Moctezuma's Descendants in Aguascalientes

Tracking the offspring of the last Aztec monarch

By John P. Schmal
Published on LatinoLA: January 8, 2014

Moctezuma's Descendants in Aguascalientes

Although Moctezuma, Emperor of the Aztec Empire, was killed in June 1520 during the fall of Tenochtitl?n (now Mexico City), many of his descendants were accorded royal treatment during the Spanish colonial period. In her dissertation for the Washington State University in 2010, Margo Tamez stated that the noble daughters of Moctezuma were "granted, by the Spanish Crown, significant encomiendas in perpetuity. Through the legal forms of land-grants, the Crown expressed its recognition of Moctezuma II's high status among the dynastic ruling elites."


Several branches of Moctezuma's descendants are well-chronicled. For example, Moctezuma's eldest daughter, Tecuichpotzin (later baptized Isabel), was the mistress of Hern?n Cort?s for a period of time and gave birth to their illegitimate daughter, Do??a Leonor Moctezuma Cort?s, in 1528. In 1550, Do??a Leonor married Juan de Tolosa, a Basque and one of the discoverers of the Zacatecas silver mines and a founder of the City of Zacatecas in 1546. Juan de Tolosa and Do??a Leonor had three children:

1. Juan de Tolosa Cort?s who became a priest and vicar of Zacatecas
2. Leonor who married Cristobal de Zaldivar Mendoza, a Basque and also a founder of Zacatecas and one of the conquerors who fought against the Chichimecas
3. Isabel who married Juan de Onate, who founded Nuevo Mexico in 1598 and served as its governor

The descendants of this branch of the Moctezuma's family continued to carry a high level of status in colonial Mexico in the centuries to follow.

The Aguascalientes Branch
For many years, Aguascalientes and Nueva Galicia researchers have agreed that one branch of Moctezuma's descendants ended up in Aguascalientes. However, this family was not as well chronicled as the other branches of the family. Several researchers, including Guillermo Tovar de Teresa and Mariano Gonzalez-Leal, have put together a fair amount of information on this lineage, although the paper trail for this branch is not perfect as it is for some of the other descendants of Moctezuma.


MOCTEZUMA II XOCOYOTSIN II was born about 1480 as the son of AXAYACTL TLATOANI (Water Mask" or "Water Face"), who was the sixth Emperor of the Aztecs, reigning over Tenochtitl?n from 1469 to 1481. Axayactl was himself the grandson of Emperor MOCTEZUMA I (reigned 1440 to 1469), the monarch that he succeeded. Moctezuma II became the Emperor of the Aztec Empire in 1502 and was killed on June 29, 1520 during the fall of Tenochtitl?n.


MARIANA LEONOR MOCTEZUMA was one of the daughters of Moctezuma II. It is believed that she was Moctezuma's daughter by a noble Mixtec woman of Acatlan, a town and province that was in alliance with Tenochtitl?n at the time of the Spanish invasion. Leonor was Christianized by Hern?n Cort?s and was then endowed with the encomienda of Ecatepec. The fact that Moctezuma was the father of Leonor (alias Marina) and father-in-law of X'poval [Christoval] de Valderrama was confirmed by a 1574 family tree chart that is available in Mexico's Archivo General (Mexico Archivo General - AGI - MP - Escudos: 211).

According to the author Donald E. Chipman (Moctezuma's Children: Aztec Royalty Under Spanish Rule, 1520-1700, pp. 70-71), Marianna was married in 1527 to Juan P?ez, a conquistador who died by late August 1529. Two years later in 1531, Mariana married her second husband, Cristobal de Valderrama. Don Cristobal, a native of Burgos, Espa??a, was a conquistador who served in Michoac?n, Colima and Zacatula. The History of Tar?mbaro (Michoac?n) states that Cristobal de Valderrama was given the encomienda of Tar?mbaro (1526-1537) and of Ecatepec, and he is mentioned in the text of Michoac?n's early history during the 1530s until his death in November 1537. Mariana and Don Cristobal had only one daughter, Leonor de Valderrama y Moctezuma, who was baptized sometime around 1532. Chipman discusses this family on pages 76 through 77 of his book.

GENERATION 3: LEONOR DE VALDERRAMA (born 1532 died 1562)

LEONOR DE VALDERRAMA Y MOCTEZUMA, the second encomendera of Tar?mbaro and Ecatepec, was probably born around 1532 and is believed to have died in 1562 when she was only 30 years old. Leonor de Valderrama y de Moctezuma was married to DIEGO ARIAS DE SOTELO, a native of Zamora, Espa??a, who was born around 1525.

