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Sancho Panza
Monumento a Cervantes (Madrid) 10b.jpg
Statue of Sancho Panza in Madrid
(Lorenzo Coullaut Valera, 1930).
Created by Miguel de Cervantes
Portrayed by

Man of La Mancha (play):
Irving Jacobson
Tony Martinez
Ernie Sabella
Man of La Mancha (film):

James Coco
Gender Male
Specialty Sidekick
Occupation Peasant / Squire
Title Hidalgo
Spouse(s) Teresa Cascajo Panza
Children María Sancha Panza
Address La Mancha, Castille, Spain
Religion Roman Catholic
Nationality Spanish

Sancho Panza is a fictional character in the novel Don Quixote written by Spanish author Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra in 1602. Sancho acts as squire to Don Quixote, and provides comments throughout the novel, known as sanchismos, that are a combination of broad humor, ironic Spanish proverbs, and earthy wit. "Panza" means 'belly,' and is alternately spelled pança.


Don Quijote

Honoré DaumierDon Quichotte und Sancho Panza (c. 1868)

Sancho Panza is not a servant of Alonso Quijano before his madness turns him into Don Quixote, but a peasant living in the same unnamed village. When the novel begins Sancho has been married for a long time to a woman named Teresa Cascajo[1] and has a daughter, María Sancha (also named Marisancha, Marica, María, Sancha and Sanchica), who is said to be old enough to be married. Sancho's wife is described more or less as a feminine version of Sancho, both in looks and behaviour. When Don Quixote proposes Sancho to be his squire, neither he nor his family strongly oppose it.

Sancho is illiterate and proud of it but by influence of his new master he develops considerable knowledge about some books. During the travels with Don Quixote he keeps contact with his wife by dictating letters addressed to her.

Sancho Panza offers interpolated narrative voice throughout the tale, a literary convention invented by Cervantes. Sancho Panza is precursor to "the sidekick," and is symbolic of practicality over idealism. Sancho is the everyman, who, though not sharing his master's delusional "enchantment" until late in the novel, remains his ever-faithful companion realist, and functions as the clever sidekick.

In the novel, Don Quixote comments on the historical state and condition of Aragón and Castilla, which are vying for power in Europe. Sancho Panza represents, among other things, the quintessentially Spanish brand of skepticism of the period.

Sancho obediently follows his master, despite being sometimes puzzled by Quijote's actions. Riding a mule, he helps Quixote get out of various conflicts while looking forward to rewards of aventura that Quijote tells him of.

Don Quixote, Part Two

Bronze statues of Sancho Panza (L) and Don Quijote (R) at the Cervantes Birth Place Museum

Sancho's name

Cervantes variously names Sancho in the first book Sancho Zancas (legs); however, in the second book he standardizes Sancho's name in reply to the "false" Avellaneda Quixote sequel. At one point, Sancho alludes to the "false" Avellaneda book by addressing his wife (standardized as Teresa Panza) using the wrong name. The Sancho name does not change, but he calls his wife various names throughout the first part of the volume, and her 'true' name is not revealed until almost the end of that portion of the novel.

The promised insula

Don Quixote promises Sancho the governance of an ínsula, or island. However, Sancho has never heard of this word before, and does not know its meaning. Sancho has long been expecting some vague but concrete reward for this adventure, and believes the word to signify the prize that will make the trouble he has been enduring worthwhile.

The two later encounter a pair of impostor dukes who pretend to make Sancho governor of a fictional fief, la ínsula Barataria (roughly "Isle Come-cheaply"; see Cockaigne). He eagerly accepts, and leaves his master. In a letter, Don Quixote gives Sancho nonsensical advice on governorship gleaned from the romances he has read, thought to have been inspired by the Diálogo de Mercurio y Carón attributed to Alfonso de Valdés, using the allegorical ínsula to satirize gullibility for philosopher-doctors' quackery and the current political quests for foreign riches of the Indies.

The Dukes' "servants" are instructed to play several pranks upon Sancho. Surprisingly, Sancho is able to rule justly, applying common sense and practical wisdom in spite of fantastical, foolish advice that Don Quixote has read about. As Sancho triumphs in these staged parody battles he learns how difficult it is to rule and "resigns" to rejoin Don Quixote and continue the adventure.


Sancho laments the fall of his master.

Sancho encounters Ricote ("fat cat"), his former Morisco neighbor, who has buried a small fortune. Ricote, like all Moriscos, was expelled from Spain and has returned in disguise to retrieve the treasure he left behind. He asks Sancho for his help. Sancho, while sympathetic, refuses to betray his king.

When Don Quixote takes to his deathbed, Sancho tries to cheer him. Sancho idealistically proposes they become pastoral shepherds and thus becomes 'Quixotized'.

Other appearances of the character

In addition to stage and screen adaptations of the novel itself, Sancho Panza is a major character in the play within a play in the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha, and in the film of the same name. In Man of La Mancha, the newly-imprisoned Cervantes recruits his fellow prisoners to portray characters from his novel, with Cervantes himself playing Don Quixote. In the musical, Sancho sings in duet with Quixote, and solos in the song "A Little Gossip." Actors who have played Sancho in the play include Irving Jacobson (who also sang on the original cast album), Tony Martinez (1977 and 1992 revivals), and Ernie Sabella (2002 revival). James Coco played the character in the 1972 film.

Additional appearances

  • In the Quantum Leap episode "Catch a Falling Star", in which Ernie Sabella plays the actor "Manny", who in turn plays Cervantes' manservant, who plays Sancho. This appearance predates Sabella's 2002 Broadway portrayal of Sancho Panza.
  • In the Spanglish novel "Yo-Yo Boing!" by Giannina Braschi, Sancho Panza is the name of the main character's beaten down lover.
  • The Sancho Panza name is used for a cigar brand originating in Cuba in 1852. While it is still made in Cuba, a Honduran version made by General Cigar was introduced in 2001 for the United States market.
  • Sancho Panza is referenced in the Bush song "Monkey" off of the album Sixteen Stone.
  • In the Heroes episode "Upon this Rock"(Season 4 episode 13), "Hiro" had his memories taken from him and believes he is Don Quixote (Among many other famous fictional characters). He also believes his best friend, the character "Ando", is his sidekick, Sancho Panza. Together they must complete a quest.


  1. ^ Also known as Teresa Panza and Sancha, a probable nickname derived from her husband's name. Later in the book, though, she is sometimes named Juana Gutiérrez, in an example of continuity failure.

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