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the body of written works produced in the Italian language that had its beginnings in the 13th century. Until that time nearly all literary work composed in the Middle Ages was written in Latin. Moreover, it was predominantly practical in nature and produced by writers trained in ecclesiastical schools. Literature in Italian developed later than literature in French and Provencal, the languages of the north and south of France respectively. Only small fragments of Italian vernacular verse before the end of the 12th century have been found (although a number of legal documents contain sections in the vernacular), and surviving 12th- and 13th-century verse reflects French and Provencal influence