Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra Biography


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

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...

(The entire section is 505 words.)


(Novels for Students)

Cervantes was born in Alcalé de Henares on September 19,1547. Little is known about his early childhood, other than that it was an itinerant existence; his father, a barber-surgeon, was constantly moving his family from town to town to find work. It is assumed that Cervantes's education was minimal although he does seem to have received some education from the Jesuits in Seville.

In 1569, his teacher, López de Hoyos, published four of his poems in Madrid. Cervantes then traveled to Italy, possibly as a result of a duel with Don Antonio Sigura. In Rome, Cervantes served the Cardinal-elect Giulio Acquaviva. In 1571 he enlisted in the Spanish militia to fight for Don Juan of Austria against the Ottoman-Turks at Lepanto. During this battle, he received two bullets to the chest and one to his left hand, which left him permanently disabled. In 1572, he joined Don Juan's campaign to fight at Navarino, Corfu, and Tunis. Returning to Spain in 1575, he was captured by Algerian corsairs.

Cervantes fetched a high price for his captors. Cervantes, as is recorded in the Informacion (a document based on eyewitness testimony to refute his enemies and avoid the Spanish Inquisition), kept up the spirits of his fellow hostages. He tried unsuccessfully to lead them in several escapes. Finally, in 1580, Trinitarian friars paid his high ransom, probably collected from family and friends. Now free, he returned to Spain a great hero. Despite his fame, he was...

(The entire section is 431 words.)