Girolamo Savonarola (Italian: [dʒiˈrɔːlamo savonaˈrɔːla];
21 September 1452 – 23 May 1498) was an Italian Dominican friar and
preacher active in
Renaissance Florence. He was known for his
prophecies of civic glory, the destruction of secular art and culture,
and his calls for
Christian renewal. He denounced clerical corruption,
despotic rule and the exploitation of the poor. He prophesied the
coming of a biblical flood and a new Cyrus from the north who would
reform the Church. In September 1494, when Charles VIII of France
invaded Italy, and threatened Florence, such prophecies seemed on the
verge of fulfilment. While Savonarola intervened with the French king,
the Florentines expelled the ruling Medici and, at the friar's urging,
established a "popular" republic. Declaring that
Florence would be the
New Jerusalem, the world centre of
Christianity and "richer, more
powerful, more glorious than ever", he instituted an extreme
puritanical campaign, enlisting the active help of Florentine youth.
In 1495 when
Florence refused to join Pope Alexander VI's Holy League
against the French, the Vatican summoned Savonarola to Rome. He
disobeyed and further defied the pope by preaching under a ban,
highlighting his campaign for reform with processions, bonfires of the
vanities, and pious theatricals. In retaliation, the Pope
excommunicated him in May 1497, and threatened to place
an interdict. A trial by fire proposed by a rival Florentine preacher
in April 1498 to test Savonarola's divine mandate turned into a
fiasco, and popular opinion turned against him. Savonarola and two of
his supporting friars were imprisoned. On 23 May 1498, Church and
civil authorities condemned, hanged, and burned the three friars in
the main square of Florence.
Savonarola's devotees, the Piagnoni, kept his cause of republican
freedom and religious reform alive well into the following century,
although the Medici—restored to power in 1512 with the help of the
papacy—eventually broke the movement.
1 Early years
5 In Machiavelli's The Prince
7 Excommunication and death
10 Cultural influence
10.3 Other works
12 Further reading
13 External links
Fantasy portrait of
Girolamo Savonarola by Moretto da Brescia, c.
Savonarola was born on 21 September 1452, in Ferrara. His father,
Michele Savonarola, was a noted physician and polymath. Savonarola's
mother Elena claimed a lineage from the Bonacossi family of Mantua.
She and her husband Niccolo had seven children, of whom Girolamo was
third. His grandfather was a very successful physician who oversaw his
education. His family had amassed a great deal of wealth from his
After his grandfather's death in 1468, Savonarola may have attended
the public school run by Battista Guarino, son of Guarino da Verona,
where he would have received his introduction to the classics as well
as to the poetry and writings of Petrarch, father of Renaissance
humanism. Earning an arts degree at the University of Ferrara, he
prepared to enter medical school, following in his grandfather's
footsteps. At some point, however, he abandoned his career intentions.
In his early poems, he expresses his preoccupation with the state of
the Church and of the world. He began to write poetry of an
apocalyptic bent, notably "On the Ruin of the World" (1472) and "On
the Ruin of the Church" (1475), in which he singled out the papal
court at Rome for special obloquy. About the same time, he seems to
have been thinking about a life in religion. As he later told his
biographer, a sermon he heard by a preacher in Faenza persuaded him to
abandon the world. Most of his biographers reject or ignore the
account of his younger brother and follower, Maurelio (later fra
Mauro), that in his youth Girolamo had been spurned by a neighbour,
Laudomia Strozzi, to whom he proposed marriage. True or not, in a
letter he wrote to his father when he left home to join the Dominican
Order he hints at being troubled by desires of the flesh. There is
also a story that on the eve of his departure he dreamed that he was
cleansed of such thoughts by a shower of icy water which prepared him
for the ascetic life. In the unfinished treatise he left behind,
later called "De contemptu mundi," or "On Contempt for the World," he
calls upon readers to fly from this world of adultery, sodomy, murder
On 25 April 1475,
Girolamo Savonarola went to
Bologna where he knocked
on the door of the Convent of San Domenico, of the Order of Friars
Preachers, and asked to be admitted. As he told his father in his
farewell letter, he wanted to become a knight of Christ.
In the convent, Savonarola took vows of poverty, chastity, and
obedience and after a year was ordained to the priesthood. He studied
Scripture, logic, Aristotelian philosophy and Thomistic theology in
the Dominican studium, practised preaching to his fellow friars and
engaged in disputations. He then matriculated in the theological
faculty to prepare for an advanced degree. Even as he continued to
write devotional works and to deepen his spiritual life he was openly
critical of what he perceived as the decline in convent austerity. In
1478 his studies were interrupted when he was sent to the Dominican
priory of Santa Maria degli Angeli in
Ferrara as assistant master of
novices. The assignment might have been a normal, temporary break from
the academic routine, but in Savonarola's case it was a turning point.
