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Life and History of Dante Alighieri

After the delegation the Pope sent away the other representatives and asked Dante to remain in Rome. At the same time, November 1, 1301, Charles de Valois entered Florence and destroyed everything in just six days. Valois installed a government of Black Guelfs. Dante was condemned to exile for two years and had to pay a huge sum of money. As an absconder, he could not pay his fine and was finally condemned to perpetual exile. If he were caught by the Florentine soldiers, it would have meant death.

Dante became frustrated with his White Guelf allies and vowed to become a party of one. He then began the foundations of his Comedy, a work in 100 cantos, and divided it into three books of thirty-three cantos each with a single introductory canto.

After, Dante left to Verona as a guest of Bartolommeo Della Scala before moving to Sarzana and Lucca with Madame Gentucca. Some sources even suggest he went to Paris too between 1308 and 1310.

In 1310, Henry VII of Luxembourg, King of the Romans (Germany) was invading Italy. Dante saw this as a chance for revenge, sending Henry VII several public letters violently inciting them to destroy the Black Guelfs.

In 1312, Henry VII attacked Florence and defeated the Black Guelfs, however there is no evidence of Dante's influence on the invasion. In 1313 Henry VII died leaving little hope for Dante to return to Florence. He left for Verona where Cangrande Della Scala allowed him to live in security and in a fair amount of prosperity. Cangrande was also mentioned in Dante's work, Paradise (Paradiso XVII, 76).

By 1315, Florence was forced by Uguccione della Faggiuola to grant amnesty to people in exile. Among the list was Dante to be pardoned, however in order to do so, he must pay a sum of money and agree to be treated as a public offender in a religious ceremony. Dante was outraged and refused the offer.

As Uguccione defeated Florence, Dante's death sentence was converted to confinement if he were to go to Florence and swear to never enter town again. Dante didn't go and his condemnation to death was confirmed and extended to his sons.

Prince Guido Novello da Polenta invited Dante to Ravenna, where Polenta was prince, in 1318. He accepted the offer and while there finished his Paradise.

Dante Alighieri soon died, perhaps from malaria in 1321 on September 13/14 and was buried in the Church of San Pier Maggiore, later San Francesco). In 1483, Bernardo Bembo, praetor of Venice, organized a much better grave.

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Poetry by Dante Alighieri

O Intelligence Moving the Third Heaven. From "The Banquet".

Complete works:
  • The Divine Comedy (includes Inferno. Known as "Divina Commedia" in Italian)
  • La Vita Nuova. A 42 chapter book with 25 sonnets, 1 ballata, 4 canzoni written in 1295.

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