Diego Arias de Sotelo came to Nueva Espa??a in 1550 as a waiter of Viceroy Luis de Velasco and eventually served as Alcalde Ordinario de M?jico in 1561. A document dated June 30, 1559 confirms Diego Arias de Sotelo as "Regidor" in Mexico, referring to his parents as Capitan Antonio Sotelo and Vzenda Nunez. Diego and Leonor were involved in lengthy law-suits which consumed the rest of their lives and which, according to the author Donald E. Chipman, involved the disputed properties in Ecatepec and Tlatelolco.

During the late 1560s, Diego Arias Sotelo got into trouble with the Vice Royalty, along with his brother, who was executed for his alleged crimes against the state. Diego Arias Sotelo was exiled to Spain in 1568 for his participation in the plot of Don Martin Cortes, but his son Fernando stepped in to take over the encomienda of Ecatepec from him. It is believed that Leonor died in 1562. Her husband, Diego Arias de Sotelo died four years later on July 7, 1566.

Leonor Valderrama and her husband Diego Arias de Sotelo had the following children:

1. Don Fernando de Sotelo, the third encomendero of Tar?mbaro and San Cristobal Ecatepec. He later became the Mayor of Colima and died sometime after 1604.
2. Don Cristobal de Sotelo Valderrama was married Juana de Heredia Patino in 1594 in Mexico City and is believed to have died in 1607.
3. Dona Ana de Sotelo Moctezuma, baptized Sept. 7, 1553 in Asuncion Parish, Mexico City. She became a nun.
4. Petronila Moctezuma (Montezuma). She was married to Martin de Gabay, also known as Martin Navarro.

In addition to locating the baptism of Ana in 1553, we discovered a 1594 marriage document from the Archdiocese of Mexico City which provides the following information: "X'poval [Christobal] Sotelo Valderrama natural de esta ciudad hijo legitimo de Diego Arias Sotelo y Don Leonor ---- [unreadable] - difuntos [deceased]." Christoval was the brother of Petronila Sotelo alias Petronila Moctezuma, who represents the next generation of this family.


PETRONILA SOTELO MOCTEZUMA was probably born around 1552 in Mexico City. It is believed that in 1571 she was married to MARTIN GABAI DE NAVARRO, also known as MARTIN NABARRO. A marriage of Petronila and Martin has not been located yet, however, they were referenced several times as an ancestral married couple "Martin Nabarro" and "Petronila Montesuma" in a 1703 Diocese of Guadalajara informacion matrimonio document for a marriage that took place in Nochistl?n. The known children of Petronila Sotelo (alias Moctezuma) and of Martin Gabai de Navarro are shown below:

Maria Gabay, who married to Pedro Fernandez de Vaulus. Maria Gabay (Gabai) is also mentioned in the 1703 marriage document.
Ana-Francisca Gabay, born circa 1573-1577, married circa 1594-95 to Lope Ruiz de Esparza, died March 30, 1652, Villa de Aguascalientes - married LOPE RUIZ-DE-ESPARZA. He died 14 Aug 1651 in Aguascalientes.

Many of the descendants of this family as discussed in detail in "Genealog?a de Nochistl?n Antiguo Reino de la Nueva Galicia en el Siglo XVII Seg??n Sus Archivos Parroquiales" by Jos? Luis V?squez y Rodr?guez de Fr?as (2001).


According to the doctorate dissertation Margo Tamez, when Lope Ruiz de Esparza (1569-1651), a Basque colonist, married Ana Francisca Moctezuma Gabay (1573-1652), "high status was secured, and certain facets of aboriginal title through his wife's ancestral lineage, recognized by the Spanish Crown as a direct line descendent of Moctezuma II, facilitated the acquisition of lands and wealth for his heirs vis-?-vis intermarriage with an Indigenous woman with immense social and political capital." Hence, Lope and his wife became a very well-known and respected couple in the early years of Aguascalientes, serving frequently as padrinos at both marriages and baptisms.

Lope Ruiz de Esparza

Lope Ruiz de Esparza a native of Pamplona, Navarra is documented by the Catalogo de Pasajeros a Indias (Vol. III - #2.633) as having sailed from Spain to Mexico on Feb. 8, 1593. Lope, who was the son of Lope Ruiz de Esparza and Ana D?as de Eguino, was a bachelor and a servant of Do?? Enrique Maleon. After arriving in Mexico, Lope is said to have married Francisca de Gabai Navarro y Moctezuma somewhere in Mexico City in 1595. This marriage has not yet been located.