One explanation is that he had alienated certain of his superiors,
particularly fra Vincenzo Bandelli, or Bandello, a professor at the
studium and future master general of the Dominicans, who resented the
young friar's opposition to modifying the Order's rules against the
ownership of property. In 1482, instead of returning to
resume his studies, Savonarola was assigned as lector, or teacher, in
Convent of San Marco
Convent of San Marco in Florence.
In San Marco, fra Girolamo (Savonarola) taught logic to the novices,
wrote instructional manuals on ethics, logic, philosophy, and
government, composed devotional works, and prepared his sermons for
local congregations. As he recorded in his notes, his preaching was
not altogether successful. Florentines were put off by his
foreign-sounding Ferrarese speech, his strident voice, and (especially
to those who valued humanist rhetoric) his inelegant style. While
waiting for a friend in the Convent of San Giorgio he was studying
Scripture when he suddenly conceived "about seven reasons" why the
Church was about to be scourged and renewed. He broached these
apocalyptic themes in
San Gimignano where he went as Lenten preacher
in 1485 and again in 1486, but a year later, when he left San Marco
for a new assignment, he had said nothing of his "San Giorgio
revelations" in Florence.
For the next several years Savonarola lived as an itinerant preacher
with a message of repentance and reform in the cities and convents of
north Italy. As his letters to his mother and his writings show, his
confidence and sense of mission grew along with his widening
reputation. In 1490, he was reassigned to San Marco. It seems that
this was due to the initiative of the humanist philosopher-prince,
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, who had heard Savonarola in a formal
Reggio Emilia and been impressed with his learning and
piety. Pico was in trouble with the Church for some of his unorthodox
philosophical ideas (the famous "900 theses") and was living under the
protection of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the Medici de facto ruler of
Florence. To have Savonarola beside him as a spiritual counsellor,
he persuaded Lorenzo that the friar would bring prestige to the
convent of San Marco and its Medici patrons. After some delay,
apparently due to the interference of his former professor, fra
Vincenzo Bandelli, now Vicar General of the Order, Lorenzo succeeded
in bringing Savonarola back to Florence, where he arrived in May or
June of that year.
Illustration from Compendio di revelatione, 1496, by Savonarola
Savonarola preached on the
First Epistle of John
First Epistle of John and on the Book of
Revelation, drawing such large crowds that he eventually moved to the
Cathedral. Without mentioning names, he made pointed allusions to
tyrants who usurped the freedom of the people, and he excoriated their
allies, the rich and powerful who neglected and exploited the
poor. Complaining of the evil lives of a corrupt clergy, he now
called for repentance and renewal before the arrival of a divine
scourge. Scoffers dismissed him as an over-excited zealot and
"preacher of the desperate" and sneered at his growing band of
followers as Piagnoni – "Weepers" or "Wailers", an epithet they
adopted. In 1492 Savonarola warned of "the Sword of the Lord over the
earth quickly and soon" and envisioned terrible tribulations to Rome.
Around 1493 (these sermons have not survived) he began to prophesy
that a New Cyrus was coming over the mountains to begin the renewal of
In September 1494 King
Charles VIII of France
Charles VIII of France crossed the Alps with a
formidable army, throwing Italy into political chaos. Many viewed
the arrival of King Charles as proof of Savonarola's gift of prophecy.
Charles, however, advanced on Florence, sacking Tuscan strongholds and
threatening to punish the city for refusing to support his expedition.
As the populace took to the streets to expel Piero the Unfortunate,
Lorenzo de' Medici's son and successor, Savonarola led a delegation to
the camp of the French king in mid-November 1494. He pressed Charles
Florence and enjoined him to take up his divinely appointed
role as the reformer of the Church. After a short, tense occupation of
the city, and another intervention by fra Girolamo (as well as the
promise of a huge subsidy), the French resumed their journey southward
on 28 November 1494. Savonarola now declared that by answering his
call to penitence, the Florentines had begun to build a new Ark of
Noah which had saved them from the waters of the divine flood.
Even more sensational was the message in his sermon of December
"I announce this good news to the city, that
Florence will be more
glorious, richer, more powerful than she has ever been; First,
glorious in the sight of God as well as of men: and you, O Florence
will be the reformation of all Italy, and from here the renewal will
begin and spread everywhere, because this is the navel of Italy. Your
counsels will reform all by the light and grace that God will give
you. Second, O Florence, you will have innumerable riches, and God
will multiply all things for you. Third, you will spread your empire,
and thus you will have power temporal and spiritual."
