On 24 May 1497 Girolamo Savonarola was led out to a scaffold in the middle of the Piazza della Signoria. Crowds gathered around and watched as he was publically humiliated before being hanged and burned. But what did this man do that warranted such a horrendous death?
Born on 21 September 1458 in Ferrara, Girolamo Savonarola would join the Dominican order of friars and find his way to the city of Florence. Run by the Medici family, the city was used to opulence and fast living but when the unassuming Dominican showed up, the people were unaware that he was about to take their world by storm.
Preaching before the people of Florence to an increasingly packed out Cathedral, Savonarola came to be called a prophet. And when Charles VIII invaded Italy with his French army, one of his so called prophecies came true. It was enough for the people to sit up and take note, allowing this man to become the defacto ruler of Florence. Except Girolamo Savonarola made one very fatal mistake – he made an enemy of Alexander VI, the Borgia Pope, by preaching against his corruption and attempting to overthrow him. It would prove to be his ultimate undoing – the Pope turned the Florentines who had so loved the friar against him and he ended his days hanging above a raging inferno.
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