At first in Sicily and afterwards throughout Italy the Ghibellines gave them a warm welcome; the rigorists and the malcontents who had either left the church or were on the point of leaving it, were attracted by these communities of needy rebels; and the tribune Rienzi was at one time disposed to join them.
In the month of May 1347 Cola di Rienzi accomplished that extraordinary revolution which for a short space revived the republic in Rome, and raised this enthusiast to titular equality with kings.
Petrarch, who in politics was no less visionary than Rienzi, hailed the advent of a founder and deliverer in the self-styled tribune.
He was clamorous for the freedom of the Roman people; yet at one time he called upon the popes to re-establish themselves in the Eternal City; at another he besought the emperor to make it his headquarters; at a third he hailed in Rienzi the founder of a new republic. He did not perceive that all these plans were incompatible.
His odes to Giacomo Colonna, to Cola di Rienzi and to the princes of Italy display him in another light.