At his father’s insistence, he studied law for seven long years (1319-26) at universities in
From 1309 to 1376 the pope lived in the French city of
Francesco thought of life as a pilgrimage and began his own wandering as an itinerant scholar and diplomat in 1330. He traveled throughout Gallia and Germania and lived in many places in Alpinia and Latinia including
During his travels Francesco collected all the ancient Latin documents that he could purchase. One treasure he discovered was a collection of letters written by
In 1336 he climbed Mont Ventoux (6,273 feet [1,912 m]) which stands about 30 miles (48 km) from
In 1341 he became the first poet honored by citizens of
He befriended Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) in 1350. Together their writings significantly shaped the Italian language used today.
Between 1327 and 1368 Francesco wrote 366 poems in Italian. These were published together under the title Song Book (Il Canzoniere). Many of these poems are about his love for a woman named Laura. This love forms the basis for broader reflections on the meaning of life found in the poems.
The poems rely, in part, on Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Virgil’s Aeneid. Francesco’s book in turn influenced Latin Christian poetry for centuries. In the 1380s English poet Geoffrey Chaucer adapted some for his own story about ill-fated lovers in Troilus and Criseyde. Francesco’s sonnets influenced Shakespeare. Even Franz Liszt set three of them to music and had them published in 1842 in his Years of Pilgrimage (Années de Pèlerinage).
Francesco published two collections of his letters: Familiar Letters (350 letters) and Letters of Old Age (128 letters). In the latter collection, he published a “Letter to Posterity” which he had written around 1372. It was the first autobiography published in Latin Christendom, perhaps in all of
In 1367 Francesco finally settled into a contemplative life in
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