Ganbarenippon

Corporal
47 Badges
Jun 18, 2015
40
11
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Cities: Skylines Industries
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • Crusader Kings Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
Take all the time you need. I am more than willing to wait for updates of the quality you deliver. I know what you mean about just playing on! SOmetimes you spend so long writing a chapter that you don't get anywhere in the game you were playing!
 

Kagemin

Major
84 Badges
Mar 8, 2014
671
566
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Steel Division: Normandy 44
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • BATTLETECH
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Tyranny - Bastards Wound
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Sign Up
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Revelations
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Premium edition
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Deluxe edition
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Season pass
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • March of the Eagles
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense

JerseyGiants88

Captain
54 Badges
Dec 28, 2013
342
87
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Victoria 2
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
Chapter 16: The Fool or the Mad Man?, 1503-1505

According to the agreement made between Antonio Grimaldi and Massimiliano Lessi following the election of 1502, “upon the death of the Gonfaloniere the deputy will assume all the powers of the office until a new election can be organized.” However, there was no time table specifying exactly when the election needed to take place. Lessi, who did not want to take any chances the next time he ran for office planned to take full advantage of the ambiguity. However, he needed to find an excuse to delay the election in order to placate the Assembly, which was likely to get restless if he simply held on to the Gonfaloniere post without a good reason. He decided to use two unrelated issues to what he thought would be his advantage.

The first was the increasing border friction with the League of Vicenza over the annexation of Parma. The League saw the Parma annexation as a direct violation of its demands that Florence curb its expansion. The construction of a new fort in the province only added to their anger. The League was even making threats of invasion. The Gonfaloniere, who had appointed his brother Luigi as the new foreign minister despite protests from the Assembly, decided to use this as a pretext to move the army away from Florence and to the massive new fort in Parma. He kept two regiments in the capital and had his older brother, General Antonio Lessi keep his headquarters there as well. The General assigned Colonel Carlo Ulivelli to command the main body of the forces in Parma. The two regiments that remained behind were the ones the Lessi brothers determined to be the most loyal to them should they need to be used to quell any sort of civil disturbance.


Im9DSJw.jpg

The annexation of Parma increased tension between Florence and the League of Vicenza

The second reason Lessi used to delay the election was his former ally, the Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola. He and his followers, dubbed the “Cappucci Neri” (Black Hoods) after their matching black robes and hoods, had backed Lessi in the election of 1502 in exchange for promises on a number of policy positions, most notably opposition to the tax on the sale of indulgences and support for an eventual ban on the sale of indulgences altogether. Lessi, when serving as Gonfaloniere Grimaldi’s deputy quickly reneged on those promises and, to the outrage of the Cappucci Neri, actually helped Grimaldi get the tax passed in the Assembly. Now that he was in office, Lessi seemed more interested in gaining favor with the Church establishment in Florence, led by Cardinal Amerigo Mancini, than he was in staying loyal to those who had helped him gain power. Savonarola did not take this lightly, especially the added insult of seeing Lessi being friendly with the Cardinal and other Church authorities, which they viewed as corrupt and considered them some of their worst enemies. However, at this point, the Cappucci Neri did not have the numbers necessary to make their voice heard.


iK8QSDL.jpg

Fra Girolamo Savonarola was a Dominican Friar and preacher; he called for a Christian renewal and declared that he End of Days was imminent

That did not stop them from trying. Savonarola organized demonstrations and speeches in the main squares of the city, denouncing the Gonfaloniere and preaching an ascetic, fundamentalist form of Catholicism and declaring that the End of Days was imminent. While they failed to change the ways of Massimiliano Lessi, they did start to gain a following in the city and, once word spread, in the countryside as well.

Lessi happily used the demonstrations as a pretext to delay the election, claiming they posed a serious danger to regular Florentine citizens. Despite the generally non-violent nature of the gatherings, large groups of devout followers dressed in black and often wielding clubs did indeed frighten many Florentines. Savonarola’s message landed particularly well among the children of the poor and the city’s orphans, who roamed the streets of the capital. He was able to get them organized into surprisingly well disciplined bands who went around harassing noblemen and women dressed in fine clothes, demanding they repent and find God. This only added to Savonarola’s apocalyptic image.

Despite some turbulence, Massimiliano Lessi's first year as Gonfaloniere went well. He was able to convince the Assembly to grant him a one year extension prior to the election. With the traditional parties in a state of flux and disorder, nobody was particularly eager to hold an election. There was even a growing fear that if one were held, Savonarola or one of his followers could run and even win. Luigi Lessi worked tirelessly in the Assembly to convince its members that his brother was the only thing standing between Florence and the apocalyptic cleric. To avoid this, the Assembly agreed to put it off for at least one year.

1EOzJBP.jpg

FbmiNtT.jpg

Luigi Lessi was foreign minister of Florence and his brother's strongest advocate in the Assembly

The Gonfaloniere did not rock the boat enough to make anyone aside from Savonarola and the Cappucci Neri too upset. To the contrary, many Florentines began complaining that he did not do anything at all. Nevertheless, things appeared to be running rather smoothly. In order to try and gain favor with the White Guelphs, Lessi would often credit his leisurely work schedule to Antonio Grimaldi, saying that he had inherited such a stable and prosperous republic that there was little for him to do. However, the short period of calm would not last.

Savonarola was an extremely energetic man and, unlike the aloof Massimiliano Lessi, he walked the streets of Florence daily, escorted by armed Cappucci Neri, and spoke to everyone he met. His following grew quickly among the city's poorest residents. Those who did not own property did not have the right to vote in Florence and lacked any real representation in the Assembly. Though everyone was technically a citizen, the rights of citizenship were not truly bestowed upon them. They were forced to live day to day, working in the employ of the city's elite or begging in the streets. To add insult to injury, the cultural and intellectual progress of Florence was manifested to them only in the form of opulence and luxury for the nobility and wealthy merchants. The great works of art and literature that the city had produced over the years were not accessible to them. For those barely getting by, Florence's progress was nothing more than just another sign of the elites' privilege. As a result, when the pious friar, who walked about with nothing more than his robes and had a legendarily ascetic diet and lifestyle, preached about the evils of vanity and wealth, they listened. Here, finally, was a man with power who knew their pain, who seemed to speak for them.

As Savonarola gained a larger following, his supporters became more assertive. They regularly harassed wealthier citizens in the streets, aggressively preached the friar's extreme religious teachings, and generally forced the elite to have to listen to the voice of the poor and disenfranchised. This, of course, made the wealthy uncomfortable and the Assembly saw daily debates over what to do to end the current state of affairs. However, nobody could come up with a good solution.

In the summer and fall of 1504, the Cappucci Neri and other supporters of Savonarola stepped up their demonstrations. They regularly would block access of luxury goods entering the city until the City Guard would come and disperse them. This created even more alarm among the merchant class, who profited greatly on the sales of these items. They protested to the Gonfaloniere that the right to property and commerce were sacrosanct in the Republic of Florence and that his failure to protect those rights meant he was unfit to rule.

As the demonstrations persisted through the winter of 1504-05, Lessi felt moved to finally do something about them. They were becoming an embarrassment and made it look like he could not control the capital. Also, on 6 February 1505, the Assembly passed a resolution demanding Lessi present a plan for holding the election within fourteen days and that the actual election take place no later than 6 May 1504. The legislative body was finally sick and tired of the Gonfaloniere. He had asked the Assembly to leave him as in his post because he needed to get the city under control and now the city was as chaotic as ever and he seemed to be making no moves towards setting up a vote. Several prominent White Guelphs were already referring to him as a dictator in open session and were comparing him to Sulla.

Savonarola did not represent the only opposition to Lessi. Within the Assembly and in elite circles in Florence, a core group of opponents was coalescing to fight back against both the Gonfaloniere and the fundamentalist friar. Their core was based around the membership of the political club founded by the late foreign minister Niccolo Machiavelli, the Society of Reason. Machiavelli had started the group as a discussion and debating forum combined with a social club. Now however, the Society’s members were mobilizing to transform it into a vehicle for political action. The two most popular leaders were the merchant and art patron Emmanuele Nasini and the former military engineer and architect Girolamo Rospigliosi de’ Medici. Nasini came from one of the powerful Florentine mercantile families and was just the most recent in a long line of Nasini who spent their off time from work indulging in intellectual pursuits. Medici was the grandson of the legendary Gonfaloniere Cosimo de’ Medici and hailed from perhaps the most powerful and influential Florentine family. The Society of Reason were beginning to see both a Lessi dictatorship and, even more so, a Savonarola theocracy as serious threats to the greatness of Florence. For the time being however, the Society remained a small operation of Florentine elites outside of the main political struggle.

With the Assembly putting pressure on him, Lessi was forced to act. At the deadline for submitting the election proposal, 20 February, he told the Assembly he would schedule the election for 1 May, “barring any outbreak of violence.” This bought him the time he needed to make what he thought would be his decisive move.

On 27 February, he issued an order for all assembled organized political groups to disperse from the city squares by 1 March. This declaration was quickly denounced by Savonarola and he and his followers announced they intended to stay in the squares to exercise their rights as “free citizens of the Republic of Florence.”

Lessi was happy when he heard this. He thought this would be a perfect opportunity for him to crush Savonarola and, with a loyal military presence in the city, coerce the Assembly into dropping the electoral matter altogether. He ordered his brother Antonio to send in troops to forcibly disperse the protesters and to, “use all the violence which it is necessary or desirable to use.” General Lessi personally selected the two battalions, from the Reggimento Appennino to do the job. The two battalion commanders were personal friends of his.

On 2 March they entered the city in full armor and ready for battle. However, when they reached the large gathering in the Piazza della Signoria, the soldiers refused to attack the assembled crowd. While the Reggimento Appennino’s officers were loyal to the Lessis, the rank of and file was a different story. They were composed almost entirely of poor hillsmen from the rugged Apennine regions of Tuscany, hence the regiment’s name. While these same soldiers had earned a widespread reputation for ferocity in the First Italian War, most were also devout Catholics and the idea of attacking a preaching friar and the men, women, and children there to hear his sermon was repugnant to them. The image of the righteous friar standing up to the corrupt politicians was made all the more powerful when, rather than face the soldiers, they knelt down and began praying. Instead of violently dispersing the crowd, a large number of soldiers went over and joined the prayer and listened to the rest of Savonarola’s sermon.

For the Lessi brothers, the events of 2 March were an unmitigated disaster. While the soldiers eventually got up and returned to their encampment outside the city walls, the damage was done. Leaving aside the fact that some of the troops stood on line for hours to receive personal blessings from Savonarola himself, the incident completely undermined the respect and authority of General Lessi. He had lost all credibility in the eyes of many of his fellow officers. Not only had he tried to use the army for his own family’s political gain, but he had let his soldiers essentially mutiny without being able to do anything about it.

