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At the end of the 17th century Spanish novel Don Quixote de La Mancha, the author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra warns a plagiarizing rival author “to let Don Quixote’s weary and moldering bones rest in the grave, and not seek, against all canons of death, to carry him to Old Castile, compelling him to leave the tomb where he really and truly lies stretched out full length, powerless to make a third expedition and new sally.”
It turns out Cervantes was right to give a warning, but not necessarily to a rival author. Archaeologists digging in a church in Madrid’s Literary Quarter in 2015 found a coffin marked with tacks in the form of the initials M.C. They surmised these initials may stand for Miguel de Cervantes, the exact location of whose remains was lost in time. It took a few more months before they could say with any certainty if the grave actually belonged to the famed author. Let’s follow their, and Cervantes’ journey...
Portrait of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra by Juan de Jáuregui.
Authorities in Madrid said they would like to reinter Cervantes’ bones and then build a monument or place a plaque to mark his grave.They eventually were able to mark Cervantes’ grave and permit people to view it. In June 2015, after identifying the remains as Cervantes' bones, NPR reported the research team reburied the author near where they found him. This followed Cervantes’ dying wish – to be buried in the convent – and still allowed for a monument to be dedicated to the author upstairs in the convent too.
The coffin with the initials M.C. was found in a niche in a cloistered convent in Madrid. He was known to have been entombed there, but before georadar mapping was undertaken, researchers were not exactly sure where his bones lay. Analysis showed the bones in the coffin were mixed with the remains of at least 10 people, some of them children.
Thus, forensic anthropologist Francisco Etxeberria and others had to examine the remains to see if they could be Cervantes’. Etxeberria participated in the autopsy of Salvador Allende, president of Chile from 1970 to 1973, when there was a coup. The autopsy concluded Allende committed suicide.
Don Quixote fights a windmill on his horse, Rocinante, as Sancho Panza panics. ( Public Domain )
Cervantes died in 1616 after an adventurous life of quite bad luck. He was born in 1547 in Alcala de Henares and moved to Rome 22 years later because he was involved in a duel and was sentenced to have his right hand amputated. He fought in the 1571 naval battle of Lepanto and was seriously injured. These injuries, two musket shots to the chest and one that crippled his left hand, helped investigators determine if the remains they found were really Cervantes’. Cervantes was in a Sicilian hospital for several months after being wounded but amazingly, he recovered.
“When I saw that rib — I thought, 'We've found Cervantes at last!',” Exteberría said on the discovery of the remains, “It was a special moment. The whole team was there in silence, underground, studying what we found — and we all knew.”
The ships with oars, or galleys, in Andries van Eertvelt’s painting 1622 painting The Battle of Lepanto, may be similar to the type of galley Miguel de Cervantes rowed on as a slave. ( Public Domain )
In 1575, Cervantes left Italy for Spain with a letter bestowing a civil commission on him. This plan was thwarted when Barbary pirates boarded his vessel and took the Christians aboard to Algiers, where Cervantes remained for five years – despite daring escape attempts. Before he arrived in Algiers, he was forced to row as a galley ship slave. He was finally ransomed from Algiers and returned to Spain.
In the introduction to the 2001 Signet Classic edition of Don Quixote, Edward H. Friedman wrote that Cervantes likely did time in prison for accounting irregularities from the period when he was a tax collector. He served in several “less-than-distinguished positions” and never was the professional success he aspired to be. Cervantes apparently couldn’t even find solace with his wife, 19 years his junior. Friedman said they didn’t get along and lived apart regularly.
In 1605, Part I of Don Quixote was published. Though the publisher took most of the profit, Cervantes became famous and went on to write many more works, many of which have not survived.
Cervantes was 69 when he died, by which time he had six teeth remaining; this would also help researchers to eventually narrow the identification of his remains. With his age, his war wounds, and his missing teeth, Sancho Panza’s aphorism rings true: “Every man is as heaven made him, and sometimes a great deal worse.”
Some call Don Quixote the first in a new form of literary art then developing—the novel.
Walter Cohen, writing at the website Early Modern Culture, said:
Don Quijote (1605, 1615) is often taken to be the founding moment of the European novel, a form that is in turn frequently understood to be a uniquely original invention of the western tip of Eurasia that has proven to be the dominant literary genre of the modern world. Although all of these claims can be disputed, few would deny Don Quijote's significance for the European novel, the prominence of the novel form in European literature since the eighteenth century, or the global influence it has subsequently exerted.
Other writers say the Japanee novel Lady Murasaki’s Tale of Genji , written in 1010 AD, was the first novel.
Let us allow one of Cervantes’ great creations and one of the great characters in the history of literature have the last word. Sancho Panza tells Don Quixote in Chapter VIII, when they’re discussing the eternal rewards of clergy vs. knights errant on the way to see the Don’s beloved Dulcinea:
So, dear master, it’s better to be a humble little friar of any order you like than a valiant knight-errant. A couple of dozen lashings will carry more weight with God than a couple of thousand lance thrusts, whether they be given to giants, dragons or other monsters.
In Search of Cervantes’s Casket
Juan de Jáuregui y Aguilar, Miguel de Cervantes, seventeenth century.
Archeologists in Spain have excavated a casket with Miguel de Cervantes’s initials on it, the Associated Press reported earlier today, which may mean that a long search for the author’s remains is finally over.
When Cervantes died, in 1616, he was buried in the Trinitarias convent in Madrid. This arrangement required a special dispensation: Years earlier, when Cervantes was a soldier, his ship had been captured by pirates, and he was held captive for five years. The Trinitarias’s religious order had helped arrange for his safe release, so he asked to be buried there.
