Today in the Middle Ages: May 30, 1265

Premier Italian poet Dante Alighieri was born on (or about) May 30, 1265. In his writings, he mentions that he was born under the sign of Gemini.

Dante's Divine Comedy is his greatest and most famous work. Like Petrarch, he was a poet of courtly love, reading the works of Provencal and Sicilian poets. He maintained a lifelong passion for Beatrice, whom he knew only as a speaking acquaintance.

Dante's political life, though less renowned, was important to him. He fought and plotted for the Guelph faction against the Ghibellines in the Florentine internal conflict, and led a diplomatic mission to the Pope on Guelph business. When the Pope "suggested" he remain in Rome, Dante was condemned to death as a traitor to Florence and suffered exile until his death. Not until the 19th century did Florence pardon him, and the tomb that was built for him then remains empty.