martes, 5 de mayo de 2015

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) - Intercambio Idiomas

Miguel de Cervantes was born in Alcalá de Henares in 1547. His father was somewhere between barber and doctor, he had seven children. Miguel de Cervantes was born in the family home, which belonged to his grandfather, where the Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes is currently located. 
It is well known Cervantes’ participation in the Battle of Lepanto. In 1571, he and his brother Rodrigo boarded on the galley Marquesa to fight with the Christian troops of the Holy League, which would fight against the Ottoman Turks. Miguel was seriously wounded: he was shot twice in the chest and once in the arm. From then on he was known as the ‘One-armed man from Lepanto’. Once the war was over and the brothers had become ‘excellent soldiers’, they both returned to Spain. Miguel brought two letters of recommendation, signed by don Juan of Austria and the Duke of Sessa that, apparently, guaranteed him a promising future in the Indies or in the court. However, on the return journey to Spain they were captured by Berber corsairs on the Catalan coast and were taken to a prison in Algiers. Rodrigo was rescued in 1577 but Miguel had to suffer incarceration until September 1580. Cervantes was able to leave Algiers and return to Spain after five years in captivity and four escape attempts.
These events marked his character but also the lives of his family who had had to deal with the costs of keeping a house and the debts incurred from the rescue attempts of both sons. Cervantes tried to gain a posting in the Americas but all doors were closed to him. He needed to make a good marriage and find a profession that would help him to get out of the difficult situation he was in. At 37 years of age he met the great love of his life, Ana Franca de Rojas (an actress), with whom his only daughter, Isabel de Saavedra, was conceived. However, surprisingly, despite the love they professed for each other, Miguel de Cervantes ended up marrying Catalina de Palacios Salazar. Shortly after their wedding, the couple separated geographically. Catalina decided to stay in Toledo while Cervantes accepted a job as provisions officer, which obliged him to travel around Andalusia. Working to collect grain for the king, he had to face new scandals and problems with the law.

Miguel de Cervantes settled in other cities, such as Toledo and Valladolid, where he composed and wrote sonnets, comedies, etc. Success came in 1605 with the publication of The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of la Mancha. By that time he was living in Valladolid but he would soon make a definitive move to Madrid (1606). There, he decided to settle near Huertas, which is known today as the ‘Neighbourhood of Letters’. His neighbours were writers as Lope de Vega, Quevedo and Góngora. 

Despite the apparent literary prosperity of those years, in which he published Exemplary Tales in 1613, Journey to Parnassus (1614) and the second part of Don Quixote (1615), Cervantes never ceased to have problems and never knew his Quixote would become one of the most important books in the universal history of literature. On 22 April 1616 Miguel de Cervantes died. He was buried at the Convent of the Trinitarias, in Madrid.


Astrana Marín, L.: The Exemplary and Heroic Life of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Madrid 1948
Canavaggio, J.: Cervantes. Revised and Up-dated Edition, Madrid 1997.
VV.AA.: Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes Guidebook, Madrid 2004.

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