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Codex Cozcatzin - Moctezuma’s heirs

Codex Cozcatzin showing Moctezuma’s heirs

Codex Cozcatzin, c. 1572, fol. 1v (detail), 30 x 23.5 x 1.5 cm. (full folio), bound European paper, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris

The Codex Cozcatzin consists of eighteen (surviving) double-sided pages of iconic script with commentary in Nahuatl and Spanish. The codex denounces late-sixteenth-century expropriations of indigenous landholdings in Tenochtitlan, supported with important historical, genealogical and economic data.
Above a possible representation of the island capital, the first page depicts the city’s glyphic toponym (left) over which rests the ‘xiuhuitzolli’, or imperial diadem. Moctezuma II is seated to one side, on the woven reed ‘tepotzoicpalli’ denoting high status and, in his presence, two of his offspring known in the colonial period as Isabel and Pedro. The lines linking them to Moctezuma establish the genealogical relationship, although the panel is far from being a family portrait.
With her brother in a secondary and lower position, Isabel points directly at her father while at the same time raising her eyes to the boxed commentary that refers to the first of her three arranged marriages to Spaniards...


From Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler Eds. Colin McEwan and Leonardo López Luján, British Museum Press, 2009, p. 279.

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore.

‘Doña Isabel de Moctezuma: the emperor’s favourite daughter?’