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Moctezuma II (c. 1466 – 29 June 1520), also known by a number of variant spellings including Montezuma, Moteuczoma, Motecuhzoma and referred to in full by early Nahuatl texts as Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin (Moctezuma the Young),[N.B. 1] was the ninth tlatoani or ruler of Tenochtitlan, reigning from 1502 to 1520. The first contact between indigenous civilizations of Mesoamerica and Europeans took place during his reign, and he was killed during the initial stages of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, when Conquistador Hernán Cortés and his men fought to escape from the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan.

During his reign the Aztec Empire reached its maximal size. Through warfare, Moctezuma expanded the territory as far south as Xoconosco in Chiapas and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and incorporated the Zapotec and Yopi people into the empire.[1] He changed the previous meritocratic system of social hierarchy and widened the divide between pipiltin (nobles) and macehualtin (commoners) by prohibiting commoners from working in the royal palaces.[1]

The portrayal of Moctezuma in history has mostly been colored by his role as ruler of a defeated nation, and many sources describe him as weak-willed and indecisive. The biases of some historical sources make it difficult to understand his actions during the Spanish invasion.


Panel #136
Montezuma II
9th Tlatoani of Tenochtitlan
Ruler of the Aztec Triple Alliance

Reign 1502–1520

King of Kings - by Lewis Lavoie