Moctezuma I (c. 1398-1469), also known as Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina (modern Nahuatl pronunciation ), Huehuemotecuhzoma or Montezuma I (Classical Nahuatl: Motēuczōma Ilhuicamīna [moteːkʷˈsoːma ilwikaˈmiːna], Classical Nahuatl: Huēhuemotēuczōma [weːwemoteːkʷˈsoːma]), was the second Aztec emperor and fifth king of Tenochtitlan. During his reign, the Aztec Empire was consolidated, major expansion was undertaken, and Tenochtitlan started becoming the dominant partner of the Aztec Triple Alliance.
Early life and background
Moctezuma was the son of emperor Huitzilihuitl and queen Miahuaxihuitl. He was a brother of Chimalpopoca, Tlacaelel I, and Huehue Zaca; and the father of Atotoztli II, who wed a son of the previous ruler, Itzcoatl. Their sons would be the next three tlatoque of Tenochtitlan.
Early years of reign
Moctezuma took power in 1440, after the death of his half-uncle Itzcoatl. As tlatoani, Moctezuma solidified the alliance with two neighboring peoples, Tlacopan (a small city-state) and Texcoco. In this skillfully crafted Triple Alliance, 4/5ths of a newly conquered territory would be divided between Texcoco and the Aztecs, with the remaining 1/5 given to Tlacopan.
Among the Aztecs' greatest achievements, Moctezuma and Nezahualcoyotl of Texcoco organized the construction and completion of a double aqueduct pipe system, supplying the city of Tenochtitlan with fresh water.
Moctezuma also extended the boundaries of the Aztec empire beyond the Valley of México to the Gulf Coast, subjugating the Huastec people and Totonac peoples and thereby gaining access to exotic goods such as cocoa, rubber, cotton, fruits, feathers, and seashells.
Expeditions as ruler
In about 1458, Moctezuma led an expedition into Mixtec territory against the city-state of Coixtlahuaca, the pretext being the mistreatment of Aztec merchants. Despite the support of contingents of Tlaxcala and Huexotzinco warriors, traditional enemies of the Aztecs, the Mixtecs were defeated. While most of the defeated chieftains were allowed to retain their positions, the Mixtec ruler Atonal was ritually strangled and his family was taken as slaves. The Codex Mendoza records that the tribute owed by Coixtlahuaca consisted of 2000 blankets (of 5 types), 2 military outfits with headdresses and shields, green gemstone beads, 800 bunches of green feathers, 40 bags of cochineal dye, and 20 bowls of gold dust. He took many girls from Coixtlahuaca and had ten harems all to himself. He stole three of them from his dead brother Zaca. Similar campaigns were conducted against Cosamaloapan, Ahuilizapan (Orizaba), and Cuetlachtlan (Cotaxtla).