Cuauhtémoc was an Aztec emperor who succeeded the brother of Montezuma II in 1520. Cuauhtémoc tried but failed to unite the native city-states of the Valley of Mexico against the Spanish, after Cortés left Tenochtitlán. He defended the capital against odds that seemed in his favor, but was taken prisoner when it fell in 1521, after a three-month siege.

After his capture, he was tortured to reveal the whereabouts of his treasure. Cuauhtémoc replied that it lay at the bottom of a lake where the Spaniards had died with it in their flight from Tenochtitlán on the noche triste, or sad night. This probably pissed Cortés off a bit more than history records. Cortés took Cuauhtémoc with him on his march to Honduras and, accusing the Aztec of treason, had him hanged in 1525.

The name occurs also as Cuauhtemoctzín, Guatémoc, Guatemozín, and Quauhtémoc.