In the wake of the 2 March affair, Lessi turned to a new ally, Cardinal Mancini. He approached the Cardinal with an offer to be a permanent member of his administration in the hope that adding a clergyman could sway some of Savonarola's less extreme supporters back to his side. The hiring of Cardinal Mancini showed once again that Massimiliano Lessi fundamentally misunderstood the nature of Savonarola’s revolution. Cardinal Mancini, who believed that an alliance between the republic and the Church was now the only way to stop the Cappucci Neri and their leader, was happy to join.


jsUYmww.jpg

Cardinal Mancini attempted to use the power of the Church establishment to help Gonfaloniere Lessi fight back against Savonarola

The Lessi brothers did not give up the military option all together. After 2 March, General Lessi ordered the two regiments still outside the capital to join the rest of the army in Parma. The rank and file soldiers were clearly unreliable when used for political reasons and, aside from certain select cases, neither were many of the officers. Once again, Antonio Lessi made a decisive error in his handling of the military. When the two regiments were still in Florence, the general at least had an excuse for why he was staying in the capital. However, with all of the army units gone, there was no reason for him to stay except his political motivations. Though he obviously did not view it this way himself, the commander of the Army of Florence was essentially in dereliction of duty, something he would never have accepted from any subordinate. The officers and troops who spent most of their days drilling and killing time in Parma, clearly noticed this.

Back in the capital however, the increasingly inept brothers failed to consider the ramifications of the commanding general being absent from his forces for such a long time. Instead, they were already moving on to a new plan. Instead of using the soldiers of the Florentine army, they proposed to use mercenaries to crush Savonarola instead. Time was ticking down to the election and they needed to come up with something new to further delay it. Ever since the first great military reforms instituted by Pietro Leopoldo del Rosso in the 1440s, Florentines had been distrustful of mercenaries. In The Discourses on Livy and again in The Prince, Machiavelli had devoted long tracts to describing the ineffectiveness of mercenary armies and the dangers inherent in hiring them. There was also the matter of a law on the books since the 1450s that made it illegal for mercenaries to enter any walled city in the republic with arms if they were under contract. To have the law removed it would require a vote from the Assembly, which was surely going to reject a proposal that sounded this suspicious and stank of dictatorship.

The Lessis were not political masterminds but they were, at the very least, creative. Instead of hiring a mercenary army, they hired a few hundred men. They did not expect the men to go into Florence armed. Instead, they would enter the walls unarmed and form roving gangs, much like the Cappucci Neri did. They would, just like their fundamentalist counterparts, wield homemade weapons and conduct their violence on the streets. They were to confront any group of Cappucci Neri they saw whenever it was advantageous. If and when the Cappucci Neri retaliated, Lessi would have the pretext he needed to cancel the election again.

In April Lessi’s thugs entered the city and, within a few days, began attacking the Cappucci Neri in the streets. In a series of bloody, running street brawls over the course of three days, from 9-12 April, 16 men ended up dead. Additionally, 7 women and 9 children were also killed, almost exclusively from among the followers of Savonarola. The blood letting, some of the worst political violence Florence had ever seen, turned even the moderate Florentines against the Lessis. The move, while creative, had been too overt, too obvious. People noticed an influx of strange men and also how the killing and fighting started right after. On the 14th of April, Savonarola attempted once again to enter the Assembly and speak on the floor. For the first time, the members agreed to let him in. They were disgusted with the Gonfaloniere and were even willing to let the man they despised so much speak before them so long as he was denouncing Massimiliano Lessi.

After Savonarola gave his speech, the Assembly went into closed session for the first time since the coinage debate of 1467. They needed to determine what to do with the Gonfaloniere. They were almost all in agreement that he needed to be removed from office, but the question revolved around the method and the timing. If it was done now, Savonarola was riding a high of momentum and good will and he had more followers than ever. On the other hand, if they waited, it was possible that Lessi’s incompetence would only strengthen Savonarola more or that he would somehow vanquish the friar but then be able to establish himself as a dictator. There was also the question of method. Legally, the Assembly had to vote to impeach the Gonfaloniere at which point there would be a trial and, only if he was found guilty, afterward be removed from office. That process would be time consuming, public, and present yet another opportunity for Savonarola to exploit. Others in the legislature wanted to take a different approach. They wanted to call the army back to Florence to re-establish order and then simply call for an election themselves, just bypassing the Gonfaloniere altogether. They argued that the army would respond better to a call from the Assembly since it was more representative than it did when it was used by Lessi. However, too many were concerned that while the army was likely reliable, the risk to both Florence and the armed forces was too high. Even a remote possibility of a mutiny was enough to scrap the plan. If the army fell apart over political strife it would be just a matter of time before the armies of the League of Vicenza came pouring over the borders.

The debate lasted four days but finally, on 19 April, a course of action passed by a razor thin margin. They decided to simply announce that they would hold the election. They made no mention of Lessi at all and set the election date for 30 May.

Lessi was outraged when he got word of what was happening. On 20 April he announced the dissolution of the Assembly, an announcement that the legislative body refused to recognize. However, when they attempted to enter the Palazzo Vecchio they found the doors barred. Some members of the Assembly were attacked in the streets by Lessi’s hired goons. The situation in Florence was becoming critical. The Society of Reason attempted to reach out to military leaders known to be sympathetic to their ideas or goals. Colonel Carlo Ulivelli, at this point the de facto commanding general of the army, had a brother in the Society and was a known religious skeptic and a proud humanist. However, Ulivelli refused to move the army back to the capital. He believed that the risk to the force was too great. He argued that even sending one regiment in the current situation was too dangerous. He promised to keep a close eye on events but, for the moment, there would be no cavalry riding in to save Florence.

The month of May saw another flare up of violence in the streets but this time it was Lessi’s mercenaries taking the beating. The events of April had turned what little support the Gonfaloniere still had against him. The Assembly however, could not marshal any of this discontent against the Gonfaloniere. Despite their best intentions, they looked weak. They had failed to unseat the Lessis and were now locked out of their meeting place. Attempts to find a new hall were unsuccessful and further eroded the will of its members.

The only force that seemed capable of stopping the tyranny of the Lessis was Savonarola and the Cappucci Neri. For his part, the friar tasted blood. By the middle of May, the Gonfaloniere, his two brothers, and a loyal core of followers were besieged inside the Palazzo Vecchio. On 16 May Savonarola and thousands of supporters flooded the Piazza della Signoria in front of the palace and declared that they would stay until “they tyrants emerged and submitted themselves to the judgment of the people.” With their days in power clearly numbered, the Lessis now turned their focus to saving themselves from the wrath of the city they once thought they controlled. However, it was too late. Savonarola gave fiery speeches outside the palazzo day and night, denouncing the brothers as sinners and tyrants. Cardinal Mancini, among the men trapped in the building, appealed to the assembled masses that he was just a humble man of God and should be allowed to leave in peace. All he got were taunts and threats in reply. He was not going to fool anyone. The whole city knew that Mancini had been involved with the Lessis’ maneuvering for some time, and he was not going to be able to use the cover of the Church to escape their wrath.


OrxCGh7.jpg

Friar Savonarola preaching in the streets of Florence

The Palazzo Vecchio is an extremely sturdy structure with thick walls and doors. However, it was not provisioned to withstand a siege at the time that the Lessis were taking refuge in it. By 28 May, they were out of food and water. The game was over. On 29 May, the day before the now forgotten election was to take place, the doors of the Palazzo Vecchio opened and Savonarola and a large group of Cappucci Neri entered. They emerged dragging the three ragged looking brothers, Cardinal Mancini, and a few others out.

That evening, with all of the men in stockades, Savonarola held a “trial” for them. He served as the prosecution and the judge, while the men had to attempt to defend themselves from their fate. The Dominican friar found them all guilty of murder, sodomy, fornication, and numerous other crimes. They were hauled off to the dungeon.

The following day, 30 May, the date that the Assembly had selected for the new election, Savonarola brought Massimiliano Lessi back out onto the Piazza della Signoria. The friar declared that for his crimes and sins, Massimiliano Lessi would be burned alive. The Gonfaloniere, pleading for his life to the crowd, was tied to a post upon a large podium. With a massive crowd looking on, Savonarola personally lit the bonfire. Within minutes, Massimiliano Lessi, Gonfaloniere of the Republic of Florence, was consumed by the flames.


Ua6mDfy.jpg

With the overthrow of Massimiliano Lessi, Friar Girolamo Savonarola became the de facto ruler of the Republic of Florence

Florentines looked toward the future extremely apprehensively. They had decided that the radical religious fundamentalist was the better of the two evils against the dictatorial tendencies of the Lessis. Many questioned whether or not they had made the right choice. Nobody was even sure how to proceed. The situation was unprecedented. The turmoil of the previous year and a half had broken the political system in the city. Even if the Assembly reconvened, it was unclear what they could do. Even if an election were held, it was likely that Savonarola, with the most disciplined and motivated organization behind him, could win. What would happen next, nobody knew.
 

Nikolai

Basileus Romaion
76 Badges
Jun 17, 2001
20.803
3.185
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Supreme Ruler: Cold War
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Divine Wind
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Magicka
  • March of the Eagles
This is not good. Seems to me the republic is on the verge of collapse, and will likely be preplaced by a monarchy of sorts. Kinda like ancient Rome, eh.;)
 

Kagemin

Major
84 Badges
Mar 8, 2014
671
566
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Steel Division: Normandy 44
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • BATTLETECH
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Tyranny - Bastards Wound
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Sign Up
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Revelations
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Premium edition
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Deluxe edition
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Season pass
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • March of the Eagles
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
Ooh, that should be interesting. Don't think I've ever seen that event (-chain), great job writing a story for that.
 

JerseyGiants88

Captain
54 Badges
Dec 28, 2013
342
87
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Victoria 2
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
This is not good. Seems to me the republic is on the verge of collapse, and will likely be preplaced by a monarchy of sorts. Kinda like ancient Rome, eh.;)

Excellent update, and really interesting to see where this goes next. Theocracy? Monarchy? Who knows?!

Ooh, that should be interesting. Don't think I've ever seen that event (-chain), great job writing a story for that.

If you're enjoying the Savonarola story line then stand by because this was just the first of a series of updates that will cover this event chain. And yes, as you are predicting, this will have major implications for the republic and the future of Florence. Should get the next update, which will be a historical vignette, up tomorrow.
 

JerseyGiants88

Captain
54 Badges
Dec 28, 2013
342
87
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Victoria 2
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
Historical Vignette 5: The Last Summer of Reason, 18 June-26 August, 1505

“It was enough for beauty and reason to doze off for a moment, abandoning their defenses, for night to shove day out and pour across the city like a horrifying flood. Now it is no longer possible to go back; every dike and every lock has been broken. Uncontrollable hysteria has overtaken the city, demolishing the barriers. All fanatic energy is stretched like an archer's bow, turned toward a dream of society's purification. Exorcism by blood and total deluge.” -- Tahar Djaout, The Last Summer of Reason


11tfx1T.jpg

Florence in the Summer of 1505

16 June 1505

“I’m Caesar,” declared Piero Strozzi, daring the other children to challenge him. He glared at them menacingly.

“Why do you get to be Caesar?” asked Cesare de’ Medici in a plaintive voice, “I even have the same name as him.”

“Because I said so, or because I’ll bash you, pick one,” came the reply.

Cesare looked Piero up and down. He was a few years older and much larger. The Medici’s stable boy, Paolo, had been teaching Cesare how to fist fight and he was getting pretty good. Still, he wasn’t sure he was ready to test Piero yet. “Fine,” replied Cesare, resigned to his fate, “I’ll be Marc Antony.”

