MEXICO CITY (AP) — Descendants of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and Aztec emperor Moctezuma met Friday in Mexico City to mark the 500th anniversary of their forebearers’ first encounter.
The hope was that the meeting, at a colonial church where Cortés is buried, would go better than the one 500 years ago.
Federico Acosta, a Mexican who traces his lineage back 16 generations to Moctezuma’s daughter, embraced Italian Ascanio Pignatelli in a bear hug.
“I want to ask your forgiveness for all the bad things that happened,” said Pignatelli, who is descended from Cortes’ daughter.
“We need to leave the past behind us,” Pignatelli said.
Asked if Mexico needed an apology from Spain, Acosta said no.
“In the end, we are all family now,” he said.
Acosta is quite sure of his lineage: up until the 1930s, his family received a pension granted by the government to
And Pignatelli’s family had inherited one of Cortes’ noble titles, until they sold it.
The two shook hands and said they hoped the anniversary would serve to unite, not divide people.
Cortés and his 400 men were met by Moctezuma at the entrance to Tenochtitlan, the Aztec name for the capital.
Moctezuma greeted them courteously and showered them with gifts, hoping to convince them to go away.
He didn’t realize his gifts just whetted their avarice; the Spaniards bullied their way into Moctezuma’s palace, first as guests, and then as captors.
The Aztecs tired of their emperor’s weakness and chased Cortés out of Tenochtitlan.
Cortés regrouped and conquered the city by 1521.