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Miguel de Cervantes

Other names: Manco de Lepanto

Positions Held

Commissioner of supplies for the Spanish Armada in the Andalusian region, 1587
Chamberlain to Cardinal Giulio de Acquaviva, 1569


Novelist, poet, and playwright, Cervantes is considered the greatest figure in Spanish literature.  He studied in the Universities of Salamanca and Madrid, and cultivated poetry in his youth without much success.  His first literary work was a sonnet for Queen Isabel in celebration of the birth of her first child.  Between 1568 and 1569, he fled to Rome to escape punishment for wounding his opponent in a duel.  In about 1570 he entered as a volunteer in the papal army under Marcantonio Colonna, and in 1571 he signalised his courage at the battle of Lepanto, where he was wounded.  In 1575 he was taken by an Algerine corsair and carried as a slave to Algiers.  After risking his life in gallant efforts to liberate his fellow captives, and after terrible sufferings, he was ransomed in 1580 for five hundred ducats, and returned to Madrid.  In 1584 he published Galatea, and married that year.  Cervantes wrote numerous dramas, which, he informs us, were performed with success, but neither these nor his other earlier works sufficed to relieve him from poverty.  Between 1597 and 1598, he was jailed for seven months for mishandling tax revenues.  He moved to Valladolid in 1604.  At length, in 1605, he published the first part of the inimitable Don Quixote de la Mancha, which soon became immensely popular, and ran through four editions in the first year.  That year, he was arrested with members of his family after being falsely accused of involvement in the death of man.  The charges were dropped, but Cervantes' reputation as a writer was tarnished.  He afterwards moved to Madrid and lived there until his death.  In 1609, he joined the Confraternity of Slaves of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  In 1613, he produced his Novelas exeplares, which were much admired.  That year, he joined the Third Order of St Francis.  The second part of Don Quixote appeared in 1615.

Place of baptism: Álcala de Henares
Place of marriage: Esquivas
Place of death and burial: Madrid

List of works




1. L. Astrana Maran. Vida ejemplar y heroica de Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Madrid, Instituto Editorial Reus, 1948-58

2. J. Thomas. The Universal Dictionary of Biography and Mythology, vol. 1 [part 1]. London: J.S. Virtue & Co., Limited, 1887.

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