Dante in Conclave. La lettera ai cardinali

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] Dante in Conclave. The letter to the cardinals

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[Autom. eng. transl.] While the conclave to choose the successor of Clement V begins in Carpentras (spring 1314), Dante writes to the Italian cardinals. Like a new Jeremiah, he laments the abandonment of Rome and begs them to find an agreement against the Gascons and fight for a pope who closes the Avignon phase. The appeal takes strength from the invective against the late Matteo Rosso Orsini and his cousin Napoleon. The ancient enmity and irreducible differences between the powerful Roman cardinals had blocked the previous conclave for a long time, from which the archbishop of Bordeaux was finally elected, surprisingly (1305). Dante reproaches them as being the main culprits of that harmful choice, the result of unfounded calculations, obtuse punctualities, sacrilegious agreements, which he evokes in quick and allusive shots. The text of the Letter, preserved in a single manuscript prepared by the young Boccaccio, is full of syntactic acrobatics and obscure expressions. Believed to be full of copying errors, it has been subjected by critics to often casual and arbitrary corrections. This book returns to the handed down text and gives a new edition as close as possible to it. By deciphering in full for the first time references to characters, events and writings of the time, it recovers an important source for the history of the Roman Church from the abdication of Celestine V to the first decade of Avignon. Disenchanted connoisseur of conflicts of power and dynamics of corruption in hierarchies, Dante embodies a new figure of intellectual, of a layman who claims the word in the Church by virtue of his faith and knowledge of the facts. Here the poet and man of letters presents himself as a prophet, proud to proclaim alone and from below what everyone knows, but no one has the courage to say. The text is not a literary exercise or an open letter, but a dramatic reminder not to resign and to act as soon as possible. Received and read by the Italian cardinals, the Letter offered Napoleone Orsini a trace for his request for help addressed shortly after to Philip the Beautiful: the last, vain attempt to overturn the outcome of an unequal trial.
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] Dante in Conclave. The letter to the cardinals
Original languageItalian
PublisherVita e Pensiero - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Number of pages226
ISBN (Print)9788834343760
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Conclave di Carpentras (1314)
  • Conclave di Perugia (1304-1305)
  • Dante Alighieri
  • Lettera XI ai cardinali


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