Italian poet, born at Florence, 1265; died at Ravenna, Italy, 14 September, 1321. His own statement in the "Paradiso" (xxii, 112-117) that he was born when the sun was in Gemini, fixes his birthday between 18 May and 17 June.
He was the son of Alighiero di Bellincione Alighieri, a notary belonging to an ancient but decadent Guelph family, by his first wife, Bella, who was possibly a daughter of Durante di Scolaio Abati, a Ghibelline noble. A few months after the poet's birth, the victory of Charles of Anjou over King Manfred at Benevento (26 February, 1266) ended the power of the empire in Italy, placed a French dynasty upon the throne of Naples, and secured the predominance of the Guelphs in Tuscany. Dante thus grew up amidst the triumphs of the Florentine democracy, in which he took some share fighting in the front rank of the Guelph cavalry at the battle of Campaldino (11 June, 1289), when the Tuscan Ghibellines were defeated by the forces of the Guelph league, of which Florence was the head. This victory was followed by a reformation of the Florentine constitution, associated with the name of Giano della Bella, a great-hearted noble who had joined the people. By the Ordinances of Justice (1293) all nobles and magnates were more strictly excluded from the government, and subjected to severe penalties for offences against plebeians. To take any part in public life, it was necessary to be enrolled in one or other of the "Arts" (the guilds in which the burghers and artisans were banded together), and accordingly Dante matriculated in the guild of physicians and apothecaries. On 6 July, 1295, he spoke in the General Council of the Commune in favour of some modification in the Ordinances of Justice after which his name is frequently found recorded as speaking or voting in the various councils of the republic.
1 -[Dante Alighieri]
2 -[Dante Alighieri : First Writtings]
3 -[Dante Alighieri : 1307 to death]
4 -[Dante Alighieri : Dante's philosophy]