Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Chronology of Cervantes
Year Cervante´s life  

historical events

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, fourth child of the surgeon Rodrigo de Cervantes and of Leonor de Cortinas, is born in Alcalá de Henares. He may have been born September twenty-ninth, the day of Saint Michael, hence his name Miguel. But so far, the only thing that has been found is his baptismal certificate, according to which he was baptized October 9, 1547, in the Church of Saint Mary the Great.

Protestants defeated in the battle of Mühlberg.

Jerónimo Fernández, Don Belianís de Grecia (1547-49).

Birth of Mateo Alemán and Juan Rufo.


Interregnum of Charles V.

Juan de Segura, Proceso de cartas de amores.


Pedro de Luján, Coloquios matrimoniales.

Death of Cristóbal de Virués, Juan de la Cueva, and Vicente Espinel.

In search of a better life, the family moves to Valladolid, where the court is located at the time. They set themselves up in the Sancti Spiritus district, but Cervantes's father is imprisoned on account of his debts, and all their possessions are confiscated.

Defeat at Innsbruck.

Núñez de Reinoso, Historia de los amores de Clareo y Florisea.

Unsuccessful in Valladolid, the family returns to Alcalá de Henares and, the father at least--we don't know if his wife and children accompanied him--sets out on a veritable pilgrimage which takes him first of all to Córdoba. There, Cervantes may have attended the Jesuit school Saint Catherine, where from the age of six he would have received his first instruction and soaked up the picaresque atmosphere that he would later recreate in his writings

Philip, son of Charles V, marries Mary Tudor.

Philip II, king of Naples.Lazarillo de Tormes.


Peace of Augsburg.

Diego Ortúñez de Calahorra, El caballero del Febo.

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Naufragios.


Charles V abdicates.

Philip II crowned in Valladolid.

Melchor de Ortega, Felixmarte de Hircania.

Fray Luis de Granada, Guía de pecadores.

Battle of San Quintin.

Charles V and Mary Tudor die.

Diet of Frankfurt.

Elizabeth I ascends the throne of England.


Peace of Cateau-CambrésisPhilip II marries Elizabeth of Valois

Jorge de Montemayor, La diana.

Lupercio Leonardo de Argensola is born

Juan de Arguijo is born.

The court moves to Madrid, the new capital.

Historia del Abencerraje y de la hermosa Jarifa.

Luis de Góngora is born.


El Brocense, Latinae institutiones.

Bartolomé Leonardo de Argensola, Lope de Vega, and José de Valdivieso are born.


The cornerstone of El Escorial is laid

The Council of Trent ends.

P. de Luján, El caballero de la Cruz (II).

Towards the end of 1564, Cervantes's father shows up in Seville, where he manages some rental property. Again, we do not know whether his family was with him or not, but new debts force him to leave the city after about two years.
Miguel may have attended the Jesuit school, where he would have been taught by Father Acebedo and been a classmate of Mateo Vázquez, future secretary to Philip II.

Turks defeated at Oran.

Gaspar Gil Polo, La Diana enamorada.

Antonio de Torquemada, Don Olivante de Laura.

Shakespeare is born.

Luisa de Cervantes enters the Alcalá convent.

Turks defeated at Malta.

Revolt in the Netherlands.

Jerónimo de Contreras, Selva de aventuras.

Juan de Timoneda, El Patrañuelo.

Lope de Rueda dies.

In the autumn, Rodrigo Cervantes is living with his family in Madrid, where he has business dealings with, among others, Alonso Getino de Guzmán, an organizer of public entertainment in the capital and thanks to whom Cervantes makes his poetic debut with a sonnet ("Serenísima reina en quien se halla") written on the occasion of the birth of Princess Catalina Micaela, the second daughter of Philip II and Elizabeth of Valois.

The Breda Agreement.

The Duke of Alba becomes governor of the Netherlands.

LLuis de Zapata, Carlo famoso.

Cervantes studies with Juan López de Hoyos, who became rector of the "Estudio de la Villa" on January 12, 1568. López de Hoyos, referring to Cervantes as "beloved pupil," commissions him to write four poems to be included in the Relación oficial de las exequias (published the following year) on the death of Elizabeth of Valois. About this time our young author and fledgling poet must have frequented and been a friend of poets such as Pedro Laýnez and Gálvez de Montalvo.

Death of Prince Charles and of Elizabeth of Valois.

