The Early Modern World, C. 1300–1600

Art in the New World

What is Moctezuma’s crown?

Moctezuma was the Aztec leader at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire, led by Hernán Cortés. His crown was made of colorful feathers (from birds such as macaw parrots and the quetzal bird), which were gathered into bunches and then sewn into a reed frame studded with precious stones. The long feathers of Moctezuma’s crown are dark green and the reed frame is painted in bright reds and light blues. The provenance of the crown has come under much scholarly debate but there is evidence that the crown was given to Cortés by Moctezuma himself. The crown was sent back to Europe on one of Cortés’ ships and given to Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor and king of Spain. The headdress is currently in Austria, and negotiations are underway for the Austrian government to loan the crown back to Mexico for the first time in over five hundred years.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Art History Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App