Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was born in Alcala de Henares, Spain, probably on September 29, 1547, one of seven children of Rodrigo de Cervantes and Leonor de Cortinas. He was baptized on October 9, 1547. Although little is known about Miguel's childhood and youth, a few basic facts emerge. The poverty-stricken Cervantes family moved to Cordoba in 1553, and Miguel probably received his early education at a Jesuit school. The family then moved to Seville, probably in 1563.
Cervantes's later life can be plotted more accurately. In 1569 a warrant for his arrest was issued on the charge of allegedly wounding a certain Antonio de Sigura. Cervantes fled to Rome, where he found employment as a chamberlain to Monsignor Acquaviva. In the summer of 1570, Cervantes enlisted in the Spanish Army and fought against the Ottoman Turks. In the fierce Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571, Cervantes showed great bravery, suffered a chest wound, and lost the use of his left hand. Some years later, as he sailed back to Spain from Naples in 1575, some Algerian galleys captured the vessel and took Cervantes hostage. He remained in captivity in Algiers for five years, attempting several unsuccessful escapes. Released for a huge ransom, he eventually arrived home in Madrid in December 1580.
Before long, Cervantes turned his attention to literature and cultivated literary acquaintances. He finished his first novel, La Galatea, in 1583, but he had to wait a year...
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