Petrarch's Eight Years in Milan

By Ernest Hatch Wilkins | Go to book overview
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A Summary of Petrarch's Life and Work Before Coming to Milan

1304-1326. Petrarch was born in Arezzo on 20 July 1304 (his father, a notary, had been exiled from Florence, his property being confiscated). Most of his early childhood was spent at L'Incisa, in Tuscany. A younger brother, Gherardo, was born in or about 1307. In 1312 the family moved to Provence. Petrarch's mother died in 1318 or 1319: his earliest extant poem is an elegy in Latin verse written on her death. The years from 1320 to 1326 were spent mostly in the unwilling study of law at the University of Bologna.

1326-1337. On his father's death Petrarch returned to Avignon; and there for a time he and Gherardo lived a life of fashionable gayety. In 1327 Petrarch fell in love with a Laura whose identity is not known: she did not return his love. The malversation of his father's executors soon made it necessary for him to earn his living, and he chose the ecclesiastical profession. In 1330 he entered the service of Cardinal Giovanni Colonna as a commensal chaplain. In 1333 he went on a northern journey, visiting Paris, Cologne, and other cities. In 1335 Benedict XII gave him his first canonry. In 1337 his son Giovanni was born, of an unknown mother. In this same year he went on a journey to Rome. In this period and in all later periods covered in this Summary he wrote Italian lyrics, short Latin poems--chiefly epistolae metricae--and letters in Latin prose. Within this period he wrote also a comedy, Philologia, that has not survived.

1337-1341. On his return from Rome he acquired a modest house at Vaucluse, in the valley of the Sorgue, some fifteen miles from Avignon; and there he lived quietly--except for occasional visits to Avignon--devoting himself to study and


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