Moctezuma: the question of headdress and heritage
Free Public Lecture
Elisabeth Murdoch Building
T: (03) 8344 6004
Controversy has always surrounded Moctezuma II, one of the most fascinating figures in the history of Mexico. As the Aztec emperor who welcomed Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortés, who eventually conquered the Aztec empire, Moctezuma II is considered a traitor by some Mexicans, and a great leader by others. It has long been alleged that amongst the silver and gold Cortés took back to Spain to lay before his king was the headdress of the Aztec emperor, now displayed in all its finery at the Weltmuseum in Vienna. The authenticity of this headdress was highly contested for decades, leading to a number of investigations that were, not surprisingly, influenced either by the aspirations of Mexican nationalists, or European colonialists’ views of cultural property. This lecture will set the context of Moctezuma's II empire and discuss the history of one of its most important cultural objects, one that has elicited countless questions of restitution, cultural property and heritage.