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inciting the Pope to rid the world of that pestilent fellow, Brother Girolamo continued his triumphant course. In Lent, 1492, he preached on the Book of Genesis at San Lorenzo. Women, when he rebuked their immodest attire, appeared in dark close dresses. One man, as he left the church, hastened to make restitution of three thousand ducats. The year had not passed when Savonarola stood by the deathbed of Lorenzo de' Medici. He had been summoned, it should seem, by the dying man himself, who had always shown the most humble obedience to the rites of the Church, and had already received the last sacraments, uttering words of the most profound piety. Politian, who was present, relates the interview. Girolamo exhorted the expiring prince to hold fast the faith ; Lorenzo declared that his faith was unshaken. That he should amend his life; Lorenzo promised so to do in the strongest terms. That he should resign himself to death, if such were the will of God; with joy,' said Lorenzo, if such be God's decree.' The Friar rose to depart ; Lorenzo implored his blessing, bowed his head, and made the responses in the firmest and gentlest tone. Politian adds, that men would have thought that all present were suffering death, and not Lorenzo. We have no scruple in accepting this simple statement of Politian as the whole truth. It was an after-thought of Savonarola's admirers and of Lorenzo's enemies which represents Lorenzo as racked with remorse by three sins of his life, the massacre at Volterra (which was no deed of his, but one of those dreadful accidents of war for which not even the commander of the forces at Volterra was responsible); the plunder of the Monti di Pietà founded for the dowry of Florentine damsels who had been deprived of their marriage-portions; and the condemnation to death of many innocent persons after the Pazzi conspiracy-an act of which popular fury, and not Lorenzo, was guilty. The Friar, it is said, sternly enjoined faith and restitution of all his ill-gotten gains. Lorenzo hesitated, but made the promise. The third and last demand of the inexorable Girolamo was, “If you would have peace with God, restore her liberty to Florence.' Lorenzo turned his face to the wall, and spake no word; the Friar withdrew. All this, however, rests only on the report of Burlamacchi, in whose work legend has always to be separated from history; and to Burlamacchi it came from Maruffi, the somnambulist and man of visions, the least trustworthy of all Savonarola's followers.
So died the magnificent Lorenzo de' Medici, at the age of fortyfour, on April 8, 1492. On July 25 died Pope Innocent VIII. Piero de' Medici succeeded, without struggle, to the acknowledged but undefined supremacy of his father in Florence; on the throne of St. Peter the unblushing and venal conclave placed the Cardinal Borgia, who took the name of Alexander VI. Savonarola acquiesced with the rest of Florence in the sovereignty of Piero; but in the Advent of that year he preached on the Ark of Noah, a course, it should seem, suddenly broken off, and resumed in the Lent of 1494. The clean and unclean beasts in the ark were a fruitful subject for the bold imagination of the Friar. In the Lent of 1493 he was in Bologna, but it should seem that at Bologna he had tamed his manner; the prophet was at first thought but a simple man, fit to preach to women. The preacher’s fire soon began to kindle both himself and others; all ranks, all orders, the artisan, the peasant, the burgher, the prince, were at his feet. The haughty wife of John Bentivoglio, Lord of Bologna, condescended to be present; but she came, and, in spite of remonstrance, came repeatedly, with a pompous train and in the midst of the service, interrupting the devotion of the people, and the discourse of the teacher. In the spirit of old Chrysostom to the Byzantine empress— • Herodias dances, Herodias would have the head of John'Savonarola addressed her as the devil, who came to disturb the word of God. Her brothers attempted on the spot to avenge the insult; they could not make their way through the throng. Assassins were hired ; according to the legend, they were admitted to his presence, but cowered before his look and words, and crept back to their employers. The Friar boldly gave out that he was about to return to Florence, he should sleep at Pianora; “it is not my fate to die at Bologna.'
The Prior of St. Mark determined to commence in his own convent that reformation which with terrible denunciation he had demanded from the whole Church, the Pope, the clergy, the people. He urged upon his brethren the strictest austerity and conformity to their rules, of which he himself set the example. He resolved to remove the cloister from the din and licence of the city, and obtained a site at Carreggio, where he settled most of the brethren. So far was he from discouraging learning, that he left part of the convent in Florence to be an institution for the study of the Oriental languages. He had further views. Tuscany was but a district of the Lombard provinces of his order; he aspired to make it independent, and obtained its severance from Pope Alexander ; himself was to be the first vicar-general. During this reform, though he ceased not to thunder against the vices of clergy and people, he was still on terms of peace with the Pope and with Piero de' Medici. M. Perrens quotes a passage which reads almost like humble adulation of the son of Lorenzo, and contrasts it with his hard and uncourteous demeanour to the father.
