Moctezuma I, the Fifth Aztec King (Reigned 1440–69)


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, shows Moctezuma I (also seen as Montezuma I), holding a spear or scepter and standing on a reed mat and next to a basket-work throne, being offered a crown with gold ornaments by a priest wearing the robe of the sun god. Next to him is his symbol of an arrow which strikes a starry night. Moctezuma wears an epaulette of quetzal feathers and a bone through his nose. Moctezuma I (reigned 1440–69), whose name means "lord who shows anger," was the fifth Aztec king (the text incorrectly identifies him as the sixth) and the nephew of Itzcóatl. The man giving him the crown in this painting is thought to be Nezahualcoyotl, ruler of Texcoco, and an ally of Moctezuma.  Nezahualcoyotl is wearing the cloak of Tonatiuh, the sun god. Acamapichtli, the first of the Aztec dynasty, and his descendant, Axayacatl, are the only other emperors shown with crowns having gold ornaments in the Tovar manuscript. The bone through Moctezuma's nose is said to symbolize man according to the tradition of the Texcoco.

Last updated: October 26, 2012