Cane I. Della Scala, surnamed the Great, popularly known as Can Grande or Cangrande (i. e., great dog, a name supposed to be derived from the figures of mastiffs in the armorial bearings of the family), an Italian ruler and warrior, celebrated by his friendship for Dante, born in Verona in 1291, died in Treviso, July 22, 1329. The scion of an illustrious local dynasty, he acquired greater renown than any of his kinsmen in the capacity of podesta or sovereign prince of Verona, as successor of his brother Alboino (Jan. 1, 1312). Having previously taken Vicenza from the Guelphs of Padua, he made them sign a treaty (1314) by which they waived all claims on the former city; and on their renewing hostilities in 1317 he repulsed them and seized one of their principal fortresses. His success led to his appointment by the league of Lombardy (Dec. 16, 1318) as captain general of the Ghibelline forces, and to his being excommunicated in 1320 by the pope. He gained victory after victory, and forced Padua to surrender; but in 1329 he was taken ill in the streets of Treviso, while making his triumphal entry into that city, and had to be removed to the cathedral, where he died.
His remains were transferred to Verona, where his tomb, executed by Boni-no di Oompione, forms a species of portal to the church of Santa Maria Antica, near the piazza dei Signori, and in the vicinity of the other tombs known as those of the Scaligers. His court combined military splendor with munificent hospitalities to men of genius and exiles, and was celebrated as the most brilliant social and political centre of the period. He was especially kind to poets and artists, and wrote some poetry. Dante, after leaving Lucca in November, 1314, found a sympathetic asylum in Can Grande's palace till 1318; and he, as well as Petrarch, and in more modern times Voltaire, paid warm tributes to the podesta's character. There is no nobler passage in the Pa-radiso than that (canto xviii.) relating to Cane and the poet's long-standing and very intimate relations with him. One of the most elaborate letters of Dante is addressed to him, explanatory of the scope of the Divina Commedia and the method of its interpretation.
Oangrande was succeeded by his nephew Alberto II. - The claim of the philosopher Scaliger to descent from the same family is not sustained by competent authorities. (See Scala, and Scaliger.)