“I’ll be Cleopatra, because I’m the prettiest,” cooed Valentina Spadolini, batting her eyelashes and glancing over at the boys. Even at the tender age of 12 it was quite clear she was going to grow up to be a beauty and the boys were all enthralled with her and she knew it. They just nodded along in agreement.


mNXcgVt.jpg

Portrait of Valentina Spadolini, the future Duchess of Mantua, as a girl

“Well I want to be Pompey,” chimed in Caterina Montefeltro. At age 10 she was the youngest in the group.

“You can’t be Pompey,” said Giovanni D’Agoberti, “you’re a girl, I’ll be Pompey.”

“No fair, I said it first,” snapped Caterina, “who cares that I’m a girl. It’s all make believe anyway. You’re not a great man like Pompey, you’re just a stupid spoiled boy.”

“Shut up you little harpy,” cut in Piero Strozzi angrily, “and do as you’re told before I slap you with my cock.”

Caterina stood there, aghast at what she’d just heard.

“Hey don’t talk to her like that!” shouted Cesare. He’d always had a soft spot for Caterina. She was younger and could be shy sometimes but she was very smart for her age and an avid reader. She probably knew more about the triumvirs and Cleopatra than the rest of the children combined. Also, Cesare’s father had always taught him to be chivalrous. Jokes and vulgar threats like the one Piero had just made were fine when it was just the boys, but when girls were around, it was different.


OKdAjzv.jpg

Portrait of Caterina Montefeltro as a girl

“Oooo, Cesare wants to defend his little girlfriend,” teased Giovanni.

“Shut up shrimp and mind your business,” said Piero to Cesare. Then he turned to Caterina, grabbed his crotch, and thrust his hips toward her suggestively.

“It’s okay, this game is stupid anyway,” said Valentina gently, trying to defuse the situation, “we’re too old to be playing make believe anyway, right?” For once, the boys ignored her, a different set of hormones were taking effect.

Cesare was shaking with rage. He thought back to what Paolo had taught him: “don’t waste your time and energy blustering, just go in and focus on your enemy.” He stepped up to Piero and hit him with a nice right hook, just like Paolo had taught him. As he connected with the larger boy’s jaw, he heard a cracking sound and felt a stabbing pain shoot through his hand into his forearm. Piero stumbled back, incredulous that someone had had the guts to hit him. He was used to being the largest, most feared boy wherever he went.

“You little bastard!” he screamed in a rage. Piero charged at Cesare. The younger boy hit him with another well aimed hook, with his left this time, but it didn’t stop the bigger one’s momentum. Piero’s shoulder crashed into Cesare and knocked him to the ground. Cesare tried to get up quickly but Piero was on him. He grabbed the smaller boy’s collar and cocked back his fist. “Don’t--you--ever--touch--me--again!” bellowed Piero, landing one punch to Cesare’s face between each word. Then he let go. Cesare fell to the floor, the cold paving stones adding an extra blow to the back of his head. He heard the girls screaming in the distance. He tried to look around but when he opened his eyes it was all blurry. He could hear Piero shouting angrily, but it seemed like he was shouting at something or someone off in the distance. As his vision slowly started to return to normal, Cesare could make out a black blob at the end of the street.

As his vision continued to clear, Cesare realized what the blob was: Savonarola’s children. There were at least ten of them, dressed in black and approaching them. Piero, undaunted, was advancing steadily and angrily the other way, towards them. The massive thirteen year old stopped in the middle of the street and crossed his arms. When the black-clad children were close to him, one stepped forward. “By order of the holy Friar Savonarola, you are to shed your fine clothes and give up your jewelry,” he said pointing to Piero’s bright red and gold shirt and his necklace with a pendant of his family's coat of arms.


qjpJzJ2.png

Coat of Arms of the House of Strozzi

“Make me,” said Piero defiantly. You tell them, thought Cesare to himself, his recent enemy transformed into an ally now that they were faced by a rival group of kids. The lead child reached out to snatch Piero’s chain. The heir to the House of Strozzi was not about to let some commoner touch his family crest without a fight. He punched the boy straight in the face, causing him to crumple to the ground. In the next instant Piero grabbed a second boy and tossed him like a rag into the surrounding group, knocking over a third child. At that point his luck ran out. A fourth boy, wielding a club, smashed it into the side of his knee, causing Piero to go down. Another, also with a club, swung at his head, connecting with a sickening thud. They started beating Piero on the ground.

“Run!” yelled Giovanni, and he and Valentina took off down the street.The other black robed boys looked up, noticing Caterina standing there transfixed by the horrible scene in front of her while Cesare struggled to his feet, his body protesting in pain.

“Get them!” one of the zealots shouted pointing his club at them, “take their clothes and jewelry!” Caterina still didn’t move as the robed figures started running toward her. Cesare was finally up.

“Come on!” Cesare shouted, his body aching as he moved. He wasn’t going to take another beating and he wasn’t going to let these dirty street rats get their grubby hands on Caterina. Cesare grabbed her by the hand and pulled Caterina behind him, finally snapping her out of her daze. “Let’s go!” he shouted, as much to himself as to her. They turned into a nearby alleyway. He could hear the angry shouts of the Savonarola children behind them. They made a left, then a right, then a left, then another left, trying to lose them through the city’s winding alleys.

Thankfully for Cesare and Caterina, this was a part of the city that their pursuers did not know very well. As they turned another corner, Cesare spotted his intended destination: the Medici family stables. The door was open.

“In here,” he said to Caterina, pulling her along. They dove through the entrance and into a pile of hay. Cesare loved the stables and he breathed in the familiar animal smells. The horses looked unconcerned with their arrival. He heard the children run past, then their footsteps receding into the distance. He turned to look at Caterina, tears streaming down her face. She was shaking and clutching his shirt. Cesare wrapped his arm around her shoulders.

“Are you okay?” he asked, trying to sound brave despite the fact that too was shaking. She just nodded meekly and buried her face in his chest.

“It’s going to be fine,” he said, “we’re going to be fine.”


yC8qSJY.jpg

Portrait of Cesare de' Medici as a boy

_____________________________________________

21 July 1505

Cesare de’ Medici and his friend Lorenze del Rosso walked into the Piazza della Signoria. They had gotten commoners’ clothes from two of the servant boys that worked for Lorenzo’s family in exchange for some florins and trinkets and then had snuck out. They felt anonymous as they walked through the large crowd, making their way to where they could see. It was comforting. They would be in a world of trouble if Lorenzo’s family realized they were gone but both boys had decided the spectacle they were coming to see was worth it. They finally reached a spot where the stage was visible in front of them.

On it, tied to a post and surrounded by wood and kindling was the former General of the Army of Florence, Antonio Lessi. A line of people was filing past, placing objects into the wood pile. Some cursed at the tied up man. The former general didn’t even look at them, staring stoically into the distance. Once the last person went past, the Friar Girolamo Savonarola, dressed in his usual black robes, ascended the stage. The crowd cheered him loudly, then fell silent.

“Citizens of Florence, people of God,” he began, “we are here today to purify a criminal and a traitor. It is a day both sad and glorious. It is sad because the man tied up before you was once a servant of the republic. However, he strayed from the path of righteousness and into sin. His vanity and lust for power caused him to try and use the army to betray Florence and serve his brother, the false ruler Massimiliano Lessi.

“It is also a glorious day. It is glorious because the fires will bring us justice, and purify our brother of his sins. Florence will go stronger. Vanity and lust are enemies of the republic just as they are enemies of God. We started the purification of our great city by burning the tyrant. We continue today by burning his brother, who tried to use the army to crush the people and establish tyranny in our midst. Our army, however, proud to be faithful to God and the republic, refused to go along with the nefarious scheme. Instead of following the illegitimate and corrupt orders they were given, orders that went against the very foundations of our republic, they crossed over and joined us in prayer. While their leaders tried to bring shame upon them, the soldiers, who are of the people, stayed true to God.

“Today, Antonio Lessi will experience justice for his actions, just as we all must face justice for our sins. However, we know we cannot stop with him. We will continue until we have purged Florence of all sin, and all of its sinners feel the justice of God’s fire. The day of God’s judgment is near, so we must work diligently and thoroughly to purge our city so that the people of Florence can take their place among the favored of God.”

One of Savonarola’s followers approached with a lit torch and handed it to the friar. “This,” said Savonarola, “is the fire of God’s judgment. Let it purify the sinner.” With that, he lowered it to the wood pile and held it until it caught.

Cesare and Lorenzo stared as the flames spread and rose. When Massimiliano Lessi had suffered the same fate two months earlier, he had screamed and pleaded for his life. If the assembled crowd hoped to see a repeat of that spectacle with Antonio, they would be disappointed. The former army commander didn’t make a sound. The crowd watched in awe at what fire could do to the human body. In a few months’ time they would be desensitized to this method of execution, but for the time being, it was still a ghastly novelty. The two boys, together with their fellow citizens, were mesmerized by the flames. The smell of wood and burning flesh wafted over the square.


bOTbdf5.png

The Burning of General Antonio Lessi
_____________________________________________

26 August 1505

Cesare de’ Medici breathed in the warm, sweet smelling air of late summer. There was a gentle breeze blowing its way through the streets of Florence. The heat wave of the past week seemed to have broken. He looked to his right to check on his sisters, Bianca and Alessandra, and their friend Giulia Buonpensiero. Even though his own friends, like Lorenzo del Rosso, made fun of him for it (“Cesare and his girly days at the market,” they would tease him), he enjoyed accompanying his sisters to the market where they would buy jewelry and dresses. They also often bought things for him as well. Walking with them, he felt like their protector, their armed escort. He wasn’t old enough to carry a sword yet, but ever since his run-in with the Savonarola children back in June he kept a knife tucked away in his boot. These were dangerous times. Plus, ever since he and Lorenzo had their little excursion to Piazza della Signoria, it was the only time he was allowed out of the house.

His sisters would often bring a friend or two with them. These girls always seemed fond of Cesare, told him he was cute, that he’d certainly grow up to be handsome, and, if he was really lucky, they’d give him some candy and a kiss on the cheek. Claudia was, in Cesare’s opinion, the prettiest out of all their friends, and also one of the friendliest, so when he heard she was coming he was especially eager to go. She had shiny blond hair, done up intricately above her head in the latest style. Bianca, who had black hair, had hers done the same way. Alessandra however, was wearing her’s, the color of dark amber, down and flowing. Claudia had given Cesare a book about a Roman legionnaire who got lost in Gaul and had to find his way home to Rome. Cesare had finished it the night before and was excited to talk to Giulia about it. She had asked him for a full report once he was done.


lb8PWmZ.jpg

Alessandra de' Medici

For that reason, it was especially distressing for Cesare that the girls had run into Rodrigo Cybo-Malaspina shortly after leaving the Palazzo Medici and were now deeply engaged in conversation with him. Rodrigo was, in Cesare’s opinion, an idiot. His grandfather had been a genius governor of some sort who had fixed the taxes or something and had died back when Cesare was a little boy. Regardless, the grandson had certainly not inherited his ancestor’s brain. This, however, did not stop seemingly every girl in Florence from finding him attractive, which made it all the more frustrating. Cesare watched in disgust as Bianca, Alessandra, and Giulia fawned over him, talking loudly and cutting each other off trying to impress him. Rodrigo leaned against a wall, his hat cocked at an absurd angle on his head, his right hand resting on his sword handle. Cesare had a strong urge to throw a paving stone at him.

