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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Montezuma

MONTEZUMA I., MOCTEZUMA, or MOTHEUZOMA (mon-teh-su'-ma), surnamed ILHUICAMINA, or the "archer of heaven," seventh king of Mexico, born in Tenochtitlan, Mexico, in 1390; died there in 1464. He was the son of Huitzilihuitl (q. v.), became the best general of his uncle Chimalpopoea, and annexed to the empire the cities of Chaleo and Tequizquiae. At the death of Chimal-popoea, Montezuma became a stanch supporter of his successor Izcohuatl (q. v.), and served under the latter in the army of the allies against Moxtla (q. v.), who was defeated in 1430, and killed by Netzahualcoyotl. On the death of Izcohuatl in 1436, Montezuma was elected king by acclamation, and, after a successful campaign against the city of Chalco, his coronation was celebrated with great festivities and the accustomed human sacrifices, the victims for which had been secured in the expeditions against the Chalcos. Immediately afterward he subdued in a southward expedition the valleys of Matlazingo and Tlahuican, advancing into the territory of Oaxaca as far as the shore of the Pacific ocean. In a second expedition eastward he conquered the Totopanecans on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. In 1446 the lake of Tezcoco overflowed and inundated the city of Tenochtitlan, destroying many buildings, and, on account of the ruin of the corn crop, famine and plague followed. Montezuma conferred with Netzahualcoyotl as to the best means of preventing the return of such a calamity, and they agreed to build immense dams, the construction of which was superintended by the king of Tezcoco, and the remains of which in the San Lorenzo valley are still a wonder to engineers. Montezuma also rebuilt Tenochtitlan, replacing its frail houses by solid structures of stone and lime, which brought about an enormous increase of the population. Montezuma's court was numerous and brilliant, he promoted the influence of the priests, and instituted new ceremonies, and during his reign the great temple was finished. He deprived the nobility of its former privileges, and issued a Draconian code of laws, in which death was the common penalty for robbery and drunkenness. His cousin, Axayacatl, became his successor in 1464.--II., eleventh king of Mexico, born in Mexico in 1466; died there in June, 1520. He was a son of Axayacatl, eighth king, and Xochicucitl, princess of Texcoco, and was surnamed Xocoyotzin to distinguish him from the first Montezuma. At the death of his uncle, Ahuitzotl, 15 September, 1502, he was elected king, and, after the regular sacrifices at the obsequies of his predecessor, set out according to custom on an expedition against the tribes of Atlixco, which had rebelled. On his return to Tenochtitlan, with numerous prisoners for the human sacrifices, his coronation was celebrated with great pomp. In 1504, to aid his allies of Huexotzingo, he began a protracted war against the small but warlike republic of Tlaxealao He embellished his capital, and in 1507 opened war against Guatemala and later against the rebellious province of Tehuantepec, and, conducting expeditions as far as Honduras and Nicaragua, enlarged his empire. In 1518, on the "occasion of the expedition of Juan de Grijalva (q. v.), he received notice that unknown men, white, and with long beards, had landed on his coast, and this filled his mind with superstitious terror, as he remembered the ancient tradition that shortly before the destruction of the Mexican empire the first chief of the dynasty, Quetzalcoatl, would return from the Orient. Notwithstanding, he ordered the coast to be watched, and when Cortes arrived in 1519 he was met by an embassy from Montezuma with presents. Making use of their superstition, Cortes asserted that he was an envoy from Quetzalcoatl. When Cortes, against the wishes of the Mexican monarch, advanced toward the capital, Montezuma sallied forth to receive him, and lodged him in one of his palaces on 8 November, 1519. Soon he was practically a prisoner of the Spaniards, and during that time showed a great want of character, becoming a mere tool in their hands. When in June, 1520, the population of Mexico attacked the Spaniards, Montezuma appeared on the roof of the palace to order his subjects to desist; but they had already so far lost their respect for him that they attacked him also. Dangerously wounded by a stone, the monarch died three days afterward, and the people denied him even the solemn obsequies that had been given to all his predecessors. He left two legitimate children, a son, Axayacatl, who was killed by Cuauhtemotzin, and a daughter, Tecuichpotzin, who married the emperors Cuitlahuatzin and Cuauhtemotzin, and after the latter's death was baptized under the name of Isabella. She then married first Pedro Gallego and afterward Juan Cano, Spanish officers, by whom she had two daughters and four sons. The latter were afterward created by the Spanish court Counts of Montezuma, and were the progenitors of the present family of that name. One of the Counts of Montezuma was viceroy of Mexico in 1697-1701.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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