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.
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 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.