He wanted to get Claudia’s attention back. The book, he thought. This was the perfect time to bring it up, she would surely find literary conversation more interesting than whatever idiotic thing Rodrigo was talking about, with his stupid thin mustache. He gently tugged on her sleeve.

“What?” she asked, annoyed and barely looking at him.

“I finished the book about the legionnaire,” said Cesare excitedly.

Giulia looked at him for a moment as if he were a pile of rotten food. “What?” she asked, “not now Cesare, leave me alone.” She literally brushed him away with her hand. His sisters both gave him angry looks and shook their heads at him. Cesare couldn’t understand how girls who were normally so sweet could turn so cruel when boys their own age were around.

Hurt, Cesare walked over to a nearby fruit stand. He greeted the old woman sitting next to it with a smile. At least she’ll be nice to me, thought Cesare to himself. He picked up a pear and handed her a coin. “Thank you young sir,” said the old woman flashing him a toothless smile. Cesare bit into the pear. It was delicious. This will get my mind off of stupid Rodrigo Cybo-Malaspina, he thought to himself.

Suddenly, he heard a commotion. He spun around and saw a large group of Cappucci Neri surrounding Rodrigo and the girls. He dropped his pear and ran toward them.

“Friar Savonarola has forbidden women from wearing their hair long and down,” one of the men was saying, pointing at Alessandra, “it must be tied up or cut short.” Rodrigo, hand still on his sword handle, just stood there, saying nothing.

“I apologize I--I did not know,” replied Alessandra in terror, “I’ll tie it up.” She started to reach toward her hair. The man grabbed her arm.

“No sister,” he said without emotion, “now you can serve as an example for other uppity women who think they can flaunt their physical charms and seduce men with them. You choose to ignore the friar’s righteous orders at your peril. Put her on her knees.”

One of the other men grabbed Alessandra by the shoulders and forced her down. She cried out in pain as her knees hit the paving stones hard. “Shut up you Medici slut!” said the man, gripping her shoulders tightly.

“D-Don’t you t-touch her,” stammered Rodrigo. Another Cappuccio Nero who was holding a club swung and struck him in the stomach. Rodrigo let out a grunt and doubled over, his hat falling to the ground.

“You keep your mouth shut boy or the next one will be aimed at your head,” said the one who had hit him.

“Cut her hair,” said the first hooded man to the one holding Alessandra.

“Gladly,” came the reply, as he pulled out a knife.

“No!” screamed Cesare, pulling his own knife out of his boot, trying to stab the man holding his sister down. He felt someone grab him from behind and lift him up. Another man stepped in front of him and tried to wrestle the knife from Cesare’s hand. The boy kicked his adversary hard in the chest, causing him to stumble back, grunting in pain. Then the one holding him started to squeeze down hard. Cesare felt as if his chest was about to be crushed. He dropped the knife.

“Good boy,” said the man gruffly. The other one, the one he’d kicked, walked back up and slapped him across the face.

“Little bastard,” he spat at him, he had an ugly scar running vertically on the right side of his face, “you are lucky Friar Savonarola forbids us from harming children, or I’d take you into that alleyway and gut you.”

“Fuck off creep!” shouted Cesare at him, trying to kick him again. That got him a punch in the face.

“You’d do well to learn when to shut your mouth and do what you’re told,” said the scarred man, “now keep quiet and watch as we cut off your sister’s pretty hair.”

“Please sir,” Bianca was pleading, “she didn’t mean it, please let her go.” The men ignored her. Alessandra was sobbing on the ground. The man with the knife grabbed her hair in his fist and jerked her head back. He put the knife to her throat, leaned in, and whispered something in her ear. Then he moved the knife back above her head and began sawing her hair off roughly. Alessandra screamed in pain.

Cesare looked at the other men, all watching silently, intently. He tried to make mental notes of their faces. He’d remember this, he thought to himself. He tried to wriggle free from the bear hug he was in but the man just squeezed harder causing him to cringe from the pain.

When the cruel deed was done the man with the knife pushed Alessandra down to her hands and knees, dropped her severed hair on her back, and stepped over her.

“Consider this your first step toward atonement sister,” said the man who had spoken first. Then, turning to Bianca and Giulia, “learn from her mistakes, repent and turn to God.” With that he and his men turned and began walking away. The one holding Cesare in the bear hug released him and tossed him to the ground. He landed hard but jumped right back up.

“You’ll pay for this!” he shouted after them, “and your beloved Savonarola will die screaming!”

The one who’d cut his sister’s hair turned around and flashed a hideous smile, “we’ll be waiting for you.” He made a throat slitting motion across his neck. Cesare stared at them until they turned a corner and were out of sight. He turned back around. Bianca and Giulia were helping Alessandra to her feet as she sobbed uncontrollably. The other two girls were crying as well. Cesare noticed for the first time that a large crowd had gathered around and had been watching.

He walked over to the girls then turned and looked at Rodrigo, still standing there petrified.

“You had a sword fool!” he screamed at him, “why didn’t you use it!?”

“I-I…” Rodrigo trailed off. Cesare started kicking him angrily.

“Get out of here! You’re useless!” he shouted, not caring that Rodrigo was much older and taller than him. The older boy made no move to resist. He turned and slowly started walking away.

“You should give me that sword you coward!” Cesare shouted after him “I would have killed them all!” When he turned around he saw that the crowd was not moving out of the way for his sisters and Giulia to pass through. He noticed his knife still on the ground where he’d dropped it. He picked it up and started walking to where a group of men were blocking the girls’ way toward home. He stepped between them and brandished the blade.

“Make a hole before I make one in you!” he shouted at them, “there are ladies coming through.” The men glared at him but slowly made way. The three Medici children and their friend made it back to the Palazzo several minutes later. The city that had made their family great had just turned against them.

They sat Alessandra down on a stone bench in the courtyard. "It doesn't look that bad dear sister," said Bianca trying to comfort her. There is enough hair left that you can still look pretty. Plus, it will grow back." Alessandra buried her head in her hands and sobbed more.


"Th-that man...what he said to me..." she trailed off. Cesare stood there, his lip trembling, he wanted to cry.

"What did...what did he say?" asked Cesare, trying to fight back tears and sound tough.

"The most awful, vile things," replied Alessandra sobbing even harder. Bianca looked at him and gave him a concerned head shake. Cesare got the message and shut up.

Bianca and Giulia took Alessandra upstairs to get cleaned up. Cesare was enraged that he’d been unable to stop the men from hurting his sister. Now that they were gone, and he was by himself in the courtyard, he broke down. He sobbed and cried and wondered what was happening. How could this be happening? he wondered hopelessly. He stared down at his knife, he was still gripping it tightly in his hand. “They’ll all die,” he said to himself between sobs. He took a deep breath, and wiped his face with his sleeve. He pictured the face of the man who had violated Alessandra's honor. Cesare thought to himself, "that one will be first."


akj0ZtQ.jpg

Courtyard of the Palazzo Medici
 

blitzthedragon

Lt. General
54 Badges
Nov 6, 2011
1.493
140
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Semper Fi
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Surviving Mars
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Prison Architect
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Prison Architect: Psych Ward
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
Ooh, a revenge subplot. I like where this is going.
 

JerseyGiants88

Captain
54 Badges
Dec 28, 2013
342
87
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Victoria 2
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
Chapter 17: City of God, 1505-1508

Friar Girolamo Savonarola wasted no time in bringing radical change to Florence. Because he was born in Ferrara and a friar, Savonarola was technically not even a citizen, and therefore ineligible to hold office. To get around this matter, he simply did not refer to himself as Gonfaloniere, and the position officially remained vacant throughout his time in power. His devoted followers formalized their organization into a de facto political party dubbed the Frateschi. This name soon was used to refer not just to the political organization but to the entirety of Savonarola's political regime.

iK8QSDL.jpg

Fra Girolamo Savonarola

Since Massimiliano Lessi had disbanded the Assembly in April of 1505, there had been no legislative body in Florence either. When the Assembly approached Savonarola with the request to reconvene, they were shocked when the friar rejected their proposal. He said that the composition of the Assembly, made up mostly of noblemen and powerful merchants and guild leaders, did not represent the people and their wish to purify the city. Instead, Savonarola created a new ruling body in Florence, the Council of Citizens. This new body, made up of just fifty members, compared to the over 400 in the Assembly, drew its membership from among all levels of the city’s class system. It was chaired by two of the most senior clerics and trusted advisors among Savonarola’s follower, Fra Domenico and Fra Silvestro Maruffi. The Council’s first order of business was to ban all of the old political parties. After centuries of struggle, they argued, the White and Black Guelphs as well as the Ghibellines had become morally bankrupt and inept. The parties, already wracked by their own infighting, withered away.

The one organization attempting to stand up to Savonarola was the Society of Reason. The Society had been an open forum for debate as well as a social club. Therefore, its members were well known and its lists had been available to the public. However, fearing that they would soon come under attack by the Frateschi, starting in October of 1505 all new members were kept secret, even from each other. There were only two full master lists of all members, one kept by the party secretary, Emmanuele Zoppi and the other by the Chairman, Girolamo Rospigliosi de’ Medici. The Society saw there was a clear possibility that they would have to go underground and began making preparations. However, Savonarola and the Frateschi were already making moves to root them out.

The uncertainty and chaos of the political situation in Florence meant that, during the years Savonarola was in power, the provinces were largely left to their own devices. Some, especially in the recently acquired territories of Emilia-Romagna, talked of secession and independence. However, as long as the Florentine army remained intact this was a dangerous proposal. What happened instead was that local powerbrokers ended up asserting their power and turning the republic of Florence into a de facto federation of city states. There were also several attempts by admirers of Savonarola to create their own incarnations of Florence. They had mixed success.

In Bologna, a group of clerics and their followers attempted to seize power in an armed coup. While they were able to force the city’s ruler, Giovanni Bentivoglio to flee for some time, he returned with two regiments of soldiers from the Florentine army and crushed the uprising. The clerics had more success in Siena, where the friar Carlo Modigliani and his followers were able to subvert the city government through political means. Without an armed uprising, the army had no justification to intervene and a regime similar to Savonarola’s in Florence took hold in Siena.

