Aztec Rulers: Moctezuma, Fifth Tlatoani

Life: 1398-1469 Reign: 1440-1469
Name: Angry Like a Lord
Moctezuma and his brother Tlacaelel were at the heart of the Mexica nobility and served as generals under Itzcoatl. They were part of a militant political faction that had raised Itzcoatl to the throne. They stood in opposition to their other brother and ruler Chimalpopoca. After Chimalpopoca’s assassination Moctezuma, Tlacaelel and their group took power for their faction, Moctezuma followed Itzcoatl as the next ruler. Moctezuma and Tlacaelel had big ambitions for the growing Mexica people.

Moctezuma depicted during his crowning in 1440, from the Tovar Codex.

In 1469 he died in Tenochtitlan, according to History of the Chihcimeca Nation. The Catholic writer Duran notes he became ill, worsening by the day. Just before his death, according to Duran, the famines ended and a military conquest had been completed. Duran also notes he was buried in the courtyard of his palace along with his treasure. Quickly after his death, the ruler of Texcoco, Nezahuacoyotl, sent for Axayacatl, grandson of Itzcoatl and Moctezuma, who would be the next ruler. If not overshadowed by Moctezuma II, the first Moctezuma would likely be better known as a great Aztec ruler.

Moctezuma’s Accomplishments

  • Solidified the Triple Alliance and Tenochtitlan’s status as the dominant group.
  • Built network of aquaducts to supply Tenochtitlan and Texcoco.
  • Was first “Hue Tlatoani” or Great Speaker, as speaking on behalf of Triple Alliance partners.
  • Expanded empire out of Valley of Mexico to Gulf Coast (Huastec and Totonac people)
  • Natural Disasters, Moctezuma was faced with a flood (1449), locusts (1446), drought and frost (1450-54). Notably the drought forced the empire to its knees.
  • Years of Peace 1440-1453
  • Codified the class system, real estate, clothing, etc.
  • Created legal and educational policies (part of class codification)

Itzcoatl <<- Moctezuma ->> Axayacatl

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