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The elusive Petronila de Moctezuma document

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By gpf13 - Posted on 15 January 2014

I took another look at what Chipman says in "Moctezuma's Children" concerning the litigation concerning Tacuba and Ecatepec in an attempt to focus research efforts in the search for documents naming Petronila de Moctezuma.

The Tacuba litigation was in the early 1550s (Chipman is not more specific), with Diego Arias de Sotelo apparently being the primary litigant attempting to get the revenue from Tacuba for Leonore de Moctezuma (his mother-in-law). He was unsuccessful. The current estimate for the birthdate of Petronila is about 1558, thus it seems unlikely that the Tacuba litigation would name her.

Certain territories were included in the Ecatepec grant by Cortes, which resulted in litigation by the indian officials of Tenochtitlan and Tlalteloco. The litigation covered the period 1531 to the early 1560s. There were mixed results. The heirs of Leonore de Moctezuma won a victory with regard to Acalhuacan in 1553, the indians of Tlalteloco appealed/protested, the litigation continued for almost another 10 years before being decided in favor of Moctezuma's heirs in 1561. Petronila de Moctezuma may have been born near the end of this period (1558?) and thus might be named in the record.

Documents concerning the Avila-Cortes conspiracy, in which Diego Arias de Sotelo was implicated, could also name his family members: we did learn things about his second wife, and the his parents. Petronila would have been alive during this time.

Unfortunately, Chipman does not cite primary sources in this part of the history which makes it difficult to go directly the original records. His primary citation seems to be Charles Gibson, "The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule: A History of the Indians of the Valley of Mexico, 1519-1810." This seems to be available in many libraries according to Worldcat (although I have not seen it yet). He also cites some of the works of Amada Lopez de Meneses (which I've also not found in a library yet), and "Noticia historica" by Orozco y Berra which was cited in detail in the recent Petronila de Moctezuma discussion (available from Google books as a free download).

Thus perhaps some of the files of this litigation and the Avila-Cortes conspiracy proceedings would be the place to look.

These files in the aggregate are possibly thousands of pages.

I do not know how much, if any, of these documents have been digitized and are available through PARES. I took a quick look, but with no real success ... hits in numerous files, but often not digitized. I have looked at some documents from the mid 1500s, and I find them rather difficult to read, the handwriting is a real challenge (and I admit my Spanish is very limited): the handwriting is quite different than that of the church records 1600s.

Does anyone have ideas on how to proceed?

George Fulton

Hi George

I too have wondered where to go from here. I have come to the conclusion, that I will contribute where I best can, by going through records which are comprehensible to me. To that end, I have just last night begun going through marriages from Mexico City from the 1570's on the chance that the elusive Petronila will show up as a padrina, and then I will have located her at a specific place and time, and linked her to a specific social network. I would be happy if someone wanted to go to the same film, find the last image from the 1500s (image 282), and work backwards....the link to the last image of the 1500's is here:

On this film, there is a gap from 1589 to 1629, therefore I have no immediate plans to look beyond image 282.

The source of the image is:

"México, Distrito Federal, registros parroquiales y diocesanos, 1514-1970," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 Jan 2014), Asunción Sagrario Metropolitano (Centro) > Matrimonios de españoles 1575-1589, 1629-1634, 1629-1634, 1621-1626, 1629-1630, 1629-1646 > image 282 of 1051.

I hope that someone will be interested in the longer documents in colonial Spanish -for example those in PARES or else other documents from Mexico from the 1500's which I dont get much out of. Steven Francisco Hernández López and Carlos Peredo have already made some very interesting finds regarding Diego Arias de Sotelo and his sons Cristobal Valderrama Sotelo and Diego Portugal Manuel. If they keep going, they will surely dig up more information on this lineage... :)

I still hope that someone will contact Don Guillermo's Brother regarding the manuscript - with the sources for his information about Petronila - which he was working on when he passed away.


Yesterday Steven Hernandez Lopez (in the Petronila de Moctezuma y Martin Navarro thread) posted a link for a recently published article from John Schmall: .

In this work he cites the reference for the matrimonial investigation for Cristoval Sotelo Valderrama and Juana Patino de Heredia that he found in the Diocesan records of Mexico City. The record is at Family Search in "Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1514-1970; Arquidiocesis de Mexico (Centro); Information matrimonial 1588, 1589, 1591, 1592 ... 1679" and begins at image 96, and continues for 5 pages.

