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  • Spanish Writer Miguel de Cervantes passed away on April 22, 1616.

    Beatriz Camino

    Spanish Writer Miguel de Cervantes passed away on April 22, 1616.

    Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (29 September 1547 (assumed) – 22 April 1616) was an Early Modern Spanish writer widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language. He is best known for his novel Don Quixote, a work considered to be the first modern novel.

    Early Life

    Despite his later fame, much of Cervantes’ early life remains shrouded in uncertainty, including details about his name, background, and physical appearance. It is generally believed that he was born around 29 September 1547 in Alcalá de Henares and was the second son of Rodrigo de Cervantes, a barber-surgeon, and his wife, Leonor de Cortinas. Rodrigo faced frequent financial struggles and job instability, leading to constant relocations for the family.

    It is also speculated that Cervantes may have attended the Jesuit college in Seville, where one of the instructors was Pedro Pablo Acevedo, a Jesuit playwright. However, legal records indicate that when Rodrigo encountered financial difficulties again, the family was prompted to move to Madrid.

    Military Service & Captivity

    Around 1569, Cervantes moved to Rome, likely prompted by an arrest warrant. With the onset of the Ottoman-Venetian War from 1570 to 1573, Spain joined the Holy League, forcing him to seek refuge in Naples, then under the Crown of Aragon. There, he received a commission under the Marqués de Santa Cruz and sailed aboard the Marquesa as part of the Holy League fleet under Don John of Austria.

    Moreover, Cervantes fought in the decisive Battle of Lepanto on 7 October 1571. Despite suffering from malaria, he bravely commanded a 12-man skiff, sustaining multiple wounds, including two to the chest and one that left his left arm incapacitated. This last injury earned him the epithet El Manco de Lepanto ‘The one-handed man of Lepanto’, a title that remained with him for the rest of his life.  After recovering from his injuries, he participated in various expeditions but suffered setbacks, including the loss of Tunis to the Ottomans in 1574.

    In September 1575, while returning to Spain, Cervantes and his brother Rodrigo were seized by Ottoman corsairs near Barcelona and subsequently transported to Algiers as slaves. While Rodrigo was ransomed in 1577, Cervantes remained in captivity due to his family's inability to pay the ransom. After nearly five years of captivity and four failed escape attempts, he was finally liberated in 1580 by the Trinitarians, a religious order dedicated to ransoming Christian captives.

    Later Years & Death

    In 1580, Cervantes returned to Spain, marked by his physical wounds and lacking any stable means of support. Driven by necessity, he turned to playwriting, although only a handful of his estimated thirty to forty plays have endured. Around this period, he also published his first novel, La Galatea (1585), a pastoral romance that failed to garner significant attention.

    During this time, Cervantes married Catalina Salaza y Vozmediano, the daughter of a prosperous farmer.  Soon afterwards, he found himself responsible for providing for his wife, daughter, mother, two sisters, and a widowed mother-in-law. In order to secure a stable income, he obtained a civil service position as a commissary tasked with procuring provisions for the Invincible Armada.

    Despite this, Cervantes encountered legal troubles and was imprisoned twice due to financial discrepancies in his accounts. Scholars debate whether his time in the Seville prison was the genesis of his masterpiece, Don Quixote. Completed in 1604, the novel became an immediate sensation, with six editions printed within the first year. Despite its monumental success, Cervantes received no additional compensation beyond his initial payment from the publisher.  At the age of sixty-seven, burdened by poverty and declining health, he began crafting the sequel to Don Quixote, only to discover that a pirated edition of his concept had gained popularity. In response, he swiftly completed Part II of the novel.

    Between the ages of fifty-seven and sixty-nine, Cervantes released his Exemplary Novels, a collection of twelve tales offering perceptive insights into Spanish life at the time. He also penned several plays, including Eight Interludes and Eight Comedies, showcasing a dramatic prowess that eluded his earlier works. His last literary endeavour, The Troubles of Persiles and Sigismunda, is mainly known for its prologue, dedicated to the Count of Lemos. It is generally accepted Cervantes died on 22 April 1616 and was buried in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, in central Madrid.


    Miguel de Cervantes is regarded as the progenitor of the modern novel with his masterpiece Don Quixote, holding a revered position in literary history and exerting a profound influence on contemporary culture.

    Through the sprawling narrative of Don Quixote, Cervantes crafted a tapestry of adventure and satire set against the backdrop of 16th-century Spain. The novel gave rise to countless phrases, idioms, and colloquialisms that have woven themselves into the fabric of everyday language. Moreover, the author’s contributions to the evolution of the Spanish language are so significant that Spanish is often dubbed the "language of Cervantes" in Spain, akin to the impact of William Shakespeare on the English language.


    SPAIN 1617-1621 COB VF ...PHILIP III no dateSpain Philip III (1598-1621) Cob Silver 4 Reales 1619Italy Sicily Messina Philip III of Spain AR 4 tari 1618

           Switserland Zug Stadt Philipp III of Spain AR groschen 1600   Spain, 2 reales 1599-1621Italy Sicily Messina Philip III of Spain AR 4 tari 1619


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