This astounding guarantee may have been an allusion to the traditional
patriotic myth of
Florence as the new Rome, which Savonarola would
have encountered in his readings in Florentine history. In any case,
it encompassed both temporal power and spiritual leadership.
In Machiavelli's The Prince
Discussed in Chapter VI of Niccolò Machiavelli's book The Prince
("Concerning New Principalities Which Are Acquired By One's Own Arms
And Ability"), Fra
Girolamo Savonarola was seen by Machiavelli as an
incompetent, ill-prepared, and "unarmed" prophet, unlike "Moses,
Cyrus, Theseus, and Romulus".
Of Savonarola, Machiavelli wrote:
"If Moses, Cyrus, Theseus, and Romulus had been unarmed they could not
have enforced their constitutions for long — as happened in our time
to Fra Girolamo Savonarola, who was ruined with his new order of
things immediately the multitude believed in him no longer, and he had
no means of keeping steadfast those who believed or of making the
unbelievers to believe."
Girolamo Savonarola by Fiorentino.
With Savonarola's advice and support (as a non-citizen and cleric he
was ineligible to hold office), a Savonarolan political "party,"
dubbed 'the Frateschi', took shape and steered the friar's program
through the councils. The oligarchs most compromised by their service
to the Medici were barred from office. A new constitution enfranchised
the artisan class, opened minor civic offices to selection by lot and
granted every citizen in good standing the right to a vote in a new
parliament, the Consiglio Maggiore, or Great Council. At Savonarola's
urging the Frateschi government, after months of debate, passed a "Law
of Appeal" to limit the longtime practice of using exile and capital
punishment as factional weapons. Savonarola declared a new era of
"universal peace." On 13 January 1495 he preached his great Renovation
Sermon to a huge audience in the Cathedral, recalling that he had
begun prophesying in
Florence four years earlier, although the divine
light had come to him "more than fifteen, maybe twenty years ago." He
now claimed that he had predicted the deaths of
Lorenzo de' Medici
Lorenzo de' Medici and
Pope Innocent VIII
Pope Innocent VIII in 1492 and the coming of the sword to
Italy—the invasion of King Charles of France. As he had foreseen,
God had chosen Florence, "the navel of Italy", as his favourite and he
repeated: if the city continued to do penance and began the work of
renewal it would have riches, glory and power.
If the Florentines had any doubt that the promise of worldly power and
glory had heavenly sanction, Savonarola emphasised this in a sermon of
1 April 1495, in which he described his mystical journey to the Virgin
Mary in heaven. At the celestial throne Savonarola presents the Holy
Mother a crown made by the Florentine people and presses her to reveal
their future. Mary warns that the way will be hard both for the city
and for him, but she assures him that God will fulfil his promises:
Florence will be "more glorious, more powerful and richer than ever,
extending its wings farther than anyone can imagine." She and her
heavenly minions will protect the city against its enemies and support
its alliance with the French. In the
New Jerusalem that is Florence
peace and unity will reign. Based on such visions, Savonarola
promoted theocracy, and declared
Christ the king of Florence.
He saw sacred art as a tool to promote this worldview, and he was
therefore only opposed to secular art, which he saw as worthless and
Buoyed by liberation and prophetic promise, the Florentines embraced
Savonarola's campaign to rid the city of "vice". At his repeated
insistence, new laws were passed against "sodomy" (which included male
and female same-sex relations), adultery, public drunkenness, and
other moral transgressions, while his lieutenant Fra Silvestro Maruffi
organised boys and young men to patrol the streets to curb immodest
dress and behaviour. For a time,
Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503)
tolerated friar Girolamo's strictures against the Church, but he was
moved to anger when
Florence declined to join his new Holy League
against the French invader, and blamed it on Savonarola's pernicious
influence. An exchange of letters between the pope and the friar ended
in an impasse which Savonarola tried to break by sending His Holiness
"a little book" recounting his prophetic career and describing some of
his more dramatic visions. This was the Compendium of Revelations, a
self-dramatisation which was one of the farthest-reaching and most
popular of his writings.
The pope was not mollified. He summoned the friar to appear before him
in Rome, and when Savonarola refused, pleading ill health and
confessing that he was afraid of being attacked on the journey,
Alexander banned him from further preaching. For some months
Savonarola obeyed, but when he saw his influence slipping he defied
the pope and resumed his sermons, which became more violent in tone.
