In Soul Edge, Cervantes' father, Philip de Leon, was a privateer sent on a special mission from the Spanish king to loot in the name of Spain (these "legal pirates" are known as corsairs). One day, he sailed closely to an English ship with intent to loot it, only to find out too late that it was a warship. He was taken by surprise, his ship was destroyed, and he died along with it. Cervantes was devastated. Cervantes grew up full of pride over his father who was a great sailor, but became a notorious pirate because of his father's death.
He decided that if that was what happened to sailors that swear allegiance to Spain, he would forsake it and become a pirate. One day, he received a message from the "Merchant of Death," Vercci. It was a request to find Soul Edge. At first Cervantes dismissed the offer, but finally accepted since Vercci was the merchant who gave him the artillery for his ship. After a year of searching, Cervantes found information pointing to an antiques dealer with a "strange article". There was no specific evidence that said article was Soul Edge, but Cervantes was a pirate, and could find some use for the ship's goods even if Soul Edge was not there.
Cervantes attacked the ship, and nobody heard from him again for more than twenty years. He obtained Soul Edge, and it eventually drove him mad as it devoured his soul. His insanity made him destroy anyone who came seeking the sword. Li Long was the first to confront him to possess Soul Edge, but was defeated from its overwhelming power. He tried to escape, and Cervantes pursued him. However, Li Long successfully fled. Cervantes' reign of terror continued for over 20 years until Sophitia, Taki and Siegfried defeated him.
But this was not the end of Cervantes. In Soul Calibur, Nightmare, the new master of Soul Edge, unknowingly resurrected him using the fragments of Soul Edge still lodged inside Cervantes' body, but all his memories of his past life had vanished. Once again, Cervantes seeks the demonic blade with renewed fervor and strength. Over the course of the next three years, Cervantes sailed in a ghost ship, plundering and maddening ships across the world, as his memories gradually returned, along with the desire to search for Soul Edge again, even though he knew it had robbed him of his free will.
In Soul Calibur II, during Cervantes' search for Soul Edge, he realized that the second sword had been shattered as well when he found a few shards of the second sword. He pondered as to whether or not Soul Edge had been definitively conquered, but at that moment, the shards melded together on their own to create a bigger piece of the sword. For the next four years, Cervantes began his quest to steal souls and collect additional fragments. Eventually, they took the form of a legitimate sword. Cervantes' new goal was to regain Soul Edge, and to do that, he needed as many of the fragments as he could find. By making use of the fragments of the cursed sword within his body, Cervantes succeeded in preserving his own will. With Soul Edge and the Adrian, he devoured the souls of brawny men of the sea.
In Soul Calibur III, Cervantes sailed around his homeland of Spain, seeking souls to sustain both himself and his half of Soul Edge. But one day, the presence of the other half of the evil sword suddenly disappeared, And he himself began to crumble. Cervantes then realized that the fragments of Soul Edge that were sustaining his life were slowly losing their power. Then Tira appeared on board the Adrian with a huge flock of ravens, claiming that she is a servant of the evil sword. She tells Cervantes that a powerful entity has appeared, and it was the one who temporarily destroyed the other half of Soul Edge. Then Tira leaves. Cervantes did not plan on sharing the same goal as hers, but he had to destroy the entity in order for him to stay alive.
In Soul Calibur IV, Over time, Cervantes had consumed so many souls that he was able to create an army of the undead. He had even planned to devour the sweet soul of his own daughter, Ivy, in order to gain an even larger amount of power, but he could not locate his daughter's whereabouts. Soul Edge was now free from the seal of Soul Calibur, and his own sword was responding to this. Cervantes had no other choice but to let it go. But once Soul Edge regained all of its power, Cervantes will claim the sword for himself. So he picked up an old sword that he used long ago, and even this sword soon became evil. With such great power, Cervantes was sure that no one can stop him.
In Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny, Gauntlet storyline, Cervantes' soul is required as payment for Ivy to create a potion for character Hilde and her party to cure her father. Though they attempt to renegotiate, they are forced to find and take Cervantes' soul by force.
In Soul Calibur V, Cervantes traveled to Ostrheinsburg in order to reclaim Soul Edge and devour the sweet soul of his daughter, Ivy, but it was Ivy herself who foiled this plan. His body beaten and his mind shattered, Cervantes was swallowed by a dimensional rift opened by Soul Edge. Years later, as the 17th century dawned, strange rumors began to stir among the men of the sea. They spoke of a giant ship with a skull on its bow, captained by the legendary Cervantes. No one truly believed it, of course—more than half a century had passed since the great pirate last stalked the Atlantic. What they did not know—what they couldn't have known—was that Cervantes had broken free of Soul Edge's control, and escaped from the other dimension. He had returned to his world at the height of his powers.
In Soul Calibur VI, which serves a reboot of the original Soul Calibur story, Cervantes was accidentally revived by Nightmare when the Evil Seed spread throughout the world. Initially having no memory of his past, he proceeds to kill a band of pirates and claim their souls, bringing his memory back to light. He then seeks his daughter Ivy, but refuses to kill her or claim her soul due to her being "too weak". He then decided to bide his time until he can fully become the master of Soul Edge.