Miguel de Cervantes

(1547-1616), Spanish Writer

Born in Alcala de Henares, Spain, in 1547, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was the fourth child to the surgeon, Rodrigo, his father, and mother Leonor de Cortinas, one of the few women in their locale at the time who could read and write. Among his siblings was a senior brother in Andres who passed away shortly after birth, and a sister Luisa who followed a spiritual calling with the convent.

Life Facts

  • Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was born in 1547, in Alcala de Henares, a remote village near Madrid.
  • Cervantes served the Spanish military for several years, fought, and survived great battles, such as the Lepanto battle.
  • He conceived of Don Quixote ideas and started writing while in prison
  • He published the first part of the novel in 1605 and the second part in 1615.
  • He died the following year at age 68 after suffering health complications due to diabetes.

Interesting Facts

  • Cervantes suffered a permanent maim to his arm while serving the army at the battle of Lepanto.
  • He was abducted by Moorish soldiers and kept under captivity for five years after which he was released by ransom.
  • His mother borrowed the money used to pay for his ransom because his family could not afford it.
  • He was excommunicated from the Christian congregation for issues related to embezzled taxes, at the time he worked as a commissionary for the church.
  • His book Don Quixote became the world’s first bestseller, and the first book to be transcribed into more than six hundred languages
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Famous Books By Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

  • Don Quixote is, by a long shot, the greatest literary achievement Cervantes is most popular for. The book brings to life the vain tales of the overly documented chivalric romances apparently lived by Cervantes’ Spanish ancestors. He sought to bring this tradition back to life in a more exciting and entertaining manner, even though this was a dying culture at the time. To do this, Cervantes needed to create someone who thinks like a mad man to take up such insane responsibility, and no better character than Don Quixote. Sizing up to the tasks ahead, Don Quixote embarks and completed a good amount of his goals (most of which are antisocial) only to fall short of the final objectives.
  • Los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda comes appropriately second place for the fact that Cervantes himself thought of the book as the greatest piece of work he had ever done. The book, which belongs to the Byzantine genre, tells the story of two lovers who travel around the world pretending to be siblings. They change their best to make sure it is bought by society. After touring through some of the world’s most populous countries and cities, they decide to settle down and get married in Rome.

  • La Gelateas contains some of the earliest works of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and was published around the middle 1580s. In this collection are mundane tales about troubled romances from many different characters from all works of life. However, Cervantes did especially spiced this one up with some of the most pleasant rhythms of poetry, making it more appealing while also giving a palpable presence. La Galatea went on and inspired several future poets and writers many years after its release.
  • Exemplary Novels carry, within themselves, some of the finest works of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, and this is because it houses a series of popular, never-a-drab-moment short stories of its own. Published in 1613, Cervantes’ Exemplary Novels included household tales such as The English Spanish Lady (La Espanola Inglesa) and The Generous Lover (El Amanye Liberal.

Early Life

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra certainly didn’t have nearly the dream childhood he had hoped for growing up. He came from a large family and was the fourth child of Doctor Rodrigo, his father, who was a surgeon. His father’s job at the time didn’t pay very well, and his mother, Leoor de Cortinas, wasn’t contributing much financially, so for this reason the whole family struggled financially leading to them changing base from time to time as his father sought for a better job. About Cervantes’ education, it still remains unclear whether he attended a conventional school, but it is widely reported that he might have completed his formal education under the Jesuit Christian ministry. However, he learned how to read from a much tender age, possibly with the help of his mother, and was always considered a voracious reader by those who knew him.

Literary Career

Cervantes’ early ability to read and write helped him tremendously to his literary accomplishments, although it didn’t pay off as quickly as he had expected and even he considered giving up at various points in time. As a young adult, and owning to the Influence resulting from his idolizing of literary icons such as Greek poet legend Homer, Cervantes first loved and delved into making pieces for theaters and broadways; the industry of which at the time was very lucrative and could guarantee he earned a fairly good amount to lead a comfortable life for himself and his family. This never happened because he was always second place to a fairly younger playwright who dominated the industry at the time. Pressured by the increasingly worrying financial struggle suffered by his family, Cervantes made for better survival opportunities and in these moments tried a couple of out jobs – including working as a commissionary and service as a soldier – the latter of which would get him imprisoned, allowing him to conceive and write his bestseller Don Quixote, a book which would eventually plunge his literary career to the zenith.


Miguel de Cervantes struggled throughout his life to make a good for his family, and when it was finally set to pay off, he couldn’t wait to reap the benefits. The literary icon died from diabetes in 1616, barely a year after he had published part II of Don Quixote, and sadly didn’t get the chance to earn good royalty for his works.

Influence from other Writers

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was a huge fan of the Greek philosopher and poet Homer and was greatly influenced by his works in Iliad and The Odyssey. Other authors he looked up to included Vergil Maro, and the brilliant Mateo Alemán, his compatriot.


What is the meaning of Miguel’s family name?

The name Cervantes is a Spanish given name that loosely translates to mean “servant” in a much simple sense, but also stands for “ladies’ man” in a broader sense.

What are Cervantes’ major contributions to the Renaissance?

As per his literary accomplishments, Cervantes’ major contributions to the Renaissance are mostly in the areas of poetry, prose, and screenplays; his works most of which influence a league of future writers and authors.

How old was Cervantes when he died?

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra died on 22 April 1616, at the age of 68 after suffering from complications resulting from type 2 diabetes which he had. He lived a considerably long life given the popular life expectancy ratio at the times that he lived.

Literature by Miguel de Cervantes

Explore literature by Miguel de Cervantes below, created by the team at Book Analysis.