He not only attacked secret enemies at home whom he rightly suspected
of being in league with the papal Curia, he condemned the
conventional, or "tepid" Christians who were slow to respond to his
calls. He dramatised his moral campaign with special Masses for the
youth, processions, bonfires of the vanities and religious theatre in
San Marco. He and his close friend, the humanist poet Girolamo
Benivieni, composed lauds and other devotional songs for the Carnival
processions of 1496, 1497 and 1498, replacing the bawdy Carnival songs
of the era of Lorenzo de' Medici. These continued to be copied and
performed after his death, along with songs composed by Piagnoni in
his memory. A number of them have survived.
Excommunication and death
Painting (1650) of Savonarola's execution in the Piazza della Signoria
On 12 May 1497,
Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI excommunicated Savonarola and
threatened the Florentines with an interdict if they persisted in
harbouring him. On 18 March 1498, after much debate and steady
pressure from a worried government, he withdrew from public preaching.
Under the stress of excommunication, Savonarola composed his spiritual
masterpiece, the Triumph of the Cross, a celebration of the victory of
the Cross over sin and death and an exploration of what it means to be
a Christian. This he summed up in the theological virtue of caritas,
or love. In loving their neighbour, Christians return the love which
they have received from their Creator and Savior.
Savonarola hinted at performing miracles to prove his divine mission,
but when a rival Franciscan preacher proposed to test that mission by
walking through fire, he lost control of the public discourse. Without
consulting him, his confidant Fra Domenico da Pescia offered himself
as his surrogate and Savonarola felt he could not afford to refuse.
The first trial by fire in
Florence for over four hundred years was
set for April 7. A crowd filled the central square, eager to see
if God would intervene and if so, on which side. The nervous
contestants and their delegations delayed the start of the contest for
hours. A sudden rain drenched the spectators and government officials
cancelled the proceedings. The crowd disbanded angrily; the burden of
proof had been on Savonarola and he was blamed for the fiasco. A mob
assaulted the convent of San Marco.
Fra Girolamo, Fra Domenico, and Fra Silvestro Maruffi were arrested
and imprisoned. Under torture Savonarola confessed to having invented
his prophecies and visions, then recanted, then confessed again.
In his prison cell in the tower of the government palace he composed
meditations on Psalms 51 and 31. On the morning of 23 May 1498,
the three friars were led out into the main square where, before a
tribunal of high clerics and government officials, they were condemned
as heretics and schismatics, and sentenced to die forthwith. Stripped
of their Dominican garments in ritual degradation, they mounted the
scaffold in their thin white shirts. Each on a separate gallows, they
were hanged, while fires were ignited below them to consume their
bodies. To prevent devotees from searching for relics, their ashes
were carted away and scattered in the Arno.
Resisting censorship and exile, the friars of San Marco fostered a
cult of "the three martyrs" and venerated Savonarola as a saint. They
encouraged women in local convents and surrounding towns to find
mystical inspiration in his example, and, by preserving many of
his sermons and writings, they helped keep his political as well as
his religious ideas alive. The return of the Medici in 1512 ended
the Savonarola-inspired republic and intensified pressure against the
movement, although both were briefly revived in 1527 when the Medici
were once again forced out. In 1530, however, Pope Clement VII
(Giulio de' Medici), with the help of soldiers of the Holy Roman
Emperor, restored Medici rule, and
Florence became an hereditary
dukedom. Piagnoni were silenced, hunted, tortured, imprisoned and
exiled, and the movement, at least as a political force, came to an
A plaque commemorates the site of Savonarola's execution in the Piazza
della Signoria, Florence.
Savonarolan religious ideas found a reception elsewhere. In Germany
and Switzerland the early Protestant reformers, most notably Martin
Luther himself, read some of the friar's writings and praised him as a
martyr and forerunner whose ideas on faith and grace anticipated
Luther's own doctrine of justification by faith alone. In France many
of his works were translated and published and Savonarola came to be
regarded as a precursor of evangelical, or
Huguenot reform. Within
Dominican Order Savonarola was repackaged as an innocuous, purely
devotional figure ("the evolving image of a Counter-Reformation
saintly prelate"), and in this benevolent and unthreatening guise
his memory lived on. Philip Neri, founder of the Oratorians, a
Florentine who had been educated by the San Marco Dominicans, also
defended Savonarola's memory.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the "New Piagnoni" found inspiration in
the friar's writings and sermons for the Italian national awakening
known as the Risorgimento. By emphasising his political activism over
his puritanism and cultural conservatism they restored Savonarola's
voice for radical political change. The venerable Counter Reformation
icon ceded to the fiery
Renaissance reformer. This somewhat
anachronistic image, fortified by much new scholarship, informed the
major new biography by Pasquale Villari, who regarded Savonarola's
preaching against Medici despotism as the model for the Italian
struggle for liberty and national unification. In Germany, the
Catholic theologian and church historian
Joseph Schnitzer edited and
published contemporary sources which illuminated Savonarola's career.
