Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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LEMPIRA (lem-pee'-rah), Central American cacique, born in the latter part of the 15th century; died in 1537. He was the king of Coquin, afterward called Gracias a Dios, and his name signifies "Lord of the Mountains." At the beginning of the conquest the Spaniards were unmolested, but later the Indians revolted, on account of their cruelties, under the leadership of this chief. He had long been a terror to the settlers and a warrior of note among his own countrymen, and was said to bear a charmed life. He had been attacked in his stronghold of Cerquin, close to Gracias a Dios, by Alvarado with a strong party of troops and 2,000 friendly natives; but the assault was unsuccessful. Lempira now proposed to annihilate the invaders, and, gathering a large army, opened hostilities at once. Montejo, governor of Yucatan and Honduras, sent a force to quell the movement, whereupon Lempira retired to his stronghold and siege was laid to the place; but, although assistance was summoned from Comayagua and San Pedro del Puerto de Caballos, the Indians made good their defence. For six months the Spaniards beleaguered the fortress, and, seeing no prospect of taking it, had recourse to a stratagem. A horseman was ordered to approach within arquebus-shot of the rock and summon Lempira to a colloquy, under pretence of opening negotiations for peace, while a foot soldier who accompanied him, screened from view by the mounted man, shot the unsuspecting chieftain as he appeared on the cliff. His lifeless body rolled over the rock, and his followers, panic-stricken, made no further resistance.
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