Historical portrait of the Italian poet Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374). Petrarch is considered the first modern poet. He perfected the sonnet, which has been a standard form of poetry ever since, and was later adapted for the English language. Petrarch earned a reputation as the first great humanist with his wide knowledge of classical authors and his use of Latin. He also wrote and published in Italian, and played an important role in its development as a literary language. He was made poet laureate by the Senate of Rome in 1341. His vast collection of letters is an important source material for the history of his times.
Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest, "Francesco Petrarch", accessed 20 Aug 2012, http://quest.eb.com/images/132_1254874.