The history of criminal events: 20 September

On 20 September 1575, Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra was captured by Barbary pirates. The ship on which Miguel was returning from Naples to Spain was attacked by sea robbers (in October 1571, he and his brother Rodrigo participated in the famous Battle of Lepanto against the Turks). Cervantes spent more than four years in captivity in a foreign country. In Algeria, he was sold to a Greek merchant who was engaged in the slave trade. The Spaniard tried to escape – unsuccessfully. For a while, he was a galley-slave. He was threatened with the death penalty many times…

Miguel’s brother was more fortunate: their father paid a cash ransom for him. When the ship arrived for Rodrigo, the second brother sneaked on board but was found out there.

Miguel took the blame and did not give up those who helped him despite the torture he was subjected to. Viceroy Hassan, known for his cruelty, could not force Cervantes to name any of the participants in the plot. This steadfastness of the captive impressed Hassan so much that he decided to buy the Spaniard from his Greek master. Cervantes tried to escape again but was betrayed by one Dominican.

Finally, after four years, the ransom came. Cervantes was released from captivity in September 1580 at the age of 33. Miguel wrote his famous Don Quixote when he was 56. At that time, he was again languishing in prison.

Igor Dzhokhadze. The criminal chronicle of mankind.

Translated by Elizaveta Ovchinnikova            

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