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Cuauhtémoc (1502–1525)

Leticia Pacheco Espejel

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Central America » Mexico

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1500-1599

Key-Topics colonialism, indigenous, indigenous rights, rebellion, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00427.x


Cuauhtémoc was the son of Ahuitzol and an unknown mother. When Ahuitzol died in 1502, Cuauhtémoc's mother oversaw his education until he entered Calmécac, the school of the nobles, at the age of 15. At Calmécac he was educated in military matters and religion under strict discipline in order to prepare him for assuming power as governor of Tenochtitlán. As governor in 1520, Cuauhtémoc had to defend himself and his people against the Spaniards, who had been welcomed by Moctezuma that same year. In accordance with the prophecies, Moctezuma insisted on awaiting the arrival of Quetzalcóatl, the plumed snake. As he hoped to face Quetzalcóatl, Moctezuma and his men handed over the city to Hernan Cortés without any resistance. The Spaniards arrested Moctezuma and set Tenochtitlán ablaze, destroying the idols and pillaging the temples. Cuauhtémoc was left to lead the defense of Tenochtitlán, and his strong resistance against the domination of the Spaniards made history. When Cortés returned to Cempoála in 1520 he sent Pánfilo der Narváez to confront Cuauhtémoc's troops. Realizing he was facing inevitable disaster, he pressed the imprisoned Moctezuma to go to Cuauhtémoc and his allies to order them to divest themselves of arms. All attempts to stop the rebellion were, however, futile. Finally, Cortés decided to leave Tenochtitlán for Tlaxcala. During the night of June 30, 1520, he was defeated ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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