Francesco Petrarca, or Petrarch, was a 14th century Italian poet, scholar and humanist. Known as the father of 'Renaissance Humanism,' his writings directly helped shape what is now known as the modern Italian language. Petrarch is also credited with the development of Italian sonnets, now known as Petrarchan sonnets.
Born July 20, 1304, Francesco Petrarcha was the son of a merchant and notary public and left a career in law to pursue a writing career as a scholar. Petrarch wrote his most famous work, "Rime Sparse," a collection of 366 poems and sonnets devoted to his unrequited love Laura de Noves, who died of the Black Plague in 1348. These poems and his other writings, such as "Africa," an epic poem about the Punic war, were used to help create the modern Italian language.
Petrarch and his work were very popular and influential in his time, and in 1341 he was crowned in Rome as the Poet Laureate. His speech for the occasion, the "Coronation Oration," became one of the first manifestos of the golden age of Renaissance. Petrarch's work influenced many other writers, such as Chaucer of "Canterbury Tales" fame, and more modern English poets, such as Sir Thomas Wyatt and Percy Shelley.