In 1924 he crowned his vast research with a comprehensive study of
Savonarola's life and times in which he presented the friar as the
last best hope of the Catholic Church before the catastrophe of the
Protestant Reformation. In the Italian Popular Party founded by
Luigi Sturzo in 1919, Savonarola was revered as a champion of
social justice, and after 1945 he was held up as a model of reformed
Catholicism by leaders of the
Christian Democratic Party. From this
milieu, in 1952, came the third of the major Savonarola biographies,
the Vita di
Girolamo Savonarola by Roberto Ridolfi. For the next
half century Ridolfi was the guardian of the friar's saintly memory as
well as the dean of Savonarola research which he helped grow into a
scholarly industry. Today, with most of Savonarola's treatises and
sermons and many of the contemporary sources (chronicles, diaries,
government documents and literary works) available in critical
editions, scholars can provide fresh, better informed assessments of
his character and his place in the Renaissance, the Reformation and
modern European history. The present-day Church has considered his
Almost thirty volumes of Savonarola's sermons and writings have so far
been published in the Edizione nazionale delle Opere di Girolamo
Savonarola (Rome, Angelo Belardetti, 1953 to the present). For
editions of the 15th and 16th centuries see Catalogo delle edizioni di
Girolamo Savonarola (secc. xv–xvi) ed. P. Scapecchi (Florence,
Prison Meditations on Psalms 51 and 31 ed. John Patrick Donnelly, S.J.
The Compendium of Revelations in Bernard McGinn ed. Apocalyptic
Spirituality: Treatises and Letters of Lactantius, Adso of
Montier-en-Der, Joachim of Fiore, the Franciscan Spirituals,
Savonarola (New York, 1979
Savonarola A Guide to Righteous Living and Other Works ed. Konrad
Eisenbichler (Toronto, Centre for Reformation and
Selected Writings of
Girolamo Savonarola Religion and Politics,
1490–1498 ed. Anne Borelli and Maria Pastore Passaro (New Haven,
Yale University Press, 2006)
Charles Villiers Stanford
Charles Villiers Stanford wrote an opera titled Savonarola, which had
its premiere in
Hamburg on 18 April 1884.
Luigi Dallapiccola used text from Savonarola's Meditation on the Psalm
My hope is in Thee, O Lord in his 1938 choral work Canti di prigionia.
William Byrd used the text of Savonarola's
Infelix ego in his work by
the same name as part of the Cantiones Sacrae 1591 xxiv–xvi.
Mann, Thomas, Fiorenza (1909)
Herrmann, Bernhard, Savonarola im Feuer (1909)
Van Wyck, William, Savonarola: A Biography in Dramatic Episodes (1926)
Hines and King, Fire of Vanity (1930)
Salacrou, Armand, Le terre est ronde (1938)
Bacon, Wallace A., Savonarola: A Play in Nine Scenes (1950)
Lenau, Nikolaus, Savonarola
The 1917 story "Savonarola" Brown by
Max Beerbohm concerns an aspiring
playwright, author of an unfinished, unintentionally absurd retelling
of the life of Savonarola. (His four-act play took him nine years to
write, is eighteen pages long, and features a romance between
Savonarola and Lucrezia Borgia, and also cameos by Dante Alighieri,
Leonardo da Vinci, and St. Francis of Assisi.)
The Palace by
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro features Savonarola as
the main antagonist of the vampire Saint Germain.
The Rule of Four
The Rule of Four by
Ian Caldwell and
Dustin Thomason makes
extensive references to Savonarola.
The novel The Birth of Venus by
Sarah Dunant makes extensive
references to Savonarola.
The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving Stone's novelisation of
Michelangelo's life, depicts the events in
Florence from the Medici's
point of view.
The novel Kámen a bolest ("suffering and the stone"), Karel Schulz's
historical novel about the life of Michelangelo features Savonarola as
an important character.
Sabbath's Theater by
Philip Roth makes reference to
The novel The Enchantress of
Florence by Salman Rushdie
The portmanteau film Immoral Tales by
Walerian Borowczyk features
Savonarola in its fourth and final episode.
In her novel The Passion of New Eve,
Angela Carter describes the
preaching leader of an army of god-fearing child soldiers as a
In the novel I, Mona Lisa (UK title Painting Mona Lisa) by Jeanne
Kalogridis, he is given a negative slant, as the Medicis are portrayed
as sympathetic and noble.
