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against him were unjust and of no force, he opened his mouth eftsoones to blaspheme the Pope and the whole Court of Rome with great vehemency: of this arose no small emotion, for that his adversaries (whose authority increased daily with the people) detected such inobedience, rebuking the action, for that by his innovation and rashness, the Pope's mind was drawn in uncertainties and alteration, in a time specially, wherein the restitution of Pisa being negotiated by him and the other Confederates, it was necessary to do all things to confirm him in that resolution. On the other side, his disciples and partakers defended and justified him, alleging that men ought not for the regard of human things to trouble the operations divine, nor consent that under such colors the Popes of Rome should begin to intrude into the affairs of their common weal. But after there were certain days spent in this contention, and the Pope wonderfully inflamed, sending out new thunderbolts with threats of censures against the whole city: he was at last commanded by the magistrates of the city to forbear to preach, to whom though he obey, yet divers of his brethren supplied his office, in sundry churches. And the disunion being no less among the spiritualty than the laity, the friars and brethren of other Orders cease not to preach fervently against him : arising at last into such high and malicious inflammation that one of the disciples of Savonarola, and one of the Friar Minors, agreed to enter into the fire in the presence of the whole people, to the end that the disciple of Savonarola either being burned or preserved, the people might be left satisfied, and certain whether Savonarola were a prophet or an abuser : seeing that at times afore he had affirmed in his sermons, that for the justification of the truth of his prophecies, he could in all necessities obtain of God the grace to pass without hurt, through the middest of a flaming fire. And yet notwithstanding grieving not a little with the resolution made without his privity touching a present experience, he labored to break it with all his devices and diligence. But the matter being so far proceeded of itself, and earnestly solicited by certain citizens desiring to have the town delivered of so great troubles, it was necessary at last to pass further : insomuch as the two religious brethren, accompanied with all their brotherhood, came at the day appointed to the place afore the public palace, where was not only a general concourse of the people of Florence, but universal assemblies of the cities adjoining. There the Friar Minors were advertised that Savonarola had ordained that his disciple and brother, entering the fire, should bear in his hand the Sacrament : which device they impugned greatly, alleging that there was sought by that means to put in danger the authority of Christian faith, which in the minds of the ignorant would not a little decline if that holy Host should be burned, which contention, Savonarola being there present, and preserving in his resolution, there arose such factions and disagreements that the action of experience proceeded no further, the same diminishing so much of his credit, that the day following, in a tumult then happening, his adversaries took arms, whereunto being joined the authority of the sovereign Magistrate, they entered the monastery of Saint Mark where he was, and drawing him out of the place, they led him with two other of his brethren to the common prisons. In this tumult, the parents of those that had been executed the year before, killed Francisque Vatori, a citizen of great authority, and the most apparent favorer and follower of Savonarola : the chief motion inducing this quarrel, was, that above all others, his authority had deprived them of the faculty to have recourse to the judgment of the Counsel Popular. Savonarola was afterward examined with torments, but not very grievous, and upon the examination, a process published, which (taking away all imputations that were laid upon him for coretousness, corruptions of manners, or to have had secret intelligence or practice with princes) contained, that the matters by him prophesied were not pronounced by revelation divine, but by his proper opinion grounded upon the doctrine and observation of holy Scripture. Wherein he had not been moved by any wicked intention or purpose, and much less by that means to aspire to any office or greatness in the Church : only he had a holy desire, that by his means might be called a General Council, wherein
might be reformed the corrupt customs of the clergy, and the estate of the Church of God (so far wandered and gone astray) to be reduced, as near as might be, to the resemblance of the times drawing nearest the Apostles; a glory, which, to give perfection to so great and holy an operation, he esteemed far above the obtaining of the popedom; for that the one could not succeed by means of an excellent doctrine and virtue, and a singular reverence of all men : where the popedom most often was obtained, either by sinister means, or else by the benefit of fortune : upon which process confirmed by him in the hearing and presence of many religious persons even of his own order, but (if that be true which his own faction bruited afterward) with words dark, and such as might receive divers interpretations : there were taken from him and his two other companions with ceremonies instituted by the Church of Rome, the holy orders, and that by sentence of the General of the Jacobins and of Bishop Romolin, Commissioners delegate by the Pope : and so being passed over to the power of the secular court, they were (by their judgments) hanged and burned, being at the spectacle of the degradation and execution, no less multitudes of people, than at the day of the experience of entering the fire, when was an infinite concourse to behold the issue of the miracle promised by Savonarola. This death constantly endured (but without expressing word whereby might be discerned either their innocence or fault) quenched not the diversity of judgments and passions of men : for that many supposed he was but an abuser : and others (of the contrary) believed, that the confession that was published was falsely forged, or perhaps, in his aged and weak complexion, the torments had more force than the truth : wherein they excused that manner of frailty with the example of Saint Peter, who neither imprisoned, nor constrained with torments, or by any other extraordinary force, but at the simple words of the handmaidens and servants, denied that he was the disciple of his Master, in whom he had seen so many holy miracles.-History of Italy; translation of GEFFRAY FENTON.