Moctezuma II, the Last Aztec King (Reigned 1502–20)


The Tovar Codex, attributed to the 16th-century Mexican Jesuit Juan de Tovar, contains detailed information about the rites and ceremonies of the Aztecs (also known as Mexica). The codex is illustrated with 51 full-page paintings in watercolor. Strongly influenced by pre-contact pictographic manuscripts, the paintings are of exceptional artistic quality. The manuscript is divided into three sections. The first section is a history of the travels of the Aztecs prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The second section, an illustrated history of the Aztecs, forms the main body of the manuscript. The third section contains the Tovar calendar. This illustration, from the second section, depicts Moctezuma II, holding a spear or scepter and standing on a reed mat and next to a basketwork throne, wearing a beard and an epaulette of quetzal feathers. Next to him is a crown. Moctezuma II (reigned 1502–20), whose surname was Xocoyotzin or “Bitter Lord,” was the ninth Aztec emperor, the son of Axayácatl and the great grandson of Moctezuma I (also seen as Montezuma I). He surrendered to the Spanish in 1520. The crown is a sign of Moctezuma's sovereignty.

Last updated: October 26, 2012