At the beginning of the XIV century, two parties fought for power in the Florentine Republic. Black Guelphs opposed any collaboration with the Ghibellines, while the more moderate whites were in favor. The author of The Divine Comedy belonged to the latter. When the black Guelphs managed to seize power over the city in 1301, Dante and his fellow party members were tried and accused of corruption.
The poet was sentenced to a fine of 5,000 florins and two years of exile, banned from ever holding public office. When Dante did not appear in court in March 1302, he was sentenced in absentia to be burned. The poet never saw his hometown again and died in exile.
Now a descendant of the classic, astrophysicist Sperello di Serego Alighieri, hopes to overturn the sentence, according to The Guardian. “These were political trials, and the punishment of exile and death imposed on Dante, my dear ancestor, was unfair and never canceled, as happened with Galileo Galilei”, - Sperello di Serego Alighieri said in an interview with Corriere Della Sera. "If the laws allow, we will ask for a review".
According to Italian law, any court decision can be revised if new evidence of the criminal's innocence appears. There is no statute of limitations, so the heirs can always initiate such a review.
In May, a scientific conference will be held in Florence with the participation of historians, linguists, lawyers. Antoine de Gabrielli, a descendant of the Florentine official Kante de Gabrielli da Gubbio, who denounced Dante, will also be present. Experts are going to find out whether Dante's sentences were fair, or whether the charge was revenge of the poet's political opponents, who used the law to get rid of him.
However, not everyone in Italy is convinced that Dante needs rehabilitation. Some believe that a belated acquittal is unlikely to add anything to his greatness.