Rebellion of the "moriscos" in Granada.

The following year finds Cervantes unexpectedly in Rome as valet to Monsignor Acquaviva, with whom he would remain only a year or so. The only logical explanation for this brusque change of scene has to do with a royal dispatch of September 1569, ordering the arrest of a young student of the same name as our author for having wounded the master builder Antonio de Sigura in a duel. Whether we like it or not, this hypothesis will stand until the existence of another Miguel de Cervantes is documented.

The Turks occupy Cyprus.

Philip II marries Anne of Austria.

The Holy League is formed.

Antonio de Torquemada, Jardín de flores curiosas.

Diego de Urbina's troops board the galley Marquesa to carry their support to the Venetian contingent. Cervantes is stricken with malaria but, in spite of high fevers, fights heroically from the bow of the ship, in the "greatest moment that past centuries have seen and which those to come have no hope of seeing,"Cervantes described the battle of Lepanto. This is where he received two harquebus wounds in the chest, and a third would leave his left hand useless and immortalize him as the "one-armed man of Lepanto." He recuperates in Mesina.

Battle of Lepanto.

War of the Alpujarras ends.

In spite of having lost the use of his left hand, he joins the company of Don Manuel Ponce de León, part of Don Lope de Figueroa's regiment, and takes part as a highly paid soldier in various military campaigns during the following years, the most important being Navarino and La Goleta. He remains, for the time being, at the winter quarters in Sicily, Sardinia, and Naples.

Pius V dies.

Corfu and Mondón campaigns.


Don Juan of Austria captures Tunis.

Mateo Vázquez named secretary to Philip II.


Melchor de Santa Cruz, Floresta española.

El Brocense writes on Garcilaso.

Now a highly paid soldier, Cervantes receives letters of recommendation from Don Juan and the Duke of Sessa and decides to return to Spain. In early September he leaves Naples with a four- galley fleet bound for Barcelona. A storm disperses the ships, and El Sol (The Sun), carrying both Cervantes and his brother, is captured off the Catalan coast by Berber corsairs under the command of Arnaut Mamí. The captives are taken to Algiers and Miguel de Cervantes falls into the hands of Dalí Mamí, alias The Cripple, who, conside- ring the letters of recommendation, sets Cervantes's ransom at 500 gold ducats, an amount hardly within the power of his family to pay.

Philip II's second bankruptcy.

Juan Huarte de San Juan, Examen de ingenios.


First escape attempt: Cervantes flees with other Christians towards Oran, but they are deserted by the Muslim who was guiding them and are forced to return to Algiers.

Spaniards sack Antwerp.

Don Juan of Austria named Regent of the Netherlands.


Second attempt: Cervantes and fourteen other captives hide in a grotto of the gardens belonging to the warden, Hassan. They remain there five months waiting for Cervantes's recently ransomed brother Rodrigo to come back for them. A renegade known as El Dorador betrays them and they are trapped in the grotto. Cervantes assumes total responsibility, is shackled and sent to the king's dungeon.
Hassan Baha king of Algiers.


Third attempt: Cervantes sends a Muslim with letters addressed to Don Martín de Córdoba, commander of Oran, asking him to send a spy to rescue them from Algiers. The Muslim is arrested and Hassan sentences Cervantes to 2000 thwacks. All we know for sure is that the punishment was never carried out.

Juan de Escobedo assassinated.

Antonio Pérez prosecuted.

Don Juan of Austria dies.

Death of Sebastian of Portugal in the battle of Alcazarquivir.

The future Philip III is born.


Fourth attempt: Cervantes attempts to arm a frigate to reach Spain with about sixty passengers. Another betrayal, this time also by a renegade Caybán, thwarts the plan. Cervantes again takes the blame and turns himself in to Hassan, who spares his life but locks him up in his bathhouse.

Fall of Antonio Pérez.

Opening of the first theaters in Madrid.

On September 19, 1580, Cervantes is about to sail for Constantinople with Hassan Baha's fleet when the Trinitarians Fray Juan Gil and Fray Antón de la Bella pay the writer's ransom and he is set free. On October 27, he reaches the Spanish.coast and disembarks in Denia (Valencia); his captivity has lasted five years and one month. Towards the end of the year he goes to Madrid to initiate a series of suits in demand of compensation for his military service.

Philip II king of Portugal.

Pedro de Padilla, Tesoro de varias poesías.