In novel, The Poet Prince,
Kathleen McGowan has made him as one of the
enemies of Tuscan people in their pursuit of artistic fame during his
In the novel
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, the Bonfire of the Vanities
is brought up in a story by the protagonist, Thomas Cromwell.
The young adult novel The Smile by
Donna Jo Napoli shows Savonarola as
he was observed by a young Mona Lisa.
The fourth segment of Walerian Borowczyk's 1974 anthology film,
Immoral Tales, is set during the reign of Pope Alexander VI. A
character called "
Friar Hyeronimus Savonarola," played by Philippe
Desboeuf, holds a sermon in which he publicly condemns the corruption
of the church and the sexual depravity of the papacy. Borowczyk
juxtaposes Savonarola's sermon with the Pope enjoying a threesome with
his daughter, Lucrezia Borgia, and his son, Cesare Borgia. Savonarola
is arrested and publicly burned to death.
Savonarola is a main character in Canadian playwright Jordan
Tannahill's 2016 play Botticelli in the Fire
In the 1976 film Network, the network programming executive played by
Faye Dunaway refers to crusading reporter Howard Beale as "a
magnificent messianic figure, inveighing against the hypocrisies of
our times, a strip Savonarola, Monday through Friday."
In Showtime's The Borgias, Savonarola is portrayed by Steven Berkoff.
In the Netflix series Borgia, Savonarola is portrayed by Iain Glen.
The manga-anime series
Gunslinger Girl features an episode where two
of the protagonists, Jean and Rico visit Florence. There Savonarola is
mentioned among other famous people who lived in the city, while he
shares his surname with one of the series antagonists.
Savonarola appears as a main assassination target in the videogame
Assassin's Creed II.
Dall'Aglio, Stefano, Savonarola and Savonarolism (Toronto: Centre for
Renaissance Studies. 2010).
Herzig,Tamar, Savonarola's Women: Visions and Reform in Renaissance
Italy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2008).
Lowinsky, Edward E., Music in the Culture of the
Renaissance and Other
Essays (University of Chicago Press, 1989).
Macey, Patrick, Bonfire Songs: Savonarola's Musical Legacy (Oxford,
Clarendon Press, 1998).
Martines, Lauro, Fire in the City: Savonarola and the Struggle for the
Florence (2006) ISBN 0-224-07252-8
Meltzoff, Stanley, Botticelli, Signorelli and Savonarola (Florence,
Polizzotto, Lorenzo, The Elect Nation: The Savonarola Movement in
Florence 1494–1545 (Oxford, 1994)
Steinberg, Ronald M., Fra Girolamo Savonarola, Florentine Art and
Renaissance Historiography (Athens, Ohio, 1977)
Strathern, Paul, "Death in Florence: The Medici, Savanarola, and the
Battle for the Soul of a
Renaissance City", (Pegasus, 2015)
Weinstein, Donald and Hotchkiss, Valerie R., eds. Girolamo Savonarola
Piety, Prophecy and Politics in
Florence Catalogue of the
Exhibition (Dallas, Bridwell Library, 1994).
^ Text in Weinstein, Savonarola The Rise and Fall of a Renaissance
Prophet, p. 122
^ "English translations in Savonarola A Guide to Righteous Living and
Other Works ed. Konrad Eisenbichler (Toronto, Centre for Reformation
Renaissance Studies, 2003) 61–68
^ Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola, Vita Hieronymi Savonarolae ed.
Elisabetta Schisto (Florence, 1999) 114.
^ Reported by fra Benedetto Luschino in his Vulnera Diligentis ed.
Stefano Dall' Aglio (Florence, 2002) pp. 22–33, 301.
^ "Like you, I am made of flesh and my sensuality wars against my
reason; I have a cruel fight to keep the devil from my back."
Translated from Girolamo Savonarola, Lettere e scritti apologetici
eds. Ridolfi, Romano, Verde (Rome, 1984), p. 6.
^ La Vita del Beato
Girolamo Savonarola ed. Roberto Ridolfi (Florence,
1937) p. 8.
^ Michael Tavuzzi O.P., "Savonarola and Vincent Bandello," Archivum
Fratrum Praedicatorum 59 (1999) 199–224.
^ Selected Writings of
Girolamo Savonarola Religion and Politics,
1490–1498 Translated and edited by Anna Borelli and Maria Pastore
Passaro (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2006).
^ "He satisfied almost no one either in his gestures or in his manner
of speaking, as I who was there for all of Lent recall. At the end
there were fewer than twenty-five people, men, women and children."
Translated from "Epistola di fra Placido Cinozzi," in P. Villari, E.
