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Dante Cleared of Crime Seven Centuries After His Death

Daily News

Online Only, posted 6.19.08

Nearly seven hundred years after his death, Dante Alighieri, Italy's most famous poet, finally has a clean criminal record. The city council of Florence voted earlier this week to revoke a death sentence placed on the poet in 1302, London's Telegraph reported. Leonardo Domenici, the mayor of Florence, said the recent vote is "a decisive step forward to his rehabilitation."

Born in 1265, Dante grew up in Florence during a time when the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy were struggling for control of the city. In 1300, the poet became one of the city's six leaders and fought for the independence of Florence. Two years later, however, forces loyal to the pope took over the city and put Dante on trial, banishing him for two years and fining him five thousand florin. When he refused to pay, he was condemned to death by burning. He fled the city and lived the rest of his life (about twenty years) in exile. It was during this exile that he composed The Divine Comedy.

 

Five of the twenty-four city council members voted against the motion, labelling it a "stunt" and arguing that had he not been exiled, the world wouldn't have The Divine Comedy.

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