Fernando de Herrera, Anotaciones a las obras de Garcilaso.

Birth of Francisco de Quevedo.

Cervantes only procures an obscure assignment in Oran which he carries out in the middle of 1581, after which he goes to Lisbon to report to Philip II.

The Netherlands become independent.

Birth of Salas Barbarillo and Ruiz de Alarcón.

At the start of the year we find Cervantes again living in Madrid and still aspiring unsuccessfully to obtain a post. Meanwhile, he is perfectly at home in the literary circles of the court, maintains cordial relations with the best-known poets, and works on La Galatea, in which many of these poets appear. At the same time, he follows closely the development of the theater, with the birth of the "corrales," and absorbs the works of authors such as Argensola, Cueva, and Virués. His oldest preserved works, El trato de Argel and La Numancia, might be from this period. Unable to obtain a government post, Cervantes seems to be clearly launched on a literary career, but things will change very soon.

Fernando de Herrera, Poesías Luis Gálvez de Montalvo, El pastor de Fílida.

Birth of the Earl of Villamediana.


Juan de la Cueva, Comedias y tragedias.

Fray Luis de Granada, Introducción al símbolo de la fe.

Fray Luis de León, La perfecta casada y De los nombres de Cristo.

Cervantes has relations with Ana de Villafranca, or Ana Franca de Rojas, who would give him his only offspring (notwithstanding the Promontorio alluded to in Viaje al Parnaso): Isabel de Saavedra. He immediately travels to Esquivias to meet with Juana Gaitán, the widow of his friend Pedro Laýnez, and tries to get his works published. In Esquivias he meets Catalina de Palacios, whose nineteen- year-old daughter he, at thirty-seven, marries on December twelfth. He sets up house with his new wife but soon starts a constant pilgrimage between Esquivias and Madrid.

Philip II moves to El Escorial.

Juan Rufo, La Austriada.

Birth of Tirso de Molina and Saavedra Fajardo.

The fifth of March he signs a contract with Gaspar de Porres, who will pay him forty ducats for two lost plays: El trato de Constantinopla and La confusa (the lost works from his earliest theater-writing period must be from about this time). A few days later, the Primera parte de la Galatea, divided into six books and addressed to Ascanio Colona, is printed in Alcalá de Henares by Juan Gracián under the editorship of Blas de Robles. His father dies this same year. His travels increase steadily. There are frequent trips to Toledo and at year's end we find him in Seville, just before he returns to Esquivias at Christmas time.

San Juan de la Cruz, Cántico espiritual.

Saint Teresa, Camino de perfección.

Towards the middle of the year he goes back to Seville but returns right away to receive Catalina's dowry (a little more than 400 ducats). He writes some sonnets to celebrate miscellaneous occasions.
Barahona de Soto, Las lágrimas de Angélica.
In early May we find Cervantes in Seville, where, with the help of the governor of the "Real Audiencia de Sevilla," Diego de Valdivia, he finally obtains the post of Royal Commissioner of Supplies for the Invencible Armada, under the supervision of Antonio de Guevara, Chief Commissioner for the supplying of the royal fleet. He thus begins a restless period as a wandering businessman which would last around fifteen years but would procure him only problems, lawsuits, and time in jail. Starting in Écija, where the Vicar General of Seville excommunicates him for having requisitioned the Church's stored grain, he covers the province of Córdoba, including La Rambla, Castro del Río-- where he is again excommuni-cated, this time by the Vicar General of Córdoba-- Espejo, Cabra, etc.

Preparations begin for the Invencible Armada.

Lope de Vega is banished from Madrid.

Cristóbal de Virués, El Monserrate. B.

González de Bobadilla, Las ninfas y pastores de Henares.

For two more years he continues requisitioning oil and wheat in Écija and surrounding areas. He is absolved of the accusations of embezzlement brought against him by the viceroy Luis de Portocarrera. Cervantes's mother-in-law Catalina de Palacios dies in early May.

Defeat of the Invencible Armada.

El Greco, "The Burial of Count Orgaz".

Saint Teresa, Libro de la vida and Las Moradas.