The order obliged, but upon his death, there was a bit of a hiccup: apparently no one thought to mark his grave. If it was marked, it wasn’t marked well—centuries later, no one is really sure where exactly Cervantes was interred. As the New York Times reported last March,
Strangely, either through neglect or oversight, reverence for the dead or the seeming impossibility of unraveling a riddle obscured by the passage of time, no effort has been made over the years to locate Cervantes’s grave site.
Spain should have searched for Cervantes “a long time ago,” said Alfonso de Ceballos-Escalera, a publisher and historian who has researched the writer’s family. “I think that we’ve done less than others to find some of our most famous people because this also corresponds to a Catholic view, which considers that what is important after a burial is the spirit and not the body and the physical remains.”
Soon after that article was published, the search began in earnest, “working with ground-penetrating radar technology.” And earlier today, the Associated Press reported that Cervantes’s remains may have at last been found:
Experts searching for the remains of Miguel de Cervantes said Monday that they found wooden fragments of a casket bearing the initials “M.C.” with bones in and around them in a crypt underneath the chapel of a cloistered convent in Madrid.
Archeologists have yet to verify if the bones are Cervantes’s—they’ll need to consult records of his battle wounds, as well as his portrait and his stories, “in which he relates that shortly before dying he only had six teeth”—but it seems likely that their search is over.
“You cannot write in Spanish without having Cervantes in mind,” the translator Edith Grossman told the Daily in 2011. “There is no question, in my mind, that you couldn’t have Márquez, for example, without him. They are all heirs of that style … Cervantes’s influence blossomed in England … it comes by way of the eighteenth-century novelists like Fielding and Sterne.”
Dan Piepenbring is the web editor of The Paris Review.
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Madrid begins search for bones of Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes
Historians and archaeologists plan to reveal the true face of the author of Don Quixote of La Mancha, Miguel de Cervantes, as they embark on a quest to find the lost bones of one of western literature's key writers.
The project to seek Cervantes' bones, which lie buried somewhere in the walls or floors of a convent in central Madrid, would allow forensic archaeologists to reconstruct the face of a man only known from a picture painted by artist Juan de Jauregui some 20 years after his death.
The bones may also reveal whether Cervantes, who is believed to have died of cirrhosis and was accused by rivals of being a notorious tippler, drank himself into the grave. "They may not just help us to discover what he looked like, but also why he died," said historian Fernando Prado.
"It is said that he was very ill late in life, but that is also when he was very productive as an author."
Prado's team have won the support of local authorities and Madrid's archbishopric to hunt for the remains of the creator of the would-be knight-errant Don Quixote, who famously tilted at windmills, and of his sidekick, Sancho Panza.
Experts said his bones should be easy to identify as they would bear the marks of wounds suffered during the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571.
Cervantes received wounds to his chest and arms during a battle which saw a Spanish-led fleet defeat their Ottoman enemies in the Gulf of Patras off western Greece.
"He received a blast from a harquebus in the chest and another wound that left him unable to use one hand," Prado said. "Those two things will have left some imprint on his bones."
Cervantes was buried in the convent after dying at his home nearby in 1616. His death came just 10 days before that of Shakespeare [see footnote].
Cervantes' bones went missing in 1673 when building work was done at the convent. They are known to have been taken to a different convent and were returned later.
What nobody knows, however, is exactly where within the convent complex they are to be found.
Those planning to search for his bones say they will use geo-radar technology to search for hidden niches in the convent's walls and to scan up to five metres below ground.
Prado hopes the work can be carried out by 2016, when there are plans for a joint global celebration to mark the anniversaries of the death of Cervantes and Shakespeare.
This footnote was appended on 26 July 2011. To clarify: Cervantes and Shakespeare both died on 23 April 1616. However, Spain was using the Gregorian calendar at that time, and England the Julian. They are 10 days apart.
Despite his subsequent renown, much of Cervantes' life is uncertain, including his name, background and what he looked like. Although he signed himself Cerbantes, his printers used Cervantes, which became the common form. In later life, Cervantes used Saavedra, the name of a distant relative, rather than the more usual Cortinas, after his mother.  But historian Luce López-Baralt, claimed that it comes from the word «shaibedraa» that in crippled Arabic dialect is single-handed, his nickname during his captivity. 
Another area of dispute is his religious background. In the 16th century, a significant minority of Spaniards were descended either from Moriscos, Muslims who remained after the conquest of Granada in 1492, or Conversos, Jews who converted to Catholicism after expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. An estimated 20% of the Spanish population in the south fell into one of these categories, and it has been suggested that not only Cervantes' father but also his mother may have been one of these New Christians.  
It is generally accepted Miguel de Cervantes was born around 29 September 1547, in Alcalá de Henares. He was the second son of barber-surgeon Rodrigo de Cervantes and his wife, Leonor de Cortinas (c. 1520–1593 ).  Rodrigo came from Córdoba, Andalusia, where his father Juan de Cervantes was an influential lawyer  of Jewish heritage.  As to his heritage on his mothers' side, it is still subject of debate but a Jewish origin is also argued by numerous authors.
No confirmed portrait of the author is known to exist. The one most often associated with Cervantes is attributed to Juan de Jáuregui, but both names were added at a later date.  The El Greco painting in the Museo del Prado, known as Retrato de un caballero desconocido, or Portrait of an Unknown Gentleman, is cited as 'possibly' depicting Cervantes, but there is no evidence for this.  The portrait by Luis de Madrazo, at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, was painted in 1859, based on his imagination.  The image that appears on Spanish euro coins of €0.10, €0.20, and €0.50 is based on a bust, created in 1905. 
1547 to 1566: Early years Edit
Rodrigo was frequently in debt, or searching for work, and moved constantly. Leonor came from Arganda del Rey, and died in October 1593, at the age of 73 surviving legal documents indicate she had seven children, could read and write, and was a resourceful individual with an eye for business. When Rodrigo was imprisoned for debt from October 1553 to April 1554, she supported the family on her own. 
