Who Was Montezuma?
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I assume that you are asking about Montezuma II, and not Montezuma I, who was the great-grandfather of Montezuma II. Montezuma II is much more famous. Montezuma II was the Aztec emperor at the time of the Spanish conquest. He was killed in the process of that conquest.
Montezuma II was the 9th emperor of the Aztec empire. He led the empire as it expanded to its greatest size. However, it was also under his rule that the empire fell apart. This was because the Spanish, led by Hernan Cortes, invaded Mexico during the rule of Montezuma II. Montezuma was captured by the Spanish and was eventually killed. He was killed by stones thrown by Aztecs who were enraged at his conduct.
Montezuma II, then, is known as the last emperor of the Aztecs.
Montezuma (also called Moctezuma) is the name given to two different rulers of the Aztec Indians of Mexico. Emperor Montezuma I (1398–1469) ruled an area that extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and was the founder of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital (present-day Mexico City). The Aztecs had an advanced civilization that appreciated music and poetry; they also excelled in architecture, astronomy, engineering, and mathematics. The Aztecs worshiped many gods and, with the god of war being dominant, they fought continuously with neighboring Indian tribes.
In 1466, three years before Montezuma I died, his nephew, Montezuma II (1466–1520), became emperor. During the reign of Montezuma II, the Aztecs were conquered by Spaniards under the command of Hernán Cortés (1485–1547). During the summer of 1519 Montezuma tried to dissuade Cortés and his troops from coming to Tenochtitlan by sending messengers with gifts. When the Spaniards came anyway Montezuma welcomed them, thinking that they were descendants of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. A week later Cortés took Montezuma hostage as a strategy to gain control of the Aztecs through their leader. When the Aztecs rebelled against the Spaniards in May 1520, Cortés allowed Montezuma to speak to his angry people. The emperor was wounded in the uprising, but historians are not certain whether his wounds were inflicted by the Spanish or the Aztecs. Montezuma died three days later. Although the enraged Aztecs drove the Spaniards from Tenochtitlan, Cortés returned the following year and conquered the city, ending the Aztec Empire.
Further Information: Dineen, Jacqueline. The Aztecs. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992; Lilley, Stephen R. The Conquest of Mexico. San Diego: Lucent, 1996; "Montezuma." Electric Library. [Online] Available http://www.encyclopedia.com/articles/08716.html, October 22, 2000.
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