The document is dated 1594 and the handwriting is difficult to read, although the images are quite clear.

The document names his parents, Diego Arias Sotelo and Dona Leonor de [illegible], and wife-to-be, Dona Juana Patino de Heredia, and her parents Baltasar de Bargab (probably not correct) and Dona Francisca de Heredia. Baltasar's surname seems to be on two lines, and is unclear to me.

At a minimum, this document places Cristoval Sotelo Valderrama in Mexico City, in the mid-1590s. Both his parents are deceased (as we know from other sources as well). He is "natural desta cibdad [ciudad]," thus we now have a birthplace. I cannot read enough to determine if his age is given; but other estimates of his birthdate (1556) are not inconsistent with a 1594 marriage.

We also know more about his wife: her parents' names are given, even if I cannot read them completely. Perhaps someone can take a look?

I would not expect information about any siblings, unless one was a testigo (I would not expect a sister in the role). Thus this document likely adds nothing about Petronila.

In any event, thanks to John and Steven, we now have another good document, and perhaps we are a step closer to our goal.

George Fulton
Pleasanton, CA

The doctoral dissertation, Margo Tamez, "Returning Lipan Apache Women's Laws, Lands, & Power In El Calaboz Ranchería, Texas-Mexico Border" cited by John Schmal has two interesting appendices entitled "Resolving Petronila de Moctezuma and Marina Leonor de Moctizuma (sic): Narrative".

The appendices do not add documents in our quest, but provides her views and examines three theories regarding Petronila:
(1) She descends from Leonor de Moctezuma, granddaughter of Tecuichpotzin and Hernando Cortes
(2) She was the daughter of Mariana Leonore de Moctezuma and "Acatlan" (questioning whether "Acatlan" is a name, or better referred to as "Noblewoman of Acatlan").
(3) She was the daughter of Pedro Moctezuma (he was the son of Moctezuma and Maria Miahuaxochitl) and one of his indigenous wives.

She concludes that the second theory is more plausible.

The discussion is quite interesting in examining the role of "high status indigenous women" in the Spanish colonial society.

There is considerably more to the dissertation than this ... it is more than 600 pages.

The dissertation can be down loaded from ProQuest at no charge.

George Fulton
Pleasanton, CA

Thanks to the work of John Schmal ... see

Ana Sotelo de Mocetzuma was baptized September 7, 1553, in Mexico City.


"México, Distrito Federal, registros parroquiales y diocesanos, 1514-1970," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Jan 2014), Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1514-1970 > Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1514-1970 > Asunción Sagrario Metropolitano (Centro) > Bautismos de españoles 1536-1546, 1552-1589 > image 219 of 1003.

George Fulton
Pleasanton, CA

Hola grupo,

¡Aquí les va una en inglés…pero no se empiquen!

In John P. Schmal’s January 8, 2014 internet article “Moctezuma's Descendants in Aguascalientes: Tracking the offspring of the last Aztec monarch” [ ], he mentions that Leonor de Valderrama and her husband Diego Arias de Sotelo had the following children:

1. Don Fernando de Sotelo, the third encomendero of Tarímbaro 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.

He also writes the following:
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]."

He only lists four children, which is of course an incomplete listing, but most importantly is the fact that he mentions the baptism on Sept. 7, 1553 in Asuncion Parish [El Sagrario Metropolitano], Mexico City, of Ana de Sotelo Moctezuma. That and the 1594 marriage document from the Archdiocese of Mexico City are most definitely important documents. I’m glad you Denise and George opened the article, read it and noticed the two important references and that you took the initiative to look for them. I will find, thanks to you, and transcribe them thoroughly.

For those of you who want the direct links here they are:
Baptism of Ana de Sotelo y Valderrama, 7 Sep 1553, Sagrario Metropolitano, México –

Marriage information of Cristóbal de Sotelo y Valderrama & Juana Patiño de Heredia, dated 25 Aug 1594, México – (5 pages) –

By the way, the pertinent portion reads as follows: “Don Xpoval Sotelo Valderrama natural desta cibdad hijo legítimo de Diego Arias Sotelo y doña Leonor de Valderrama, difuntos, digo que yo tengo tratado de me casar según horden de la S.ta madre iglesia con Doña Juana Patiño de heredia doncella, hija legítima de Baltasar de Bargas y doña de heredia vezinos desta cibdad…”

Leonor’s last name on that line reads “Val” and what looks like an illegible smudge, but if you read on the margin of the next line, before it says “difuntos”, on the margin it reads “deRrama”.