Cervantes' siblings were Andrés (born 1543), Andrea (born 1544), Luisa (born 1546), Rodrigo (born 1550), Magdalena (born 1554) and Juan. They lived in Córdoba until 1556, when his grandfather died. For reasons that are unclear, Rodrigo did not benefit from his will and the family disappears until 1564 when he filed a lawsuit in Seville. 
Seville was then in the midst of an economic boom, and Rodrigo managed rented accommodation for his elder brother Andres, who was a junior magistrate. It is assumed Cervantes attended the Jesuit college in Seville, where one of the teachers was Jesuit playwright Pedro Pablo Acevedo, who moved there in 1561 from Córdoba.  However, legal records show his father got into debt once more, and in 1566, the family moved to Madrid. 
1566 to 1580: Military service and captivity Edit
In the 19th century, a biographer discovered an arrest warrant for a Miguel de Cervantes, dated 15 September 1569, who was charged with wounding Antonio de Sigura in a duel.  Although disputed at the time, largely on the grounds such behaviour was unworthy of so great an author, it is now accepted as the most likely reason for Cervantes leaving Madrid. 
He eventually made his way to Rome, where he found a position in the household of Giulio Acquaviva, an Italian bishop who spent 1568 to 1569 in Madrid, and was appointed Cardinal in 1570.  When the 1570 to 1573 Ottoman–Venetian War began, Spain formed part of the Holy League, a coalition formed to support the Venetian Republic. Possibly seeing an opportunity to have his arrest warrant rescinded, Cervantes went to Naples, then part of the Crown of Aragon. 
The military commander in Naples was Alvaro de Sande, a friend of the family, who gave Cervantes a commission under the Marquis de Santa Cruz. At some point, he was joined in Naples by his younger brother Rodrigo.  In September 1571, Cervantes sailed on board the Marquesa, part of the Holy League fleet under Don John of Austria, illegitimate half brother of Phillip II of Spain on 7 October, they defeated the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Lepanto. 
According to his own account, although suffering from malaria, Cervantes was given command of a 12-man skiff, small boats used for assaulting enemy galleys. The Marquesa lost 40 dead, and 120 wounded, including Cervantes, who received three separate wounds, two in the chest, and another that rendered his left arm useless. His actions at Lepanto were a source of pride to the end of his life, [b] while Don John approved no less than four separate pay increases for him. 
In Journey to Parnassus, published two years before his death in 1616, Cervantes claimed to have "lost the movement of the left hand for the glory of the right".  As with much else, the extent of his disability is unclear, the only source being Cervantes himself, while commentators cite his habitual tendency to praise himself. [c]  However, they were serious enough to earn him six months in hospital at Messina, Sicily. 
Although he returned to service in July 1572, records show his chest wounds were still not completely healed in February 1573.  Based mainly in Naples, he joined expeditions to Corfu and Navarino, and took part in the 1573 occupation of Tunis and La Goulette, which were recaptured by the Ottomans in 1574.  Despite Lepanto, the war overall was an Ottoman victory, and the loss of Tunis a military disaster for Spain. Cervantes returned to Palermo, where he was paid off by the Duke of Sessa, who gave him letters of commendation. 
In early September 1575, Cervantes and Rodrigo left Naples on the galley Sol as they approached Barcelona on 26 September, their ship was captured by Ottoman corsairs, and the brothers taken to Algiers, to be sold as slaves, or – as was the case of Cervantes and his brother – held for ransom, if this would be more lucrative than their sale as slaves.  Rodrigo was ransomed in 1577, but his family could not afford the fee for Cervantes, who was forced to remain.  Turkish historian Rasih Nuri İleri found evidence suggesting Cervantes worked on the construction of the Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex, which means he spent at least part of his captivity in Istanbul.   
By 1580, Spain was occupied integrating Portugal, and suppressing the Dutch Revolt, while the Ottomans were at war with Persia the two sides agreed a truce, leading to an improvement of relations.  After almost five years, and four escape attempts, in 1580 Cervantes was set free by the Trinitarians, a religious charity that specialised in ransoming Christian captives, and returned to Madrid. 
1580 to 1616: Later life and death Edit
While Cervantes was in captivity, both Don John and the Duke of Sessa died, depriving him of two potential patrons, while the Spanish economy was in dire straits. This made finding employment difficult other than a period in 1581 to 1582, when he was employed as an intelligence agent in North Africa, little is known of his movements prior to 1584. 
In April of that year, Cervantes visited Esquivias, to help arrange the affairs of his recently deceased friend and minor poet, Pedro Lainez. Here he met Catalina de Salazar y Palacios (c. 1566?–1626 ), eldest daughter of the widowed Catalina de Palacios her husband died leaving only debts, but the elder Catalina owned some land of her own. This may be why in December 1584, Cervantes married her daughter, then between 15 and 18 years old.  The first use of the name Cervantes Saavedra appears in 1586, on documents related to his marriage. 
Shortly before this, his illegitimate daughter Isabel was born in November. Her mother, Ana Franca, was the wife of a Madrid inn keeper they apparently concealed it from her husband, but Cervantes acknowledged paternity.  When Ana Franca died in 1598, he asked his sister Magdalena to take care of her. 
In 1587, Cervantes was appointed as a government purchasing agent, then became a tax collector in 1592. They were also subject to price fluctuations, which could go either way he was briefly jailed several times for 'irregularities', but quickly released. Several applications for positions in Spanish America were rejected, although modern critics note images of the colonies appear in his work. 
