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==Inventing the Renaissance==
In some ways, the poet was not only one of the most important figures in the Renaissance, in a sense he invented it. The Renaissance is widely seen as a period of ‘re-birth’ when Europe rediscovered classical values and in the process used the ancient past, for models which ultimately led to the development of more modern ways of thought <ref>Bishop, p. 213</ref>. Petrarch was the first to recognize that the study of the past by the humanists was a new period in history and one that would revive the glory of Rome and Greece. He portrayed it as distinct from previous centuries which he described as ignorant and a ‘Dark Age’ . This was not strictly true because learning in Europe had been growing since the 12th century. Indeed, many have argued that the Renaissance in Italy and elsewhere were a direct result of trends in the Middle Ages. Petrarch’s conception of the Renaissance as something distinct from the Medieval world has been profoundly influential and it remains so to this day<ref> Burckhardt, Jacob. The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy.
[[File: Petrarch four.jpg|200px|thumb|left|Petrarch from a 15th century Italian painting]]
Petrarch was undoubtedly one of the most significant influences on the Renaissance not only in Italy but throughout Europe. His poetry was to inspire other poets in the period and later, to examine their interior life and emotions and to celebrate the natural world and to see love as something spiritual. His literary forms such as the sonnet and autobiography persuaded many writers to adopt a more personal style. Petrarch was also if not the ‘Father of Humanism’ certainly one of its leading lights. For example, his works and scholarship did, much to encourage an appreciation of Graeco-Roman civilization and this was radical as it helped to counter the stifling influence of the Church and Papacy. His writings and philosophy promoted a more secular and rational worldview and promoted a greater awareness of the importance of the individual. This had important repercussion and encouraged a belief that this world was important and not just salvation. This encouraged a rediscovery of not only the ancient world but a growing investigation of the world and society that led to a more modern outlook and one that was not wholly influenced by Christianity.