Certain noble families took advantage of the uncertain situation to re-assert old power they had lost. In Urbino the Montefeltros regained power in the city and Guidobaldo Montefeltro was able to get the Pope to name him Duke of Urbino, reclaiming the family’s position prior to the duchy’s conquest by Florence. A similar situation happened in Parma. The House of Farnese had ruled the city for decades prior to their overthrow and the establishment of a republic. They had attempted to take back power once before, and Pier Luigi Farnese’s failed attempt to re-establish himself as the Duke of Parma in 1473 had triggered the Florentine intervention and eventual conquest of the province. When another friar and supporter of Savonarola, Fra Benedetto Carlino, attempted to establish religious rule in the city, the Farnese family and their allies in the nobility had their moment. The army leadership, stationed with their troops outside the city, had no desire to see their base of operations become another bastion for fanatics. Therefore, Alessandro Farnese was able to negotiate an agreement with General Carlo Ulivelli wherein the army would stay neutral in any political struggle in the city so long as there was no talk of secession of independence. The Farnesi and their allies, hiring their own private troops, were able to crush Fra Carlino’s movement and take over.

aEI14Lw.png
Ddq4ksY.png


Coats of Arms of the House of Montefeltro (left) and the House of Farnese (right); these families took advantage of the chaos in Florence to re-establish their power and influence in the cities they had once ruled

The army’s situation remained uncertain. General Ulivelli, officially in command since the execution of Antonio Lessi in July of 1505, was a strong critic of Savonarola. He saw the chaos that the friar’s revolution had brought to the republic and feared that its disintegration was imminent. Still, with the League of Vicenza threatening invasion, his main priority was to keep the army intact to prevent any invasion of Florence’s territories. Additionally, while local political struggles and seizures of power were going on, the army served as a guarantor of Florentine territorial integrity. So long as it remained a strong force, no local power broker would be able to muster enough troops to challenge it. Involving the army in the ongoing political infighting risked its disintegration. Therefore, with his main priority being the maintenance of cohesion, Ulivelli kept it out of the battle going on in the capital and the provinces with only minor exceptions.

Back in Florence, through the winter of 1505-06, the Frateschi moved to enact the political changes that would increase their support among the lower classes in Florence. Savonarola and his supporters knew that their greatest threat came from among the upper classes and their strongest support from among the city’s poor and the peasantry in the surrounding countryside. Savonarola and the Frateschi proposed a long list of political reforms, dubbed the Great Reforms of Republican Practices, that would “restore power to the people of Florence.” In addition to the permanent dissolution of the Assembly and establishment of the Council of Citizens as the new legislative body, they proposed to abolish the position of Gonfaloniere, the executive role to be filled instead by two men, the chairmen of the Council of Citizens. Other reforms included extending the vote to all, not just those who owned property.

The wide following that Savonarola was able to cultivate was not strictly a result of his religious zeal and asceticism. The friar also genuinely addressed many of the needs and concerns of the lower class citizens of the capital. Many of them were, naturally, devoted Catholics who, like their new leader, saw the Church establishment as corrupt and in need of reform. But they found in the Frateschi the first group to take power in Florence who put their interests above those of the nobility and moneyed classes. It was for economic, as much as religious, reasons that the poor citizens of Florence eagerly embraced and enforced Savonarola’s ordinances against the wear of fine clothes and jewelry and other ostentatious displays of wealth. Aside from moving the city toward its purification, it gave them a chance to mete out justice to those who had trampled on and oppressed them for so many years. In the long run, it would be the class conflict engendered by Savonarola’s revolution, more than its religious aspects, that would shape the future of Florence over the long term.

On 11 March 1506, the Council of Citizens unanimously passed the Great Reforms of Republican Practices, codifying the litany of political reforms and social restrictions that Savonarola had been preaching since before he took power. For the lower classes, it was a historic victory. They could not be prevented from testifying against their lords or employers in court, they were granted equal political rights such as the voting franchise, and no longer had to step aside and bow when a nobleman passed them. Furthermore, the social restrictions imposed by the reforms, such as the ban on luxury clothing and jewelry “unbecoming of a good Christian,” meant that when walking the streets noblemen and commoners became virtually indistinguishable from each other.

HaPeHyw.jpg

The Great Reforms of Republican Practices made Savonarola’s social and political revolution official

After making his reforms official, Savonarola added worldly power and glory for Florence to his list of promises. He would describe dreams and visions, wherein he met Jesus or the Virgin Mary and, that while they would tell him that the way ahead would be difficult, they also promised that Florence would become "more glorious, more powerful and richer than ever, extending its wings farther than anyone can imagine." He proclaimed Florence “the New Jerusalem” in a sermon he gave in May of 1506 and in another he gave a few weeks later proclaimed that Christ himself was the new King of Florence.

Savonarola, despite his religious asceticism, continued the tradition of Florentine leaders being patrons of the arts. While he saw secular art as dangerous and blasphemous, he encouraged the city’s many artists to produce beautiful works giving glory to God. Some of Florence’s greatest artistic masters, most notably Sandro Botticelli and Lorenzo di Credi, embraced Savonarola’s new message and devoted themselves to the cause of using their talents to advance his agenda.

ZN7eV57.jpg

Botticelli’s Mystical Nativity is an excellent example of the artist’s work during the Savonarola era

The Council of Citizens also passed new laws against sodomy, adultery, public drunkenness, and other moral transgressions. They granted official status and sanction to the gangs of Cappucci Neri, who zealously enforced the new moral codes. These laws were used as bludgeons against the regime’s political enemies, most prominently the Society of Reason. Many of its members were brought in on charges of violating the moral codes and either imprisoned or, in some cases, burned at the stake.

Savonarola and the Frateschi characterized the Society as a front that sought to impose a Medici dictatorship in Florence. This turned the wrath of the citizens against the family and its allies, who were barely able to leave their fortified palazzi without the risk of being attacked in the streets. Many Florentine nobles fled the city during this time, further weakening the resistance against the new regime.

When it came to foreign policy, Savonarola turned out to be a competent, if largely disinterested leader. His primary focus was, certainly, internal but this did not prevent him from keeping an eye beyond the republic’s borders. The League of Vicenza already had a causus belli against Florence for the annexation of Parma, which was claimed by Milan, and the rise of Savonarola only gave them more reason to want to invade. The rulers of northern Italy were terrified at the possibility of a Savonarola-like figure rising to power within their own borders. They wanted the revolutionary friar gone as soon as possible.

Savonarola knew this and was careful to maintain Florence’s alliance with France and Austria. He sent a letter to Queen Regent Marie Louise of France, who was in charge of the regency council for her 12 year old son, Louis XIII praising the House of Valois for being pious Christians, favoring reforms within the Church, and “being one of the favored families of God.” He added that in a dream he had seen the young Louis and Jesus ruling jointly over a realm covering all of France, Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula. He also sent his most trusted lieutenant, Fra Silvestro Maruffi, to Vienna to meet with the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II. Maruffi told Emperor Ferdinand that Savonarola considered him the “the Shield of the Christians” and the only man who could prevent the Muslim Turks from overrunning Christian Europe. Savonarola pledged to support the Emperor in any “Crusade against the Mohammedans.” Both leaders responded favorably, if cautiously, to Savonarola’s overtures. They were primarily concerned with Florence’s ability to protect their respective southern flanks against the Duchy of Savoy (for France) and the Republic of Venice (for Austria). So long as the Florentine army remained a capable fighting force and the republic was ruled by a man willing to go to war for them, Marie Louise and Ferdinand were largely unconcerned with what he did within his own borders.

The regime’s crackdown against the Society of Reason and others deemed threats to the new “City of God” intensified in the winter and spring of 1507. The Society of Reason had been holding secret meetings trying to organize an effective response. On the evening of 4 May 1507, the Cappucci Neri raided a Society meeting held at the home of the party secretary Emmanuele Zoppi. Over twenty members, many of them high ranking within the organization were captured, while others barely escaped through a back door and into the surrounding streets. Girolamo de’ Medici himself was not present, as he and two companions had secretly travelled to Parma to meet with his old friend General Ulivelli to once again try and convince him to bring the army into the picture against Savonarola. The captured Society members were tortured and while most kept silent, a few including Zoppi confessed that they were conspiring to overthrow Savonarola and establish a dictatorship under Girolamo de’ Medici. Luckily for the Society's newer, secret members, Zoppi did not reveal the existence of the master list of all of the party membership. His wife, Marcella, burned the list before it could be discovered when the Cappucci Neri conducted a search of the Zoppi home. Shortly after their capture and confession, Zoppi and four other members of the Society of Reason were burned at the stake.


jI5j1Kh.jpg

Emmanuele Zoppi, Secretary of the Society of Reason, was burned at the stake in May of 1507

Many among the Frateschi and Cappucci Neri wanted to round up all of the known Society members, including de’ Medici, and execute them. Savonarola however was not ready to condone so much bloodshed. He was concerned that such a draconian move could trigger the intervention of the army, a force that he had thus far managed to keep neutral in the ongoing fight. Nevertheless, he was more than happy to take advantage of the raid and its results. On 19 June he ordered the expulsion of the Medici family and all members of the Society of Reason, giving them two days to leave the city or face execution. With the majority of the city against them, the Society had no choice but to comply.

They went to Bologna, where the staunchly anti-Savonarola Giovanni II Bentivoglio offered them protection. As Gonfaloniere of the city, Bentivoglio had brutally crushed the cleric-led uprising against him in 1505 and had turned Bologna into the opposite of Florence. Before its capture by Florence, the city had been held by the Pope for many years and had been the furthest stronghold of the Papal State in the north. Its people were instinctively distrustful of any religious men who claimed temporal power and following the failed uprising spies followed priests and friars around and any overt display of religiosity was instantly considered suspect. The Society of Reason found a welcoming home in Bologna and many of its members became guest lecturers in the city’s venerable university during their stay there.

For his part, Giovanni Bentivoglio was in a prime position to benefit from the situation. Though he was Gonfaloniere at the moment and riding a wave of popularity due to his handling of the clerical uprising, he wanted to secure a more firm hold on power. Local politics in Bologna were notoriously chaotic and Gonfalonieri went in and out of power often, as the fortunes of the various powerful families within the city’s signoria shifted. This was actually Bentivoglio’s third different time serving as the city’s leader and he was hoping for a chance to solidify his and his family’s hold on power. He decided that his best course of action was to enthusiastically support the Society of Reason and its leader, Girolamo de’ Medici. If they failed to overthrow Savonarola, then at least he could make the argument to the people of Bologna that he had tried and, if the situation was right, perhaps chart a more independent course for the city within the republic. If the Society was successful however, they would be deeply in his debt and he could leverage that to his benefit. To further cement his connection, he convinced the Medici to agree to a wedding between his oldest son, the forty year old Annibale Bentivoglio, and Girolamo de’ Medici’s nineteen year old eldest daughter, Bianca. Giovanni hoped to ride his connection to the Medici to greatness.

KsQ1mUC.jpg

Giovanni II Bentivoglio, Gonfaloniere of Bologna and staunch opponent of clerical rule

In the summer of 1507 the Society of Reason was still far from being able to effectively challenge Savonarola’s regime in Florence. The friar’s administration seemed to be doing well and the people were happy with it despite its harsh restrictions on moral behavior. However, some, even among the lower classes, began to chafe under the strict religious rule. While most of the moral enforcement done by the Cappucci Neri in the early days of Savonarola’s rule were targeted at noblemen and political enemies, they began to turn against the common people as well. Carpenters and stablehands, small shopkeepers and blacksmiths were used to the roving bands of youths and hooded men looking the other way as they drank and caroused in violation of Savonarola’s ordinances. After all, they thought, those laws were really there just to put the noblemen and wealthy citizens in their place, not to harass the working people. This all began to change starting in the summer months of 1507.