From 1596 to 1600, he lived primarily in Seville, then returned to Madrid in 1606, where he remained for the rest of his life.  In later years, he received some financial support from the Count of Lemos, although he was excluded from the retinue Lemos took to Naples when appointed Viceroy in 1608.  In July 1613, he joined the Third Order Franciscan, then a common way for Catholics to gain spiritual merit.  It is generally accepted Cervantes died on 22 April 1616 (NS the Gregorian calendar had superseded the Julian in 1582 in Spain and some other countries) the symptoms described, including intense thirst, correspond to diabetes, then untreatable. 
In accordance with his will, Cervantes was buried in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, in central Madrid.  His remains went missing when moved during rebuilding work at the convent in 1673, and in 2014, historian Fernando de Prado launched a project to rediscover them. 
In January 2015, Francisco Etxeberria, the forensic anthropologist leading the search, reported the discovery of caskets containing bone fragments, and part of a board, with the letters 'M.C.'.  Based on evidence of injuries suffered at Lepanto, on 17 March 2015 they were confirmed as belonging to Cervantes along with his wife and others.  They were formally reburied at a public ceremony in June 2015. 
Cervantes claims to have written over 20 plays, such as El trato de Argel, based on his experiences in captivity. Such works were extremely short-lived, and even Lope de Vega, the best-known playwright of the day, could not live on their proceeds.  In 1585, he published La Galatea, a conventional Pastoral romance that received little contemporary notice despite promising to write a sequel, he never did so. 
Aside from these, and some poems, by 1605, Cervantes had not been published for 20 years. In Don Quixote, he challenged a form of literature that had been a favourite for more than a century, explicitly stating his purpose was to undermine 'vain and empty' chivalric romances.  His portrayal of real life, and use of everyday speech in a literary context was considered innovative, and proved instantly popular. First published in January 1605, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza featured in masquerades held to celebrate the birth of Philip IV on 8 April. 
He finally achieved a degree of financial security, while its popularity led to demands for a sequel. In the foreword to his 1613 work, Novelas ejemplares, dedicated to his patron, the Count of Lemos, Cervantes promises to produce one, but was pre-empted by an unauthorised version published in 1614, published under the name Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda. It is possible this delay was deliberate, to ensure support from his publisher and reading public Cervantes finally produced the second part of Don Quixote in 1615. 
The two parts of Don Quixote are different in focus, but similar in their clarity of prose, and realism the first was more comic, and had greater popular appeal.  The second part is often considered more sophisticated and complex, with a greater depth of characterisation and philosophical insight. 
In addition to this, he produced a series of works between 1613 and his death in 1616. They include a collection of tales titled Exemplary Novels, similar in style to picaresque novels like Lazarillo de Tormes. This was followed by Viaje del Parnaso, or Eight Comedies and Eight New Interludes, and Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda, completed just before his death, and published posthumously in January 1617.
He was rediscovered by English writers in the mid-18th century literary editor John Bowle argued Cervantes was as significant as any of the Greek and Roman authors then popular, and published an annotated edition in 1781. Now viewed as a significant work, at the time it proved a failure.  However, Don Quixote has been translated into all major languages, in 700 editions. Mexican author Carlos Fuentes suggested Cervantes and his contemporary William Shakespeare form part of a narrative tradition, which includes Homer, Dante, Defoe, Dickens, Balzac, and Joyce. 
Sigmund Freud claimed he learnt Spanish to read Cervantes in the original he particularly admired The Dialogue of the Dogs (El coloquio de los perros), from Exemplary Tales. Two dogs, Cipión and Berganza, share their stories as one talks, the other listens, occasionally making comments. From 1871 to 1881, Freud and his close friend, Eduard Silberstein, wrote letters to each other, using the pennames Cipión and Berganza. 
The tricentennial of Don Quixote 's publication in 1905 was marked with celebrations in Spain  the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016, saw the production of Cervantina, a celebration of his plays by the Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico in Madrid.  The Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library, the largest digital archive of Spanish-language historical and literary works in the world, is named after the author.
As listed in Complete Works of Miguel de Cervantes: 
- La Galatea (1585)
- El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605): First volume of Don Quixote.
- Novelas ejemplares (1613): a collection of 12 short stories of varied types about the social, political, and historical problems of Cervantes' Spain:
- "La gitanilla" ("The Gypsy Girl")
- "El amante liberal" ("The Generous Lover")
- "Rinconete y Cortadillo" ("Rinconete & Cortadillo")
- "La española inglesa" ("The English Spanish Lady")
- "El licenciado Vidriera" ("The Lawyer of Glass")
- "La fuerza de la sangre" ("The Power of Blood")
- "El celoso extremeño" ("The Jealous Man From Extremadura") 
- "La ilustre fregona" ("The Illustrious Kitchen-Maid")
- "Novela de las dos doncellas" ("The Novel of the Two Damsels")
- "Novela de la señora Cornelia" ("The Novel of Lady Cornelia")
- "Novela del casamiento engañoso" ("The Novel of the Deceitful Marriage")
- "El coloquio de los perros" ("The Dialogue of the Dogs")
Other works Edit
Generally considered a mediocre poet, few of his poems survive some appear in La Galatea, while he also wrote Dos Canciones à la Armada Invencible.
His sonnets are considered his best work, particularly Al Túmulo del Rey Felipe en Sevilla, Canto de Calíope and Epístola a Mateo Vázquez. Viaje del Parnaso, or Journey to Parnassus, is his most ambitious verse work, an allegory that consists largely of reviews of contemporary poets.
He published a number of dramatic works, including ten extant full-length plays:
- Trato de Argel based on his own experiences, deals with the life of Christian slaves in Algiers
- La Numancia intended as a patriotic work, dramatization of the long and brutal siege of Numantia, by Scipio Africanus, completing the transformation of the Iberian peninsula into the Roman province Hispania, or España.
