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Boccaccio was born in Paris in 1313 the illegitimate son of a Florentine merchant and a French noblewoman Reared in Florence he was sent to study accounting in Naples around 1323 He abandoned accounting for canon law and gave that up for classical and scientific studies He took part in the life of the court of Robert dAnjou king of Naples The king is supposed to have had an illegitimate daughter Maria de Conti dAquino Although there is no proof of her existence she is said to have been Boccaccios mistress and to have inspired a great deal of his work She is perhaps the Fiammetta immortalized in his writingsReturning to Florence about 1340 Boccaccio performed various diplomatic services for the city government and in 1350 he met the poet and humanist Petrarch with whom he had a close friendship until Patriarchs death in 1374 In 1362 a friend who promised him the patronage of Queen Joanna of Naples invited Boccaccio to Naples A cold reception at the court of the queen led him to seek the hospitality of Petrarch who was then in Venice However he returned to his estate in Certaldo near Florence Boccaccios last years in which he turned to religious meditation were brightened by his appointment in 1373 as lecturer on Dante His series of lectures was interrupted by his illness in 1374 and he died the next yearBoccaccios most important work is Il Decamerone Ten Days Work which was begun in 1348 and completed in 1353 it was first translated into English as The Decameron in 1620 This collection of 100 stories is set within a framework A group of friends seven women and three men all well bred of worth and discretion to escape an outbreak of the plague have taken refuge in a country villa outside Florence There they entertain one another over a period of ten days with a series of stories told by each member At
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