The Reign of Motecuhzoma II: Reign and Conquest

Essay by LittleOne3College, UndergraduateA-, May 2006

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The reign of Motecuhzoma II can be a sensitive subject in Aztec history. Although considered to be one of the greatest rulers of all pre-Columbian history, Motecuhzoma can also be blamed for the surrendering of the empire to the Spanish. Before his reign began, many emperors used their military powers to conquer surrounding lands which greatly expanded the empire. In order to better understand the destruction of the empire, we must first consider how the empire was built up by its rulers and then slowly taken apart from the inside.

"At the Tepanec capital of Atzcapotzalco an extraordinary man became ruler in 1371. This was Tezozomoc, whose ruthless genius for political intrigue and skill as a warrior-commander lay behind the creation of the first state-like society in the Valley of Mexico since the fall of Teotihuacán some 600 years before" (Townsend 71). He conquered many of the lands surrounding Atzcapotzalco, and his shrewd military strategies included tactics such as bribery, flattery, assassination, and treachery.

At the same time, the Mexica were being lead by the great Acamapichtli. Under Acamapichtli, the Mexica's were obliged to pay tribute to Tezozomoc and because of this they were eventually allowed by the Tepanecs to wage war on their own. This allowed for the Mexica's to expand their territory north and furthered the Mexica-Tepanec relationship. As the strength and size of the Mexica grew, they became serious contenders for power with the Tepanecs. The real turning point in this relationship between the allies was when Maxtla, the son of Tezozomoc, took over Atzcapotzalco after murdering a rival brother. This murder caused a series of events to happen which led to the assassination of the Mexica tlatoani Chimalpopoca, which brought the infamous Itzcoatl into power in Tenochtitlan. Itzcoatl was a great military...