Petrarch polished and perfected the hitherto unknown sonnet form for his poems to Laura, and the Petrarchan sonnet still bears his name.
Petrarch was an aesthetic conservative, who sought to recover the lost heights of Roman and Hellenic culture.
Petrarch spent much of his early life at Avignon and nearby Carpentras, where his family moved to follow Pope Clement V in 1309 at the beginning of the Avignon Papacy.
The poem was well received in Petrarch's time because of its masterful imitation of classical Latin and its advocacy of the classical virtues of heroism and honor.
Petrarch also published many volumes of his letters, including a few written to his long-dead friends from history like Cicero and Virgil.
The latter part of Petrarch's life was spent in journeying through northern Italy as an international scholar and poet-diplomat.
In Augustine, Petrarch would find a promise of a heavenly future that would influence him deeply throughout his life.
Petrarch is best known for his Italian poetry: notably the Canzoniere and the Trionfi ("Triumphs").
In 1341 Petrarch was crowned poet laureate in Rome, the first man since antiquity to be given this honor.
The poem was wildly popular and Petrarch emerged as a European celebrity.
In 1327, Petrarch would also meet Laura for the first time, the woman who would later inspire his greatest poems of unrequited love.
Petrarch's career in the Church did not allow him to marry, but he did father two children by a woman or women unknown to posterity.
When his father died in 1326, Petrarch was free to pursue a career in writing.
Petrarch was born in Arezzo, the son of a notary.
More than any other man, Petrarch is credited with inspiring humanist philosophy which led to the intellectual flowering of the Renaissance.
In 1340 Petrarch published his first large-scale work, Africa; an epic in Latin about the great Roman general Scipio Africanus.
Later Renaissance poets who copied Petrarch's style named this collection of 366 poems the Canzoniere ("Song Book").