Roque Guinart, Don Quixote, and the mistery of Cervantes

In a place in the heart of Catalonia, whose name I do not want to remember 1, there is an enclave in which curious petroglyphs are visible, which are important for three reasons: first, because they represent a series of symbols with an iconic and religious value hidden; second, because they allude to the most famous bandit of the Catalan lands, who has an important role in the second part of Don Quixote; and third, because they are the key to discover -from my point of view- the hidden message of Don Quixote (and therefore also of Cervantes). Of all this, in this order, I will speak next.


In a cingle (rocky wall, in Catalan), at the end of a winding and narrow path, we find a rocky wall of red stone, with a series of inscriptions that I expose below. If I do not give the location it is for security reasons. Unfortunately, there are too many people who, in the anonymity of the night, are prone to destroy the historical heritage for spurious reasons (political or religious), as has happened recently with the petroglyphs engraved on a menhir near the hermitage of Sant Antoni, in Santa Coloma de Cervelló (Barcelona) 2.


Stone with petroglyphs near the hermitage of Sant Antoni (Santa Coloma de Cervelló). Above on the left, in Òrrius

Not far away, we find an enclave (linked to the Perot Rocaguinarda family) with two holes, which are an indication of a witch cult, very widespread in inland Catalonia.

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Two holes near of the petroglyphs

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In other enclaves of Catalonia we can find very similar holes

But there are the petroglyphs to which I have referred above that undoubtedly attract the most my attention. Here is a selection.

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Various pagan or "lineage" symbols and icons

We can observe the most strange figures, perhaps allusive to emblems or symbols "of lineage", but more likely to pagan cults that have persisted in the place. This is not the space to delve into them.

Let us then see the handwritten signature of Perot Rocaguinarda himself (Perot lo lladre, or "Perot the thief"; that's his nickname in Catalan), the same one that Cervantes calls Roque Guinart in the second part of Don Quixote.

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Handwritten signature of Perot Rocaguinarda

Here, in addition to the signature of Perot Rocaguinarda himself, we see three stars, which accentuate the "pagan", and even "heretical" flavor, of the existing symbols in the place, evoked by the petroglyphs and by the holes (containers of "holy water”, in ancient pagan cults). In this regard, read the article The three stars, in the Leonardo da Vinci section.

Accompanying the signature of Perot lo lladre we also find the following message in Catalan: és bandoler (he is a bandit). But look below: here we see a portrait, with a bearded face and with four eyes! Could it be a correction of the drawing, to make it more in line with anatomy, or could it have another meaning? Was it Rocaguinarda, or was it another character? Below, I propose a suggestive possibility.

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Portrait of a bearded man, with four eyes!

Perot Rocaguinarda and the catalan outlaws

Perot Rocaguinarda was born in 1582, into a wealthy family (his father was mayor of his town). He was the fifth child of Joan and Caterina, owners of an important mas (manor house) in their area. He was the brother of Magdalena, Cebrià, Marquesa, Pere, Aldonça and Caterina. Note the name Aldonça, which Cervantes uses in Don Quixote to refer to the famous Dulcinea del Toboso (born Aldonza Lorenzo).

This is not the place to make a biographical sketch of the character; I will only say that his performance as a bandit takes place between 1602 and 1611. The first year is marked by a personal "affront" (he is shot and wounded from the bishop's palace in Vic), by a rival faction (the cadells ; the "puppies" in Castilian, symbolized by a dog), which meant their active incorporation into the nyerros (no Spanish translation, although they were represented by the figure of a piglet). I will speak below about the disputes between both sides, into which the Catalan nobility was divided at the end of the 16th century and at the beginning of the 17th. The year 1611 supposes his exile to Naples, after the royal pardon, to act as captain of the Spanish tercios under the command of the Count of Lemos (Don Pedro Fernández de Castro y Andrade; benefactor, in later years, of Miguel de Cervantes).

Perot Rocaguinarda is described as elegant, tall, skinny (with a long face) and ben plantat (handsome). He had earrings in his ears, as his fellow bandits used to do. He was always well dressed, with a feathered hat and a Gascon cape. He had a little beard, but a good mustache (trimmed). The color of his hair was blond, tending to red. He used to carry two pedrenyals (a type of short shotgun, like a blunderbuss) hanging from his sash. His horse was white, like Santiago's… Although he was not of noble origin, he commanded respect: he was usually called “Mr. Guinart”.

Perot Rocaguinarda was considered the greatest bandit in Catalonia. And unlike others, equally famous, but less fortunate, he had a long life (there is evidence of him, in Naples, in the year 1635). He was described as a “gentle thief”, who did not steal from the pagesos (peasants), nor from the dispossessed, nor from the soldiers (whom he simply disarmed), but from outsiders or supporters of the Cadell side (or members de la Unió, or sometents, equivalent to the Castilian Santa Hermandad). However, his alliance with some nobles on his side, as well as with the Church (the bishop of Ripoll, and even the Inquisition in Barcelona) was notable. There are numerous anecdotes in which Perot ingeniously assaults, and even comically, travelers who passed by. The robbery of three friars, in a hostel, to whom he had previously served food, is notorious, ensuring that they had everything they needed and felt comfortable (he left them ten percent of what was stolen to pay the expenses until they reached their destination). In another hostel, after staying with his forty-five cronies, he religiously paid for the drink and food and demanded that the innkeeper report his stay, to avoid problems. As a "good thief," he shared the loot equally among the gang members.

