Also found in: Wikipedia.


(ko͞o–outā`môk), d. 1525, Aztec emperor. Succeeding the brother of MontezumaMontezuma
or Moctezuma
, 1480?–1520, Aztec emperor (c.1502–1520). He is sometimes called Montezuma II to distinguish him from Montezuma I (ruled 1440–69), who carried on conquests around Tenochtitlán.
..... Click the link for more information.
 II in 1520, Cuauhtémoc failed to unite the native city-states of the Valley of Mexico against the Spanish after the expulsion of Hernán CortésCortés, Hernán,
or Hernando Cortez
, 1485–1547, Spanish conquistador, conqueror of Mexico. Expedition to Mexico

Cortés went (1504) first to Hispaniola and later (1511) accompanied Diego de Velázquez to Cuba.
..... Click the link for more information.
 from TenochtitlánTenochtitlán
, ancient city in the central valley of Mexico. The capital of the Aztec, it was founded (c.A.D. 1345) on a marshy island in Lake Texcoco. It was a flourishing city (with an estimated population of between 200,000 and 300,000), connected with the mainland by
..... Click the link for more information.
. He courageously defended his capital, but was taken prisoner when it fell (1521) after a three-month siege. Tortured to reveal his treasure, Cuauhtémoc replied that it lay at the bottom of the lake—where the Spaniards had perished with it in their flight from Tenochtitlán on the noche triste [sad night]. Cortés took Cuauhtémoc with him on his march to Honduras and, accusing the Aztec of treason, had him hanged. His name occurs also as Cuauhtemoctzín, Guatémoc, Guatemozín, and Quauhtémoc.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Born between 1494 and 1502; died in 1525. King of the Aztecs from 1520 to 1521, leader of an armed struggle against the Spanish conquerors, and national hero of Mexico.

Cuauhtémoc displayed remarkable military ability and personal heroism during the defense of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City). He ordered the city strengthened with various fortifications, including ditches, walls, barricades, and special defenses against cavalry, and made skillful use of ambushes. After the fall of Tenochtitlán in 1521, Cuauhtémoc was captured by the Spanish, brutally tortured, and executed.


González Obregón, L. Cuauhtémoc—rey heroico mexicano. Mexico City, 1955.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.