Casanova, Scelta di prediche e scritti di fra
Girolamo Savonarola con
nuovi documenti intorno alla sua vita (Florence, 1898) p. 11.
^ Armando F. Verde O.P., "'Et andando a
San Gimignano a predicarvi.'
Alle origini della profezia savonaroliana," Vivens Homo IX (1998) pp.
^ Donald Weinstein, Savonarola The Rise and Fall of a Renaissance
Prophet (New Haven, 2011)pp. 36–7
^ Translation of letter from fra Girolamo to his mother, 25 January
1490, Girolamo Savonarola, A Guide to Righteous Living and Other
Works, Konrad Eisenbichler (Toronto, 2003) 38–41.
^ William G. Craven, Pico della Mirandola Symbol of His Age: Modern
Interpretations of a
Renaissance Philosopher (Geneva, Switzerland,
^ Tavuzzi, "Savonarola and Vincenzo Bandello," 216-17.
^ "Le lezioni o i sermoni sull' Apocalisse di Girolamo Savonarola
(1490) 'nova dicere et novo modo, '"ed. Armando F. Verde O.P., Imagine
e Parola, Retorica Filologica-Retorica Predicatoria (Valla e
Savonarola) Memorie Domenicane, n.s.(1988) 5–109
^ Weinstein, Savonarola, Rise and Fall of a
Renaissance Prophet pp.
^ David Abulafia, The French Descent Into
^ Quoted in Donald Weinstein, Savonarola and
Florence Prophecy and
Patriotism in the
Renaissance (Princeton University Press, 1970) 143.
On Florentine civic mythology, Nicolai Rubinstein, "The Beginnings of
Political Thought in Florence. A Study in Medieval Historiography,"
Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes (V, 1942) 198–227;
Hans Baron, The Crisis of the Early Italian
Renaissance 2d ed.
(Princeton University Press, 1966).
^ "Concerning New Principalities Which Are Acquired By One's Own Arms
The Prince by Machiavelli "Archived copy". Archived from
the original on 30 November 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
^ On Savonarola and Florentine constitutional reform see Felix
Gilbert, "Florentine Political Assumptions in the Period of Savonarola
and Soderini," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes XII
(1957) 187–214, and Nicolai Rubinstein, "Politics and Constitution
Florence at the End of the Fifteenth Century," Italian Renaissance
Studies ed. E.F. Jacob (London, 1963). The Frateschi's success in
blocking patricians from holding office has been questioned, most
notably by Roslyn Cooper, "The Florentine Ruling Group under the
'Governo Popolare', 1494–1512," Studies in Medieval and Renaissance
History (1984/5) 71–181.
^ English translation in Borelli, Passaro, Selected Writings of
Girolamo Savonarola 59–76.
^ Mark J. Zucker, "Savonarola Designs a Work of Art: the Crown of The
Virgin in the Compendium of Revelations," Machiavelli Studies 5 (1966)
eds Vincenzo De Nardo, Christopher Fulton pp.119–145 ; Rab
Hatfield, "Botticelli's Mystic Nativity, Savonarola and the
Millennium," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 58 (1995)
^ "Political reform was only a part of the great task which Savonarola
had set himself; his scheme embraced the renovation of social life, as
well as science, literature, and art.
Christianity was to reassert its
sovereignty over the paganism of the false renaissance in every
department of life. His 'Evviva Christo' was to echo from lip to lip.
Politics, society, science and art, were to have the commandments of
God for their basis.
Christ was to be proclaimed King of
protector of her liberties." – Ludwig von Pastor, History of the
Popes, Vol. 5, p. 192, 
^ "He aimed at establishing a theocracy in Florence, resembling that
by which the Jews were ruled in the time of the Judges. Thus the
religious idea took form in politics, and a monarchy was to be erected
by the democracy, under the immediate guidance of God; Savonarola, as
the Daniel of the Florentines, was to be the medium of the Divine
answers and commands." – Ludwig von Pastor, History of the Popes,
Vol. 5, p. 210, 
^ "'It was not Art itself which he condemned, but its desecration, the
introduction of earthly and even immodest sentiments and dress into
sacred pictures. On the contrary, pious and genuinely religious art
would have been an efficacious support in building up that ideal State
which he dreamt of, and for a while even made a reality.' Again and
again Savonarola explains what he finds fault with in contemporary
Art, and what he desires to put in place of it. For him edification is
the main object of Art; he will tolerate none which does not tend to
the service of religion." – Ludwig von Pastor, History of the Popes,
Vol. 5, p. 195, 
^ On homoeroticism in
Florence and Savonarola's campaign against it,
Michael Rocke, Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture
Florence (New York, 1996). More generally, on youth
culture, see Richard Trexler, Public Life in
^ "Compendium of Revelations," translated in Apocalyptic Spirituality:
Treatises and Letters of Lactantius, Adso of Montier-en-Der, Joachim
of Fiore, the Franciscan Spirituals, Savonarola ed. Bernard McGinn
(New York, 1970) 211–270.