Perot was the subject of search and capture for almost ten years. Although a price had been put on his head (1,000 libras) no one gave him away; partly out of respect, and partly out of fear of his terrible fame. He was excommunicated, but his excommunication was immediately lifted (the same happened to Cervantes, on two occasions). He came to command armies of 350 men, in his raids against the "justice" that persecuted him, and against the existing powers. An episode is famous. Happened in the forest of Santa Magdalena (near Folgueroles), in which with 200 men he defeated an army of 1000 subjects. Their forces had as their motto the phrase Visca la terra !, which in itself is an indication of their political affiliation. I'll talk about it below.

Although he did not intend to confront the king directly, it is evident that the nyerros were friends of France, and supporters of the local nobility, compared to the cadells (also bandits), more inclined to the bourgeoisie and to the King of Spain. This dichotomy (gentlemen versus royal power, with Castilian imprint) has been repeated since the Catalan civil war of the second half of the 15th century, in which the aristocracy and the Generalitat (with the support of the Biga side) faced King John II (of Castilian blood) and to the popular layers (with support from the Busca). Later, in the War of the Segadors (1640), and especially in the War of the Succession (ended in 1714), this rivalry persists: it would be the case of the confrontation between the miquelets (austracists) and the botiflers (the supporters of the Bourbon monarchy) .

This simplistic and somewhat reductionist reasoning can serve to frame the fight to the death between nyerros and cadells, in which Perot Rocaguinarda was involved (with the support of Carles de Vilademany i Cruïlles, baron of Taradell and Viladrau, the head of the nyerros faction of Vic), in front of his enemies cadells (ruled by Francesc Robuster, head of the Cadell faction of Vic until 1605). In Barcelona there are two places that bear his name: Carrer de Perot lo lladre, which connects Carrer del Pi with Carrer de Portaferrissa; and the mas Guinardó of the Pla de Barcelona, property –as it seems- of the Rocaguinarda family, which would give its name to the Guinardó neighborhood.

There are other issues that accompany these ruthless struggles between the two factions, at a time when Catalonia, part of Valencia and Aragon, were the pasture for the raids of bandits. There are numerous testimonies from the time that tell us about the "problem of banditry" in Catalonia. For example, Jaime Villanueva presents us with a document, signed by the Marquis of Almazán (viceroy of the country), from the year 1613, in which the following is stated 3: “Y esta persecucion con esta gente da muy grande cuidado y trabajo; porque son indomitos estos soldados, y luego hacen lo que Trucafort [un cadell], que perseguia a Roca Guinarda, y el ha sido peor ladron… Y en ste Principado no hay otro remedio sino el del someten; y es tan floxo y para tan poco, como todos saben, por ser gente no hecha a las armas… Dizen que aquí los cavalleros tienen libertad; y yo los hallo mas oprimidos que en Castilla, pues no pueden salir de la ciudad sin mucha gente; y yo hiva de Madrid ha Almazan solo o con un criado sin temer ha nadie. Ha esto llamo yo libertad, y no ha la de Catalunya. Senyores, hasta aquí he andado con dolsura, apacibilidad y amor; pero pues no ha aprovechado, he de llevarlo con crueldad y rigor, poniendo en la carcel quantos cavalleros lo merecieren, y sequestrando las jurisdicciones y vasallos donde recogeran ladrones, como lo he hecho en el Bayliu de Mallorca y Duque de Alba. En mi tiempo he hecho mucha y mas justicia de lo que se ha hecho en otros: que solo de Roca Guinarda he hecho ahorcar veynte y dos, y aun confio ahorcar al propio Roca”.

Miguel de Cervantes alludes to this massacre of the Rocaguinarda squad, when he says, in chapter 60 of the second part of Don Quixote: "Outlaws and bandits are hanged in these trees; that around here the justice usually hangs them, when they catch them, twenty by twenty and thirty by thirty; whereby I give myself to understand that I must be close to Barcelona”. His followers, as well as that of other bandit parties, were largely Gascons, many of them Huguenots (exiles from France), and for this reason they were commonly called Calvinists. Not in vain, a good part of the currency and the horses stolen in Catalonia went to the North, to finance the struggle of the Huguenots, in war against the “very Christian French King".

The causes of the malaise that led to banditry are various. One is pointed out, fundamentally: the "offense" to the country. Hence the motto Visca la terra! (long live the earth!). For example, in his Discourses on the quality of the Principality of Catalonia (1616) the knight Francesc de Gilabert writes  4: “Las bandosidades son la base de todo nuestro daño… Nace este daño de otra causa, y es que por los pocos oficios que tiene Su Magestad para dar a caballeros en Cataluña, y por repartir los de su real casa en castellanos, esperan poco los de este principado en alcançar merced…”. To this we must add the exclusion of Catalan merchants from trade with America, imposed in 1566 by Felipe II, and the seizure of the main ecclesiastical positions in the country by Castilians. In the book Història de Montserrat  5  the following is stated:

“During the abbeys of Father Cisneros and Burgos, many Catalan novices entered Montserrat and the extraordinary amounts demanded by Valladolid were refused. Later, however, the opposite was true. It consists of an authorized source. The dissensions between the Catalan monks and the Castilian monks in Montserrat reached such a point that Philip II, in June 1583, obtained that Gregory XIII send to Montserrat as apostolic visitor the bishop of Lleida, Benet de Tocco…

After many difficulties, Benedict of Tocco opened the visit to Montserrat on May 9, 1584, in front of forty monks and three hermits, and from May 14 to January 5 of the following year he was actively engaged in the affairs that belonged to him, especially in the interrogation of the various sections of the community and also of some lay people. Tocco communicated to the Holy Father that the most serious discomfort of the monastery was attributed to the monks of Castile, who denied the habit to the suitors of the Crown of Aragon and embezzled the property of the sanctuary.