In the first major incident of violence from the Cappucci Neri against commonfolk, a patrol of the hooded men confronted a group of unemployed artisans drinking in the street. When the patrol demanded the men pour their wine into the gutter and go home, they were accused of being tyrants violating the rights of free citizens. A fight broke out and two of the artisans ended up dead and another two seriously injured. Several days later, another incident broke out when the Cappucci Neri raided a brothel and tried to drag a number of the women employed there out onto the street. Prior to that, their raids of brothels had been targeted and carried out only to arrest specific men deemed to be political enemies in order to use their patronage of prostitutes as an excuse to arrest them. This also changed as now the brothels themselves became the targets. Several enraged patrons attacked the Capucci Neri and forced them to flee. This caused the authorities to return two days later, where they arrested numerous prostitutes and the brothel’s madam before burning down the building.

The confrontations between the religious patrols and commoners became increasingly frequent through the fall of 1507. While many in the city supported them as natural extensions of Savonarola’s promise to purge the city of vice and sin, others saw them as a betrayal of the friar’s promise to help the common man. This began to seriously erode support for the regime within the capital. The fact that the confrontations often became violent did not help. Just as the street violence during the administration of Massimiliano Lessi had made the Gonfaloniere look weak and unable to stop the chaos, the street battles between the Cappucci Neri and regular citizens made it look as if Savonarola could not control his own people.

The most serious error made by the Cappucci Neri, who were commanded by Savonarola’s righthand man, Fra Domenico, occurred on 30 October 1507. On that day, a large gang, numbering over thirty, of Cappucci Neri attacked the Florentine market on and around the Ponte Vecchio. While attacks on the market had happened before, they were usually targeted at jewelers and purveyors of expensive, luxury items. This time however, there was no discrimination, and numerous shops were looted and burned. The widespread destruction crippled many of the city’s small shopkeepers, who had previously supported Savonarola due to his enmity toward the large merchants, whose business practices kept the small business owners from expanding. Now however, many small shops and stands were ruined, suffering damage far worse than whatever the merchants’ old policies might have done to them. Savonarola had not sanctioned the attack on the market and when he heard about it was furious with Fra Domenico over what had happened. Despite his protests to the contrary, Savonarola was still partially responsible. In a fiery sermon he gave in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the friar had told those listening that sin must be stamped out wherever it was found, regardless of who was engaged in it. It was only after that sermon that the attacks by the Cappucci Neri began.

hmH4iXP.jpg

Savonarola encouraging his followers to root out sin and vanity wherever they may find it

The attack on the market also caused the army to finally act. A delegation of Florentine shop owners travelled to Parma to meet with General Ulivelli and complain of the destruction of property they had suffered. The General, now feeling he had a justified reason to act, dispatched the elite Iron Legion regiment to Florence under the command of Colonel Leonello Ariosto. The Legion, considered the most well disciplined regiment in the Florentine army, was tasked by the general to protect the market and to prevent any further instances of looting or destruction of property. While this did not constitute the army directly moving against Savonarola, it sent a message that they would not tolerate his regime’s excesses beyond a certain point.

Colonel Ariosto was considered one of the best commanders in the army, which is why he was put in charge of an elite regiment, but he also had a nose for politics. Knowing that he was entering a perilous political situation, upon arriving he met with Savonarola. He told the friar that he and his men were not there as enemies, but to assist him in keeping the city under control. The colonel reminded Savonarola that private property was still a right of the citizens of Florence and that its destruction could not be tolerated. He promised that the Iron Legion would not become involved in politics but was only there to stop, “unlawful activity.” In an effort to placate the army and also to make it look as if he was willing to take measures to reign in the violence spreading in the city, Savonarola reluctantly agreed. On 15 November, the Iron Legion marched into Florence.

In addition to his religiosity and political policies, much of Savonarola’s initial popularity was based on his theatrics. Prophetic visions and burnings at the stake reminded the people that God was with him and that they would do well to follow his guidance. Several times since the regime had come to power, the Frateschi had organized bonfires of luxury items and works of art and literature deemed to be blasphemous. Now, Savonarola wanted to do it on a grand scale. He called for the people of Florence to hold a “Bonfire of the Vanities” and conduct a great purge on all blasphemous and sinful objects in the city. He set the date for the great fire for 10 January 1508.

In the weeks leading up to it, a massive collection of irreplaceable manuscripts, ancient sculptures, antique and modern paintings, priceless tapestries, and many other valuable works of art, as well as mirrors, musical instruments, and books of divination, astrology, and magic were either surrendered voluntarily or otherwise confiscated by force. Groups of Cappucci Neri methodically trawled the city, accompanied by large hay carts, collecting the objects to be burned. They went house to house, demanding that each time they came the inhabitants give up an object of value to go into the fire. Many of the great Florentine artists, such as Botticelli, who had become devotees of Savonarola, voluntarily offered up their old works of art, which they themselves now considered blasphemous, to go into the fire.


Colonel Ariosto, whose men were in Florence ostensibly to protect private property, did not intervene. When he was later confronted by a furious General Ulivelli, Ariosto claimed that his men could not act since it was impossible to distinguish who was giving up items voluntarily and who was being forced to do so. Additionally, Ariosto did not feel the time was right for an open confrontation with the Cappucci Neri. His goal was to bide his time and earn the trust of the regime and the people so that when there was finally an opportunity to act, he could take advantage of it fully. The way Ariosto saw it, the General's refusal to act had been prudent and there was no reason to squander their previous patience now. As disgusted as he might be by the destruction of property and culture, it was better to wait until a viable alternative to the Frateschi presented itself and only then strike. Accordingly, Ariosto stood aside and let Savonarola continue his work.

On the evening of 10 January, a massive crowd from all quarters of Florence turned out to watch the spectacle. The bonfire turned into a major social event and crowds of pious men and women praying intermingled with those bitterly witnessing what hey considered a horror. In one of the great ironies of the Savonarola era, the soldiers of the Iron Legion, sent to the capital to curb the excesses of the regime, stood guard around the pile of objects to ensure that no one would attempt to retrieve their confiscated items before they were consumed by the flames. When the fire was finally lit by Savonarola himself, he declared that the city was nearly free of its old corruption and sin and that the Day of Judgment would soon be at hand. A large portion of the crowd cheered him and celebrated while others watched in shock, as great artifacts of Florentine culture, renowned throughout Europe, were destroyed.

VxSOvvW.jpg

6V9mLEG.jpg

The Bonfire of the Vanities

The Bonfire of the Vanities represented the high point of the Savonarola regime. He had succeeded in ridding the city of his political enemies and the fire proved that he was serious about carrying out his purge. Despite its apparent success however, forces were at work to fight back. His alienation of a large portion of his old supporters, whether through the violence on the streets or the destruction of culture, combined with renewed efforts of the Society of Reason, would present him with a new, serious challenge.
 

JerseyGiants88

Captain
54 Badges
Dec 28, 2013
342
87
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Victoria 2
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
Historical Vignette 6: The Bonfire of the Vanities, 10 January 1508

Ippolito Tonelli was not a man to take threats seriously. Not because he was brave, he wasn’t, but because he just didn’t take anything seriously. His first assignment as a diplomat in the service of the Republic of Florence had been to the Duchy of Mantua when he was nineteen. Unfortunately for the young Ippolito, he arrived just two months before the outbreak of the First Italian War. After the start of the conflict, he was arrested and accused of being a spy by Duke Federico of Mantua. First, the duke said he would behead Ippolito, then that he would have him tortured, and finally that he’d press him into the service of his army in order to carry water for the soldiers. Of course, none of these things had happened and by the end of the war, Tonelli had charmed his way out of the dungeon and into the court of the Duke and into the bed of the Duchess Bianca di Gonzaga.


6i1kqUI.jpg

Ippolito Tonelli

Tonelli had found, over the course of his life and career, that he could talk his way out of most any situation, so long as he was dealing with reasonable men. The people standing at his door were not reasonable men.

“Your door has been marked as the entrance to a house of vice, sin, and vanity,” said the brutish looking man standing at the head of the group. He was obviously some sort of leader. The others stood behind him menacingly, a cart filled with paintings, books, and statues was parked in the middle of the street.

“Well to that I must plead guilty,” replied Tonelli mustering his most genial smile. The men’s expressions did not change.

“By order of Friar Savonarola,” continued the brute, “you must surrender an object of value and vanity for the bonfire this evening.”

“But I already contributed my copy of The Canterbury Tales to some of your colleagues two days ago,” he protested (Tonelli considered Chaucer to be a dreary fraud and cheap English imitation of Boccaccio; he’d be happy to see The Canterbury Tales burn) but his pleading amounted to nothing. The men just stared at him.

“Very well,” he said beating a tactical withdrawal, “I will gladly comply with the friar’s orders. After all, I should be thankful to him for letting me live in a house of -- what did you call it? -- vice, sin, and vanity, while also leaving me totally uncooked.”

“Friar Savonarola is a lenient, merciful man who tolerates even the worst sinners among us. He believes we all can atone for our sins and transgressions against God,” said the brute.

Tonelli fixed his gaze on the man’s face. Was he being serious? Or was he blessed with some gloriously dark sense of humor? He decided on the former. “Yes of course,” he replied quickly, “give me a moment to fetch something.” Before they could say anything further he turned and slammed the door.

Tonelli scanned his home. His eyes landed on the prominently placed painting by the Florentine master Fra Angelico. He thought of the absurdity that both an artistic creative genius like Fra Angelico and the current madman running his beloved city were friars. From the same order no less. Tonelli shuddered at the thought of seeing the painting in flames.

Next he looked at the golden bull’s head hanging on the opposite wall. That could definitely work, he thought. The bull’s head had been a gift from Princess Marietta of Castile, where he’d served as a diplomat for one year in 1501, after she'd forced him to attend a bull fight with her. Tonelli found the so-called sport to be disgusting and barbaric, with the mounted bull fighter riding circles around the exhausted beast until he went in for the kill. How the princess, who was an otherwise sweet, beautiful girl, could enjoy such things was beyond his understanding. Her love for that bloody spectacle combined with her awful taste in art to produce the golden so-called sculpture on his wall. He hated that bull’s head. Still, it had sentimental value.


cQHQQLn.jpg

Tonelli's golden bull sculpture

Finally, he spotted his prize. It was a painting of Roman legionnaires cheering Julius Caesar after the conquest of Gaul. Tonelli despised military artwork. This particular piece had been a gift from his cousin Carlo, who was in the army, when Tonelli had first been hired as a diplomat. He hated his cousin Carlo. Tonelli picked up the painting and looked at it. This should do, he thought, the crazies love burning anything even vaguely related to paganism or the classics.

He opened the door. The black-robed men were there just as he had left them. He held the painting out to the brute. “Here you are brother,” said Tonelli venturing another smile, "my contribution to Friar Savonarola’s righteous, holy fire.”

The brute said nothing. He looked over the painting, appeared satisfied, then turned abruptly and tossed it into the cart. Tonelli winced as he saw and heard the frame crack when it landed. Without another word they turned and moved on, surely off to bother some other happy, fun loving citizens. Tonelli shut the door and shuddered.

