30 Facts About Boccaccio


Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and an important Renaissance humanist.

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Boccaccio's most notable works are The Decameron, a collection of short stories which in the following centuries was a determining element for the Italian literary tradition, especially after Pietro Bembo elevated the Boccaccian style to a model of Italian prose in the sixteenth century, and On Famous Women.

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Boccaccio wrote his imaginative literature mostly in Tuscan vernacular, as well as other works in Latin, and is particularly noted for his realistic dialogue which differed from that of his contemporaries, medieval writers who usually followed formulaic models for character and plot.

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The influence of Boccaccio's works was not limited to the Italian cultural scene but extended to the rest of Europe, exerting influence on authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, a key figure in English literature, or later on Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega and the Spanish classical theater.

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Boccaccio is remembered for being one of the precursors of humanism, of which he helped lay the foundations in the city of Florence, in conjunction with the activity of his friend and teacher Petrarch.

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Boccaccio was the one who initiated Dante's criticism and philology: Boccaccio devoted himself to copying codices of the Divine Comedy and was a promoter of Dante's work and figure.

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Boccaccio was born in Florence or in a village near Certaldo where his family was from.

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Boccaccio was the son of Florentine merchant Boccaccino di Chellino and an unknown woman; he was likely born out of wedlock.

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Boccaccio's father worked for the Compagnia dei Bardi and, in the 1320s, married Margherita dei Mardoli, who was of a well-to-do family.

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Boccaccio was an apprentice at the bank but disliked the banking profession.

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Boccaccio persuaded his father to let him study law at the Studium, where he studied canon law for the next six years.

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Boccaccio's father introduced him to the Neapolitan nobility and the French-influenced court of Robert the Wise in the 1330s.

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Boccaccio became a friend of fellow Florentine Niccolo Acciaioli, and benefited from his influence as the administrator, and perhaps the lover, of Catherine of Valois-Courtenay, widow of Philip I of Taranto.

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In Naples, Boccaccio began what he considered his true vocation of poetry.

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Boccaccio returned to Florence in early 1341, avoiding the plague of 1340 in that city, but missing the visit of Petrarch to Naples in 1341.

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Boccaccio had left Naples due to tensions between the Angevin king and Florence.

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Boccaccio's father had returned to Florence in 1338, where he had gone bankrupt.

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Boccaccio continued to work, although dissatisfied with his return to Florence, producing Comedia delle ninfe fiorentine in 1341, a mix of prose and poems, completing the fifty-canto allegorical poem Amorosa visione in 1342, and Fiammetta in 1343.

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From 1347, Boccaccio spent much time in Ravenna, seeking new patronage and, despite his claims, it is not certain whether he was present in plague-ravaged Florence.

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Boccaccio's stepmother died during the epidemic and his father was closely associated with the government efforts as minister of supply in the city.

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Boccaccio's father died in 1349 and Boccaccio was forced into a more active role as head of the family.

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From 1350, Boccaccio became closely involved with Italian humanism and with the Florentine government.

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Boccaccio revisited that city-state twice and was sent to Brandenburg, Milan and Avignon.

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Boccaccio pushed for the study of Greek, housing Barlaam of Calabria, and encouraging his tentative translations of works by Homer, Euripides, and Aristotle.

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In 1360, Boccaccio began work on De mulieribus claris, a book offering biographies of 106 famous women, that he completed in 1374.

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Boccaccio did not undertake further missions for Florence until 1365, and traveled to Naples and then on to Padua and Venice, where he met up with Petrarch in grand style at Palazzo Molina, Petrarch's residence as well as the place of Petrarch's library.

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Boccaccio returned to work for the Florentine government in 1365, undertaking a mission to Pope Urban V The papacy returned to Rome from Avignon in 1367, and Boccaccio was again sent to Urban, offering congratulations.

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Boccaccio gave a series of lectures on Dante at the Santo Stefano church in 1373 and these resulted in his final major work, the detailed Esposizioni sopra la Commedia di Dante.

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Some such disappointment could explain why Boccaccio came suddenly to write in a bitter Corbaccio style, having previously written mostly in praise of women and love, though elements of misogyny are present in Il Teseida.

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Petrarch then dissuaded Boccaccio from burning his own works and selling off his personal library, letters, books, and manuscripts.

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