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Who is Who in Italian History

Dante Alighieri
1265 - 1321
Dante Alighieri

​Dante Alighieri ​was born in 1265 in Florence, Italy to Bella and Alighiero Bellincione.

His mother died when he was only 7 years old, and soon thereafter, his father remarries with Lapa di Chiarissimo Cialuffi, who would give birth to Dante’s half-brother Francesco and half-sister Gaetana.

At the age of 9, he meets and falls in love with Beatrice Portinari, the 8-year old daughter of Florentine nobleman Folco Portinari. It is said that his (platonic) love for Beatrice inspired many of his famous works throughout his life.

He started writing and exchanging poems with notable poets in his early youth and at the age of 10, he enrolled in the convent schools of Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella, both located in Florence with a focus on grammar and philosophy. 

He later studied in Todi (province of Perugia, Umbria region), followed by studies at the University of Bologna, Europe’s oldest and arguably the world’s most famous university.

At the age of 12, he got engaged to Gemma, the Florence-born daughter of Maria and Manetto Donati, who he would marry around 1285 (at the age of 20).

History is unclear as to whether they had a happy marriage, however, they had three children, i.e. Pietro, Jacopo and Antonia, who would later become sister Beatrice, a nun at the monastery of Santo Stefano.

Like many of his peers, Dante Alighieri was very involved in politics and as expected from the young citizens at the time, he joint the citizen’s militia.

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