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Was Dante Alighieri Ever Pardoned for Corruption?

Dante Alighieri is considered one of the greatest Italian poets, philosophers, and political thinkers. He is remembered for his most remarkable work, The Divine Comedy. He has inspired several personalities after his time. But did you know that the great poet was exiled from his hometown?

In 1300, Dante Alighieri was exiled from Florence, being charged with corruption. He would face the death sentence should he return. But in June 2008, a review on his charges caused the city council of Florence to pardon the great poet.

Why was Dante Alighieri Exiled?

In the late 1200s, the great poet Dante Alighieri was involved in politics after fighting in the Battle of Capaldi. The battle was between the forces of the Guelphs of Florence and the kingdom of Naples against the Ghibelline army to ensure that Florence remained entirely Guelph. At the time, the Guelphs also split into two factions, the white Guelphs who supported Florentine independence and the black Guelphs who sided with the Pope.

During his time in political office, Alighieri helped the coup that ran the black Guelphs out of Florence in 1300. But as the tension between the two factions mounted, Alighieri was sent to Rome to determine the Pope’s true intentions.

What Alighieri did not know, Charles of Valois, the younger brother of the King of France, went to Florence and placed the black Guelphs into power through violence. As part of the process, the Alighieri’s property in the city was seized. He was also charged with corruption from the time he served the government.

Even in his absence, he was sentenced to exile from Florence, threatening to face the death sentence should he return home. He could only return if he paid a huge fine, but Alighieri couldn’t do so because all his assets were seized. 

Alighieri became a nomad, transferring from one city to the other. He stayed in Romagna, Padua, and other country estates owned by nobles who sympathized with him. This was the part of his life where he started writing his most famous work like The Divine Comedy.

Alighieri’s work was initially called Comedia. Most of it was written during his stay with lord Cangrande Della Scala in Verona. By 1320, he completed his masterpiece but died a year later due to malaria while still in exile. (Source: Head Stuff)

How was Dante Alighieri Pardoned?

September 14, 2021, was the 700th anniversary of Alighieri’s death. He is considered the father of the Italian language. During this time, museums, galleries, and libraries scheduled different events to commemorate the great author. (Source: Smithsonian Magazine)

2021 was also the year that Alighieri’s 19th direct descendant, astrophysicist Sperello di Serego Alighieri, sought to determine if his great ancestor’s crimes would still hold in today’s legal system. Alighieri worked with law professor attorney Alessandro Traversi to determine if the sentences could be overturned.

According to Sperello, the plans to reconsider the verdict were at a conference attended by lawyers, historians, and linguists. Antoine de Gabrielli, the descendant of Cante de Gabrielli da Gubbio will also attend. Gabrielli is the direct descendant of the government official who convicted Alighieri. Traversi mentions that they will examine if Alighieri’s sentences were just or was it just the poisoned fruit of politics that used justice to attack an opponent. (Source: The Guardian)

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