The State Archives are responsible for guarding and disseminate the most significant documentation, in quantity and quality, of the Spanish documentary heritage, the second most valuable in the world for its historical antiquity and universality.
They are called “state” as they are all state-owned. Some of them, the most representative for the volume and value of their papers, are directly managed by the central administration of the State (General Archive of Simancas, General Archive of the Indies, Archive of the Crown of Aragon, National Historical Archive, Nobility Section of the National Historical Archive in Toledo,, Archive of the Royal Chancellery of Valladolid and General Administration Archive) and others, Provincial Historical Archives or Archive of Notary Protocols of Madrid, are managed by their regional authorities.
The following State Archives here presented have preserved documents related with Cervantes:
The General Archive of Simancas (AGS) holds most of them, due to its character of instrument of power as it was created by Philip II. Amongst its holdings there can be found multiple examples of the Cervantes’ services as a soldier, captive, spy, commissioner of supplies for armies and navies and tax collector.
The General Archive of the Indies (AGI) was established by Charles III in 1785 to keep in a single place all the documents concerning the government of the Indies (the Spanish Americas, the Philippines and other minor territories). It holds the Cervantes’ request for several employments in the Americas and the trade registers of his books sent to the New World.
The Archive of the Royal Chancellery of Valladolid holds all the lawsuits conducted by this court of justice in its jurisdiction – the northern half of Castile. Amongst them the lawsuit for debts concerning the Cervantes’ father in 1551 when he was in Valladolid.
The National Historical Archive was founded in 1866 but it preserves documentary holdings of various departments never sent to Simancas by circumstances, i.e. the documents of the Royal Council in the 17th century, when it was responsible for the evaluation and granting of printing licenses. The licence for “El Quijote” was one of them.
The Archive of Notary Protocols of Madrid holds the notary protocols of Madrid as capital and court. There can be found several business acts and contracts concerning both the work and the private life of Cervantes.
The Provincial Historical Archive of Seville preserves the notary protocols of its jurisdiction. Here there can be found private documents of the Cervantes’ public activities in Seville.
All the cervantine documents in these archives are collected for the first time, fulfilling the wishes of scholars and researchers, linking the documents with their holding archives and clearing doubts about the provenance of some documents nourished by two centuries of biographical studies.