→Life of Dante
The poet was born into one of the leading families in Florence. His mother died when he was twelve, and he was contracted while still a young boy in marriage to a girl who belonged to another leading family. At some time, he saw and fell in love with a young girl called Beatrice, and she was the love of his life and became his muse. Dante married Gemma Donati, but he remained in love with Beatrice even after her untimely death. The death of his beloved led to the poet studying philosophy and theology, as he sought some meaning in life.
Dante, like his family, belonged to one of the main factions in the city whose politics were often bloody. Florence was divided between the pro-Imperial Ghibellines and those who supported the Papacy known as the Guelfs. The origin of this dispute lay in the various conflicts between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope. The poet fought at the Battle of Campaldino (1289) when the city’s Guelph faction defeated the Arezzo Ghibellines. After the victory, the Guelph factions changed the constitution and Dante had to enroll in a Guild, an association of tradesmen to remain a citizen.<ref>Gilson, S.A., Dante and Renaissance Florence (Vol. 56) (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005), p 113</ref>
However as was typical of the fractious politics in Late Medieval Italy, the Guelphs soon divided into ideological lines, and they became two mutually hostile factions the White and Black Guelphs. The White Guelphs, the party of Dante eventually expelled their former allies and colleagues. However, the Whites returned with the support of Charles Valois and ousted the Black faction from the government of the city, and this led to the exiling of many prominent Florentines.<ref>Gilson, p 114</ref>
Dante was exiled due to trumped up charges of corruption. Dante could have returned to his native city if he swore an oath to the Whites and paid a fine. He refused to do both, and this was unsurprising because he had integrity.<ref>Raffa, Guy P. The Complete
Dante worlds: A Reader's Guide to the Divine Comedy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), p 5</ref> . Moreover, he was a party to several attempts to expel the Black Guelphs,’ but these were all failures. Dante became a permanent exile. He was forced to wander Italy. He became dependent on the generosity of powerful nobles.
In 1306, he was in Bologna but was later forced to leave with the other Florentine exiles. It appears that he ended up in Padua for a time and he may have even visited Paris. Dante found exile daunting and wrote ‘how hard a path it is for one who goes ascending and descending others' stairs.’’<ref> Dante, Paradiso, XVII (55–60)</ref> But it was during his period of exile that he concentrated on his poetry and prose works. Exile may have difficult, but it made him extremely productive.