Girolamo Savonarola


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Related to Girolamo Savonarola: Desiderius Erasmus, Cesare Borgia
Girolamo Savonarola
Birthday
BirthplaceFerrara
Died

Savonarola, Girolamo

(jērō`lämō sävōnärō`lä), 1452–98, Italian religious reformer, b. Ferrara. He joined (1475) the Dominicans. In 1481 he went to San Marco, the Dominican house at Florence, where he became popular for his eloquent sermons, in which he attacked the vice and worldliness of the city, as well as for his predictions (several of which, including the death date of Innocent VIII, turned out to be true). In 1491 he became prior of San Marco, and after the death of Lorenzo de' Medici, who was his enemy, and the subsequent exile of the Medici (1494) he became the real spiritual ruler of the city. He was uncompromisingly severe in his condemnation of what he considered the paganism of the times and called for a regeneration of spiritual and moral values and a devotion to asceticism. When Charles VIII of France invaded Italy in 1494 (as Savonarola had predicted), Savonarola supported him, hoping that Charles would lead the way to the establishment of a democratic government in Florence and to the reform of the scandalously corrupt court of Pope Alexander VI. Alexander, understandably infuriated, ordered Savonarola to refrain from preaching; however, he continued to preach, and the pope excommunicated him for disobedience in 1497. Savonarola now declared Alexander no true pope, being elected by simony. The people of Florence, who had for a time staunchly supported Savonarola, tired of his rigid demands. Hostility toward him grew, led especially by local Franciscans, and in Mar., 1498, the government, threatened by a papal interdict, asked him to stop preaching. His ruin came suddenly when one of his disciples accepted an ordeal by fire to prove Savonarola's holiness. Rain prevented the event. Nevertheless, there were riots, and Savonarola and two disciples were arrested by the city. Under torture he confessed to being a false prophet, or so it was announced. The three were hanged for schism and heresy; papal commissioners had passed on the sentence, which was assured by Alexander's vindictiveness.

Bibliography

See biographies by P. Villari (2 vol., tr. 1888; repr. 1972), R. Ridolfi (1959), and R. R. Renner (1965); study by D. Weinstein (1970).

Savonarola, Girolamo

 

Born Sept. 21, 1452, in Ferrara; died May 23, 1498, in Florence. Florentine religious and political figure; poet.

Savonarola received a humanist education in the household of his grandfather, a famous physician and scholar. In 1475 he ran away from home and entered the Dominican monastery in Bologna. He delivered sermons in Ferrara beginning in 1479 and in Florence, San Gimignano, and Brescia beginning in 1482. In 1491 he became prior of the Monastery of St. Mark in Florence, where he restored the strict monastic rule. In his sermons Savonarola spoke out against the tyranny of the Medicis, denounced the social inequities dominating Florence, condemned the secular character of humanist culture, and strongly attacked the policies and way of life of the popes, demanding a fundamental reform of the Catholic Church in conformity with theapostolic ideal.

After the fall of the Medici tyranny in 1494, Savonarola helped establish a republican system in Florence and proposed a plan for social and political reforms reflecting the interests of the middle urban strata. He used a group of fanatical young people as an instrument of his policies, transforming them into a “moral militia” and organizing ceremonial “burnings of the vanities”—bonfires of everyday items, works of art, and books that contradicted the Christian moral code. Savonarola’s denunciations of papal policies brought him into sharp conflict with Pope Alexander VI, who banned his sermons and in 1497 excommunicated him. In response, Savonarola issued an appeal for the convocation of a church council to overthrow the pope. The Florentine Signoria (the city’s governing body), which did not want to break with Rome, arrested Savonarola on religious and political charges. Condemned by the Signoria, he was hanged and his body burned.

Savonarola wrote religious sermons and poems, many of which were in the form of carnival songs. His sermons were later used by supporters of the Reformation.

T. Mann portrayed Savonarola in the play Fiorenza.

WORKS

Poesie. Edited by M. Martelli. Rome [1968].

REFERENCES

Villari, P. Dzhirolamo Savonarola i ego vremia, vols. 1–2. [St. Petersburg] 1913. (Translated from Italian.)
Gramsci, A. Izbr. proizv., vol. 3. Moscow, 1959. (Translated from Italian.)
Il processo di G. Savonarola. [Bologna]-Milan, 1960.
Ferrara, M. Bibliografia savonaroliana. Florence, 1958.

A. KH. GORFUNKEL

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7 Girolamo Savonarola (1452-98): Influence on Florentine Art, http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/history-of-art/savonarola.htm, accessed on 10 February 2018.
When Savonarola's biography, La storia di Girolamo Savonarola e de' suoi tempi, was first published by Pasquale Villari in 1859, it was translated and widely distributed.
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Such a reading is clarified when the tale is juxtaposed to the anti-Medicean treatise of Girolamo Savonarola, the Trattato circa il reggimento e governo della citta di Firenze (published 1498).
An illuminator-calligrapher fully on a par with other Florentine artists, Christine soars as the Maiden Scribe and especially in the persona of a male artist; as Messer Giovanni, she has immediate, unquestioned access to manuscripts, sermons, and meetings; to prominent individuals such as the Dominican Girolamo Savonarola; and to the archives, libraries, monasteries, and registries vital to her art and to the success (stolen though it is) of her stepfather, Messer Piero.
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Following a brief recapitulation of the biography of the infamous Ferrarese Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola, Macey identifies and analyzes reflections of Savonarolan spirituality in the musical culture of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe.
D'Este's relationship with the Florentine visionary Girolamo Savonarola shows how the Duke saw the illness as a divine judgment, as did the majority of his contemporaries.
In 1862, the century's two most prominent women writers published novels which took as their major historical event the fall of Girolamo Savonarola, the fifteenth-century monk who attempted to bring social and religious reform to Florence.