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Dante Alighieri

Other names: Durante


A prior of the Signoria of Florence, 1300 (representing the San Piero Maggiore district)

Poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker, little is known of Dante's early life. At the age of nine he first met Beatrice Portinari, who went on to marry Simone de' Bardi. In 1283, Dante began to write the noble lyrics inspired by his love for Beatrice, which he included in Vita Nuova. The death of Beatrice in 1290 was followed by a period of bitter depression, and Dante appears to have plunged into dissipation. A period of military service ensued, and as a member of the Guelph party, he fought against the Ghibellines as a cavalryman.

After his own marriage in 1298, he took an active part in the government of Florence. He was a member of the Florentine guild of physicians and apothecaries in 1295. In 1300, he was part of an embassy sent to San Gimignano to strengthen the alliance of Tuscan cities against the Pope. That year, he had also been appointed a prior of Florence. In 1301, however, his party was overthrown by the nobles. The following year, he was sentenced to death by the new Florentine government formed by the Pope, the French and the Black Guelphs, but he was exiled instead.

From 1302-10, Dante wandered over Italy, spending much time at Verona, and commenced to write his Convivio (Banquet), and De Vulgari Eloquentia. A fresh sentence of banishment in 1311 prevented his return to Florence. His closing years were happily spent under the patronage of Cangrande della Scala at Verona, and of Guido da Polenta at Ravenna. During this period his Divina Commedia was written, and other works continued. Apart from being a great poet, he was also distinguished as a lyric writer, as is shown in his Canzoniere and the Iyrical portions of his Vita Nuova.

Place of birth: Florence
Place of death: Ravenna
Place of burial: Ravenna

Son of Alighiero di Bellincione and Bella N. He married Gemma Donati in 1291.



1. J. Gunn. Nelson's Biographical Dictionary. London, etc.: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1936.
2. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2018.
3. D. Herlihy, R. Burr Litchfield et al, eds. Florentine Renaissance Resources: Online Tratte of Office Holders 1282-1532, 2002.
P. Litta, L. Passerini et al. Famiglie celebri di Italia. Milan: Presso P.E. Giusti, 1819–1852.

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