Montezuma II as he appears in Civilization Revolution.
|Date of birth||c. 1480 AD|
|Date of death||1520 AD|
|Starts with||A wealth of gold|
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Montezuma (c. 1480 - 1520 AD) was Emperor of the Aztec nation from approximately 1502 until its dissolution in 1520. At the start of his reign he was considered a god and was absolute monarch of the entire known world; at the end of his reign he watched a small group of foreigners destroy his empire with ease.
Montezuma ruled the Aztecs at the height of their power. His empire controlled a large portion of what is now modern Mexico. They had conquered virtually all other people around them, except for a few other nations which they deliberately left free (so that they would have somebody left to make war against and to use as sacrifices).
Though extremely rich and powerful, Montezuma's nation shamelessly squandered a great portion of its wealth and might. Much like the Egyptians, the Aztecs built huge monuments to their gods and held ever-increasing numbers of expensive religious festivals in which they slaughtered tens of thousands of prisoners and their own people. Montezuma himself lived in great splendor, his clothing made of silver, gold, and brightly-colored feathers. His court was brilliant, though much riddled with corruption and intrigue.
In 1519, Hernando Cortes led 600 Spanish adventurers with 20 horses and 10 cannon to the shores of Mexico on a mission of exploration. Hearing of the great wealth of the Aztecs, he took his tiny force west, determined to conquer this massive nation of five million. At the start of the march Cortes burned his ships to ensure that his men would not desert him.
The natives that first faced Cortes were primitive and divided. They were terrified of the "demonic" Spanish horses and cannon and broke before their accurate musket-fire. Cleverly exploiting their political divisions, Cortes then enlisted the defeated peoples' aid by promising them revenge against the hated Aztecs.
Montezuma watched Cortes' approach with fear and bewilderment. His religion told him that one day the god Quetzalcoatl would return in the guise of a light-skinned bearded man, and when that day occurred, the Aztecs were to welcome him with open arms. Surely Cortes was Quetzalcoatl: else how could he command an army of demons? On the other hand, Cortes was clearly bent on the conquest of the empire - should Montezuma not oppose him? Perhaps the sinful Aztecs needed to be punished!
Eventually, at the desperate urging of his advisors, Montezuma sent an army into the field against the invaders. But they were unable to offer effective resistance and Cortes' forces quickly overwhelmed them. The invaders then marched into the capital city Tenochtitlan virtually unopposed and took Montezuma prisoner. He was eventually killed during an uprising that pushed the invaders out of the city for more than a year.
One has to wonder what would have happened if Montezuma had shown Cortes' courage and resolve and mobilized his people when the invaders first arrived. Could the Spanish have conquered Mexico against determined and organized resistance? Perhaps, but perhaps the natives would have held on long enough to learn to master the horse and gun - or at least to master their fear of them. If so, they would have become a formidable foe indeed.
Montezuma lived a life of stunning opulence. He was believed to have over 100 wives, drank upwards of 50 cups of liquid chocolate a day and dressed in the rarest feathers and plumes of exotic birds.