Meanwhile, I on the other hand located the dated 30 June 1559, “CONFIRMACION DE OFICIO: DIEGO ARIAS DE SOTELO” on PARES (Archivo General de Indias, México, 169, N.34)
I am transcribing the paleography of the entire 14-page document in hopes that it would reveal something about his children, and in particular Petronila, if she even was a child of his. So far I am about half-way done. So far from what I have transcribed, he has clearly stated that he was born in “Aldea del Palo tierra de çamora”, “que es vecino de la çiudad de méxico”, that his parents were “Capitán Antonio de Sotelo…y…Vzenda nuñez”, and that he has children and is married. That tantalized me, because the document at that point did not name her or the children…so far!!

The PARES document, dated 30 June 1559, continues and states on Imagen Núm: 8 / 14 n 1559 was Diego Arias de Sotelo “es casado en la dha çiudad de mexico e Reside allí con su muger e hijos e que enbiudó vna bez e se bolbió a casar y esto es cosa muy pública”.

So there you go everybody…by 30 June 1559, Leonor de Valderrama y Moctezuma had passed away, and it was public knowledge at the time that he was recently remarried (“enbiudó vna bez e se bolbió a casar y esto es cosa muy pública”), as we know to María Manuel de Portugal. Therefore, allow to retract an earlier assertion I had made about their son Diego de Portugal Manuel, he may have indeed been born in 1558 (1583-26=1558), based on the 26 years he said he had in 1584.

Thus Leonor de Valderrama y Moctezuma died before 1559, begging the question: Did Diego Arias de Sotelo and María Manuel de Portugal get married exactly in 1559, or the year before? If so that pushes the potential birth year of OUR Petronila de Moctezuma, to something like 1557-1558, or evan a tad earlier.

Buena suerte a todos en sus investigaciones. ¡Síganle duro! Cuando tengamos más noticias nuevas, nos notificamos, ¿no?

Hasta luego a todos

Steven Francisco Hernández López

Carlos Peredo

Dear Denise, George, Steven et al

It may seem a small thing to have one or two rediscovered new facts about "The Sotelos", but I believe , to us it´s a matter of much joy, because we know that sometimes just to find a hard fact, a precise date, a precise relationship some people spent long hours, days, weeks , and in some cases even YEARS ! - I just remembered Don Guillermo Tovar saying that -in some instances- researching for one single fact, he had to travel many thousands of miles and spend a lot of time and money.

So George, thank you very much for sharing the date and link to the baptism of Ana de Sotelo Valderrama and the date of the wedding of Don Cristóbal de Sotelo.

About the death of Doña Leonor de Valderrama it was already stablished days ago that she should have died around 1557 and that she married in the end of 1550 or the beginning of 1551 because Don Diego Arias Sotelo arrived in Mexico in 1550, this implies that Diego and Leonor didn´t have the chance to have many children, at most they were married for 7 years -unless they had twins -

Days ago I and Denise were talking about this family and the relationship with the "Manuel de Portugal" lineage which is of the REAL ROYALS of Europe and I said it was noticeable that Diego Arias Sotelo married two Royal Dames : Leonor de Valderrama Moctezuma, and then Doña María Manuel.

Talking about Diego´s son -and apparently the "primogenito"- Fernando, I believe it will be realtively esy to prove that HE DIED IN 1625 , I belive that because the book "Familias y Casas de la Vieja Valladolid" written by Fr Gabriel Ibarrola says so and I´m sure that el padre Ibarrola saw the last will of Don Fernando , and he states that "...he lived a long life and in 1625 he wrote his last will and died shortly after that". I´haven´t tried to look for that document yet but I surely will as soon as I have time for there may be very interesting things in it.

Best Regards to all.

Carlos Peredo


Thank you for do the transcriptions! These documents are a real challenge to read!

George Fulton
Pleasanton, CA

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