Execution of Girolamo Savonarola on the Piazza della Signoria, Florence 1498
Speaking of books, here is a new one that looks like it is worth reading:
Fire in the City : Savonarola and the Struggle for the Soul of Renaissance Florence by Lauro Martines
Anne and I went to Italy on our honeymoon, and one of the cities where we spent the longest amount of time was Florence. Visiting the old Dominican Friary there to look at the works of Fra Angelico, we were struck by how important a figure Savonarola was in Florence on the eve of the Reformation, both to the Dominican Order, and to the city. His name has always been a catchword for fanaticism and puritanism, best known and exemplified by “The Bonfire of the Vanities”. There has been a small counter-current, however, that has always seen Savonarola as a reformer. Lauro Martines seems to be one who thinks so too.
The Book Description from Amazon:
A gripping and beautifully written narrative that reads like a novel, Fire in the City presents a compelling account of a key moment in the history of the Renaissance, illuminating the remarkable man who dominated the period, the charismatic Savonarola. Lauro Martines, whose decades of scholarship have made him one of the most admired historians of Renaissance Italy, here provides a remarkably fresh perspective on Girolamo Savonarola, the preacher and agitator who flamed like a comet through late fifteenth-century Florence. The Dominican friar has long been portrayed as a dour, puritanical demagogue who urged his followers to burn their worldly goods in "the bonfire of the vanities." But as Martines shows, this is a caricature of the truth--the version propagated by the wealthy and powerful who feared the political reforms he represented.
In fact, Savonarola emerges as a complex and subtle man: compassionate, wise, a poet and scholar, and even, at critical moments, a force for moderation. The friar, a mesmerizing preacher, set the city afire with his message of Christian charity wedded to republican ideals.
It is this reality--of Savonarola as both religious and civic leader--that Martines captures in all its complexity, showing how he inspired an outpouring of political debate in a city newly freed from the tyranny of the Medici. In the end, the volatile passions he unleashed--and the powerful families he threatened--sent the friar to his own fiery death. But the fusion of morality and politics that he represented would leave a lasting mark on Renaissance Florence.
So many books, and so little time… and money.
In contrast to that, Here is what the Catholic Encyclopedia says about Savonarola.
In the beginning Savonarola was filled with zeal, piety, and self-sacrifice for the regeneration of religious life. He was led to offend against these virtues by his fanaticism, obstinacy, and disobedience. He was not a heretic in matters of faith. The erection of his statue at the foot of Luther's monument at Worms as a reputed "forerunner of the Reformation" is entirely unwarranted.