“Are they gone?” came a woman’s voice from behind him. It was the voice of Carlotta Vogliosi, wife of the commander of the city guard. She stood naked in front of him. In normal times having an affair with the bride of the man in charge of the only organized armed force in the city would be a dangerous game indeed. These were not normal times however. The city guard almost never left their guard houses anymore and any sighting of them in the streets was a rare event. From what he’d heard, Savonarola and his cronies treated Captain Vogliosi and his men as if they were nuisances that needed to be tolerated. The city guard were not a part of the regular army and, in each city, were recruited by and fell under the authority of the local leadership. When a group of Cappucci Neri and city guardsman passed each other in the streets these days, the latter stepped aside to make way for the former.

“I thought I told you to get dressed,” he said to her, “what if they’d found you looking like that? Plus, aren’t you cold?”

Carlotta shrugged. “Now we have the rest of the evening to ourselves,” she said giving him a sly smile, “and you won’t even have to undress me again.”

“No,” replied Tonelli looking at the Fra Angelico on the wall, “I’m going to the bonfire tonight.”

“What!?” asked Carlotta with a mix of surprise and anger.

“Of course,” said Tonelli looking at her, “I contributed to it, twice, I’m damn sure going to get to see the spectacle.”

_____________________________________________

Later that evening Ippolito Tonelli walked out of his house bundled up in his thick overcoat. Going to watch the treasures of Florence go up in flames would be much more pleasant during the summertime, he thought to himself bitterly.

Before she stormed out of his house, Carlotta told him he was a fool for going and that he’d probably be tossed into the fire along with the rest of the trash. Perhaps she was right. But this was going to be a historic event and he would be damned if he missed it. That night was going to go down in legend. Students would study it in history class. Perhaps one day in the far future some pompous author might write a pulpy novel about greed and inequality and conflict between social classes in his own time and use the name of the horrific event Tonelli was about to witness for its title. Pompous, like Chaucer, he thought to himself. The novel would surely be written in English.

Tonelli crossed the short distance between his home and the Piazza del Popolo, as they’d renamed the old Piazza della Signoria, quickly. It was already packed with people. He saw numerous groups arranged in circular formations, deeply engaged in prayer. Others were watching with horror as cart after cart full of priceless items arrived and were unloaded onto the massive pile. There were two different looks. The first was by the people who were horrified by the gross extent of the wealth and luxury amassed by the Florentine upper classes. The second was of those horrified that those same items were about to go up in flames. Tonelli eagerly tried to spot his legionnaires in the pile but couldn’t find the in the giant mass of treasures.

Nearby, Tonelli spotted a perfectly ordered formation of about forty soldiers standing off to the side of the piazza. Two standard bearers were among them. One held a white banner with a crimson fleur-de-lis, the flag of Florence. The other held a black banner with a white circle with a silver chain-mailed fist in the center. He tried to recall the name of the regiment. The Iron something. Iron Fist? It was one of those terrible names only a military man could come up with; dripping with machismo but lacking any real substance. Tonelli made it a point to stay ignorant of all military matters, he felt it made him a better diplomat. Too many of his colleagues became infatuated with the armed forces and were too quick to want to put them to use. All Tonelli had to know was that everyone said war was a ghastly event and was to be avoided.

A hard wind started blowing over the Piazza del Popolo. Tonelli pulled his overcoat tighter. Suddenly he felt someone tug on it. He looked to his right. A man dressed in tattered beggar’s clothing stood next to him. “Hello,” said Tonelli peering suspiciously at him, “you must be cold.”

“I’m fine,” replied the man, “but I believe you dropped this sir.” He held out an envelope. Tonelli looked at him, puzzled. He took the envelope in his hand and, after a furtive glance around him to make sure nobody was watching, opened it. The only thing on the paper was a symbol. It consisted of a golden sun with a face above an open book or, as Tonelli thought of it, the reading sun. It was the symbol of the Society of Reason.

FKDBHCE.png

The logo of the Society of Reason

Tonelli peered at the man in rags curiously. The man looked at him back, his face expressionless. Tonelli glanced around to make sure nobody had seen his paper, then quickly crumpled it up. “Who are you?” he asked.

“Stay and enjoy the show,” the beggar replied, “I will meet you at your home after the celebration here has ended.”

“Wait a moment,” said Tonelli but the beggar disappeared into the crowd. The diplomat stood pondering what had just happened. How did this beggar know where he lived? Was this a ruse or trap by some agent of Savonarola? Was this how they would finally come up with an excuse to throw him in a dungeon? Or burn him at the stake? His mind raced through the possibilities.

Just then a figure rose to the podium in front of the treasure pile. It was the Friar Savonarola himself. He began speaking but the wind whipping through the piazza and Tonelli’s distance from the stage made him impossible to hear. The crowd cheered and booed at various times while Savonarola spoke. After a few moments, one of his hooded cronies brought him a torch. The howling wind put it out. A number of other figures brought more torches up to the friar and, after a few abortive attempts, they were able to get the pile lit. As it caught fire, the crowd cheered again.

Tonelli tried to move through the crowd to get a better look. He didn’t care about Savonarola’s speech, but he wanted a good view of the fire itself. As he maneuvered his way to the front, he had a few angry accusations of “sinner!” and “sodomite!” thrown his way but otherwise reached a place with a satisfactory view unscathed.

Near him, standing guard, was another group of soldiers with the same regimental banner as the ones he’d seen earlier. Probably there to stop people saving their property, thought Tonelli in disgust. Still, he had some sympathy for them. They looked nervous, jittery. On a field of battle these men were probably excellent at their bloody craft, but here, in a massive crowd, they were out of their element.


asDfQjD.png

Flag of the Iron Legion

Tonelli spotted their commander. He walked over to him and followed the soldier’s gaze and cringed when he saw where it ended.

“That’s a Piero della Francesca,” said Tonelli to the soldier sadly.

“Was he well known?” asked the soldier in response after a few moments, “he must have been very talented.”

Tonelli looked at him perplexed. Weren’t all the officers noblemen or from one of the wealthy merchant families? Who didn’t know Piero della Francesca? Tonelli studied the soldier for a moment. He had a prominent scar on his right cheek. Fortunately for him, thought the diplomat, he had been wounded in a way that the scar did not make him ugly but actually served to make his face more interesting. It gave him character. Yes, that’s what it was.

“One of the greatest who ever lived,” Tonelli finally replied, “your parents or schooling never taught you about him?”

“I was an orphan,” replied the soldier, “and I never went to school.” Even as far as army officers went, this one was odd, thought Tonelli to himself. He decided not to press the subject any further despite his curiosity.

“How long do you think it took him to paint that?” asked the officer.

“Oh maybe years,” replied the diplomat.

“All that time and effort, gone in seconds,” said his conversation partner solemnly, shaking his head.

“Indeed,” was all Tonelli said, suddenly sickened by the spectacle he’d been so eager to see. Even his legendary cynicism was cracking in the face of the destruction of Florentine culture. “I think I’ll be on my way,” he said, “have a good evening.”

“Good evening sir,” replied the soldier, still staring into the flames.

Tonelli turned and walked away, quickening his pace as soon as he got out of the crowd. He headed straight for home. A good bottle of wine from his cellar would clear his sickness he hoped. When he reached his door he pulled out his key and fumbled for the lock in the darkness. Suddenly a shadow’s movement caught his eye and made him drop it.

“Who-who is it?” asked Tonelli nervously.

“Your friend from earlier,” replied the shadow, “you are in no danger, go ahead and open the door.”

Tonelli bent over to pick up his key, keeping a wary eye on the man. He unlocked his door and opened it. The shadow stepped forward. The diplomat gestured for him to enter and then followed in behind. Tonelli walked to the fireplace and lit the wood pile. He glanced nervously over his shoulder. Why had he let this man into his house? He wondered, amazed at his own stupidity. Still, he wasn’t dead, this was a good sign. The fire roared to life and lit up the room. Tonelli looked over at the shadow to reveal that it was, in fact, the man in rags from the piazza. He had pulled his hood down to reveal the face of a man in his mid-20s with a close cropped beard and dark eyes.

“Signor Tonelli,” he said, “allow me to introduce myself, I am Rodolfo Grimaldi, of the Society of Reason.” Rodolfo Grimaldi? Thought Tonelli to himself. Then it hit him.


ACvLsOS.jpg

Rodolfo Grimaldi

“Are you the grandson of Antonio Grimaldi, the Gonfaloniere?”

Rodolfo nodded.

“You know,” said Tonelli, relieved and suddenly smiling, “I actually remember you when you were a boy, though I’m sure you don’t remember. I worked as a diplomat and had the honor of meeting with your grandfather several times to give him reports from foreign lands. I didn’t know you lived in Florence.”

“I don’t. Until two weeks ago I was in Parma with the army. I was an officer in the engineering corps.”

“Did you desert?”

Grimaldi shook his head, “no, I got a special leave of absence from General Ulivelli himself to...take care of family business.”

Tonelli laughed. “Well I tend to distrust military men,” he said, “but a military man who knows how to bend the rules I can probably find agreeable.”

“My grandfather was a great man and a great Gonfaloniere,” continued Grimaldi, “but his lack of planning at the end of his life left us in the situation we are in now. I am here to correct that error.”

“How do you mean?” asked Tonelli, intrigued now.

“I mean that he handed the republic to that bumbling, vainglorious fool, Massimiliano Lessi, whose incompetence allowed the monster Savonarola to rise.”

“No, no--well yes that too--but I meant how are you here to correct that?”

“Well that is precisely why I need to speak to you,” said Grimaldi, “we have a mission from the Society of Reason.”

“We?” asked Tonelli.

“Yes. As I’m sure you know, the Society’s membership was, for the most part, known. However, enough members joined after the rise of our fanatical current leader, that remained anonymous and can now make a difference in the city. The Society’s leadership voted to select you to head what will be known as the Committee of Action.”

“The what?”

“The Committee of Action will be composed of the previously unknown members of the Society still in Florence. The mission, as I was told to inform you by Chairman de’ Medici himself, was to combine civil disturbance with political mobilization to create the circumstances that will lead to the overthrow of the Savonarola regime.”

“How am I--are we supposed to know what that is?”

“Chairman de’ Medici told me he left it vague precisely to give you the freedom of action you would need. The leaders of the Society have full faith in your abilities.”

“Why me?”

“The leadership felt that you were dedicated and loyal and would do what was necessary to succeed and liberate our city. But they know that you also detest violence and would reign in the excesses of those elements within our organization who are only too happy to spill blood.”

“Who would those elements be?”

“Well,” said Grimaldi, smiling for the first time since Tonelli had met him, “to start with, me.”

“Ah,” replied Tonelli, “I see. And how will I know who to contact. I hope you haven't been slinking around Florence with a list of all of our names on it."


"As a matter of fact I have."

"What?" said Tonelli alarmed, "that was reckless, thank God you weren't caught. Where is it?"

Grimaldi pointed to his head, "in here."

"Oh I see," said Tonelli relieved, "well you must have a good memory. Well, as my first act in command of the Committee of Action, I resolve to get drunk, care to join me?"

“Why not,” said Grimaldi, “no need to start spoiling Friar Savonarola’s fun on his big night. But tomorrow, we go to work.”
 