The solution seemed easy: since the monks who were the children of the land showed their ability to rule the monastery wisely, as the abbey of the famous Father Garriga had just shown, let each one come quietly to his home. This is what the Catalan monks demanded in November 1584: that the Castilians 'go and live in Castile', that the reform of the cloisters of Catalonia be sought and that they be formed - at least with Sant Feliu de Guíxols and the dependent houses of Montserrat ...- 'a province in itself'. This solution, however, encounters an irremovable obstacle: the royal power that from now on we always find, unconditionally, with the abbots of Valladolid and against the councilors of Barcelona, to the extreme - we must have had the original document in hands to believe it - to ask Philip II to excommunicate the apostolic visitor if, in order to end the serious conflicts in Montserrat, he disunited our monastery from the Congregation of Valladolid!”.

Here it is literally said: “The royal power is always [in the Montserrat monastery], unconditionally, on the side of the abbots of Valladolid, and against the councilors of Barcelona, to the point of asking Philip II to the Pope to excommunicate the apostolic visitor [died shortly after under strange circumstances] if, in order to end the great conflicts of Montserrat, he separated the monastery from the Congregation of Valladolid [which had command over Montserrat] ”.

The offense was such that on occasions the Viceroy gave license to the Castilian soldiery to mistreat the peasantry as much as necessary, in order to punish the fundamental support base of Nyerro banditry (nationalist, or sympathiser of France). Hence the so-called "català ofès" (today it is said emprenyat), which largely fueled banditry, and later other struggles against the establishment: in the 17th century (Guerra dels Segadors), in the 18th century (War of the Succession ) and in the 19th century (Carlist wars). Faced with this situation, the dominant status quo is expressed as follows:  6: "Know VM that the people of this Principality blame all the bishops because they do not come together to represent all these evils [banditry] and ask for a remedy, and they say to send VM people and conquer them, that all will be given to him so that justice can settle as in Castile and take away their bad uses and customs that prevent it ”.

And so we are ... Today.

As I have said above, Rocaguinarda left Catalonia in October 1611, exiled and in the service of the Count of Lemos. In a Catalan diary from that epoch 7 the following is said about his Italian journey: “… Se embarcà lo famós Rocha Guinart, cap de quadrilla de bandolers, a Mataró, amb molta gent de la sua quadrilla. Lo rey li perdonà en tal que havia de prendre un desterro per Nàpols per 10 anys, ell y sa quadrilla… Arribats a Nàpols lo virrey [conde de Lemos] lo feu capità de campanya”. And it continues, in the purest cervantine style: “Aquest Rocha Guinart es estat el bandoler mes cortés de quants ni a haguts de molts anys en aquesta part: no composave [no secuestraba], ni desornave [no destruía], ni tocave les iglesies y Deu li ajudà”.

This is the vision that Cervantes gave us of the bandit in chapter 60 of the second part of Don Quixote. But before entering this question, let's see the following image.


Sgraffito message that literally says: “'Yo felix' has already engraved his name. I came to visit this rock where the famous Rocaguinarda had been with me one day in 1614 "

In another place we can see a signature, which I have not been able to decipher.

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Unidentified signature

What Castilian gentleman, calling himself Felix, could have recorded this message? Could it be, perhaps, Miguel de Cervantes? And if so, why would he do it? And when?

Perot Rocaguinarda, Don Quixote and Cervantes

Cervantes twice alludes to Perot Rocaguinarda, whom he calls Roque Guinart, of whom he says: “… Who showed himself to be up to the age of thirty-four, robust, more than of medium proportion, serious looking and dark in color. She came on a mighty horse, wearing the steely coat, and with four pistols –which in that land are called pedreñales- on the sides ”. Later Don Quixote says: "It is not my sadness ... to have fallen into your power, oh brave Roque, whose fame there are no limits on earth that enclose her ...!". Then the bandit replied: “Don't be so sad, good man; because you have not fallen into the hands of some cruel Osiris, but into those of Roque Guinart, who is more compassionate than rigorous "  8. In the hors d'oeuvre known as La Cueva de Salamanca, this character reappears: " I am Salmantino, my lady; I mean, I'm from Salamanca. I was going to Rome with an uncle of mine, who died on the way, in the heart of France. I came alone; I decided to return to my land: Roque Guinarde's lackeys or companions robbed me in Catalonia… ”.