The beginning of the year finds Cervantes in Carmona with a commission from Guevara's successor Miguel de Oviedo to requisition oil in that region. In May Cervantes, tired of all the running about, in a petition to the president of the Consejo de Indias, solicits one of the then vacant "post[s] in the Indies": auditor of the kingdom of Granada, governor of Soconusco, auditor for the Cartagena fleet, or peace officer. The response was another disappointing "no": "Find something here to your liking." The interpolated Novela del Cautivo from the first Quijote (XXXIX-XLI) is from this period.
Revolt in Aragon.
The new Chief Commissioner Pedro de Isunza renews Cervantes's commission. Cervantes continues his requisitions throughout Jaén, Úbeda, Baeza, Estepa, Montilla, etc. His assistant Nicolás Benito is accused of wrongdoing; Cervantes avoids censure thanks to the intervention of Isunza.

Antonio Pérez escapes.

Death of Mateo Alemán.

Bernardo de Vega, El pastor de Iberia.

The confrontations generated by his troublesome job land him in the Castro del Río jail: he is arrested by order of the chief magistrate of Écija for the illegal sale of wheat. Again, he is soon released through the good offices of Isunza. On September fifth Cervantes contracts with Rodrigo Osorio to compose six plays for the sum of 300 ducats.
Tarazona Parliament.
The conclusion of his job as commissioner of supplies coincides with the death of his mother in October. There remains one last assignment from Miguel de Oviedo after which the vast enterprise initiated by Guevara will come to an end in 1594. However, new troubles still await Cervantes. Around this time (1590-93) Cervantes composes miscellaneous poems (odes to the Invencible Armada, a ballad on La morada de los celos, etc.) And he may have begun sketching some of his short novels: El cautivo, Rinconete y Cortadillo, El celoso extremeño, etc.
Agustín de Cetina entrusts the ex- commissioner with collecting back taxes in the kingdom of Granada. So Cervantes goes back to tax collecting, depositing the money in Simón Freire's bank. When Freire's bank fails, he ends up in jail again.
Ginés Pérez de Hita, Guerras civiles de Granada.

Howard and Essex sack Cádiz.

Alonso López Pinciano, Philosophia antigua poética.

Juan Rufo, Los seiscientos apotegmas.

Cervantes, unable to make good the amount of money lost, on September 6 is ordered by an overzealous judge, Gaspar de Vallejo, to be imprisoned in Seville, where he will remain several months. It may be there that he sketched the plot of the Quijote and may even have begun its composition.
Philip II's third bankruptcy.
Ana Franca dies and the following year her daughter Isabel, under the name of Isabel de Cervantes, goes to work for Magdalena de Cervantes. Cervantes composes the sonnet "Al túmulo de Felipe II".

Peace of Vervins with France.

Isabel and Alberto are Regents of the Netherlands.

Death of Philip II.

Accession of Philip III.

Duke of Lerma heads the government.

Birth of Zurbarán.

Theaters closed by government decree.

Lope de Vega, La Arcadia and Dragontea.


Plague epidemic in Spain.

Philip III marries Margaret of Austria.

Birth of Velázquez.

Mateo Alemán, Guzmán de Alfarache I.

Lope de Vega, El Isidro.

During the summer Cervantes leaves Seville around the same time that his brother Rodrigo dies in the battle of the Dunes. We can be sure of little more than that. Cervantes may have been totally immersed in the Quijote until 1604. He probably traveled to Seville and to Esquivias. Some assume, with little to go on, that he may have gone to jail again in 1602.

Theaters reopen.

Birth of Calderón de la Barca.

Romancero general.


The court is moved to Valladolid.

Juan de Mariana, Historia de España.

Birth of Baltasar Gracián.

New money problems with the Treasury.

Lope de Vega, La hermosura de Angélica and Rimas humanas.

Mateo Luján, Segunda parte del Guzmán de Alfarache.

The Cervantes family settles in Valladolid, the new location of the court. They reside in the Rastro de los Carneros

Death of Elizabeth I of England.

Agustín de Rojas, El viaje entretenido.

Francisco de Quevedo composes El Buscón


Capture of Ostend.

Gregorio González, El Guitón Honofre.

Mateo Alemán, Guzmán de Alfarache II.

Lope de Vega, Primera parte de Comedias and El peregrino en su patria.

At the beginning of the year, El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha, dedicated to the Duke of Béjar, is published in Madrid by Juan de la Cuesta, under the editorial supervision of Francisco de Robles. It is an immediate and resounding success.
Bootleg editions are issued in Lisbon, Valencia, and Zaragoza. Three months later Cuesta starts working on the second edition. Numerous orders are shipped to America. But celebration is short-lived. At the end of June, Gaspar de Ezpeleta is mortally wounded in front of Cervantes's house, and he is, along with part of his family, jailed again, however briefly, this time by order of the mayor, Villarroel, who was undoubtedly influenced by the bad reputation of the Cervantes women.

