National Hero: Lempira

Honduras's currency, the lempira, was named after the Lenca warrior of the same name. In the early 1530s, as the Spanish conquistadors invaded Honduras for the first time, this warrior led an uprising that is remembered to this day and revered across the country. After the Spanish settled in Gracias a Dios and began to move freely across the region, Lenca attacks on small parties of conquistadors became common. The Spanish invited the native chiefs of the region to a meeting and, upon showing up, all were hung. However, one didn't show.

Lempira, which means "man of the mountain" in Lenca, gathered a large group of warriors at a fort at Peñol de Cerquín near Erandique, even convincing rival tribes to join them. They began raiding Spanish settlements, which prompted the Spanish to gather their own forces to retaliate. With all their might, they attacked Peñol de Cerquín for 6 months but could not take the fort. This resulted in Captain Alonso de Cáceres initiating a peace accord. From here, the details get murky, depending on whose history lesson you accept. Spanish historian Antonio de Herrera has described a scene where Lempira, upon calling for nothing less than a Spanish withdrawal from the region, was shot and killed by a Spanish soldier. Other accounts have a soldier, Rodrigo Ruíz, fighting Lempira to the death or Lempira escaping wounded, only to be later beheaded by the Spanish on his sickbed at Piedra Parada. Regardless of how Lempira died, the Lencas or other tribes never put forth significant resistance against the Spanish again.


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