Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The House of Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) is considered to have been the greatest Spanish writer of all time, and his novel Don Quixote is one of the masterpieces of world literature.  Anyone who is a student of Spanish literature or a fan of the Quixote, will want to make a quick visit to the House of Cervantes Museum in Valladolid.

In 1601 Valladolid briefly became the capital of Spain.  Since Cervantes worked for the government as a tax collector, he and his family moved from Madrid in 1603 and rented this  house.  We know that this is the exact house where he lived because of court records.  When a Knight of the Order of Santiago was murdered on the street outside the house, Cervantes and his neighbors were rounded up and held in the city jail for a few days while the authorities investigated the case.  

The furnishings of the house did not belong to Cervantes, but are all antiques from his era and reflect life in early 17th century Spain.  The inventory of his wife's dowry and his daughter's will were used to approximate the furnishings that might have been in their home.

The Cervantes family lived here until 1606 when the capital was moved back to Madrid.  During his time in Valladolid Cervantes published the first part of his novel Don Quixote.  

An interesting feature of Spanish homes of the era was that women had their own separate room.  Here they would work and talk while seated on cushions placed on a raised dais.  This tradition is the result of the centuries of Muslim occupation in Spain.  

Even though this was not actually the writer's desk, it is nice to imagine that Cervantes sat in this room, working on his literary masterpieces.


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