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Monument to Cuauhtémoc in the Zócalo , Mexico City

Cuauhtémoc (also Quauhtemoc, Cuautémoc, Cuauhtemoc, Cuanthemoc, Guatimozin; Nahuatl : Kuautemok or Kuautemoktzin , "sinking eagle" or "landing eagle"; * 1495 or 1502; † February 28, 1525 in Itzamkanac ) was the last Aztec ruler from Tenochtitlán . He was the son of Auítzotl and thus cousin of both Moctezuma II and his direct predecessor Cuitláuac .

After Moctezuma II was taken hostage by the Spaniards under Hernán Cortés , Cuitláuac was chosen as the new ruler. However, he died after a few months to the Spaniards entrained smallpox , so Cuauhtémoc to the top warlords and Tlatoani was chosen.

Cuauhtémoc made uncompromising resistance against Hernán Cortés and defended Tenochtitlán to the end. Shortly before the fall of the city, however, on August 13, 1521, he was exposed and taken prisoner while attempting to escape on a boat. For some time Cortés treated his adversary as a prisoner with all honors and referred to him as the ruler of the Aztecs. But then he had Cuauhtémoc and Tetlepanquetzaltzin , the co- imprisoned ruler of Tlacopan , tortured to find out where the presumed gold treasures could be found.

El suplicio de Cuauhtémoc (The Torture of Cuauhtémoc), painted by Leandro Izaguirre , 1892

When Cortés led a campaign to Honduras in 1524, he took Cuauhtémoc with him, because he feared his power would increase during his own absence from Tenochtitlan. During this expedition, Cuauhtémoc, allegedly involved in a conspiracy against Cortés, was executed by hanging on Cortés' orders . With his widow Tecuichpoch , a daughter of Moctezuma, Cortés later fathered the daughter Leonor Cortés y Moctezuma .

Cuauhtémoc is considered a great national hero in Mexican tradition, and Cuauhtémoc is widely used as a given name in his memory to this day. A city in the state of Chihuahua , a municipality in Colima , a city district and a large urban park in Mexico City as well as the only sailing training ship of the Mexican Navy are named after him. The memory of the leader of the bitter resistance is held in high esteem in Mexico, while the indigenous people who supported Cortés at the time are considered non-persons.

The ruler's remains were allegedly found in Ichcateopan ( Guerrero ) in 1949 . The excavations carried out by the Mexican archaeologist Eulalia Guzmán were already criticized at the time because of their inadequate technology, and the authenticity of the find was questioned. A re-investigation in 1976 concluded that there was no evidence to identify the bone fragments found to be that of a young woman and that the documents that were supposed to support the identification were of modern origin.


Individual evidence

  1. Hernán Cortés in: National Geographic Germany. Retrieved October 27, 2015
  2. Edward Matos Moctezuma: Ichcateopan y los restos de Cuauhtémoc . In: Arqueologúia Mexicana 82 (2006) pp. 58-61.

Web links

Commons : Cuauhtémoc  - collection of images, videos and audio files