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The name Moctezuma today

ORIGINAL QUESTION received from - and thanks to - Humberto Luis Moctezuma: Can anyone change their last name to Moctezuma?

Motecuhzoma II, portrait by Antonio de Solís, 1715
Motecuhzoma II, portrait by Antonio de Solís, 1715 (Click on image to enlarge)

To answer this question, we’ve enlisted the help of an expert on the history of Moctezuma’s family, Anastasia Kalyuta, Senior Researcher at the Russian Museum of Ethnography, St. Petersburg. She has very kindly provided the following very full answer:-

According to the Crónica Mexicayotl, Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin had 19 children; according to the reports gathered by Cortés’s first biographer, and repeated by another Spanish historian Gonzalo Fernández Oviedo y Valdés... 150 offspring. I suspect that the Crónica Mexicayotl, written by one of Motecuhzoma’s grandsons, was somewhat closer to the truth, because Spanish authors of the XVI century tended, understandably, to exaggerate facts from the New World. Although only 6 or 7 of Motecuhzoma’s children survived up to post-Conquest times (some died even before the Conquest at a very tender age) and at least two of them, Don Martín Cortés Nezahualtecolotl and Don Rodrigo de la Paz Acamapichtli died in their twenties and obviously without children, the remaining 5 sired enough offspring to populate Mexico, Spain, United States, and other countries.

The famous Mexican archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma
The famous Mexican archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma

Only Doña Isabel de Moctezuma in her later marriages with Spanish husbands gave birth to 6 children (four sons and two daughters), not to mention the daughter she had with Cortés, her official tutor and protector. This was a short relationship, for Cortés hurried to find a proper husband for his “foster child”. Unusually for feudal times, all her seven children, including illegitimate daughter Doña Leonor Cortés de Moctezuma, reached a mature age, all her sons and the “gift from Cortés” married and had their own offspring, some of whom established kin ties with members of the Spanish nobility. Doña Isabel’s half-brother Don Pedro de Moctezuma Tlacahuepantli almost matched her fertility. He had six children, four sons and two daughters. Unfortunately they were all illegitimate, born of Don Pedro’s unions with various native noblewomen, but it didn’t prevent Don Pedro establishing his own mayorazgo [estate] (with the support of the King’s decree) and proclaiming his oldest son Don Martín the heir to it.

Examples of commercial brands using the Moctezuma name
Examples of commercial brands using the Moctezuma name

Of course, after the death of Don Pedro and the sudden demise of his official heir, his younger son Diego Luis Ilhuitemoctzin had some troubles succeeding to this wealthy inheritance, because of his illegitimacy. However, after 10 years of disputes with his cousin Juan de Andrade, the oldest son of Doña Isabel, and with his step-mother, he won the case, and established the line of Condes (Counts) de Moctezuma. Its representatives lived on in Spain and in Mexico, the famous archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma coming from this line.

In brief, the direct descendants of Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin in fact reproduced themselves quite sucessfully, and it’s no surprise to find someone with this surname in Mexico, Spain or even, for example, in Toronto. In today’s world, where titles and noble surnames really mean little, I think everyone can take whatever name or surname they choose. I know the Chihuahua breed that is officially called Moctezuma. We have Moctezuma beer, and chocolate as well. Of course, the living descendants of Motecuhzoma would be enraged, but now few would take their opinions into account, and I doubt that they will start another litigation - they’ve had too many of these already, even this century. Today aristocratic names and titles have only a decorative function, and in most countries anyone can choose them without restriction.

(All images from Google Images)

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Here's what others have said:

Mexicolore replies: NOTE: Anastasia Kalyuta’s full article is now on the site (in the Moctezuma section)
Mexicolore replies: Brilliant, Zoe! When your Aztec rulers family tree is finished, do let us know - we can add it to the website...