsoːma ilwikaˈmiːna], Classical Nahuatl: Huēhuemotēuczōma Nahuatl pronunciation: [weːwemoteːkʷˈsoːma]), was the fifth Aztec emperor. During his reign the Aztec Empire was consolidated, major expansion was undertaken and Tenochtitlan started becoming the dominant partner of the Aztec Triple Alliance. His brother Tlacaelel held the position of Cihuacoatl "First councillor" during his 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 I in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, using the diadem glyph.

His first name, pronounced [moteːkʷˈsoːma] in Classical Nahuatl, means "he frowns like a lord". It is also written Montezuma, Motecuhzoma, and several other spellings. Ilhuicamina, pronounced [ilwikaˈmiːna], means "he shoots a bolt into the sky". In Aztec writing, he can be indicated by either a diadem representing "lord", or an arrow piercing a stylized representation of the sky.

Huehemotecuhzoma means "old man Moctezuma" or "Moctezuma the Elder", to distinguish him from Moctezuma II.

Ethnohistorian Susan D. Gillespie (1989) has suggested that his actual name while alive was not Moctezuma but only Ilhuicamina, and that he was later renamed Moctezuma by the postconquest chroniclers in order to describe him as a parallel to the later Moctezuma. The nahua view of history was cyclic and it was seen as fitting that the first and the last rulers of a dynasty would live parallel histories. The assumption of a posthumous namechange is supported by the sources some of which state that his original name was Ilhuicamina but that it was changed by his father. Pictographic sources also support the notion since the Tlatoanis name glyph only reads Ilhuicamina and never Moctezuma.


Moctezuma was the son of Huitzilihuitl, the second Aztec emperor, and Miahuaxihuitl, the daughter of Tezcacohuatzin, (also called Ozomatzin or Ozomatzinteuctli in some sources), the tlatoani of Cuauhnahuac who was also a sorcerer. According to legend, after Huitzilihuitl's request for Miahuaxihuitl, was refused by Tezcacohuatzin, he fired a hollow arrow containing jewels into Miahuaxihuitl's palace, and Miahuaxihuitl miraculously became pregnant with Moctezuma after swallowing a jewel. This may be the origin of the name Ilhuicamina. Moctezuma would later wed Chichimecacihuatzin, his mother's niece.


Moctezuma took power in 1440, after the death of his 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 1/5th given to Tlacopan.

Among the Aztecs' greatest achievements, Moctezuma I 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 lead 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 I is marked by the colour pink.[2]

In popular culture


  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
1440 – 1469
Succeeded by


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address