He modelled himself on the Roman theatre as reflected by the plays of Ariosto, and he avowedly wrote the Estrangeiros to combat the school of Gil Vicente, while in it, as in Os Vilhalpandos, the action takes place in Italy.
It expressed itself at last in the monumental work of Don Quixote, which places Cervantes beside Rabelais, Ariosto and Shakespeare as one of the four supreme exponents of the Renaissance.
What Ariosto is for Italy, Cervantes for Spain, Erasmus for Holland, Luther for Germany, Shakespeare for England, that is Rabelais for France.
During his leisure he wrote a translation of Ariosto (1781), and Memoires sur la vie de Turgot (1782).
But the victor's laurels were reserved for Ariosto, whose Orlando Furioso is the purest and most perfect extant example of Renaissance poetry.