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He never saw his wife again; but his sons, Pietro and Jacopo, and one of his daughters, Beatrice, joined him in later years.At first, he made common cause with his fellow-exiles at Siena, Arezzo, and Forli, in attempting to win his way back to Florence with the aid of Ghibelline arms.A few months after the poet's birth, the victory of Charles of Anjou over King Manfred at Benevento (26 February, 1266) ended the power of the empire in Italy, placed a French dynasty upon the throne of Naples, and secured the predominance of the Guelphs in Tuscany.Dante thus grew up amidst the triumphs of the Florentine democracy, in which he took some share fighting in the front rank of the Guelph cavalry at the battle of Campaldino (11 June, 1289), when the Tuscan Ghibellines were defeated by the forces of the Guelph league, of which Florence was the head.Shortly after his return he was elected one of the six priors who for two months, together with the gonfaloniere, formed the Signoria, the chief magistracy of the republic. Guido Cavalcanti had been among the exiled Bianchi; having contracted a fatal illness at Sarzana, he was allowed, together with the rest of his faction, to return to Florence, where he died at the end of August.This, however, was after Dante's term of office had ended.
He was the son of Alighiero di Bellincione Alighieri, a notary belonging to an ancient but decadent Guelph family, by his first wife, Bella, who was possibly a daughter of Durante di Scolaio Abati, a Ghibelline noble.
Dante's name occurs in a document of 8 June, 1302 among the exiled Bianchi who at San Godenzo in the Apennines were forming an alliance with the Ubaldini to make war upon the Florentine Republic; but, in a similar agreement signed at Bologna on 18 June, 1303, he no longer appears among them.
Between these two dates he had made his resolution to form a party by himself (Par., xvii, 61-68), and had sought refuge in the hospitality of Bartolommeo della Scala, the lord of Verona, where he first saw Can Grande della Scala, Bartolommeo's younger brother, then a boy of fourteen years, who became the hero of his later days.
The discovery of a plot on the part of certain Florentines in the papal service (18 April) and a collision between the two factions, in which blood was shed (1 May), brought things to a crisis.
On 7 May Dante was sent on an unimportant embassy to San Gemignano. he confirmed the anti-Papal measures of his predecessors, banished the leaders of both factions, and offered such opposition to the papal legate, Cardinal Matteo d'Acquasparta, that the latter returned to Rome and laid Florence under an interdict.
At the beginning of April the whole of the White faction were driven out of Florence.