That same year, he enlisted as a solider in the Spanish Navy, where he fought in the Battle of Lepanto against the Ottoman Empire in 1571.Cervantes was shot twice in the chest and once in the left hand, an injury that was to leave the hand numb for the rest of his life and garnered him the nickname "el manco de Lepanto," the one-handed man from Lepanto. In fact, seven years of his late youth are completely undocumented.In 1592, 28 years old at the time, he emerged again, alluded to as an upstart by playwright Robert Green, which has led scholars to believe that by then, Shakespeare was relatively well known.

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Businessman and soldier From that point on, Shakespeare made a huge splash with his plays and novellas. Cervantes and his brother were taken prisoner by Ottoman pirates in 1575.

Their father offered up his entire fortune and their sister's dowry as ransom, but only Miguel's brother was set free, while Miguel was held as a slave by the Ottoman Sultan's governor of Algiers for five years.

He tried to flee four times and was finally ransomed by Trinitarians in 1580.

Shakespeare attended his home town's renowned grammar school, where he was taught Latin and the basics of rhetoric and poetics.

Cervantes, from a family of impoverished nobility, studied theology at the University of Salamanca.

Creative beginnings Miguel de Cervantes led quite an adventurous life.

At age 22, he left Spain for Rome to serve as a valet to Cardinal Giulio Acquaviva, presumably fleeing a Spanish arrest warrant.

April 23, 1616 is recorded as the death date for two literary masters: English playwright William Shakespeare and Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes. Life dealt the writers different cards - clearly less favorable in the case of the Spanish novelist.

William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes don't have much in common, although they lived in the same era, greatly influenced following generations, and are both regarded as virtuoso writers.

The English bard was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Miguel de Cervantes is 17 years Shakespeare's senior: He was born in 1547 in Alcala de Henares, a town near Madrid.