Rocaguinarda is described by Cervantes, as was common in his time, as a fierce and intrepid, but courteous, bandit. Before him Don Quixote looks shy, self-conscious. He admires his justice and his majesty (and also his cruelty, because he kills one of his fellows because he doubts the fairness of the cast). He spends a few days in his hideout, and is accompanied by the bandit to Barcelona. There he sees the sea for the first time. Already back at home he says of the city: “I did not want to enter it [in Zaragoza], to bring out his lie from the beard of the world; and thus, I clearly went to Barcelona, an archive of courtesy, a hostel for foreigners, a hospital for the poor, a home for the brave, revenge for the offended, and a pleasant correspondence from firm friends, and in place and in beauty, unique " 9.

"Homeland of the brave, revenge for the offended and a pleasant correspondence from strong friends". Does Cervantes intend, with these praise, to allude to the brave, vengeful, and friendly Roque Guinart? Let's continue.

It is quite true that Barcelona is the only city mentioned in Don Quixote, and that Perot Rocaguinarda is the only real character. Not only in Don Quixote the city is praised; also in one of the Novelas Ejemplares: The Two Maidens. In it, after an assault by the well-known bandits -which can never be absent when talking about the Catalonia of the time-, the following eulogy is made: “They admired the beautiful site of the city, and they esteemed it as a flower of the beautiful cities of the world, honor of Spain, fear and fright of the surrounding and remote enemies, gift and delight of its inhabitants, protection of foreigners, school of chivalry, example of loyalty, and satisfaction of all that of a great, famous, rich and a well-founded city can ask for a discreet and curious wish ”.

We must not think that Cervantes saves the epithets, as regards other cities. He made similar compliments to Italian cities, or to Valencia 10. But I insist again, it seems as if Cervantes was especially fond of Barcelona and of Perot Rocaguinarda, . Why?

Cervantes was able to visit the city on two occasions: the first would take place before his shipment to Rome, as a consequence of the affair that took place after wounding Antonio Sigura (1569), for which he went into exile and became a military man (and a hero of Lepanto). He would have returned to the same city, according to Martí de Riquer, in the second half of the year 1610: “Cervantes needed to find a stable situation, when he learned that the Count of Lemos was going to Naples with the position of viceroy, and with a briliant court of writers, tried to join it; and thus he went to Barcelona, where the new viceroy made a stopover, on his trip to Naples, in June 1610. But he achieved nothing ... Cervantes resided in Barcelona, then, probably from June to September 1610 " 11.

In his Viaje del Parnaso Cervantes seems to allude to this visit to the city, when a feigned poet, named Pancracio Roncesvalles (PR, the initials of Perot Rocaguinarda), says thus: and ten other poets we chartered in Barcelona… ”. (Would him allude here to the court of poets that accompanied the Count of Lemos, in Barcelona, to Naples, in the year 1610?) In the fictitious attached letter (supposedly written by Apollo), dated July 22 1614, it goes like this: "But if you give me an excuse for the desire to see your patron the great Count of Lemos, at the famous festivals in Naples, I accept it and forgive you". Again, this would allude to Cervantes' -frustrated- visit to Barcelona in 1610, in order to meet the Count of Lemos, his benefactor. It would be his second trip to Barcelona.

Would this be the one that would be part of the plot of the second volume of Don Quixote? Note that Sancho sends a letter to his wife, Teresa, in chapter XXXVI of the second part of Don Quixote, dated July 20, 1614. What does this mean? Was it that both works (the Voyage of Parnassus and the second part of Don Quixote) were written simultaneously? Or that they allude to some real events, which occurred in 1610-11, that inspired the continuation of his masterpiece? Specifically, to an encounter that Cervantes himself would have had with Perot Rocaguinarda? Note that in Don Quixote it is said that he spent three days with the bandit; Could Rocaguinarda have shown Cervantes the rock on which he carved his name, next to a series of venerable inscriptions from ancient times? Would it be Cervantes himself who wrote that of “'Yo felix' already recorded his name. I came to visit this rock where the famous Rocaguinarda had been with me one day in 1614 ”? Next I will give a series of reasons that would support this possibility, and others that would deny it.

In the first place, it should be said that when I saw the rock, I did not read "I came to visit this rock where the famous Rocaguinarda had been with me one day in 1614", but "I came to visit this rock where the famous Rocaguinarda had been. with me one day in 1611 ". Because at first glance you really see 1611, not 1614. Only when I checked the photograph did I distinguish a 4. The stick of 1 is very marked, while the rest of the figure seems to have been scratched much more superficially; maybe by someone else. Be that as it may, this date (1614) corresponds to the one on which Cervantes finished writing the second part of Don Quixote, as well as El viaje del Parnaso. However, this does not correspond to the actual date on which, according to Martí de Riquer, Cervantes would have traveled to Barcelona (second half of the year 1610) to visit the Count of Lemos.

What do we know about Cervantes at that time? Was he able to stay in Barcelona until beyond September 1610? Maybe until the beginning or middle of 1611? Was it then when he met Perot Rocaguinarda? We don't know, or at least I don't know.

But the truth is that Cervantes knew Perot Rocaguinarda very well:

1. He knew his age. We have already seen that in Don Quixote says that Roque Guinart was “up to the age of thirty-four”. In 1614 - which is when the scene is dated - the bandit was exactly 32 years old.

