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Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials - Don Quixote

The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha, better known simply as Don Quixote, is arguably the first modern novel. Published in two parts in 1605 and 1615, the novel was written by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, although he claims to have cribbed the events of the novel from the fictional author Benengeli. The novel details the misadventures of the titular Don Quixote, an eccentric nobleman who’s read one too many chivalric romances. Accompanied by his loyal squire Sancho Panza, Don Quixote bumbles his way through a world that has long since outgrown chivalry and knights. Let’s saddle up and find some windmills to tilt at!

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza from Cervantes' novel, Don Quixote!  Part of the Qwiz5 series by Qwiz Quizbowl Camp, written to help quiz bowl teams power more tossups!

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer questions. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at its five most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on Don Quixote.


Sancho Panza may be a simple peasant, but he matches his master’s delusions with humor and common sense. Sancho joins Don Quixote, who promises his squire an island to rule. At one point in the novel Sancho is pranked by a Duke and Duchess and leaves Don Quixote to rule over the fictional Island Barataria. The Duke and Duchess also try to trick Sancho into whipping himself over 3,000 times. Sancho’s practicality and common sense win out in the end, though, and he reunites with Don Quixote on his master’s death bed.


Aldonza Lorenzo is a peasant woman whom Don Quixote refers to as Dulcinea and believes is a noblewoman. Don Quixote elevates Dulcinea into a paragon of beauty and virtue and attempts (unsuccessfully) to fight a group of merchants who do not recognize her. Cervantes was spurred to write the second part of Don Quixote in part because of misrepresentations of Dulcinea in an “unofficial” sequel to his work written by Avellaneda.


Rocinante is Don Quixote’s trusty steed. Like his owner, he is long past his prime: his name roughly translates to “nag of nags.” Nonetheless, Don Quixote is quick to defend his horse’s honor, and is beaten soundly by a group of Galicians for doing so. After this fight, and others, Don Quixote attempts to cure his and his squire’s wounds with the magical balm of Fierabras; a concoction that causes the pair acute intestinal distress.


Mambrino is the name of a fictional Moorish King who is a recurring character in the romantic tales of chivalry Don Quixote read. According to these stories, Mambrino possessed a golden helmet that made its wearer invulnerable. In the novel, Don Quixote sees a barber who places a bronze basin on his head as protection from the rain and believes the basin is the fabled helmet.


The Knight of the White Moon is an alias of Sansón Carrasco, a young student eager to restore Don Quixote’s senses and have him return home. In the second book, Carrasco first confronts Quixote as “The Knight of Mirrors.” He is assisted by Quixote’s neighbor, Thomas Cecial, the latter’s identity hidden by a large pasteboard nose. Carrasco and Cecial are surprisingly bested by Quixote and Panza. Vowing revenge, Carrasco returns as the Knight of the White Moon and defeats Quixote, forcing him to return home and refrain from knight errantry for “one year.” It is during this time at home that Quixote’s sanity returns, but only just before he passes away.


Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:

  • Read this article to learn more about the mystery of the False Quixote.

  • Don Quixote even inspired the greatest playwright of the English language: William Shakespeare.

  • Visit this site to learn more about the tradition of Spanish chivalric romances.

  • Don Quixote inspired many different works of art, including a Broadway musical!


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