"Cortés and all of us captains and soldiers wept for him, and there was no one among us that knew him and had dealings with him who did not mourn him as if he were our father, which was not surprising, since he was so good. It was stated that he had reigned for 17 years, and was the best king they ever had in Mexico, and that he had personally triumphed in three wars against countries he had subjugated. I have spoken of the sorrow we all felt when we saw that Montezuma was dead. We even blamed the Mercederian friar for not having persuaded him to become a Christian." - Bernal Díaz del Castillo
Nearly 500 years after his death and the demise of his empire, Montezuma II is the most famous ruler of the most famous civilization in the New World, the Aztec. For centuries the legends surrounding his life and the conquest of the Aztecs by Hernan Cortes have fascinated historians.
Montezuma was born around 1466 in the legendary Aztec city of Tenochtitlan and into the ruling family of the Aztec Confederacy. In the Nahuatl language, his name means "Angry Lord" or "Strong Armed Lord," and he was the ninth ruler of the Aztecs, who called their leaders tlatoani. Though he is the best known ruler of the Aztec today, he was actually the second Aztec tlatoani to bear the name Montezuma, after he assumed the throne from his uncle.
So what is known about the famous Aztec ruler? Naturally, there is still a fierce debate over what happened during the conquest of the Aztec, and one of the most controversial episodes of the conquest was Montezuma death. But all of the sources agree that Montezuma - sometimes called Montezuma the Younger - generally possessed a reputation as a valiant warrior and was considered a courageous combat leader among his people. Myths and legends have helped fill in the blanks, regardless of their accuracy, and many of them have since become the best known details of Montezuma's life.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors