Moctezuma's Children: Aztec Royalty under Spanish Rule, 1520-1700

Moctezuma's Children: Aztec Royalty under Spanish Rule, 1520-1700

Moctezuma's Children: Aztec Royalty under Spanish Rule, 1520-1700

Moctezuma's Children: Aztec Royalty under Spanish Rule, 1520-1700

Synopsis

Though the Aztec Empire fell to Spain in 1521, three principal heirs of the last emperor, Moctezuma II, survived the conquest and were later acknowledged by the Spanish victors as reyes naturales (natural kings or monarchs) who possessed certain inalienable rights as Indian royalty. For their part, the descendants of Moctezuma II used Spanish law and customs to maintain and enhance their status throughout the colonial period, achieving titles of knighthood and nobility in Mexico and Spain. So respected were they that a Moctezuma descendant by marriage became Viceroy of New Spain (colonial Mexico's highest governmental office) in 1696. This authoritative history follows the fortunes of the principal heirs of Moctezuma II across nearly two centuries. Drawing on extensive research in both Mexican and Spanish archives, Donald E. Chipman shows how daughters Isabel and Mariana and son Pedro and their offspring used lawsuits, strategic marriages, and political maneuvers and alliances to gain pensions, rights of entailment, admission to military orders, and titles of nobility from the Spanish government. Chipman also discusses how the Moctezuma family history illuminates several larger issues in colonial Latin American history, including women's status and opportunities and trans-Atlantic relations between Spain and its New World colonies.

Excerpt

Many books on the new Spain mention the descendants of Moctezuma II, the ninth Aztec emperor, often in relation to whom they married or their encomienda holdings (grants of Indian vassals), but heretofore the story of these children of the emperor has not been told uniformly or comprehensively. Thus a detailed study of the principal heirs of Moctezuma II adds to an understanding of the nature and long-term impact of the conquest of Mexico. Specialists, informed general readers, and students alike will find the story both interesting and educational. For example, three-fourths of Moctezuma's principal descendants were women. Their accomplishments make this work especially useful for gender studies in Latin American history. And because important descendants of the Aztec emperor relocated to Spain in later generations but depended on New World income, these children of the emperor fit into trans-Atlantic studies. By the 1600s many of Moctezuma II's heirs resided in Spain, making this book of interest to historians of that nation. Finally, students in college and university courses on colonial Mexico and colonial Latin American history will learn much about Spanish political and cultural assumptions from the way the conquerors and the Spanish crown treated Aztec royalty.

As the initial draft of this manuscript neared completion, I was struck by the synchronicity of an article appearing in the April 12, 2002, issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. The story recounts the efforts of Alejandro González Acosta, a Cuban-born historian living in Mexico, to help the modern-day descendants of Moctezuma II [receive millions of dol-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.