Famous Spanish People
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Miguel de Cervantes was born in the town of Alcalá de Henares, near to Madrid, on 29 September 1547. Interestingly, his birthday is also his name day - the 29 September is St. Michael's day.
He was the fourth of seven children. His mother was called Leonor. His father was a surgeon named Rodrigo and he wanted to be seen as an upper-class person, but the truth is that he always struggled to make enough money.
Cervantes went to Italy to study Italian art and literature but he ended up enrolling as a soldier there. This period of his life was adventurous.
When returning to Spain, his ship was hijacked by pirates and Miguel and the crew were captured and held as Christian prisoners in Algeria. During this imprisonment, he tried to escape four times. He was released in 1580.
Miguel returned to Spain. In 1585, he married a lady who was about twenty years younger than himself. She was Catalina de Palacios Salazar.
He spent ten years living in the Andalucia region of Southern Spain, where he was involved as a buyer for the Spanish Armada (known as La Invencible in Spanish) and also worked as a tax collector. However, there were some money problems and he was thrown into prison in Sevilla in 1597.
In 1605, his highly successful novel El Ingenioso Hidalgo de Don Quijote de La Mancha was published. It was an enormous success so he decided to write a second part which was published in 1613.
Don Quijote is a silly country gentleman who is growing old. He is obsessed by the idea of being seen as a heroic knight so, accompanied by his servant Sancho Panza, he journeys on horseback trying to appear like the figure of his fantasies.
Below is a famous bronze statue of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza. This statue can be seen in the writer's home town of Alcalá de Henares.
Miguel de Cervantes had a daughter called Isabel. She became a nun. When Miguel died in Madrid at the age of sixty-eight, his wish was to be buried inside the convent where his daughter lived:-
There is an enormous coincidence regarding the date of Miguel's death. It is the same as the day on which William Shakespeare died - 23 April, 1616.
There is a famous sentence written by Miguel de Cervantes. The sentence has become a proverb in Spain. It is this:-
'La pluma es la lengua de la mente.'