^ English translation of a Benivieni laud in Borelli, Passaro,
Selected Writings of
Girolamo Savonarola 231-3.
^ Patrick Macey, Bonfire Songs Savonarola's Musical Legacy (Oxford,
Clarendon Press, 1998). Published with a CD of performances of
Carnival Songs, Laude and Motets by the Eastman Capella Antiqua.
^ Brief of
Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI excommunicating Savonarola: The History
Girolamo Savonarola and of His Times, Pasquale Villari, Leonard
Horner, trans., London, Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green,
1863, Volume 2, pp.392–394.
^ Girolamo Savonarola, Triumphus Crucis Latin and Italian texts ed.
Ferrara (Rome, 1961)
^ Lauro Martines, Lawyers and Statecraft in Renaissance
Florence(Princeton, 1968) pp. 202–3
^ Complete interrogation records in I processi di Girolamo Savonarola
(1498) ed. I.G. Rao, P. Viti, R.M. Zaccaria (Florence, 2001); French
translation and commentary, Robert Klein, Le proces de Savonarole
^ Girolamo Savonarola, Prison Meditations on Psalms 51 and 31 Tr., Ed.
John Patrick Donnelly S.J. (Milwaukee, Marquette University Press,
^ An eyewitness account by the Piagnone
Luca Landucci in A Florentine
Diary from 1460 to 1516 trans. Alice De Rosen Jervis (London, 1927)
^ Lorenzo Polizzotto, "When Saints Fall Out: Women and the Savonarolan
Reform Movement in Early Sixteenth Century Florence," Renaissance
Quarterly 46 (1993) 486–525; Sharon T. Strocchia, "Savonarolan
Witnesses: the Nuns of San Iacopo and the Piagnone Movement in
Sixteenth-century Florence," The Sixteenth Century Journal 38 (2007),
393–418; Tamar Herzig, Savonarola's Women: Visions and Reform in
Renaissance Italy (University of Chicago Press,2008); Strocchia, Nuns
and Nunneries in
Florence (Johns Hopkins University Press,
^ Polizzotto, The Elect Nation, Chapters 5–8; Weinstein, Savonarola
The Rise and Fall of a
Renaissance Prophet, Chapter 25.
^ Cecil Roth, The Last Florentine Republic (London, 1925).
^ Weinstein, Savonarola Rise and Fall, 360, note 26, drawing on works
in German (Nolte) and Italian (Simoncelli and Dall' Aglio).
^ Lorenzo Polizzotto, The Elect Nation p. 443.
^ Pasquale Villari, The Life and Times of
Girolamo Savonarola trans.
by Linda Villari 2 vols (New York, 1890).
^ Joseph Schnitzer, Savonarola Ein Kulturbild aus der Zeit der
Renaissance 2 vols (Munich, 1924); Italian translation Savonarola
trans. Ernesto Rutili 2 vols (Milan, 1931). No English translation.
^ Roberto Ridolfi, Vita di
Girolamo Savonarola 6th ed. with additional
notes by Armando F. Verde O.P. (Florence, 1981.)
^ Innocenzo Venchi, O.P. "Iniziative dell'Ordine Domenicano per
promuovere la causa di beatificazione del Ven. fra Girolamo Savonarola
O.P.," Studi Savonaroliani Verso il V centenario ed. Gian Carlo
Garfagnini (Florence, 1996) pp. 93–97
^ Grove's Dictionary, 5th ed.
Dall'Aglio, Stefano "Savonarola and Savonarolism" (Toronto, 2010)
Macey, Patrick Bonfire Songs: Savonarola's Musical Legacy Clarendon
Press, Oxford, 1988.
Polizzotto, Lorenzo "The Elect Nation; The Savonarola Movement in
Florence 1494–1545" (Oxford, 1994)
Ridolfi, Roberto "Vita di Girolamo Savonarola" 6th ed., ed. A.F.
Verde, Florence, 1997).
Weinstein, Donald "Savonarola the Rise and Fall of a Renaissance
Prophet" (New Haven, 2011) ISBN 978-0-300-11193-4
Roeder, Ralph Edmund LeClercq "The Man of the Renaissance: Four
Lawgivers, Savanarola, Machiavelli, Castiglione, Aretino", The Viking
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