- El gallardo español, 
- Los baños de Argel, 
- La gran sultana, Doña Catalina de Oviedo, 
- La casa de los celos, 
- El laberinto de amor, 
- La entretenida, 
- El rufián dichoso, 
- Pedro de Urdemalas,  a sensitive play about a picaro, who joins a group of Gypsies for love of a girl.
He also wrote 8 short farces (entremeses):
- El juez de los divorcios, 
- El rufián viudo llamado Trampagos, 
- La elección de los Alcaldes de Daganzo, 
- La guarda cuidadosa (The Vigilant Sentinel), 
- El vizcaíno fingido, 
- El retablo de las maravillas, 
- La cueva de Salamanca,
- El viejo celoso (The Jealous Old Man).
These plays and entremeses, except for Trato de Argel and La Numancia, made up Ocho Comedias y ocho entreméses nuevos, nunca representados  (Eight Comedies and Eight New Interludes, Never Before Performed), which appeared in 1615. [ citation needed ] The dates and order of composition of Cervantes' entremeses are unknown. [ citation needed ] Faithful to the spirit of Lope de Rueda, Cervantes endowed them with novelistic elements, such as simplified plot, the type of descriptions normally associated with a novel, and character development. Cervantes included some of his dramas among the works he was most satisfied with. [ citation needed ]
- . A municipality in the province of Lugo, Galicia, Spain, but the name of the town is not based on Miguel de Cervantes (nor is there any evidence tying him or his family to this town). . A municipality in the province of Ilocos Sur, Philippines. . A township situated north of the Western Australian state capital Perth in Australia.
- Cervantes is a recurring character in the Spanish television show El ministerio del tiempo, portrayed by actor Pere Ponce.
- Cervantes played a prominent role in the episode "Gentlemen of Spain" of the TV series Sir Francis Drake (1961-1962). He was portrayed by the actor Nigel Davenport and the plot had him heroically rescuing other Christian captives from the Barbary pirates.
- ^ The most reliable and accurate portrait of the writer is the description provided by Cervantes himself in the prologue of the Exemplary Novels, complaining that the now-lost portrait by Juan Martínez de Jáuregui y Aguilar was not used as a frontispiece. 
This person whom you see here, with an oval visage, chestnut hair, smooth open forehead, lively eyes, a hooked but well-proportioned nose, and silvery beard that twenty years ago was golden, large moustaches, a small mouth, teeth not much to speak of, for he has but six, in bad condition and worse placed, no two of them corresponding to each other, a figure midway between the two extremes, neither tall nor short, a vivid complexion, rather fair than dark, somewhat stooped in the shoulders, and not very lightfooted: Novels (Author's Preface)
The Reason Cervantes Asked To Be Buried Under A Convent
Archaeologists in Madrid study remains buried under the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians on Jan. 24. Tests proved the remains belonged to Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote. Cervantes wanted to be buried at the convent because the nuns raised money and paid a ransom for his release when he was a young man held captive in North Africa. Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP hide caption
Archaeologists in Madrid study remains buried under the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians on Jan. 24. Tests proved the remains belonged to Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote. Cervantes wanted to be buried at the convent because the nuns raised money and paid a ransom for his release when he was a young man held captive in North Africa.
It was Miguel de Cervantes' dying wish to be buried inside the walls of Madrid's Convento de las Trinitarias Descalzas — the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians — where a dozen cloistered nuns still live today, nearly 400 years later.
Cervantes, born in 1547, is the most famous writer in the Spanish language. But the world would never have read his literature if it weren't for the Trinitarian nuns. Cervantes believed he owed his life to them.
Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes, circa 1600. He published The Adventures of the Ingenious Nobleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption
Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes, circa 1600. He published The Adventures of the Ingenious Nobleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
That's because before Cervantes wrote his two-volume masterpiece, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, the author had some chivalrous adventures of his own.
As a young man in his early 20s, he fled Spain for Rome, after wounding a nobleman in a duel. By 1570, he returned home and enlisted in the Spanish navy. He went to war to defend the pope — and got shot in twice in the ribs, and once in the shoulder — an injury that left his left arm paralyzed.
And it was only then that he got kidnapped by Algerian pirates.
"He was taken prisoner. He spent five years — five terrible years — as a slave, as a captive," says historian Fernando del Prado, who has devoted his life to studying Cervantes.
With Cervantes enslaved in Africa, his family appealed to the Trinitarian nuns. They managed to raise a ransom and deliver it to the pirates — which won Cervantes his freedom.
The fledgling author returned to Spain, and prayed at the Trinitarians' convent.
Madrid's outgoing mayor, Ana Botella, speaks during a June 11 ceremony unveiling a funeral monument holding the remains of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes in Madrid, on June 11. The formal burial comes nearly 400 years after his death. Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP hide caption
Madrid's outgoing mayor, Ana Botella, speaks during a June 11 ceremony unveiling a funeral monument holding the remains of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes in Madrid, on June 11. The formal burial comes nearly 400 years after his death.
He worked variously as a civil servant and a banker and eventually wrote Don Quixote, now recognized as the world's first modern novel. The epic novel tells the tale of a gentleman with romantic ideas and bumbling adventures across Spain's La Mancha plains.
Over the past year and a half, Madrid has embarked on a quixotic mission of its own, locating Cervantes' bones under the Trinitarians' convent, and finally marking them with a gravestone.
In an underground crypt, geophysicists used georadar to map the contours of long-forgotten burial chambers.
"It's a magnetic impulse, like an X-ray," says Luis Avial, the technical director of Falcon High Tech, a geophysics company hired by the city of Madrid. "We put this strong signal in the ground, and what came back was the contours of all the cavities, structures and graves underneath. We were able to see it all."
