In November 1519, the formidable Aztec king, Montezumaruled over a flourishing empire at its pinnacle. His empire, comprising 500 city-states and nearly 6 million people, centered on the resplendent White City of Teo, present-day Mexico City. The golden era, however, faced a dire threat as Hernan Cortespropelled by Spanish colonial ambitions, set sail in February 1519 with over 500 men, eyeing the coveted Aztec riches.
Cortes’s audacious arrival at the Aztec capital in June 1520 marked a turning point. The once-mighty Montezuma became a puppet emperor under Spanish control, triggering a simmering discontent among the Aztec populace. The breaking point erupted in June 1520, leading to Montezuma’s demise and a subsequent Spanish retreat.
As night fell, Cortes and his men attempted a dramatic escape laden with an estimated 8 tons of gold. The ill-fated Night of Sorrow ensued, with conquistadors weighed down by their golden bounty, meeting a tragic end in the waters of Lake Texcoco. Only a handful, including Cortes, survived.
Centuries later, near Veracruz, a fisherman named Raul Gerardo stumbled upon a small gold ingotunveiling a mystery that deepened when he later discovered 42 pre-Columbian gold items. Stamped with Carlos V’s insignia, the artifacts hinted at a connection to Montezuma’s treasure. While the narrative is captivating, scientific verification through X-ray or chemical analysis remains pending, leaving the enigma of Montezuma’s stolen treasure in historical limbo.
Top image: La Noche triste (the sad night). Source: Public Domain