Francesco Petrarca ( Petrarch often, rarely Petrarch, born July 20, 1304 in Arezzo, † July 18, 1374 in Arquà Petrarca ) was an Italian poet and historian. He is considered the co-founder of humanism and along with Dante and Boccaccio as one of the most important representatives of early Italian literature.

  • 7.1 Texts
  • 7.2 secondary literature


His father, a notary, was banished as Pope Pendant in Florence. With seven years Petrarch followed him to Avignon. Petrarch studied law at Montpellier and Bologna. He returned in 1326 to Avignon back. The jurisprudential studies, he broke off, received minor orders and had its new home in a house in Vaucluse. Petrarch is the church father Augustine chose as his model and tried to emulate his lifestyle. When his father died, Petrarch fell into economic difficulties.

Encounter with Laura

On April 6, 1327 according to his statement a Good Friday, but actually an Easter Monday, he saw a married woman he called Laura. The lady was Laura de Noves possibly. The impression seemed so strong on him that he adored her life. As a poet he was striving for glory and laurel ( Laurus Latin ) and found in this female figure a permanent source of his poetic inspiration.

Geraldine Gabor and Ernst -Jürgen Dreyer write, " that > Laura < disintegrated under the unprejudiced look at pure language, which plays in unendlichzähligen meanings: L' auro, the gold of Cupid > aurato strale < ( the golden arrow) and the > aurata piuma < ( the golden feathers of the Phoenix ) [ ... ] "Wolf - Dieter Lange adds:

Petrarch himself this Rerum vulgarium fragmentary, fragments of everyday things, "refers to his friends as always secondary, as youthful folly, as nugellae ( little things) ."

Ascent of Mont Ventoux

In a letter dated on April 26, 1336 letter, which was written in Latin and addressed to the early humanists Dionigi di Borgo San Sepolcro, Petrarch describes how he boarded with his brother, the Mont Ventoux in Provence. When he got to the top, he looked at the landscape and turned, excited by a random aufgeschlagenes word from the Confessions of Augustine, himself, and thus the radical subjectivity of his poetry:

The coincidence of nature experience and turning back on the self is a spiritual turning point, which Petrarch, the conversion experience concerning, is on a par with Paul of Tarsus, Augustine and Jean -Jacques Rousseau. Petrarch saw the world in contrast to medieval ideas no more than a hostile and destructive to humans, which is only a way station in a world beyond, but now she possessed in his eyes its own value. As in landscape painting this time sounds Petrarch to a new nature and landscape experience, in which aesthetic and contemplative perspectives together. Some scholars thus look into the ascent of Mont Ventoux a cultural and historical key moment on the threshold from medieval to modern times. In addition, Petrarch is considered the father of the climbers and as the founder of alpinism, that initial "touristy" mountain climb.

Later years

Petrarch retired to travel through France, Belgium and Germany to Fontaine -de- Vaucluse near Avignon, where he lived from 1337 to 1349 and wrote a large part of his Canzoniere. 1341 Petrarch was crowned on the Capitoline Hill in Rome for the poet ( poet laureate ). In between, he went to the court of the Cardinal of Avignon, for eight years he was ambassador in Milan. The last decade he alternated between Venice and ArquÃ. Among his friends was, inter alia, Giovanni de Dondi (1318-1389), the inventor and builder of the " Astrarium ", one of the first public astronomical clocks in the world.


Petrarch is considered as ( co-) founder of humanism, and was one of the greatest poets of Italy. He wanted to revive the ancient world as a whole.

His Canzoniere, a poem cycle of 366 poems, including 317 sonnets, in which he sings of his pure, enduring love for Laura, the madonna angelicata, coined content and form of the European poetry of the Renaissance ( Petrarchism ). As an aid to understanding the Canzoniere Petrarch's Tract often Secretum meum is considered. This drafted in the style of his great model Cicero Latin dialogue also provides some interesting clues to Petrarch's personality.

Of great importance also for the music were his madrigals as text templates for both the Trecento Madrigal Madrigal as well as the 16th and 17th centuries. Adrian Willaert and Cipriano de Rore were almost exclusively chosen Petrarch Sonnets for their fast -received as exemplary madrigals of the 1540s. Willaert brought his 1559 Musica nova madrigals out with 22 on Petrarchan sonnets. Luca Marenzio also set to music Petrarca. Claudio Monteverdi wrote four Petrarca Madrigals. Franz Schubert began in 1818 three sonnets of Petrarch in the translation by August Wilhelm Schlegel and Johann Diederich Gries for voice and piano (D 628-630 ). Franz Liszt set to music three Petrarch Sonnets 1838-1839 under the title Tre Sonetti del Petrarca for voice and piano ( Searle 270, 1-3 ) and 1843-1846 for Piano ( Searle 158). Arnold Schoenberg Opus 24 sonnets of Petrarch, translated by Karl August Förster set to music in his orchestral songs op 8 and in the Serenade. Akos Banlaky Also she set in the 20th century.

Starting point for his historiography was the model of antiquity. He tried to apply ancient historical examples to the present ( viri illustres ). He chose the monographic form or reflected on important events (res memorandae ). Petrarch understood history as exemplum. He took on morality before based reviews. Historiography had to encourage people and give him examples of his actions. He took no source criticism, but was followed by the source, which convinced him the most. New in the sense of a new beginning was in the Renaissance that Petrarch man becomes the center of world affairs - in contrast to the medieval world view, was firmly rooted in the God as ruler of the world. This change of perspective influenced the history of history.

Grave opening

Petrarch has found his tomb in Arquà Petrarca near Padua. In 2004 it was found after a grave opening that the skull in the coffin apparently belonged to a woman. With high probability, it is otherwise to the remains of the poet. The scientists wanted to gain clarity as to whether the Petrarca reputed height of 1.84 meters agree. He would thus have been a giant compared to his contemporaries.

The tomb of the poet, which had been built in 1380 by his son Francesco da Brosano and 1630 ravaged by grave robbers, had been already opened on December 5, 1873 for the purpose of conducting anthropological research. The opening took place at the request of the Academy of Bovolenta. By duly appointed professors a report on the operation was refunded.

The cemetery, the Petrarch chosen as a final resting place in 1874 on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of his death transformed into a space that was occupied in 1965 with Trachytplatten. Petrarch's sarcophagus is made of Verona marble.


After Petrarch, an important literary prize is named. The donated by Hubert Burda Petrarch Prize was awarded from 1975 to 1995 and again in 2010 to contemporary poets and translators and is a reminder of the history of poetry.

A Marmorherme of Petrarca is located next to those of Dante, Tasso and Ariosto in the poet grove off the west side of the castle Charlottenhof, also called " Siam". The herms were created by Gustav Blaeser. In Arezzo was built in 1928 close to the Duomo, in the park Paseggio del Prato, a monument to the son of the city.