Cuauhtémoc ko͞o–outā´môk [key], d. 1525, Aztec emperor. Succeeding the brother of Montezuma II in 1520, Cuauhtémoc failed to unite the native city-states of the Valley of Mexico against the Spanish after the expulsion of Hernán Cortés from Tenochtitlán. 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.
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