SEVILLE, Spain – Investigators have discovered four unknown documents which shed light on the life of Miguel de Cervantes, the famed author of Don Quixote of La Mancha.
The documents, one of them signed by Cervantes, were found in the archives of Seville and La Puebla de Cazalla, in southern Spain, the archivist who made the discovery, Jose Cabello Nuñez, told Efe.
The manuscripts indicate Cervantes worked as a tax collector and for the purveyor of Spain’s West Indies Fleet, Cristobal de Barros, the best warship constructor under the reign of Philip II and technical organizer of the Spanish fleet that defeated the Ottomans at the battle of Lepanto and of the Invincible Armada.
One of the documents, dated 1593, is an agreement between the municipality of la Puebla de la Cazalla and Cervantes enabling him to confiscate wheat and barley as a representative of the Royal Treasury.
According to the biographers of Cervantes, the writer was in Seville at that date and was not dedicated to any activity.
Two other manuscripts uncovered in the West Indies archive in Seville show Cervantes was a provisions superintendent in La Puebla de Cazalla between February and April 1593.
In one of them, autographed by Cervantes, the writer allowed a woman named Magdalena Enriquez, who is unknown to his biographers, to collect his salary.
Cabello explained that in those times women were not supposed to do any kind of transaction without the permission of a man unless they were widowed, and said he would pursue further studies to clarify the relationship between the two.
Cervantes came to Seville when the city was the economic capital of an empire and one of the most important cities in Europe, as well as the harbor from where ships to the West Indies departed, although its residents lived in hardship, as he describes in some of his novels.
The writer spent some time in jail in Seville for irregularities as a tax collector.