The indecisive warfare that had prevailed during 1357 had come to an end by the beginning of 1358, and peace negotiations were carried on during the first half of the year.
It was presumably early in January, or perhaps late in the previous December, that Petrarch received from Avignon a letter that he calls a "Tricipitem epystolam," written by three friends using three different pens and three different colors of ink: thrice and more than thrice, he says, he read the letter happily. The three friends from whom it came were living in the same honorable house, apparently a house well known to Petrarch--"honesto illo sub lare degentibus"--and they were all men to whom Petrarch had often written individually-- "quibus tam multa sepe singulis." They are not named in Petrarch's reply: they were probably Socrates, Laelius, and Stefano Colonna, all of whom were connected in one way or another with the Colonna family.1
To this letter Petrarch replied, in his Fam. XX9, written in____________________