Savonarola was born Sept. 21, 1452, in Ferrara, Italy, a town southwest of Venice.
Savonarola completed his studies at the University of Ferrara, and at the age of 24, moved to Bologna to become a Dominican monk. He was passionate about his faith, and used every opportunity to preach against the evils he saw at work in society. Upon finishing his studies in theology, he was sent to Florence. He was not received too seriously during this first visit, and returned to teach at the monastery after 5 years in Florence.
In 1490, Savonarola was invited back to Florence.
A variety of events were occurring all at once during this time. The French and Italians were at war, the ruling family in Florence, the Medici&apos;s, were losing influence among the people, and Savonarola began preaching his interpretation of the Apocalypse, the end times, and calling for reform -- both within society and government.
A prime target of his criticism was Lorenzo de&apos;Medici, the ruling aristocrat in Florence, and his court, for both their governing of Florence and for their personal conduct. The public became more and more receptive to Savonarola&apos;s messages and his influence grew as that of de&apos;Medici dwindled.
4 years later, Charles VIII of France invaded Florence and threw out the Medici. He then left the city with a unique governmental system -- a Christian democratic republic. Savonarola wasn&apos;t a member of the governing counsel of Florence, but his influence and ideas informed a great deal of decision-making in the city. Many people looked to his example and to his teachings for direction, prompting some to host &quot;bonfires&quot; where they would burn materials judged to be immoral.
During the next 4 years leading to his death, Savonarola broadened his reformation efforts to include, not only the court at Florence, but that at Rome as well.
He personally criticized Pope Alexander VI and the inconsistencies he saw between the doctrines of the church and the behavior of its clergy. In addition to this, a political faction within Florence that opposed Savonarola on issues of alliances rose to prominence. This faction wanted to join the &quot;Holy League,&quot; a group of cities united with Rome against France. Savonarola would not ally himself with Rome and the Pope.
After a number of unsuccessful efforts to calm the friar, Pope Alexander excommunicated Savonarola from the church, removing him from his office as preacher and teacher in Florence. Savonarola continued to teach and preach, predicting that help would again come through Charles VIII, but Charles never again made it to Florence. On the basis that this prophesy was not fulfilled, and due to considerable political pressure both within and outside Florence, Savonarola and two fellow Dominican monks were hanged and burned on 23 May, 1498.
Machiavelli heard Savonarola speak in Florence and patterned a character in his work &quot;The Prince&quot; after this firey preacher, referring to him as &quot;the unarmed prophet.&quot; Though Machiavelli didn&apos;t share Savonarola&apos;s zeal or faith, he admired the preacher&apos;s speaking abilities.
Sandro Botticelli, a prominent Renaissance artist, was highly influenced by the preaching of Savonarola. So much so that his style of painting dramatically changed from the natural style seen here to
an action-oriented, emotional tone as seen here in the &quot;Mystical Nativity&quot;
Benevieni, a Renaissance Italian poet who was converted due to Savonarola&apos;s preaching, rewrote some of his love poetry, translated some of Savonarola&apos;s own sermons, and wrote religious poems.
o "Girolamo Savonarola." Encyclopædia
Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
01 Sep. 2009
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