Moctezuma

Motecuhzoma’s ‘Feathered Crown,’ One-Step Closer to Returning to Mexico

Austria formalized an agreement with Mexico on Tuesday that will allow for the return of a feathered headdress believed to have once belonged to Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin.

The headdress, which is often referred to as a feathered crown, is commonly known by most Mexicans as “el penacho de Moctezuma,” or “Moctezuma’s feathered headdress.”

Austria’s Ministry of Culture and Education made clear that the headdress’ return to Mexico is considered a “loan,” not the repatriation of one of Mexico’s most important cultural symbols.

The headdress is believed to have been taken to Spain by Hernán Cortés in 1519. Reports say Archduke Ferdinand of Austria obtained it in 1590. It’s been housed at the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna since the early 1800’s.

Much of the credit for leading the efforts to return the headdress to Mexico goes to Xokonoschtletl Gómora. See video of him below.

The majority of Mexicans, included those who responded to a question we posted on Twitter and Facebook, support having the headdress stay in Mexico.

Video: Xokonoschtletl Gómora - Apoya el Regreso de la Corona de Moctezuma

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February 28th 1525: Cuauhtémoc executed

On this day in 1525, the Aztec ruler of Tenochtitlán Cuauhtémoc was executed by Hernán Cortés’s Spanish forces. Cuauhtémoc began his reign in 1520 soon after his relative Moctezuma II died in battle with the Spanish. Becoming ruler at the young age of 25, he came to power over a land besieged. He faced the threat of the Spanish invasion and a smallpox epidemic, and battled bravely to save Tenochtitlán. However Cuauhtémoc was captured on August 13th 1521, along with his family and most of the remaining Tenochtitlán nobles. The king asked Cortés to kill him, but the conquistador refused and initially let him go. However, lust for the fabled Aztec gold was too much, and Cortés’s forces eventually recaptured and tortured Cuauhtémoc to find its whereabouts. In 1525, Cortés ordered Cuauhtémoc executed for supposedly plotting to kill leading Spaniards, Cortés included. This claim has never been verified, but Cuauhtémoc is remembered in Mexico as a brave warrior who fought to save his country from the invaders.

In Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology, codex exhibit rethinks Moctezuma's death

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MEXICO CITY (AFP).- Mexico’s largest exhibit of Mesoamerican manuscripts features a codex made of fig tree bark suggesting that Aztec emperor Moctezuma was slain by a Spanish conquistador with a sword.

The piece is among 44 codices made by several pre-Columbian populations — including the Mayas, Purepechas and Zapotecos — on display at the National Museum of Anthropology.

Some of the pieces in the temporary exhibit, titled “Codices of Mexico: Memories and Wisdom,” are as large as 10 square meters (108 square feet). One cost the government $1 million to buy from the Bible Society in Britain. “It’s the biggest codex exhibit (in Mexico),” curator Baltazar Brito, director of the National Anthropology and History Library, told AFP. Read more.

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November 8th 1519: Cortés enters Tenochtitlan

On this day in 1519, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés entered the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan where he was greeted with a celebration by king Moctezuma. At the time, Tenochtitlan is believed to have been one of the largest and most advanced cities in the world, dominating most great European cities. Cortés and his men were expelled from the city in 1520 after some of the Spanish soldiers massacred Aztec civilians during a festival. They later returned with Tlaxcalan allies to siege Tenochtitlan; the attack almost completely destroyed the great city, and the Spanish took Tenochtitlan in 1521. This was a major event in the Spanish conquest of the Americas and the fall of the Aztec Empire.

Unknown Artist

The Meeting of Cortés and Montezuma

from the Conquest of Mexico series

Mexico, second half of seventeenth century

Oil on canvas

Rare Book and Special Collections Division

Painted in the latter half of the seventeenth century in Mexico by unknown artists, the eight paintings in the Conquest of Mexico series depict the encounter of Spanish and Aztec cultures and the ultimate victory of the Spanish over the native peoples. All eight paintings will be on display in the permanent Kislak gallery. The painting displayed, the third in the series, depicts Hernando Cortés (1485-1547) meeting the Mexica emperor Montezuma (1480?-1520). The landscape and treatment of indigenous dress serve to romanticize the meeting of these two powerful leaders. Cortés approaches Montezuma with his arms opened in a gesture of embrace, which the Mexica leader respectfully rejects by raising his left hand. Montezuma’s idealized body, dignified stance, full beard, and the golden sword in his right hand owe more to European ideas about the appropriate bearing of a king than to ethnographic accuracy. Furthermore, while the feather skirts shown on Montezuma and his court were part of the standard European iconography for depicting “Indians,” skirts like this are not known to have been worn anywhere in the Americas.

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November 8th 1519: Cortés enters Tenochtitlan

On this day in 1519, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés entered the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan where he was greeted with a celebration by king Moctezuma. At the time, Tenochtitlan is believed to have been one of the largest cities in the world, dominating most great European cities. Cortés and his men were expelled from the city in 1520 after some Spanish massacred Aztec civilians during a festival. They later returned with Tlaxcalan allies to siege Tenochtitlan. The attack almost completely destroyed the great city, and the Spanish took Tenochtitlan in 1521. This was a major event in the Spanish conquest of the Americas and the fall of the Aztec Empire.

29 de junio de 1520 :

“…Motecuhzoma viendo la determinación de sus vasallos, se puso en una parte alta, y reprendióles; los cuales le trataron mal de palabras llamándole de cobarde, y enemigo de su patria, y aun amenazándole con las armas, en donde dicen que uno de ellos le tiró una pedrada de lo cual murió, aunque dicen sus vasallos que los mismos españoles lo mataron, y por las partes bajas le metieron la espada…”

 Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxóchitl