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Tecún Umán (d. 1524)

Dima Zito


Tecún Umán led the resistance of the Mayan Quiché people against the Spanish invasion in the highlands now called Guatemala and was killed in a battle by the conquistador Pedro de Alvarado. In 1524 Spanish conquerors under the command of Pedro de Alvarado attacked the region populated by the Maya. The Quiché and other Maya groups fought the arriving Spanish troops with intelligent guerilla tactics, but the invaders benefited from the fact that the different peoples were divided among themselves. Tecún Umán, a member of the Quiché royal family, formed an alliance with some of the neighboring peoples and gathered thousands of warriors to resist the Spanish invasion. The army of about 450 Spaniards was strengthened by numerous allied indigenous fighters and equipped with superior weapons – guns and steel arms as well as horses, which were still not known by the Maya. In an open battle near Quetzaltenango, Alvarado and Tecún Umán met face to face. A legend claims that Tecún Umán killed Alvarado's horse, thinking that man and animal were one, and was then killed by the conqueror. A Quiché legend says that Tecún Umán was accompanied by a quetzal, Guatemala's national bird, which was his nahual (spiritual guide). When Tecún Umán was killed, the quetzal landed on him and was stained with his blood. Since then quetzal birds are said to have red feathers on their breast and no longer sing. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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