Once Avial and his team of geophysicists were able to see that there were indeed graves under the convent — as legend has long held — they turned the operation over to archaeologists and forensic anthropologists, who began excavations.
"The only problem was the people who live in the convent. We needed to be very careful not to disturb the nuns living there in silence," Avial says. "But the technology — it isn't difficult."
After digging for weeks, archaeologists found the bones of at least 15 people — men, women and children. They're believed to be anonymous faithful interred under the convent, over the centuries.
But one set of bones was found inside the remnants of a splintered wooden coffin etched with the initials "M.C." The skeleton's ribs were flayed from bullet wounds — and its left arm crippled. Telltale signs, even before DNA testing, that the archaeologists had found their man.
"When I saw that rib — I thought, 'We've found Cervantes at last!'," says Francisco Exteberría, a Spanish forensic anthropologist who famously exhumed the body of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in 2013. "It was a special moment," he says, recalling how he came across Cervantes' bones. "The whole team was there in silence, underground, studying what we found — and we all knew."
Earlier this month, Exteberría's team reburied Cervantes' bones near where they found them — adhering to the author's dying wish — and dedicated a monument to him upstairs, in the convent.
Soldiers stood at attention and saluted the monument, as a military band played solemn music that reverberated through the convent. It was the same Spanish military unit Cervantes once served in.
Even the nuns came out from behind their dark screen, where they're normally cloistered upstairs, to celebrate.
"It was like a rescue," said Mother Superior Sor Amada de Jesus, giggling to reporters. She played down suggestions the excavations must have been noisy for nuns in prayer. "They were pretty discreet," she said of the workmen.
Madrid's outgoing mayor, Ana Botella, read aloud an inscription on Cervantes' new gravestone — some of the last words the author penned in 1616, in his last novel The Trials of Persiles and Segismunda, written just before his death:
Time is brief,
and yet my desire to live
keeps me alive.
"With emotion, it's time to say, 'Don Miguel, mission accomplished,' " Botella told a crowd.
Cervantes died within a day of William Shakespeare, 400 years ago next year. Madrid officials are negotiating with the Trinitarian nuns over new visiting hours for their convent. For now, tourists can pay homage to Cervantes only during daily Mass.
Long-lost "Don Quixote" author finally found?
MADRID -- Experts searching for the remains of Miguel de Cervantes said Monday that they found wooden fragments of a casket bearing the initials "M.C." with bones in and around them in a crypt underneath the chapel of a cloistered convent in Madrid.
Archeologists made the find over the weekend during excavations to solve the centuries-old mystery of where the famed Spanish writer was laid to rest. The initials on a plank of the coffin were formed with metal tacks imbedded into the wood.
The bones of at least 10 people were found inside the niche containing the broken wooden planks of the coffin, though some of the remains belonged to children, said forensic anthropologist Francisco Etxeberria, who participated in the autopsy that confirmed the suicide of former Chilean president Salvador Allende.
A plaque showing a bust in relief of writer Miguel de Cervantes is pictured on a wall outside Convento de las Trinitarias Descalzas on April 28, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Getty
Etxeberria and others will now start examining the bones to try to determine whether Cervantes' are among them. Cervantes was 69 when he died and investigators have solid clues to work with as they conduct their probe.
The investigation will refer to the author's portraits and his own stories, in which he relates that shortly before dying he only had six teeth.
But the most obvious marks will be the battle wounds that Cervantes sustained.
In 1571, the writer was wounded in the Battle of Lepanto, which pitted Ottoman Turkish forces against the Holy League, led by Spain. Aboard the ship La Marquesa, Cervantes was hit with three musket shots, two in the chest and one in his hand.
He spent several months in a hospital in Sicily, but managed to recover.
Cervantes is a towering figure in Spanish culture. His novel "The Adventures of the Ingenious Nobleman Don Quixote of La Mancha" changed Spanish literature.
The "Don Quixote" author was buried in 1616 at Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid's historic Barrio de las Letras, or Literary Quarter. But the exact whereabouts of his grave within the convent chapel were unknown.
First published on January 26, 2015 / 10:18 AM
© 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Bones Of Cervantes, Author Of 'Don Quixote', Reburied In Madrid
A few years ago, Spanish archaeologists sought to find the mortal remains of Miguel de Cervantes, a contemporary of Shakespeare whose Don Quixote introduced the English-speaking world to the phrase "tilting at windmills." Their initial goals, back in 2011, were to reconstruct his face from his skull and to figure out if he died of cirrhosis of the liver. Cervantes' antemortem injuries, including a hand wound and a possible non-lethal arquebus wound to the chest, meant a potentially easy positive identification.
In March, researchers announced that they had found what they assume are Cervantes' remains, in the Church of the Trinity in Madrid. According to an article at the Spanish news outlet El País, the leader of the forensic team, Francisco Exteberria, learned that the excavated crypt contained the bones of 17 people: six men, five women, and six children, all likely buried between 1612 and 1630.
FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2015 file photo, a team of archaeologists and anthropologists take notes . [+] after starting the excavation work after identifying three unrecorded and unidentified graves in the chapel’s crypt of the closed order Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid's historic Barrio de las Letras, or Literary Quarter, Spain. Releasing the latest details of the near year-long search, forensic anthropologist Francisco Etxeberria said on Tuesday March 17, 2015 that investigators' work led them to believe that Cervantes' bones are among the remains of 15 bodies found in the crypt of the Barefoot Trinitarians, but they were unable to isolate them or prove definitively which belonged to the author of the Spanish language's most revered work, "Don Quixote." (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza, File)
Most of the evidence for these being Cervantes' remains is strong but circumstantial: Cervantes' death certificate mentions he was buried by the nuns of Trinity he lived in the neighborhood of the church it was protected by the nuns to whom he dedicated Don Quixote and Cervantes' daughter became a nun there.
