Miguel de Cervantes (1547 [assumed] - 1616) is said to be one of the greatest writers in Spanish history. His greatest book, Don Quixote, tells the story of a senile old man who goes on great adventures in his head all to find his long lost lover, Lady Dulcinea. It has been translated into over 140 languages and dialects, second only to the Bible. Before he had written Don Quixote he was also a Soldier in the Spanish Navy Infantry regiment and later stayed as a soldier until 1575. He was captured by Barbary pirates that year. After 5 years, in 1580, he was released via ransom money and returned to Madrid. Another 5 years passed and he published his first book, La Galatea, which was a pastoral novel. At this time he worked as a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada and then later as a tax collector for the government. He later was tossed into jail for 3 years in the Crown Jail of Seville for discrepancies in his accounts.
Finally, in 1605, Cervantes was in Valladolid when he wrote and published the first part of Don Quixote. In the year 1607, he settled finally settled in Madrid, it was here he lived till he died. But it was here where he wrote and published books such as Novelas ejemplares (Exemplary Novels, 1613), Viaje del Parnaso (Journey to Parnassus, 1614), Ocho comedias y ocho entremeses (Eight Comedies and Eight Appetizers, 1615), and lastly the second and final part of Don Quixote in 1615. He later croaked in April 1616 but someone published his last work Los trabajos Persiles y Sigismunda (The Travails of Persiles and Sigismunda) in 1617.
It is widely accepted and assumed that Miguel was born in Acala de Henares, a city about 22 miles (35 kilometers) from Madrid on September 29th, 1547. But we’ll never 100% know unless he comes back from the grave to tell us. HOWEVER we do know he was baptised on October 9th of that year because of baptism records from the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor says:
"En domingo, nueve días del mes de octubre de mil e quinientos e cuarenta e siete años, fue bautizado Miguel, hijo de rodrigo de Cervantes e su mujer doña Leonor; fueron sus compadres Juan Pardo; baptizole el Reverendo Señor Bachiller Serrano Cura de nuestra Señora, testigos Baltasar Vázquez, Sacristán e yo que lo baptic© y firm© de mi nombre. Bachiller Serrano". City Council of Alcalá de Henares. Retrieved 27 June 2013
Which says in English: “On Sunday, the ninth day of the month of October, the year of our Lord one thousand five hundred forty and seven, Miguel, son of Rodrigo Cervantes and his wife Leonor, was baptised; his godfathers were Juan Pardo; he was baptised by the Reverend Bachelor Bartolom© Serrano, Priest of Our Lady. Witnesses, Baltasar Vázquez, Sexton, and I, who baptised him and signed this in my name. Bachelor Serrano” Rodrigo Cervantes, his father was something they call a barber-surgeon, which literally meant that they were both a barber and a surgeon. (sounds sketchy to me but whatever bro) He did many things such as setting bones (placing them back into place so they can heal), blood lettings (opening veins?), and other minor medical things. Miguel’s grandfather was a lawyer and his uncle was the mayor of Cabra for many years. His mother, Leonor de Cortinas, was the daughter of a nobleman, who literally got his fortune YOINKED and had to sell his daughter into marriage 1543. This led to a very unfaithful marriage between his parents. There is not much known about the early life of Miguel, but we do know that he moved from town to town and attended the Imperial School. This school was an Jesuit school for boys in Madrid. His siblings (oldest to youngest) are as follows; Rodrigo. Magdalena, and Juan. These are know only through the father’s will.
Miguel was supposedly forced to leave Spain, but historians are unsure why this is. Possible reasons include: fleeing a warrant, being a sword wielding maniac, or stealing an ice cream cone from a child (that last one may or may not be true, don’t fact check it). He later came back and joined the Spanish army as a Soldier in the naval marines. He was stationed in Naples and remained idle for about a year. In the heat of battle, Miguel had a fever but refused to sit and watch supposedly stating “I’d rather die for my God and my king than keep under cover!” He then received three whole gunshot wounds, 2 in the abdomen and 1 in his left arm. Even after this and being in the hospital for 6 months he still went back to serve. However, on September 26h, 1575 his ship was attacked by Ottoman pirates and he had become a slave for 5 whole heckin years. His family later paid a ransom and he was set free.
After the whole being yoinked by pirates thing, he returned to Spain and started to write more, but he was not able to support himself on his writing much like other authors of that day and age. He also later worked as a tax collector, his grimy lil hands traveled all of the place to collect taxes due to the crown. In order to try to get to the “New World”, he tried to apply as an accountant and as a governor. This did not work out. He then worked in the baking industry and also later turned down a position as secretary to the Court of Lemos.
He died of Type 2 Diabetes in Madrid on April 22 1616 and was put in a hole and covered with dirt later the next day. He was buried in Central Madrid, someone later just took his bones in 1673 when work was being done on the building but they were returned later so it was fine, I guess.
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