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Boccaccio, is widely considered the most important poem of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language. In the late Middle Ages, most poetry was written in Latin, accessible only to the most educated readers. Dante defended use of the vernacular in literature. Dante was instrumental in establishing the literature of Italy, and his depictions of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven provided inspiration for the larger body of Western art. Petrarch, and Boccaccio are also called “the three fountains” or “the three crowns”. Dante was born in Florence, Republic of Florence, present-day Italy.
The exact date of his birth is unknown, although it is generally believed to be around 1265. This can be deduced from autobiographic allusions in the Divine Comedy. Giovanni Boccaccio described Dante’s appearance and demeanor as follows: “the poet was of middle height, and in his later years he walked somewhat bent over, with a grave and gentle gait. He was clad always in most seemly attire, such as befitted his ripe years. His face was long, his nose aquiline, and his eyes big rather than small. His jaws were large, and his lower lip protruded.
Dante’s family was loyal to the Guelphs, a political alliance that supported the Papacy and which was involved in complex opposition to the Ghibellines, who were backed by the Holy Roman Emperor. The poet’s mother was Bella, likely a member of the Abati family. This victory brought about a reformation of the Florentine constitution. Although several others subsequently claimed to be his offspring, it is likely that only Jacopo, Pietro, Giovanni, and Antonia were his actual children. Antonia later became a nun, taking the name Sister Beatrice. This section needs additional citations for verification. Dante said he first met Beatrice Portinari, daughter of Folco Portinari, at age nine, and claimed to have fallen in love with her “at first sight”, apparently without even talking with her.
Pope Boniface quickly dismissed the other delegates and asked Dante alone to remain in Rome. Charles of Valois entered Florence with the Black Guelphs, who in the next six days destroyed much of the city and killed many of their enemies. He took part in several attempts by the White Guelphs to regain power, but these failed due to treachery. Dante, bitter at the treatment he received from his enemies, also grew disgusted with the infighting and ineffectiveness of his erstwhile allies and vowed to become a party of one. In 1310, Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg marched into Italy at the head of 5,000 troops. Dante saw in him a new Charlemagne who would restore the office of the Holy Roman Emperor to its former glory and also retake Florence from the Black Guelphs. At some point during his exile, he conceived of the Comedy, but the date is uncertain.