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The Duke of Moctezuma


By Martha Vera, Honorary Consul of Spain in El Paso

When I was a child, I often wondered why our history, the history of Spain in the Americas, was taught in school incorrectly. In fact, I believed that much of how Hispanics were seen and treated was because of the history that we were taught in school and was not what my great-grandmother taught me.   The years passed and I found myself representing Spain as Honorary Consul in El Paso. I read as much as I could, did research in the archives, gave presentations in Spain and the US, and eventually began to meet great people, historians, and film producers, who, like me, were also studying the truth written in the archives. We all want to tell the world about it.

One of those people is Don Daniel Ortiz, author, motivational speaker, and documentary film producer. Mr. Ortiz is working on a film called Hispanic America, The Untold Story. He interviewed me for the first part in a four-part series. The first segment looks at Spain’s encounter with the “New World” and much of what is untold. Second part segment focuses on Spain’s role in winning the American Revolution. The third segment is about the Black Legend, La Leyenda Negra, what has been negatively portrayed and its effects on today’s cancel culture environment. The fourth segment is on the Hispanic Economy and the achievements of successful Hispanic entrepreneurs.  While we were discussing his series, he asked me if I knew the Duke of Moctezuma. I told him that I did not know him but that I might be able to find him.


At that time, I was filming with another producer, Jose Luis Lopez Linares, from Spain in New Mexico. I asked his crew if they knew the Duke of Moctezuma. One of the ladies, Ana Zabía, curator at the Museo America, told me that the Duke’s daughter had been to one of her exhibits. She would look for her number and share it with me.

Time passed and she contacted me with the prized number. I contacted the Duke’s daughter. She told me that she had gone to Ms. Zabía’s exhibit by happenstance. We scheduled a zoom meeting where I met the Duke of Moctezuma. He agreed to an interview with Mr. Ortiz.


I planned my trip to Spain and invited the Moctezuma family to the premiere of Hispanoamerica, Canto de Vida y Esperanza, by Goya Award winning film producer, Jose Luis Lopez Linares.   We discussed the interview and because Mr. Ortiz could not make this trip, I had the honor of interviewing him while Mr. Ortiz joined us on Zoom.

The Duke of Moctezuma, Juan José Marcilla de Teruel Moctezuma, is a handsome and distinguished gentleman. He was kind and knowledgeable of his family’s history. He is the head of the House of Moctezuma and direct descendent of the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma. He proceeded to tell me about his ancestor, Moctezuma who knew Hernan Cortes. Cortes was negotiating with Moctezuma to stop human sacrifice. Cuauhtémoc, Moctezuma’s brother, was not happy with the possible change to Catholicism which would ban human sacrifices. Moctezuma was struck with deadly force with a huge rock by his brother, Cuauhtémoc in front of his friend, Hernan Cortes. His dying wish was that Hernan Cortez take care of his children.

Moctezuma had four children. His only surviving son was baptized by the Spaniards as Prince Pedro Moctezuma. He called himself the Man of Tula. Tula to the Mexicas was the most important cultural and political center in Mesoamerica. Pedro and his three sisters were taken to Spain to be educated. Pedro’s son, Pedro II, later received the titles from the crown as the Vice Count of Lujan posteriorly and then Count of Moctezuma from King Felipe IV. King Carlos III gave the Moctezumas the highest honor that a noble person can attain, the Grandee of Spain, Grandeza de España. Then in 1865 Queen Isabel II gave the Countship to the charge of the Moctezumas in first class.


He stated, “What had affected the family of Moctezuma most was everything that Hernan Cortes did for our family. He had Spain recognize the importance of who we were. King Carlos I kept in close contact with Pedro I, who he considered a prince and a brother. This is the irony, that we were considered equal to the nobility of Spain. King Carlos I also concerned himself early on, in providing the family with the pensions, rights, et cetera, equal to those of the nobility.”

He continued, “All of the Moctezuma family has lived in Spain since then. Pedro’s son did visit Mexico to see about the lands they had.”

The Leyenda Negra, the Black Legend, is an element of division. It is falsified history and an invention of England, Holland, and France that historians now use for research. It was later used by the United States. In his eyes, Spain was fair and did what Queen Isabella had asked of those founding what is now Hispanic America. Until the independence of the Hispanic countries in the Americas, the law was the same, to protect the Indians, punish the wrong doers, and give privileges for the Indians that others did not have. Throughout Spain’s reign there were some bad Governors that were punished after their wrongdoing was discovered.


The Duke felt that if the English had arrived first, he would not be with us. He does not have any family in Mexico. There are lower branches of the Moctezuma line from one of the daughters of Moctezuma who married many times and bore many children.


Regarding President Lopez Obrador’s comments about Spain, he mentioned that to create a nation Mexico feels it must impose a new false history. He iterated, “It is absurd that Mexicans consider themselves Aztecs, being that there are many more Tlaxcaltecas and other important tribes that went north into Santa Fe and California. They should stop worrying about the dead Indians and occupy themselves with the living ones. Mexico should return their lands that were protected by the Spanish crown and recognize their political rights under the crown that are not being respected today. Indian women could not vote in Mexico until 2014. I do not understand why they blame Spain, who left 200 years ago, for things that resulted since 1821, Mexico’s Independence from Spain, until today to the Indians and economically to the country. They are using the Leyenda Negra as a smoke screen.”

The Duke added, “I have never seen another empire care for, protect, educate, and take in the children of the conquered in all of history. Spain is the only one that preoccupied itself with making sure the Indians were protected and had rights. I am the living example of this.”

A little-known fact is that Vice Royal Mexico had a superior per capita wealth compared to what the US had at that time and a monopoly of the commerce of Asia via the Galleon of Manila. When Mexico gained its independence from Spain and the US attacked Mexico in an unjust war in 1846, Mexico lost half of its territory to the US. This included the oil of Texas, the gold of California, and the monopoly in Asia disappeared. Mexico is then left like it is today and the US has gained what it is today. The best baroque art, universities, hospitals, libraries, architecture were left there by Spain.

His daughter Sofia Marcilla de Teruel Moctezuma is next in the line of Moctezumas to be named Duchess.

Don Daniel Ortiz’s film is expected to be out by October 2024. You will definitely want to see it.

You may purchase his books, How to Achieve the American Dream Without Losing Your Latin Soul, The 99 Secrets of Jesus, 101 Secret Ways to Tell If You Are Living Your Life Purpose, on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/stores/Don%20Daniel%20Ortiz/author/B01MZ43D5Q. He may be contacted at dondanielortiz@gmail.com

or on LinkedIn at





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