At some point, Lope and Francesca made their way to Aguascalientes in the Spanish colony of Nueva Galicia. The town of Aguascalientes had been formally established by a decree of October 22, 1575 during the height of the Chichimeca War (1550-1590). As a result, the small villa got off to a bad start and during the height of the hostilities (1582-1585), the population of the villa was reduced to only one caudillo, two vecinos [residents] and 16 soldiers. However the last Chichimec raid took place in 1593, after which the threat from native peoples quickly diminished. At this point Spanish settlers mostly cattlemen and farmers began arriving in Aguascalientes.

By 1610, the small town of Aguascalientes had some 25 Spanish residents, about fifty families of mestizos, at least 100 mulatos, twenty Black slaves, and ten Indians. It is likely that these twenty-five Spanish inhabitants probably included persons with the surnames Ruiz de Esparza, Alvarado, Tiscareno de Molina, Luebana, and Fernandez de Vaulus. The Registros Parroquiales (Parish Registers) for La Parroquia de la Asunci??n (Assumption Parish) in Aguascalientes began at various points around this time: marriages in 1601, baptisms in 1616 and deaths in 1620. And the vast majority of the people who were baptized or married in this church in the early years were mulatos, mestizos and indios (as indicated by the 1610 tally).

The first evidence we have of Lope's presence in Aguascalientes is an October 8th, 1611 marriage of two people who are described as servants (criados) of Pedro Fernandez de Vaulus (most likely a nephew of Francesca Gabai de Ruiz de Esparza). This marriage was performed in the presence (en presencia) of three people, one of whom was Lope Ruiz de Esparza.


Lope Ruiz de Esparza and Francisca de Gabay had the following children:

1. Salvador, born in 1595, died in Aguascalientes on Sept 29, 1679. He was married about 1618 to Mar?a de Vielma, born circa 1600
2. Anna Tomasina, born about 1597. She was married on Nov. 25, 1618 to Francisco S?nchez de Montes de Oca, a native of the Kingdom of Castilla. They lived in Morcenique
3. Mart?n, born about 1600. He was married about 1625 to Do??a Mar?a L??pez de Elizalde y Becerra, the widow of Don Juan de Lu?vana (a peninsular). He died in 1662 in Aguascalientes.
4. Lorenza, born about 1602. She was married in the Hacienda de Morcenique, Aguascalientes, on May 16, 1623, with Capit?n Luis de Tiscare??o de Molina y M?rquez, originally from the Barrio of Triana en Sevilla; Luis was the son of Juan de Tiscare??o de Molina y de do??a Elvira M?rquez.
5. Jacinto, born about 1604. He was the Escribano Real de Aguascalientes. He was married about 1629 with Do??a Juana L??pez de Elizalde, who died in Aguascalientes on May 21, 1682 (she was the daughter of Juan L??pez de Elizalde y de Leonor Becerra y S?nchez de Mendoza). He died in Aguascalientes on July 27, 1679.
6. Bernardo (who also used the surname Salado) was born in 1608. He was married in the Estancia de Morcenique to Do??a Catalina Lozano Isla, the daughter of Don Crist??bal y de Do??a Mar?a (Lozano-Isla)
7. Pedro, was born in 1611. He was married on April 12, 1636 to Isla Juana Lozano, the daughter of Don Cristobal and Dona Maria, already mentioned. His second marriage in Aguascalientes, on March 13, 1688 was recorded as follows: "13 de marzo de 1688: Pedro Ruis de Esparza espa??ol vecino de esta villa y vudo de Juana Lozano con Margarita espa??ola vecina y natural de esta villa hija lex?tima de Luis Gonz?lez y Beatris Gallegos ya difuntos." He had fathered a child by her. Margarita was baptized on Nov. 24, 1625 in Aguascalientes.
8. Mar?a, born in 1613 and married about 1630 with Don Nicol?s de Ulloa, who had been born in 1605. They were vecinos de Teocaltiche, where their descendants lived.
9. Capit?n Crist??bal, born in 1616. He was marred on August 18, 1646 to Do??a Isabel de Alcaraz, o P?rez
10. Don Bernab?, baptized en Aguascalientes on June 17, 1618 and died on October 21, 1672. He was married on May 11, 1643 with Do??a Anna Ortiz Ram?rez, a native of Sierra de Pinos and daughter Pablo and de Do??a Catalina. They had no descendants.
11. Don Lope Ruiz de Esparza y de Gabay, born in Morcenique and baptized in Aguascalientes on August 21, 1620. Lope was also known as Lorenzo Ruiz de Esparza. His first marriage was to Do??a Antonia del Castilla (daughter of Juan del Castillo de Contreras and Do??a Mar?a Ruiz de Aldana) on May 2, 1647. His second marriage was on August 1, 1677 to Do??a Josefa de Sandi, widow of Juan Mart?nez Calvillo, daughter of Alonso de Aguilera y de Josefa de Sandi.