2. On the rock it is written: “I came to visit this rock where the famous Rocaguinarda had been with me one day in 1614”. Don Quixote says: "It is not my sadness ... to have fallen into your power, oh brave Roque, whose fame there are no limits on earth that enclose her ...!" Note that both on the rock and in the text of Don Quixote he is called “famous”.

3. Cervantes says that most of Rocaguinarda's squads “were Gascons, rustic and broken people” (Chapter 60). So they really were; How could he know, if he had not met them personally?

4. Perot Rocaguinarda confesses to Don Quixote that he has chosen this bad path for “wanting to avenge a wrong done to me” (Chapter 60). This would be the assault of a group of cadells, on November 4, 1602, in the city of Vic, from the bishop's palace. He and his friend Gascó de Caldes, who were accompanying a relative of Carles de Vilademany (head of the partit nyerro), were seriously injured and had to take refuge for several days in the house of the Baron de Taradell. Three days later the wife of Carles de Vilademany was kidnapped by the cadells, and later rescued by the nyerros after an armed combat. These incidents would constitute the trigger for his affiliation to banditry.

5. Perot affirms that, despite his sad situation, “although I find myself in the middle of the labyrinth of my confusions, I do not lose hope of getting safe harbor to safety” (Chapter 60). Indeed, he marched towards Naples, from Mataró, in October 1611. A little later, Cervantes introduced us to two Spanish infantry captains who have their companies in Naples. Perot Rocaguinarda was captain in Naples. In short, Cervantes narrates events that really happened in 1611, as if they had happened in 1614. This makes us think of the duality of the date inscribed on the petroglyph that we have repeatedly spoken about: 1611 or 1614?

6. Cervantes knows very well the dispute between the two factions of Catalan bandits: "Let him give news of this to his friends the Niarros, so that they could solace themselves with him: that he would like that the Cadells, their opponents, to lack this plaisir..." (Chapter 60).

7. In the phrase “Yo vine a visitar esta roca donde el famoso Rocaguinarda habia estado con yo un dia de 1614”, the expression “con yo” draws attention, because it is obviously incorrect. Cervantes usually used the expression "with me" instead. So, why "con yo"? Be that as it may, in the second part of Don Quixote he makes a similar use of the pronoun "yo": "There is no other yo in the world" (Chapter 70). Why "yo" and not "como yo"? Be that as it may, in both cases (in the petroglyph and in the book) the use of "yo" is incorrect.

8. Like Perot Rocaguinarda, Cervantes knew - we do not know if personally, or only at a distance - the Count of Lemos, who was his benefactor, and who subsidized him. In the dedication of the second volume of Don Quixote he writes: "In Naples I have the great Count of Lemos." Rocaguinarda was in the service of the Count of Lemos in Naples.

9. Let's not forget that Rocaguinarda had a sister named Aldonça. The main female character –although virtual- of Don Quixote is Aldonza Lorenzo. Chance? If it were not, this would mean that Cervantes had known the Rocaguinardas since before the publication of the first volume of Don Quixote. This seems unlikely, but ...

10. Jaime Villanueva, in the literary journey to the churches of Spain (volume VII), shows his surprise at the expression “insula Barataria” in the second volume of Don Quixote. But Villanueva nevertheless indicates that in the old Augustinian monastery of Santa Maria de Mur, in Conca de Tremp, he found a document, dated 1168, which mentions the donation of the Count of Pallars Arnaldo Mir, to Juan de Mur , of lands "in insula, quae est in Paratavia". And he wonders: “Oh my God! If Cervantes would have news of this to call the Sancho island Barataria! " 12.

11. Note in the inscription the following text: “'Yo felix' recorded his name 'ya'”. In addition to the incorrect use of "ya", the expression "felix" is worth noting, as it appears in lowercase. We might think that it would be a first name (see below). However, Cervantes, in the prologue to the first part of Don Quixote, writes this: Donec felix eris, multos numerabis amicos, tempora si fuerint nubila, solus eris. The translation would be: “As long as you are happy you will have many friends; but if the weather gets cloudy you will be alone ”. Would Cervantes indicate that, on the rock of the inscriptions, he was "happy" because he was among friends?

Nyerros and Cadells, “felix” among friends, Ínsula Barataria, Aldonza, the Count of Lemos, the “yo” out of place, the title of “famous”, the offense that led Rocaguinarda to banditry, the “safe harbor” that leads to exile, his exact age, his entente with Gascons ... Too many coincidences. Either someone, in Barcelona, made a complete and exact “robot portrait” of the character, or indeed Cervantes personally knew Perot Rocaguinarda. Perhaps this one assaulted him, and as it appears in Don Quixote, they both became friends. Only then would he have known such personal details of his life.

There are various legends of the presence of Cervantes in Barcelona, on the dates indicated by Martí de Riquer (second half of 1610). For example, Anicet Salvans i Corominas, in his book Perot, el bandoler 13, tells us that Perot Rocaguinarda, in his encounter with the real Cervantes, accompanied the writer to the city, giving him a "letter" that he would deliver to the baron of Gaià. Cervantes would be received by him with all the honors, and would have stayed in his palace. Another popular account says that Cervantes would have resided for a season in the building currently located at number 2 (third floor) of Paseo Colón, in the moments before his first trip, between 1569 and 1571 (according to sources).

