Miguel de Cervantes: The 3 Ways Don Quixote Influenced History

Born29th of September, 1547
Died22nd of April, 1616
Famous Quote“In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.”
Known ForWriting the world’s first modern novel, establishing the modern Spanish language.
Region of WorldEurope/Spain, 16th century

Miguel de Cervantes remains one of the most influential authors in history. His 16th century book Don Quixote remains one of the wonders of the literature world. This book influenced the history of the world in 3 distinct ways.

Don Quixote has 3 influences upon the development of history. First, Don Quixote established the modern Spanish language. Second, Cervantes’s story heavily influenced people to think about their own history and society. Third, Don Quixote has inspired all great western writers since its publication. These 3 influences would forever change the world’s history.

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Without further ado, here are the 3 ways that Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote influenced history.

Don Quixote Established The Modern Spanish Language

One of the major ways in which Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote influenced history was by establishing a modern Spanish language.

Cervantes was writing his novel during the 16th century in Spain. The Iberian Peninsula was anything but unified. Less than a century before much of what we would call Spain spoke a Moorish dialect that combined North African, Latin, and old Spanish.

However, unlike previous books Don Quixote was published in a local Spanish dialect. This almost overnight led to everyone learning what would come to be known as common Spanish.

This concept of language was important to Cervantes. In chapter 67 of Don Quixote Cervantes makes a clear distinction between Arabic words and Spanish words. This would have resounded across his readership basis as they read of the tales of Don Quixote.

Because of the success of Don Quixote people across the Iberian peninsula began to read and speak one common language. Over time this would lead to the modern Spain that we see and hear today.

As such one of the major ways in which Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote influenced the development of history was by establishing the modern Spanish language.

Cervantes’s Don Quixote Forced Readers To Think About Their Own History And Society

One of the major ways in which Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote influenced the development of history was by forcing the audience to think about their own society and history.

The story of Don Quixote itself follows a man named Alonso Quijano who falls in love with imagining himself as a knight from the middle ages. He makes it his life’s goal to revive the concept of chivalry and serve the greater good. In doing so he recruits a local farmer, Sancho Panza, to be his squire. The entirety of Don Quixote follows the adventures of these two on a futile quest to revive a long dead world of chivalrous knights.

This is where the genius of Don Quixote starts. While on the surface Don Quixote is a comedy, when you look closer it is much more. Cervantes’s story is a subtle critique of the 16th century’s typical European society. Through the eyes of Cervantes readers would see that Don Quixote is a story of two people attempting in vain to grasp power against a shifting society that places no importance upon hereditary titles or concepts.

According to Don Quixote we can’t revive the past, nor can use it to gather power in the present. Throughout Don Quixote Cervantes’s places power in the hands of average people instead of nobility. The central ethic and moral of Don Quixote is that people themselves can be right while the rest of society is wrong and backwards.

As such, Don Quixote forced the average European to view their current society completely differently. Cervantes’s forces the reader to question the concept of societal value and power. This type of thinking led to what would be called the Age of Enlightenment with great minds like Thomas Hobbes.

Don Quixote would force the European people to begin to question the value of morals and tradition within their own society. As a result of this Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote would drastically influence the development of history.

Don Quixote Has Inspired Nearly All Subsequent Highly Influential Writers

One of the major ways that Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote has influenced the development of history has been from its effect upon subsequent influential writers.

From the 16th century up until the modern day few books have been referenced as heavily as Don Quixote. From William Shakespeare to Sigmund Freud nearly all major intellectual literary figures have been influenced by this book.

There exist direct references to Don Quixote in the works of Mark Twain, Dostoyevsky, and Michel Foucault to name a few. These references range from allegorical representations to direct mentions to the main characters present in Cervantes’s 16th century novel.

However, it is the influence of Don Quixote upon the structure of modern literature that bears the most influence upon the development of history.

During the 18th century nearly all major publications coming out of the British Empire, Europe, and the Arabic world where being heavily influenced by the subtle societal critique of Don Quixote.

The structure of having one main character that represents the ideals of society and his ‘underling’ which is actually more intelligent and represents the common man became a common way for writers to provide a subtle critique on society.

As such, it is Miguel de Cervantes’s influence upon subsequent writers after his death that has highly influenced the development of history.

Conclusion

There you have it; an entire article that outlines the 3 ways that Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote influenced the development of history.

Not much is known about Cervantes himself. For most of his life he was poor and unknown. He was at one point a soldier, a prisoner of war, an artist, and an author. Most of what we know about him comes from the last 3 years of his life where he wrote his stories.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the web.

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Sincerely,

Nick