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Girolamo Savonarola

Girolamo Savonarola (September 21, 1452 - May 23, 1498), also translated as Jerome Savonarola or Hieronymous Savonarola was a Dominican priest and, briefly, ruler of Florence, who was known for religious reformation and anti-Renaissance preaching and his book burning and destruction of art.

Oddly, Lorenzo de Medici, the previous ruler of Florence and patron of many Renaissance artists was both a target of Savonarola's preaching and his patron.

After the overthrow of the Medici in 1494, Savonarola was the sole leader of Florence, setting up a democratic republic. His chief enemies were the Duke of Milan[?] and Pope Alexander VI, who issued numerous restraints against him, all of which were ignored.

In 1497 he and his followers carried out the famous Bonfire of the Vanities[?]. They sent boys from door to door collecting items associated with moral "laxity": mirrors, cosmetics, "lewd" pictures, "pagan" books, gaming tables, fine dresses, and the works of "immoral" poets, and burnt them all in a large pile in the Piazza della Signoria of Florence. Notoriously, fine Florentine Renaissance artwork was lost in Savanarola's bonfires, including paintings by Sandro Botticelli.

On May 13, 1497 he was excommunicated by Pope Alexander VI and in 1498 he was simultaneously hanged and burned. He was charged with uttering prophecies, sedition, and religious error. Niccolo Machiavelli, author of The Prince witnessed and wrote about the execution. The Medici regained control over Florence.

See also: Masaniello

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