He was a devout Catholic who saw no conflict between religious faith and fully developing man's potential. He is considered the founder of Renaissance Christian humanism.
As a scholar, Petrarch possessed encyclopedic knowledge, and much of this he has set down in his Latin works, which constitute the larger part of his production in both prose and verse.
Petrarch wrote in both Latin and than the Italian vernacular and, being a bit of a character, wrote a few letters to Virgil and Cicero of Ancient Rome (who of course did not respond!). Petrarch's most famous work is the Canzoniere, a collection of 366 romantic poems in Italian about a woman named "Laura" who became Petrarch's lifelong obsession, even though he may only have seen her once in church.
Later, humanists cited Petrarch's works to try to find early support for humanism. However, humanism in the Renaissance referred to a study of particular elements of history and both classical and Christian philosophy, rather than what is understood by the term today.
- "This age of ours consequently has let fall, bit by bit, some of the richest and sweetest fruits that the tree of knowledge has yielded; has thrown away the results of the vigils and labours of the most illustrious men of genius, things of more value, I am almost tempted to say, than anything else in the whole world." - On the Scarcity of Copyists
- Francesco Petrarch
- Petrarch, the First Modern Scholar and Man of Letters: A Selection from His Correspondence with Boccaccio and Other Friends, Designed to Illustrate the Beginnings of the Renaissance