The Aztecs and other indigenous people of Mexico followed a system of hereditary aristocracy, which means that the title of chief or ruler was passed down from a father to his son at the time of the father’s death.
This system was still in place and practiced by the time the Spaniards arrived in Mexico. The Spaniards not only respected this tradition, but also added to it. This resulted in many unions between Spanish and Aztec nobility.
The heirs of the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II were included in the descendants of the pre-Columbian elite who received these distinctions. Moctezuma II was the ninth tlatoani or ruler of Tenochtitlan, reigning from 1502 to 1520. Under his rule, the Aztec Empire reached its maximal size.
The family of Moctezuma became known as Condes de Moctezuma, and the holders of this title still reside in Spain. They became part of the Spanish peerage in 1766 when they received a Grandeza, making them Spanish nobility.
A branch of the family on the female side still received an annual amount of about 500 Ducats from the Mexican government as part of a contract signed in the 16th century—all the way up until 1938! The contract also granted Mexico City access to water and lumber on the Moctezumas’ property.