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Last Three Aztec Kings

Updated on March 10, 2017

Moctezuma Xocoyotzin (1466-1520)

Moctezuma Xocoyotzin; was emperor of the Aztecs from 1502 to 1520. In 1520, Hernan Cortes collected a large amount of gold captured to Moctezuma and he was assassinated with a shower of arrows * by his own people during the so-called "La Noche Triste" (The Sad Night), accused of complicity with the Spanish.

Death of Moctezuma
Death of Moctezuma

Hernán Cortes was dramatically defeated in the battle known as "La Noche Triste", which occurred on June 30, 1520, after Montezuma died, and when he tried to appease his people from a balcony of the royal palace in which he was a prisoner of The Mexicans took the arms and forced the Spaniards to leave Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire and present-day Mexico City, capital of the Republic.

On June 30, while the Mexicas buried the Emperor Moctezuma and designated Cuitláhuac as his successor, Hernan Cortes prepared his way out of the Tepeyac Causeway, but failing to do so immediately allowed the Mexica to launch a new attack. The night came again and the Spaniards began their retreat on the Tacuba Road, but they could not circumvent the vigilance of the Aztecs, who seized the bridge, causing alarm and confusion in the Spanish ranks.

Not being able to use the firearms many soldiers of Cortés died drowned when falling to the lake, dragged by the weight of its own armor and the cargoes of gold and silver that transported. Cortes lost most of his army that night, and when he saw the remnants of his troops pass, he cried in pain at the foot of an old ahuehuete, knowing that he had been defeated by the Mexicas. What is popularly known as "La Noche Triste".

Map of Mexico - Tenochtitlan

Cuitlahuac (1476-1520)

The new leader began to reorganize the defense with clear intentions to put an end to the Spanish invaders and thus, got to gather an army that said of more than half a million men. But he wanted the misfortune to die in November of that same year, a victim of what appears to be an epidemic of smallpox, a disease that the natives did not know and that was taken to the new continent by the Spaniards.

Cuauhtemoc (1496-1525)

At the death of the leader, was chosen new chief, Cuauhtemoc, nephew of Moctezuma and prestigious military. Cuauhtemoc knew that the Spaniards would return and their main concern was to recompose everything that the Spanish invasion and the disasters of the war had destroyed.

And the Spaniards returned. Remade by the time of rest and ambitious to recover the riches that had lost. For them the legend of the treasure of Moctezuma, who had never been found and after being installed again in Tenochtitlán, was in effect, they arrested to the leader Cuauhtemoc, to which they subjected to torture to take away where the famous treasure was hidden.


Cuauhtemoc maintains in affirming that all the riches have been thrown to the waters of the lake on which Tenochtitlán had been constructed, along with the cannons and the arms seized to the Spaniards. A survey made in the waters corroborates the information of the Aztec leader, because they find cannons, shields and armor, but gold, which is what they seek, really little.

In the expedition of Hernán Cortes was a certain "Juan de Alderete" who was a kind of real intervener of the riches that were meeting and of which the fifth part belonged to the crown. It was this individual who forced Cortes to allow him to torture the Aztec leader to get him where the gold was. Some time later, Cortes recognized that he had been mistaken in allowing such outrageous behavior and, above all, that he was not very productive, since Montezuma's legendary riches never appeared.

The torture of Cuauhtemoc
The torture of Cuauhtemoc

Death of Cuauhtemoc, the last Aztec Emperor

On September 3, 1526, Hernán Cortés sent a letter to the King of Spain, Carlos I, in which he referred to his adventures in various regions of southeastern Mexico. In it he mentions how the death of Cuauhtemoc (but first he was tortured burning his feet with boiling oil) and Tetlepanquetzal, lord of Tacuba. Both were finally hanged by conspirators by order of Hernán Cortés.

© 2017 Guillermo Perez Guillen


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