But the time was coming when the sword, the sword of God, which Savonarola had so long proclaimed as about to sweep down the sons of guilty Italy, might be seen, as it were, in its portentous gleaming on the summit of the Alps. Charles VIII. of France had been summoned by the Duke of Milan. Savonarola at times disclaimed, at times seemed darkly to intimate, that he had foreshown the descent of the French; but he at once designated Charles VIII. as the coming scourge, as the renovator of the Church.
The judicial folly which seized Piero de' Medici might to a less devout man seem the smiting of the hand of God. Florence had been, in all former wars, the faithful ally of the French. Piero de' Medici had entered into close confederacy with the King of Naples, whose throne Charles VIII. claimed as his own. Piero de' Medici might have resolutely maintained or
might have repudiated the Neapolitan alliance : like all weak men he chose the worst course—vacillation. He knew that he had not, like his father, a firm hold on the respect, or at least the awe of the Florentines, but was hated for his pride and profligacy. Almost the first act of Charles VIII., on his descent from the Alps, early in 1594, was to send an embassy to Florence. He reminded the Florentines that Charlemagne had been the second founder of their city; he touched on the recent alliances with the kingdom of France, especially with his father Louis XI., and urged the stronger argument, the immense commercial advantages derived from France. The Florentines were almost the bankers of the realm. The answer of Piero de' Medici was ambiguous. Charles at once prepared to march on Florence. Such was the public discontent that the magistrates entreated Savonarola to allay the angry people. The preacher obeyed, but he did not scruple to remind them of his repeated but neglected text (a text, by the way, invented or imagined by himself): “Behold, the sword of the Lord is upon the land, instantly and rapidly.'6 Piero de' Medici was seized with the utmost panic; he thought of his father's daring embassage in his own person to the hostile court of Naples. What Lorenzo had done with bold wisdom, he would imitate with weak despair: he went as his own ambassador to the camp of Charles; but, instead of overawing, fell prostrate before the invader. He accepted at once the hard terms; he was even more lavish of concession than the king of demands; he stipulated for the surrender of the fortresses of Pietra Santa, Sarzana, Sarzanella, the occupation of Pisa and Leghorn, the loan of 200,000 ducats.
Florence rose in fury. Francesco Valori, once a friend of the Medici, headed the movement, mounted his horse, and summoned the people to liberty. Piero de' Medici and all his faction were declared rebels ; they stole out of the city, and took refuge in Bologna. Savonarola seemed stunned with the revo
• Ecce gladius Domini super terram cito et velociter. His favourite phrase was that the barbiere (the barber or barbarian) would come and shave all Italy. See especially Sopra i Salmi, sorm. xxiv. p. 166.
lution--the Prophet saw not clearly what was to come. His sermon (on Haggai) dwelt only on the mercy of God; he urged the people to imitate God, and show compassion. He spoke ambiguously of the scourge impending over the city: let Florence appease God, who is already half-appeased ; let the approaching Advent be a fast as rigorous as Lent. The burthen of his discourse, the burthen on which he perpetually dwelt, was calamity on Italy, on Florence, on the clergy.
And he said again and again that Italy shall be utterly subverted, and specially the city of Rome. Nevertheless it was revealed to him, and had been revealed in former visions he had seen at intervals for the last four years, that the prophecy against Florence was conditional : it might be averted by her repentance and by God's mercy. Four ambassadors were named of noble houses—a Nerli, a Rucellai, a Capponi, a Cavalcanti ; the fifth was the Dominican stranger, Girolamo Savonarola. They set out for Lucca; Charles eluded their reception; he was on his march to Pisa, whither they followed him; but Piero de' Medici had pre-occupied the weak mind of the king by his humble submission. On their solemn audience Savonarola addressed the king in a long florid Ciceronian harangue, in which there are but few gleams of the fervid preacher. It was a general exhortation to imitate God in showing mercy.
On November 27 Charles VIII. entered Florence; his manners were courteous, but the terms which he dictated hard and imperious—the restoration of the Medici to their full sovereignty. The magistrates had not lost the Florentine courage: they firmly repelled the proposals. •What then,' said the impetuous Frenchman, “if I sound my trumpets ?' "Then,' resolutely answered Gino Capponi, • Florence must toll her bells.' The threat of the terrible tocsin, the signal of general insurrection in all Italian cities, startled the king, and he turned off, with a coarse pleasantry on the name of Capponi.? Yet Florence, un· Nardi, i. 51. M. Perrens well observes that Machiavelli has said better :
Lo strepito dell' armi e de' cavalli