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Petrarca, Francesco (1304–74)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-C030-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 22, 2024, from

Article Summary

With Dante and Boccaccio, Petrarca (known as Petrarch) made the fourteenth century the most memorable in Italian literature. He was also the first great humanist of the Italian Renaissance. He brilliantly and self-consciously exemplified humanism’s classical, rhetorical, literary, and historical interests; with him the movement came of age. He was a proponent not only of classical Rome (‘What else is history,’ he once asked, ‘than the praise of Rome?’), but also of contemporary Rome, constantly calling for the popes at Avignon to return to their proper See and urging restoration of Rome as the seat of the Empire, even if that meant supporting the visionary Roman revolutionary Cola di Rienzo. He came to see himself also as a moral philosopher. His ethical interests were closely tied to his cultural interests and personal situation as a lay moralist (though technically he was a cleric). His outlook and method differed from that of contemporary Aristotelians, whom he attacked on a broad cultural front, sounding many of the themes that would become common in subsequent conflicts between humanism and scholasticism in the Renaissance.

Citing this article:
Monfasani, John. Petrarca, Francesco (1304–74), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-C030-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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