Because of the fragmentary and commingled nature of the bones, though, it does not appear that the archaeologists could identify any antemortem injuries that might positively identify Cervantes. DNA is also not helpful in this case. Cervantes' younger sister's burial location is known, but it too is in a crypt with commingled remains, and the archaeologists do not think they will be able to positively identify Cervantes' daughter, the nun who may also be buried in the Church of the Trinity. Additional genealogical investigation could help, if Cervantes' lineage can be traced into more recent times.
Current mayor of Madrid conservative Ana Botella speaks in the crypt of Trinitarias church in Madrid . [+] on June 11, 2015 after inaugurating a memorial plaque marking the place where Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes' remains were found. The 'Don Quixote' author's remains were unearthed in Madrid on March 17, 2015, nearly 400 years after his death in 1616, a week after William Shakespeare. AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU (Photo credit should read PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)
A formal burial for Cervantes was given today by Ana Botella, mayor of Madrid. Mayor Botella dedicated a monument, which includes some of the bone remains from the multi-person crypt, in the Church of the Trinity. It is unclear if further testing of samples is planned or if archaeologists still hope to answer the questions they posed years ago about Cervantes' life, appearance, and death.
While I'm on record as not being a fan of digging up historical people, I also recognize that honoring a culture's luminaries is beneficial for tourism, morale, and history. I'll raise a cerveza for Cervantes today and hope archaeologists eventually find out more about the storied author's life.
Remains of Don Quixote author Cervantes found
The World’s first novelist
[ Editor’s Note : This is a trip down a yellow brick road for sure. It is not everyday when the missing remains of a long lost literary great are found.
Once again, modern technology played a key role in discovering the crypt that held the bones of Cervantes and his wife.
The remains became lost in the musical chairs that happens when the original structures are rebuilt. I can just imagine the thrill when the searchers found the initial “MC” on the coffin lid.
It is hard for us to absorb the step into the unknown at that time, not knowing they would become famous for writing the first novel, beginning in 1605 — the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.
It is always a good day when a missing grave is found. Here in Georgia, we still sometimes find a missing Sons of the American Revolution grave, and here in Atlanta, work never stops on identifying the unknown graves we have so many of where soldiers died in hospitals after the battles.
We have taken to erecting monument walls with blank space reserved for those who will be identified in the future, so their living descendants, if they care to, can learn someday where they lie … Jim W. Dean ]
– First published … March 18, 2015 –
The remains of Spanish literary giant Miguel de Cervantes have been discovered almost four hundred years after his demise, archaeologists and anthropologists say.
“He’s there,” said historian Fernando de Prado, referring to fragmented bones found in the floor of a crypt in Madrid, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.
The search for the remains of one of the world’s most famous literary figures began last April with a team of almost 30 scientists scouring the soil of Madrid’s Convento de las Monjas Trinitarias Descalzas with 3D scanners, infrared cameras, and ground-penetrating radar.
During their search, the team identified 33 alcoves, where the remains could have been stored, inside one of which the team located a number of adult bones.
The team said that based upon historical and archeological evidence they were confident that some of the bones were those of Cervantes and his wife, Catalina de Salazar. Moreover, the writer’s initials “MC” were found on one of the coffin lids.
“It’s an enormous satisfaction. The searching has been tiring – I feel as if I’ve arrived at the end of a long hike,” added Prado.
Forensic anthropologist Francisco Etxeberria said that DNA testing cannot verify the results because “Right now, we don’t have any DNA possibilities to compare to.”
The author was initially buried in 1616, but when the convent was rebuilt in the 17th century, his remains were lost. The crypt will be open to public next year to mark the 400th anniversary of Cervantes’ death.
Cervantes was born near Madrid in 1547 and has been labeled the father of the modern novel for The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, the first part of which was published 1605.
The novel is said to be one of the world’s most read and translated books.
The Afterlife of Miguel de Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes died in Madrid on April 22, 1616. He was buried the next day in a convent. When the convent was rebuilt decades later, Cervantes’s remains were moved, but at some point their exact location became unknown. The grave of Spain’s greatest writer had essentially vanished.
But that didn’t mean Cervantes was forgotten. The first part of his novel Don Quixote was instantly popular when it was published in 1605. Over the next six years, it was reprinted across mainland Europe. It jumped the English Channel, was translated, and appeared in London in 1612. Two decades after he began writing, as a second act to his career as a soldier, Cervantes had found a ravenous audience—and so he started a Part II. He hadn’t yet completed it when a bogus sequel by an unknown author was published in 1614. But that didn’t matter: his own Part II was published in 1615, and it also quickly spread across Europe and to England.
Cervantes enjoyed few benefits from the success of Don Quixote. He made little money from Part I, and he died less than a year after Part II was released. Yet the novel flourished, in Spanish and particularly in translation. Its central characters, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, became familiar to generations of readers. Cervantes was credited with inventing the modern novel. By the 20th century, scholars were flattering Don Quixote by subjecting it to every sort of analytical -ism, from which the novel emerged gleaming and resilient. It remained a good, if troubling, story—funny, affecting, wayward, with paroxysms of violence and suffering that still shock.
And then, suddenly, Cervantes rose from his grave. In March 2015, Spanish researchers announced their discovery of bones they thought were his. Scientific testing confirmed it, and his remains were reburied in June, as a sort of advance notice for the 400th anniversary of his death. But the resurrection of his body seemed quaint. He had proved centuries earlier that he didn’t need one to survive.
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Experts excavate 3 unidentified graves in Madrid chapel as Spain hunts for Cervantes' remains
MADRID – Experts searching for the remains of Miguel de Cervantes have started what they hope will be the final phase of their nine-month quest to solve the mystery of where the great Spanish writer was laid to rest.