Birth of Prince Philip, future Philip IV.

Lord Howard, ambassador.

Francisco López de Úbeda, La pícara Justina.

Again, following the court, Cervantes moves to Madrid, where, at least as early as 1608, he sets himself up in the Atocha district. He later moves to Magdalena Street near Francisco Robles's bookstore and Juan Cuesta's printing shop. His daughter Isabel marries Diego Sanz and the following year they have a daughter, Isabel Sanz.
The court moves back to Madrid.
Cervantes's daughter Isabel marries Luis de Molina after her husband Diego dies.
Bernardo de Balbuena, Siglo de oro en las selvas de Erifile.
In April, worried about his salvation, Cervantes joins the congregation of the Slaves of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Olive Grove. Magdalena, Catalina, and Andrea have already joined the Third Order of Saint Francis. Death pursues his family: his sister Andrea dies in October, his granddaughter Isabel Sanz six months later, and Magdalena after another six months.

Twelve-year Truce in the Netherlands.

Expulsion of the "moriscos" decreed.

Lope de Vega, Arte nuevo de hacer comedias.

Cervantes attempts to accompany don Pedro Fernández de Castro, Earl of Lemos, to his viceroyalty in Naples, but Lupercio Leonardo de Argensola, who was responsible for putting together the retinue, leaves out both Cervantes and Góngora.

The Earl of Lemos named viceroy of Naples.

Larache taken.

Henry IV assassinated in France.


Margaret of Austria dies.

Theaters closed temporarily

Fray Diego de Hojeda, La Cristiada.

Sebastián de Covarrubias, Tesoro de la lengua castellana.

Cervantes, accompanied by Constanza, moves to number 18, Huertas Street, opposite the residences of the Prince of Morocco, don Felipe de África. Still fond of poetry, the now famous novelist takes part in the fashionable academies, among them the Academia Selvaje, founded by Francisco de Silva y Mendoza in his palace on Atocha Street. Meanwhile, the Quijote is translated into English by Thomas Shelton.

Diego de Haedo, Topographía e historia general de Argel.

J. de Salas Barbadillo, La hija de Celestina.

Lope de Vega, Los pastores de Belén.

C. Suárez de Figueroa, La España defendida.

Cervantes travels to Alcalá, where he becomes a novice in the Third Order of Saint Francis, and, three years later, will make his final vows. The Novelas ejemplares, dedicated to the Earl of Lemos and edited by Francisco de Robles, are published in Madrid by Juan de la Cuesta.
Luis de Góngora, Primera Soledad and El polifemo.
Cervantes publishes Viaje del Parnaso. It is dedicated to Rodrigo de Tapia and printed by the widow of Alonso Martín. César Oudin translates the Quijote into French.

A. Fernández de Avellaneda, Segunda parte del Quijote.

Lope de Vega, Rimas sacras.

With his wife and a servant, Cervantes moves for the last time, to a house on Francos Street, at the corner of León Street, opposite a popular hangout for actors. A volume of plays, Ocho comedias y ocho entremeses nuevos nuncarepresentados dedicated, once again, to the Earl of Lemos, is printed by the widow of Alonso Martín under the editorial supervision of Juan de Villarroel. The Segunda parte del ingenioso caballero don Quijote de la Mancha is printed in Madrid by Juan de la Cuesta for distribution by the bookseller Francisco de Robles.
Louis XIII of France marries Anne of Austria, daughter of Philip III.
Incurably ill of dropsy, in April Cervantes takes his final vows in the Third Order. On the eighteenth he receives the last rites and on the nineteenth composes, "with my feet in the stirrup," the last thing he wrote: the hair-raising dedication of Persiles. On Friday the twenty-second, a little over a week after Shakespeare, the author of the Quijote expires and is buried the following day, dressed in his Franciscan habit, in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, on Cantarranas (now Lope de Vega) Street.
Death of Shakespeare.
Cervantes's wife Catalina negotiates with Juan de Villarroel the printing of Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda, historia setentrional, carried out as before by Juan de la Cuesta and dedicated to the Earl of Lemos.
C. Suárez de Figueroa, El pasajero.