Miguel de Cervantes wrote the epic satire Don Quixote
, which is regarded as the first true modern novel. Little is known of Cervantes's early life; at 23 he enlisted in the Spanish militia and then fought against the Turks in the battle of Lepanto (1571), where a gunshot wound permanently crippled his left hand. He spent four more years at sea and then another five as a slave after being captured by Barbary pirates. Ransomed by his family, Cervantes returned to Madrid but his disability hampered him; it was in debtor's prison that he began to write Don Quixote
. The title character
, a dreamy middle-aged nobleman, sets out through Spain on a makeshift quest to fight injustice through acts of chivalry. Cervantes wrote many other works, including poems and plays, but none had the impact or popularity of his masterpiece.