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

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Oxford University Press, USA, Apr 21, 2006 - History - 360 pages
29 Reviews
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.
 

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

User Review  - Steven McCarthy - Goodreads

An interesting and engaging read. Rich in historical detail, but not as fully explicative of Savonarola's theology as I would have expected. Also, despite the historical detail, I felt like I was ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Goodreads

An interesting and engaging read. Rich in historical detail, but not as fully explicative of Savonarola's theology as I would have expected. Also, despite the historical detail, I felt like I was ... Read full review

Contents

Chorus
2
Vile Bodies 14721490
9
The Friar Returns 14901491
20
The Wait 14921494
30
Fear and Loathing November 1494
35
Holy Liberty
59
Stamping out Tyranny 14941495
75
God and Politics
86
Excommunication MayJune 1497
167
Five Executions August 1497
176
Rome Closes In
202
Foiled Fire
220
The Siege of San Marco April 1498
232
Confessions of a Sinner
245
Fire Again Three Executions May 1498
266
The Conscience of a City
283

Angels and Enforcers 14961498
112
The Pope and the Friar 14951497
122
The Savonarolan Moment
141
Wailers and Bigots
157
Notes
300
Bibliography
314
Index
323
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About the author (2006)

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.

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