Petrarch — Father of Humanism

Petrarch, born Francesco Pertrarca, was a Renaissance humanist who lived from 1304 to 1374. He once said,

God has given us our vast intellectual and creative potential to be used to their fullest.

Petrarch is most popularly known as the Father of Humanism and he is sometimes mentioned as the Father of the Renaissance.

Petrarch loved the ancient classics and from an early age he studied and read Cicero, instead of his law books. He wanted to bring back the ancient manuscripts, some of which had fallen into obscurity. Petrarch found several unknown documents from writers such as Cicero, Homer, Virgil and Seneca in monasteries.



When his father died, he gave up law and turned to poetry. Petrarch is famous for inventing the method of poetry called the sonnet, which was later popularized by Shakespeare. In 1340, he became Rome’s official poet, composing in both Italian, his native language, and Latin, his preferred poetic language.

Petrarch was a self-centered man. This is best seen in the sonnets he wrote to his forbidden love, Laura. Only about five percent of the sonnet is actually about her!

A school of philosophers called the Scholastics (see this article) disagreed with Petrarch about the method of education. Petrarch ended up saying, “Philosophy is a waste of time.”

Petrarch died in 1374, just a day short of his seventieth birthday.


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