There is quite clear evidence that Cervantes knew the city of Barcelona very well. His allusion to the "signal that Monjuí makes", referring to the warning of the lookouts who scanned the horizon from Montjuïc in search of Berber pirates, or the fight on the beach in Barcelona with the "Knight of the White Moon", which supposes the end of his career as a knight errant, make you wonder. In a Barcelona printing press, Don Quixote sees the composition of the first edition of the apocryphal version of Avellaneda 14: “So it happened that while going down a street, Don Quixote raised his eyes and saw written on a door, in very large letters: Books are printed here; of which he was very happy, because until then he had not seen any printing press, and he wanted to know what it was like. He went inside, with all his accompaniment, and saw pulling in one part, correcting in another, composing in this, amending in that one, and finally all that machine that is shown in large companies ... He passed forward and saw that they were correcting as well another book; and asking his title, they answered that it was called the Second Part of the Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha, composed by a certain resident of Tordesillas [Avellaneda] " 15.

There is the certainty that Cervantes was in Barcelona before his shipment to Italy, around the year 1569; there is no evidence, but there are numerous indications, that he was there around 1610, expecting the embarkation of the troop of poets that was to accompany the Count of Lemos to Naples (as the Voyage of Parnassus would indicate; see above). And we still have less evidence that the writer from Alcalá stayed in Catalonia in 1611, supposedly to record the inscription that we have spoken about throughout this article.

Could the date of 1614, which is considered good, be correct in relation to this inscription, or petroglyph? On the one hand, the romantic journey made by both Pancracio de Roncesvalles (in Parnassus) and Quixote (in Don Quixote de la Mancha) takes place in the second half of 1614. It is quite true that, as says several times Jean Cannavaggio in his reference work, Cervantes, “large fragments of his life remain obscure; others, who were believed to be known, now seem so little credible to us due to the great contradictions that the interpretations give rise to ... "  16. Ultimately, there are too many gaps in his biography to be able to assure or deny anything, as regards the questions raised above.

We will focus on the last six years of his life. According to Martí de Riquer, Cervantes visits Barcelona between June and September 1610. But in view of the fact that there are no references to him until the spring of 1611 (when he leaves for Esquivias) 17, it is legitimate to speculate whether he would have remained in Catalonia until the beginning of 1611, and if he would be the author of the inscriptions. But this is nothing more than speculation (worth the redundancy), of course. Let's go back to the portrait represented in this place. In it there is a person with a full beard, and with four eyes. Given the simplicity of the drawing, we cannot tell if he is young or old. Could he be Rocaguinarda? We have already said that this one had little beard; instead, Cervantes had it in abundance. On the other hand, the four eyes could allude to glasses, which at that time Cervantes used, due to his age, as shows this passage: “The academies are furious; in the past two graduates threw their bonnets; I read some verses with Cervantes glasses that looked like badly made starry eggs” 18.

Could Cervantes have made his hypothetical trip to Catalonia (in this case it would be his third trip to this country) at some point in the year 1614, as it seems to indicate both the events narrated in the second part of Don Quixote, and in the Journey of Parnassus (see above), like the inscription itself, which apparently indicates the date 1614? If that were the case, on September 25 of this year he would be in Madrid, because there he would have participated in some poetic jousts 19. At the same time, the version of Don Quixote by Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda appears published in Tarragona, by the Felipe Robert's printer  20.

This fact allows us to date chapter 59 of the second part of Cervantes's Don Quixote in October 1614. Which would make it credible, if not plausible, that in order to “get revenge” on the impostor (Avellaneda), Cervantes would change the planned course of the work, diverting his course from Zaragoza (where he was heading), towards Barcelona. Why not make use of his memory to relive the events that he would have experienced in the city, shortly before Roque Guinart's departure for Naples in 1611? On the other hand, this would allow him to insert into the work a series of critical messages that give rise to the belief that the second part of Don Quixote has a very different nature and purpose than the first (see below).

Be that as it may, at that time Cervantes was old; perhaps too old to travel, in 1614, to Catalonia. In the prologue to the Novelas Ejemplares (written between July and August 1613) he describes himself in the following way: “... An aquiline face, with brown hair, a smooth forehead, with cheerful eyes, and a crooked nose. Although well proportioned, the silver beards were not made of gold for twenty years, the large mustaches, the small mouth, the teeth not grown because he has only six, and those poorly conditioned and worse placed, because they do not correspond to each other. and the body between two extremes, neither big nor small, the vivid color, before white than brown, somewhat heavy on the back and not very light on the feet ... ”.

So, then, would Cervantes be the one portrayed in the cingle of the inscriptions, or was it Rocaguinarda himself, or any other person?

Maybe Felix Lope de Vega Carpio? This one wore glasses, like Cervantes (we have seen it above), it could be the Felix who writes "Yo felix ..." in the petroglyph. He was also at the service of the Count of Lemos (he was once his personal secretary), and he met Francesc Vicent Garcia (better known as “rector of Vallfogona”), also a friend of Perot Rocaguinarda. Like Cervantes, he used the myth of Rocaguinarda in his work Roque Dinarte, from 1618 (now lost). Some even believe that Lope de Vega would be the author of the apocryphal (and satirical) version of Don Quixote de Avellaneda, or who financed it 21.

All this is still pure speculation. The petroglyph could have been made by Cervantes, by Lope de Vega ... or by any other Castilian gentleman. But that is not what we should care about at this time, but the mystery that lies behind the second part of Don Quixote. I'll talk about it below.

The Cervantes mistery

It is Cervantes himself who is reputed to be the introducer of the novel in Spain 22. But we must not think that the first and second parts of Don Quixote are identical. The first part seems, at first glance, less committed and with a whiter humor. Sometimes a “militarist” spirit transpires (inheritance of his service in the army), and his comical streak is limited to ridiculing the genre of chivalry, or the picaresque genre, and to employing archaisms in language (in the second part the latter disappear). Be that as it may, I myself, as a reader of Don Quixote, appreciate the second part the best (in fact, I liked it more). The same is the opinion of Martí de Riquer in his Introduction to Don Quixote: “The authentic and the fictitious, the real and the imagined, merge perfectly thanks to the supreme art of Cervantes, which, especially in the second volume of Don Quixote, has reached its most deep maturity and an insurmountable mastery in the craft of making novels ... ”.

Jean Canavaggio, in an explicit way, draws us a subversive Cervantes, with a subtle contempt of the values recognized in his time. Thus he affirms: "A subtle despiser of established values, he desecrates all conformisms" 23. And he points out that in the 19th century his secretly subversive humanism, anticipating modern liberalism 24, was exalted. There is some of this. Wasn't it Cervantes who wrote “With the Church we have clashed, Sancho”? 25 Martí de Riquer considers this type of allusions, and the fact that Don Quixote and Sancho did not step on a church during their journeys, as “sacristy or seminary jokes” 26. He portrays Cervantes as a “Catholic of immaculate orthodoxy ”, For various respectful allusions to religion (especially in his Persiles). It is quite true that Cervantes had respect for the orthodoxy of his day, since he was rescued from Algiers in 1580 by two friars, who in turn raised the 500 ducats that made it possible 27. And like many others (among them Lope de Vega, his rival), puts himself in the hands of the Church (of the Brotherhood of Slaves of the Blessed Sacrament) to ensure a “good death” that would not be burdensome for the family. In this regard, Jean Canavaggio writes: “In matters of religion, Cervantes's disagreement with the average tone of his time can sometimes reveal the influence of this or that particular current of thought, but above all it expresses the choice of an open mind , enemy of prejudices, although respectful of dogma and worship: a humanist, in the broad sense of the term" ”28

His criticism of the Spain of his time is explicit in his work, especially in his last years of life. This is how he alludes to the waste of Imperial Spain during the reign of Philip II: "Leaving the coffers empty / where the gold was locked / they say you collected / shows us that your treasure / you hid it in heaven" 29. And so refers to his opinion on freedom. He says in the second part of Don Quixote: “I went to Italy and arrived in Germany, and there it seemed to me that it was possible to live with more freedom, because its inhabitants do not look at many delicacies: everyone lives as they want, because in most of it [Germany] they live with freedom of conscience ”30.

We must not take into account his two excommunications, caused by his performance as commissioner of the treasury in the collection of cereals in Andalusia (his intervention in religious establishments, as a collector, could well have inspired the phrase "with the Church we have clashed"). These accidents were very frequent in his time, and were generally reversible (the excommunications were usually withdrawn, after a suitable "repair"). Not in vain, Carlos V and Felipe II were also excommunicated, and later readmitted to the Church  31.

According to tradition, Cervantes and Shakespeare died only one day apart 32. Both marked a before and after in the literature of their respective nations. The French wondered with how a rich country like Spain could mistreat one of its greatest geniuses in such a way: “They asked me very much about a minor of his age, his profession, quality and quantity [of Cervantes]. I found myself obliged to say that he was old, a soldier, a nobleman and a poor man, to which one responded these formal words: 'Well, isn't Spain rich enough to support such a man with the public treasury?' Another one, with sharpness, came and said: 'If necessity has to force him to write, pray to God that he never has abundance, so that with his works, being poor, he can make everyone rich' "33.

Cervantes reflected in the second part of Don Quixote three painful circumstances of the Spain of his time: a general (catastrophic) situation in his country, Catalan banditry, and the expulsion of the Moors, carried out between 1609 and 1613. The Ricote episode symbolizes the case of these, on the verge of disappearing from the face of their homeland, to go - against their will - to other destinations no less cruel: “It is through the episode of Ricote, one of the most exciting of the second part of Don Quixote, how we touch the drama of this [Moorish] community with our fingers " 34.

Another problem that worries Cervantes, and that is reflected in the second volume of Don Quixote, is the situation in Catalonia and in other kingdoms of the Crown of Aragon. Perhaps his good opinion of Rocaguinarda, a famous nyerro (and therefore an anti-monarchist), constitutes a hidden criticism of the way in which the dominant power (Castilla) treated the dominated territory (Catalonia). Both the Rocaguinarda passage (allusive to the Catalan banditry) and the Ricote passage (allusive to the expulsion of the Moors) would be seen as subversive in the Court of Madrid, except for the subtle, but clear, treatment with which Cervantes deals these topics. This, one of the great men of his nation, could not agree with the Tridentine intolerance in his country, nor with the excessive rigor with the weakest (the Moors) or with those who have a different vision of Spain (the Catalan nation).

Again, so we are. And so we continue. 


Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quijote de la Mancha. Planeta, 1992. Edition by Martí de Riquer.

Miguel de Cervantes. “La cueva de Salamanca”. Entremeses. Planeta, 1984.

Miguel de Cervantes. “Las dos doncellas”. Novelas ejemplares. El País, 2004.

Alberto Spunberg. Miguel de Cervantes. Ediciones Rueda, 2001.

Jean Canavaggio. Cervantes. Espasa Calpe, 1987.

Joan Reglà. “El bandolerisme català”. In Episodis de la Història de Catalunya. Edicions 62, 1975.

Xavier Roviró i Alemany. Perot Rocaguinarda, cap de bandolers. Farell, 2006.

Anicet Salvans i Corominas. Perot, el bandoler. Rafael Dalmau, 1993.

Enrique Martínez López. “Sobre la amnistía de Roque Guinart: el laberinto de la bandositat catalana y los moriscos en el Quijote”.

Miguel de Cervantes. Viaje del Parnaso.

Almudena García González. “El bandolero histórico como personaje de comedia en Lope”.

Jaime Villanueva. Viage literario a las iglesias de España. Tomo VII. Imprenta de Oliveres, 1821.


1 No lo cito por las razones que expongo más abajo.

2 Ha sido destruido a conciencia, hace escasas semanas, por alguien a quien no le gustaba la iconografía pagana grabada en él.

3 Viage Literario a las iglesias de España. Volumen VII. Página 131.

4 Joan Reglà. “El bandolerisme català”. Página 208.

5 Anselm M. Albareda y Josep Massot i Muntaner. Edición del 2012. Página 95 y siguientes.

6 Carta del obispo de Vic, fra Andrés de San Jerónimo, a Felipe III, el 1 de marzo del 1615. Citado por Joan Reglà, página 211.

7 Anicet Salvans i Corominas, página 209.

8 Segunda parte de Don Quijote. Capítulo 60.

9 Segunda Parte de Don Quijote. Capítulo 72. Aquí Don Quijote alude al Quijote apócrifo de Avellanoda, el cual tiene como escenario unas justas en las que participa el caballero andante imaginado por Avellaneda, en la ciudad de Zaragoza: “Por el mismo caso –respondió don Quijote-, no pondré los pies en Zaragoza, y así sacaré a la plaza del mundo la mentira deste historiador moderno [Avellaneda]…” (Capítulo 59). Posteriormente encaminó su rumbo hacia Barcelona: “Era fresca la mañana, y daba muestras de serlo asimesmo el día en que don Quijote salió de la venta, informándose primero cuál era el más derecho camino para ir a Barcelona sin tocar en Zaragoza: tal era el deseo que tenía de sacar mentiroso aquel nuevo historiador que tanto decían que le vituperaba” (Capítulo 60).

10 Jean Canavaggio, páginas 63, 64 y 89.

11 Introducción al Quijote, de Martí de Riquer. Página XXVIII.

12 Página 136.

13Páginas 145 y 146.

14Segunda parte, capítulo 62.

15La imprenta que supuestamente visitó Don Quijote, según la tradición popular, habría existido realmente, en un local que hoy día ocupa una tienda dedicada a la venta de bisutería, con el nombre de Dulcinea. Se hallaba en la calle del Call, número 14-16. Junto a uno de los balcones hay una placa en el que aparece el siguiente mensaje: “Esta casa albergó de 1591 a 1670 la oficina tipográfica Cormellas”. Su propietario, Sebastián Cormellas, habría nacido, como Cervantes, en Alcalá de Henares, y sería socio de Blas de Robles, cuyo hijo Francisco publicó en 1605 la primera parte del Quijote. Curiosas coincidencias con la vida y obra de Cervantes. (Itinerario cervantino por Barcelona realizado con los alumnos del INS Torre Roja. Publicado en Internet.)

16Contraportada de la obra.

17Jean Cannavaggio, página 204.

18Carta de Lope de Vega, de marzo del 1612, en alusión a una reunión de la Academia del Conde de Saldaña. Citado por Martí de Riquer, en su introducción al Quijote.

19Alberto Spunberg, página 178.

20Jean Cannavaggio, página 235.

21En el prólogo del Quijote apócrifo Avellaneda se deshace en elogios de su “maestro Lope” (Alberto Spunger, página 180). Hay quien opina que Avellaneda sería en realidad Jerónimo de Pasamonte, que Cervantes hace entrar en el Quijote con el apodo de Ginés de Pasamonte, que habría puesto su pluma al servicio de Lope de Vega (Jean Canavaggio, página 236). Sea como sea, las desavenencias entre Lope y Cervantes constituyen una historia bien conocida por parte de los biógrafos.

22Jean Canavaggio, página 212.

23Página 15.

24Página 260.

25Segunda parte, capítulo 9.

26Introducción al Quijote, página LX.

27Fray Juan Gil y fray Antón de la Bella.

28Página 201.

29Jean Canavaggio, página 158.

30Capítulo 54.

31Jean Canavaggio, página 128.

32Cervantes el 22 de abril de 1616. Shakespeare el 23 de abril.

33Dicho por embajadores franceses al licenciado Márquez Torres, uno de los censores de la segunda parte de Don Quijote.

34Jean Canavaggio, página 202.