The author of “Don Quixote” was buried in 1616 at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid’s historic Barrio de las Letras, or Literary Quarter, but the exact whereabouts of his grave within the tiny convent chapel are unknown.
A team of archaeologists and anthropologists decided to start excavations at the site after identifying what they believe are three unrecorded and unidentified graves in the chapel’s crypt. Those bones were being exhumed and analyzed.
Cervantes is a towering figure in Spanish culture. His novel — “The Adventures of the Ingenious Nobleman Don Quixote of La Mancha” — changed Spanish literature. His wife, Catalina Salazar, was also buried at the convent, although the location her grave also remains a mystery.
The chapel crypt on Saturday had the air of a modern forensic laboratory transported to a medieval location, with more than 20 experts at work with white lights under a vaulted ceiling.
By midmorning, some experts at the underground site were examining bones that had been extracted from a niche and carefully laid out on a table. Another group of five white-clad experts painstakingly opened a grave beneath the whitewashed crypt’s old terracotta tiled floor.
Close to the crypt’s entrance, two scientists studied images obtained from within another wall niche by using an endoscope camera carefully inserted through a tiny hole.
Elsewhere, a team assembled a geo-radar device mounted on wheels to probe other possible underground locations.
“Were we to find remains that fulfil the characteristics we are looking for, we could possibly pass to a next stage. That would be to compare DNA similarities with his sister, but that is a very complex step,” said Francisco Etxeberria, a forensic medicine specialist from the University of the Basque Country.
The author’s sister, Luisa de Cervantes, was buried in a convent in Alcala de Henares, 30 kilometres (19 miles) east of Madrid, where she was interred in 1623.
Almudena Garcia Rubio, who is leading the Cervantes project, said Friday if they don’t find Cervantes’ remains in the places so far identified, there are four other possible locations at the convent they could try next.
Evidence marking the location of Cervantes’ grave is believed to have been lost during an enlargement of the church after his death. Etxeberria said, back in Cervantes’ day, graves were not often marked with long-lasting memorials such as carved headstones.
Before settling down to work, the forensic team had to shift piles of old books and bookcases from the space, which had previously been rented out to a publishing company.
The first phase of the excavation, costing some 50,000 euros ($56,000), is expected to last two weeks.
Archaeologists Believe they have Located the Tomb of Cleopatra
Cleopatra VII was the last ruler of the Ptolemic Dynasty of Ancient Egypt and now her tomb may have been discovered. She was born in 69 BC and famously (and allegedly) died from the bite of a poisonous asp snake in 30 BC after ruling the land for 30 years. Even these two thousand years later, she remains a figure of mystery and fascination who has been the subject of many books and films. She was a well-educated woman, and was known for her intelligence. She is also famous for her affairs with two equally-famous Romans, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, the latter of whom she was still involved with at the time of her death.
A steel engraving depicting Caesar Augustus’ now lost painting of Cleopatra VII in encaustic, which was discovered at Emperor Hadrian’s Villa (near Tivoli, Italy) in 1818.
Her rule and her life came to end after Octavian, later to be Augustus Caesar, laid siege to the city of Alexandria. During the attack on Alexandria, Marc Antony heard that Cleopatra had taken her own life. It didn’t take long before more news came, saying the rumor of her death was false, but Antony had already fallen on his own sword. Cleopatra buried him and met with the victorious Octavian, then closed herself in a room with several attendants and died shortly thereafter.
Posthumous portrait of Cleopatra VII of Egypt, from Herculaneum, Italy, 1st century CE.
There isn’t an unequivocal source to verify the means of her end, but some writers of the time, including Plutarch, put forth the story about committing suicide by snake bite. What is known, is that Cleopatra and Marc Antony were said to be buried together at her request. The exact location of their tomb has remained a mystery. According to a recent report in the Sun, that may be about to change.
South view of the Osiris Temple in Taposiris Magna. Photo by Koantao CC by 3.0
A new documentary called “Cleopatra, Sex, Lies, and Secrets” details how a group of archaeologists have been digging at Taposiris Magna, about sixty miles from Cairo, and believe they may have found the place where the Egyptian queen was entombed. While no one has yet found her resting place, it’s long been believed that she must have been entombed near Alexandria, and Taposiris Magna is just over 30 miles from that city.
North View of Taposiris Magna Osiris Temple. Photo by Koantao CC by 3.0
Dr. Kathleen Martinez, the head of the Dominican archaeological mission, is the one who put forth the theory that Taposiris Magna might be the answer to the mystery. The temple and its surrounding city constituted an important port city during that period.
Archaeologists digging at Taposiris Magna, where they believe the tomb of Cleopatra to be. Image courtesy of the Science Channel.
The city was built over two thousand years ago, and land-penetrating radar scans of the area found evidence of a network of corridors and tunnels, as well as three structures that could be mausoleums. In the area around the temple they found evidence of 27 other tombs and 10 mummies, which may add weight to Martinez’s theory since the nobility often wanted to be entombed near their rulers.
According to the documentary, the team has discovered a tomb covered in gold leaf, which has apparently been undisturbed, that could be the ancient queen’s final resting place. Inside Egypt reported that Martinez believes that Cleopatra and Antony are buried beneath the temple of Isis and Osiris. The theory held my most scholars on the subject is that the pair had a mausoleum in the royal district of Alexandria, which included the north-eastern part of the city and is now under water.
In the course of the exploration of the temple, she and her team found a statue which they believe represented lovers locked in an embrace, an alabaster head that came from a statue of the queen, and 22 coins with Cleopatra’s image on them. The excavation also unearthed a ceramic mask below the Isis sanctuary, which could be Marc Antony’s death mask. More details will be emerging about the potential tomb of Cleopatra being unearthed.