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Fire in the City: Savonarola and the Struggle for Renaissance Florence


Fire in the City: Savonarola and the Struggle for Renaissance Florence Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

For the many readers fascinated by histories of Renaissance Italy--such as Brunelleschi's Dome or Galileo's Daughter, and Martines's acclaimed April Blood--Fire in the City offers a vivid portrait of one of the most memorable characters from that dazzling era.


"For approximately four years, from 1494 to 1498, a Dominican monk and preacher was first the conscience, then the virtual king of Florence. His admirers, indeed followers, included the Neoplatonic philosopher Pico della Mirandola, the young Machiavelli and the painter Botticelli. His two greatest enemies were just as eminent: Piero de' Medici, that feckless son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and heir... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

About the Author

Lauro Martines is Professor Emeritus of European History at the University of California, Los Angeles. A renowned scholar of Renaissance Italy, he now writes regularly for The Times Literary Supplement. The author of April Blood: Florence and the Plot Against the Medici, he lives in London with his wife, the novelist Julia O'Faolian. His novel of Renaissance Italy, Loredana, won the Sagittarius Prize for 2005.

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations

An X-Ray of Florentine Government

Glossary of Terms

Ch. 1 - Chorus

Ch. 2 - Vile Bodies: 1472-1490

Ch. 3 - The Friar Returns: 1490-1491

Ch. 4 - The Wait: 1492-1494

Ch. 5 - Fear and Loathing: November 1494

Ch. 6 - Holt Liberty

Ch. 7 - Stamping out Tyranny: 1494-1495

Ch. 8 - God and Politics

Ch. 9 - Angels and Enforcers: 1496-1498

Ch. 10 - The Pope and the Friar: 1495-1497

Ch. 11 - The Savonrolan Moment

Ch. 12 - Wailers and Bigots

Ch. 13 - Excommunication: May-June 1497

Ch. 14 - Five Executions: August 1497

Ch. 15 - Rome Closes In

Ch. 16 - Foiled Fire

Ch. 17 - The Siege of San Marco: April 1498

Ch. 18 - Confessions of a Sinner

Ch. 19 - Fire Again: Three Executions: May 1498

Ch. 20 - The Conscience of a City




Product Details

Savonarola and the Struggle for the Soul of Renaissance Florence
Martines, Lauro
null, Lauro
Oxford University Press
Church History
Historical - General
History, World | European | Italy
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8pp photo insert
6.4 x 9.3 x 1.3 in 1.431 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
History and Social Science » Europe » Italy » Medieval and Renaissance
History and Social Science » World History » Italy

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Product details 360 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780195177480 Reviews:
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