As mentioned earlier, both Lope Ruiz de Esparza and his wife Francesca served as padrinos at numerous baptisms and marriages in the Aguascalientes during their long lives. (As noted earlier, they both lived into the 1650s.) However, their own children were not baptized in the Aguascalientes parish church until 1618. It is possible that records were kept in their private chapel in Morcenique and that these records were never turned over to the parish or may have been lost at some point.

LORENZA ESPARZA (The fourth-born child of Lope and Francesca) (1602-1690)

LORENZA RUIZ DE ESPARZA, the fourth-born child of Lope and Francesca, was probably born around 1602. On May 16, 1623, in Morcenique, Lorenza was married to Luis Tiscareno de Molina, a native of Triana, across the river from Sevilla in Castilla. The approximate text of this marriage reads as follows:

En la estan?ia de Mor?enique despos?Ǫa Luis Tiscare??o de Molina hijo de Juan Tiscare??o y Elvira M?rquez naturales de Triana en Sevilla en Reynos de Castilla con Loren?a Ruiz de Esparza hija leg?tima de Lope Ruiz de Espar?a y Francisca de Gabadi, su muger, vecinos de esta villa. Fueron testigos Mart?n Fern?ndez de Vaulux y Francisco Ma??as Valadez y Salvador Ruiz de Espar?a, cu??ado del dicho Luis Tiscare??o de Molina. Fueron padrinos: Francisco S?nchez Montes de Oca y Ana Ruiz de Espar?a, su muger, cu??ados del dicho Luis Tiscare??o de Molina.


1. Juan Tiscareno de Molina
2. Luisa Tiscareno de Molina married on Sept, 3, 1652 to Andres Lopez de Nava in Aguascalientes
3. Francesca Tiscareno de Molina, baptized March 4, 1625, Aguascalientes
4. Elvira Tiscareno de Molina, baptized May 11, 1627, Aguascalientes
5. Maria Tiscareno de Molina, baptized March 13, 1634, Aguascalientes
6. Margarita Tiscareno de Molina, baptized June 27, 1642, Aguascalientes
7. Juana Tiscareno de Molina, baptized August 20, 1644, Aguascalientes

Many thanks go out to Mercy Bautista Olvera for her assistance in researching the early records of Mexico City and Aguascalientes. Her contribution to this effort was essential.

Today, many people who have Esparza ancestors from Aguascalientes, southern Zacatecas, northern Jalisco -- including my research associates Mercy Bautista Olvera and Paola Ruvalcaba Tamayo -- are able to trace their ancestry back to Lope Ruiz de Esparza and his wife, Francesca Gabai, and thus can be considered descendants of Emperor Moctezuma II.

I also am grateful for information that I gathered from Donald E. Chipman's "Moctezuma's Children: Aztec Royalty Under Spanish Rule, 1520-1700."

Copyright ? 2013 by John P. Schmal. All Rights Reserved.


Archivo General de Indias, Secci??n de Contrataci??n, Pasajeros a Indias: Libros de Asientos (Sevilla, Spain: Imprenta Editorial de la Gavidia, 1940), Vol. VII, 1586-1599, III-163, #2.633.

Chipman, Donald E. "Moctezuma's Children: Aztec Royalty Under Spanish Rule, 1520-1700," (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2005).

"Confirmacion de Oficio: Diego Arias de Sotelo," Archivo General de Indias Signatura: Mexico, ES.41091.AGI/22.10.169//MEXICO,169,N.34 (Portal de Archivos Espanoles).

Family History Library. Asunci??n Sagrario Metropolitano (Centro), Bautismos de espa??oles 1536-1546, 1552-1589 (Film 35167, Page 24, Slide 219).

Family History Library. Mexico Distrito Federal Church Records, Aquidiocecis de Mexico (Centro), Film 1512017, Image #96.

Family History Library. Aguascalientes Bautismos & Matrimonios (1616-1662). Film 299421.

Gerhard, Peter. "The North Frontier of New Spain" (University of Oklahoma: 1993).

Mexico Archivo General - AGI - MP - Escudos: 211.


Thomas, Hugh. "Who's Who of the Conquistadors" (Cassell & Co.: London, 2000).

About John P. Schmal:
John Schmal is a genealogist, writer and market analyst.

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