Savonarola, Girolamo


Savonarola, Girolamo
(1452-1498)
   Ascetic friar from Ferrara who entered the Dominican Order in 1475 in Bologna after hearing a powerful sermon. In 1490, at the request of Lorenzo "the Magnificent" de' Medici, Savonarola transferred to the San Marco Monastery in Florence where he was appointed prior in the following year. No sooner had he received this post than he began criticizing the Medici's materialism and misuse of power, accusing them of promoting paganism. Lorenzo died in 1492 and his son Piero, who lacked his father's political savvy, took over the leader-ship of Florence. When Charles VIII of France threatened invasion, Piero ceded to him the city of Pisa, causing great anger among the Florentines and his subsequent exile. In the Medici's absence, Savonarola became the regulator of morality. He persuaded the Florentines to bring to San Marco articles of luxury and texts deemed to be pagan and immoral for public burning. This, unfortunately, resulted in the destruction of a number of important works of art and other precious items. Additionally, Savonarola established a group of brothers who went door to door to remove luxury and gambling objects and to persuade Florentines to renounce the frivolous life. Savonarola's downfall began when he attacked Pope Alexander VI from the pulpit. The pope ordered him to stop preaching and yet the monk continued to do so even after his excommunication in 1497. By now, the Florentines had tired of Savonarola's fanaticism and, in 1498, he and his followers were tried for heresy, tortured, and hung in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

Look at other dictionaries:

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