Color engraving of Italian poet, scholar, and humanist Petrarch.


(1304 - 1374)

At the age of twenty-two in an Avignon church in 1327, the humanist scholar and poet Petrarch first set eyes on Laura, the woman who became the subject of his many love sonnets. Over the next decade, he traveled throughout France, Flanders, Brabant, and the Rhineland, meeting with other learned men and discovering works by Saint Augustine and Cicero. For his ascent of Mount Ventoux, he is often credited as the father of modern Alpinism. Petrarch was made poet laureate in Rome in 1341, discovered a copy of Cicero’s letters in a Verona library in 1345, and met Boccaccio on a trip to Florence in 1350.

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Reality is always the foe of famous names.

—Petrarch, 1337

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