Savonarola was educated by his father and grandfather, a respected physician, which is most likely why he chose at first to go to medical school.
An intense personality, he obsessed over the role of the Church and the un-christian ways of the wealthy and finally entered the Dominican monastery of San Domenico, in Bologna. His superiors recognized his communication skills and sent the young monk out to preach. He later relocated to the monastery of San Marco in Florence.
His mastery with words to denounce the frivolous ways of the rich and apparent ability to prophesied made him a celebrity, attracting huge crowds. Even Lorenzo de' Medici was drawn notwithstanding the friar's attacks on the wealthy.
1452 - 1498
"Repent, O Florence, while there is still time."
After Lorenzo de' Medici's untimely death Savonarola's rampage against the family increased in fervor and he predicted terrible events to come as punishment for the de' Medici tyranny.
True to form in 1495 Charles VIII of France invaded Italy. The citizens figured the friar's prophecy was fulfilled and turned against Lorenzo's son Cosimo. Savonarola went to King Charles and convinced him to spare Florence. In return he was given control of the city. Initially the citizens accepted him, his rhetoric enflamed passions with the promise of a "New Jerusalem", but he was less popular after he set his austerity laws in motion; no flamboyant clothes or actions, fast and pray.
Eventually Pope Alexander VI excommunicated him for continuously disobeying orders and pressured the city to get rid of the troublemaker. Savonarola's supernatural powers were questioned and he admitted he was a fake. He was imprisoned and killed.
Quotes by Savonarola:
- It would be good for religion if many books that seem useful were destroyed. When there were not so many books and not so many arguments and disputes, religion grew more quickly than it has since.
-The only good thing that we owe to Plato and Aristotle is that they brought forward many arguments which we can use against the heretics. Yet they and other philosophers are now in hell.