Idhrendur

Keeper of the Converters
104 Badges
Feb 27, 2009
10.427
1.720
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Sengoku
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • March of the Eagles
  • Victoria 2
  • 500k Club
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Darkest Hour
Ah, a conspiracy, finally. And lots of new discontent against Savonarola. This'll be good. Or bloody. Or both.
 

Nikolai

Basileus Romaion
76 Badges
Jun 17, 2001
20.803
3.185
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Supreme Ruler: Cold War
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Divine Wind
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Magicka
  • March of the Eagles
Lovely, I foresee a great future for this grandson of the previous ruler...! :)
 

JerseyGiants88

Captain
54 Badges
Dec 28, 2013
342
87
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Victoria 2
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
Chapter 18: Morning in Florence, 1508-1510

The Bonfire of the Vanities would turn out to be both the high mark of the Savonarola regime and the beginning of the end for it. While the event proved that he faithfully meant to carry out his program of civic purification to its end and boosted his popularity in the short run, it also pushed away many of those who had supported primarily him as a civic reformer and republican traditionalist.

The average Florentine citizen did not shed a tear for the burned possessions of the nobility. There was little sympathy by the lower classes for those who exploited them and then went on to flaunt their accumulated wealth. What the average Florentine did object to however, was the violation of property rights. The right to private property was a pillar of the republic and, particularly in the city of Florence itself, was respected throughout all social strata. While in the countryside it was still common for the nobility to exploit the peasantry by stealing from them or blatantly violating contracts, this was very rare in the capital. Even the wealthiest, most powerful of nobles could suffer if he was caught openly stealing from a poorer person. The respect for property rights was what had, over the years, kept the peace in the city between the classes. While a poor man might feel that he was exploited and that it was unfair that a nobleman who worked less than him was many times over more wealthy, he at least could trust that that same man would not steal from him.

Savonarola had violated that basic right. He had forced people to give up possessions with no recompense and no course for a redress of their grievances. He had just taken and burned. While this alone might not have sufficed to turn a large number in the lower classes against Savonarola, when added up to other things, it had a big impact. Nobody had forgotten that the morality codes had also only targeted the nobility in the beginning. Then, when the Cappucci Neri ran out of noblemen to harass, they immediately turned to average citizens. How long, they wondered, before it would be their possessions burned on the altar of purity?

Just as his popularity was dipping, Savonarola was confronted by a new problem: a sudden spike in violence on the streets. This violence was different than before however. It was not random and the result of confrontations between the Cappucci Neri and citizens fed up with their presence. These attacks were targeted, precise, and they were aimed at the Cappucci Neri themselves. Since Savonarola had overthrown the Lessis, there had never been concerted violence directed at his roving bands of religious police. The black-clad enforcers had largely been able to go about their business with impunity. Then, starting in late January of 1508, assassins started taking them out in the night.


U9dJnp4.jpg

Typical outfit of a Cappuccio Nero

The Cappucci Neri did not know who to strike back against. As a result, they lashed out everywhere. They began moving in ever larger numbers and, especially at night, would often randomly attack bystanders. Savonarola and his followers, who had risen to power on the back of a popular movement that outsmarted its opponents, were now being targeted by an enemy using the same tactics they had once wielded so effectively. It became a vicious cycle. The assassins would murder one or two Cappucci Neri which would result in their backlash against average citizens. By the middle of March, over twenty of Savonarola’s men had been murdered, and his gangs had, in turn, killed sixteen Florentine citizens and severely injured or arrested scores more.

The killings were carried out by small teams of members of the Society of Reason, led by Rodolfo Grimaldi, grandson of the old Gonfaloniere, Antonio Grimaldi. Grimaldi was an army engineer but was given a leave of absence from the army by General Carlo Ulivelli to go to Florence and help organize the anti-Savonarola forces there. He handpicked his teams from members of the Society of Reason who remained in Florence after the expulsion of the Society’s leadership. While he sought to recruit former soldiers to his teams, he also employed thoe who simply appeared enthusiastic enough to do the job. The members of the Society of Reason who had stayed behind in Florence formed what became known as the Committee of Action. Grimaldi and his men’s assassination efforts were only one part of the Committee’s mission.

The Committee of Action's overall leader was the former diplomat Ippolito Tonelli. Tonelli had a reputation as a bon vivant and free thinker but had managed to avoid prosecution from the Savonarola regime. He was also a secret member of the Society of Reason. He was chosen by the Society leadership to command the clandestine operations of the Committee of Action for two reasons. First, was that Tonelli was charismatic and charming with a good mind for politics and they felt that if anyone could organize a coalition of opponents to Savonarola, it would be him. Second, Tonelli was for all intents and purposes a pacifist, and while the Society of Reason knew some violence would be needed to topple Savonarola, they also wanted to avoid widespread bloodletting that could lead to long term conflict within the city. They trusted that Tonelli could reign in Grimaldi and his assassins if they got too carried away.

While Grimaldi and his men were terrorizing the Cappucci Neri, Tonelli set to work with two main political goals. The first was to re-convene the Assembly. The Society of Reason felt that it was necessary to have a legitimate authority to demand Savonarola’s ouster. Since Savonarola’s Council of Citizens had no actual legal basis, they felt that if the Assembly could be brought together again, with just enough members to reach a quorum, they could vote the Council out of existence and Savonarola out of power. Additionally, in their talks with General Ulivelli in Parma, they had gotten the commander’s promise that if Savonarola’s arrest was ordered by a legitimate source, he would be more than happy to order his troops to enforce the warrant.

Tonelli’s second political goal was to stoke anti-Savonarola sentiment beyond just the nobility and wealthy merchants. He started out by speaking with groups of shopkeepers who had been ruined by the Cappucci Neri’s attack on the market in October of 1507. From there, he moved on to the tavern keepers and the brothels, both of whose businesses had been ruined by the Frateschi’s severe moral restrictions. Through these means, he began to develop a larger group of citizens who would, if not support Savonarola’s ouster, at least not make any noise against it.

On 17 March 1508, Tonelli met with the powerful and influential Ignazzio Spadolini, Speaker of the Assembly before it was disbanded. The Spadolini family was a major historical rival of the Medici and, as a result, was considered to be a non-threat by the Frateschi since they believed he would never join with the Medici-led Society of Reason. However, the Bonfire of the Vanities as well as the other attacks, both physical and financial, against the nobility had turned even the anti-Medici nobles in Florence into enemies. Spadolini agreed to help Tonelli put the Assembly back together and was more than happy to urge them to vote to have the friar taken out of power.

With the help of Spadolini and several other prominent noblemen, the scattered members of the Assembly still residing in Florence were brought together. They met on 11 April in Tonelli’s home, cramped, irritable, but happy to have a chance to make a difference once again. They had just enough members to make a quorum based on their numbers from just prior to the body’s dissolution. At their first meeting, dubbed the “extraordinary session of the rump Assembly” by the Speaker, all they did was vote to re-establish themselves and to meet again a week later. In the intervening seven days, Spadolini, Tonelli, and other leading members debated what to do after Savonarola was overthrown. Tonelli and the Society of Reason wanted the Assembly to name Girolamo de’ Medici as the new Gonfaloniere. While Spadolini and many of his allies were loathe to hand the city to the Medici, Tonelli was able to convince them that he was the only candidate with the family name and ability to unify the city in the midst of what was sure to be a contentious political climate. De’ Medici was well known and had been speaking out against the friar from even before he gained power. Reluctantly, Spadolini and his allies agreed to name him Gonfaloniere for a four year term starting the day he assumed office in exchange for promises that they would be given influential positions within the government.

On 18 April the Assembly met, once again in Tonelli’s home. In their negotiations over what to do after Savonarola, the diplomat and the Assembly speaker had also come up with a solution for Savonarola himself. They could not keep him around, they’d decided, since that would just leave open the risk for his restoration. However, they also feared that if they just had him executed it could spark a popular backlash against them. Instead, they decided to use Savonarola’s preferred weapon against him: trial by fire. They would present it as an opportunity for the friar to prove that he was indeed favored by God. Along with the provision naming Girolamo de’ Medici Gonfaloniere if Savonarola died, they added another clause stating that if the friar survived the trial by fire, the Assembly would vote to make him leader for life. When this plan was presented to the Assembly, they voted in favor of it. The stage was set for the conclusion of the Savonarola drama.

Upon receiving news of the Assembly’s vote, General Ulivelli authorized Colonel Leonello Ariosto, commander of the Iron Legion stationed in the capital, to enforce the Assembly’s arrest warrant for Savonarola. The friar, however, had heard of the plot against him and locked himself into the Basilica di Santo Spirito along with a small band of loyal followers.


iKMTSfL.jpg

The Basilica di Santo Spirito

The church was soon surrounded by troops and a tense standoff began. A large crowd of Savonarola’s supporters gathered around the soldiers, taunting them and calling them traitors. Some tried to break through the encirclement to bring food and water to those inside but the men of the Iron Legion held their ground and stopped them. Finally, after an eight day standoff, Savonarola and his ragged looking followers surrendered and emerged from the church, much the way that Massimilaino Lessi and his supporters had emerged from the Palazzo Vecchio when Savonarola first took power in 1505.

With the friar in custody, the next step was the trial by fire itself. Surprisingly to his opponents, many of Savonarola’s followers welcomed it, fully convinced that the friar would survive and prove that he was indeed favored by God. They saw this as one of the final steps toward sanctifying his vision of Florence as a holy city. As a result, opposition to the trial by fire was less than what the Society of Reason, the Assembly, and the army thought it would be.

Now that his enemies had him, Savonarola was made to suffer. He and his two top lieutenants, Fra Domenico and Fra Silvestro Maruffi were brutally tortured by their captors. While being tortured, Savonarola confessed to having invented his prophecies and visions, then recanted, then confessed again. He was then locked in the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio. While there, he composed meditations on Psalms 51 and 31, his final pieces of writing.

Girolamo de’ Medici and the rest of the Society of Reason’s leadership returned to Florence for the trial and to finish their negotiations. In a private meeting with Ignazzio Spadolini, de’ Medici agreed to the four year term offered and promised that Spadolini and his supporters would have voices within his administration and positions of power. With their agreement in place, the anti-Savonarola coalition was ready to move forward.

On the morning of 10 May 1498, the three friars were led out into the Piazza del Popolo where, before a tribunal convened by the Assembly and joined by officials from the Catholic Church, they were condemned as heretics and traitors to the republic, and sentenced to be burned. The Church was especially eager to be rid of Savonarola. Just two months earlier, a German priest named Martin Luther had caused a stir when he had nailed his so-called Ninety Five Theses to the door of Saint Bartholomew's Cathedral in Frankfurt. Faced with the possibility of schismatic movements to the north, the the Pope wanted to quickly rid himself of a similar troublemaker in Italy.

Stripped of their Dominican garments in ritual degradation, Savonarola and his two comrades mounted the scaffold in their thin white shirts. Each on a separate gallows, they were tied to posts, while fires were ignited below them to consume their bodies. Many of Savonarola’s followers broke down in tears when their leader was burned to death. They had arrived fully expecting him to survive the flames and be vindicated before his enemies. When he died, they left the Piazza del Popolo in droves, distraught and unsure of what to do next. To prevent devotees from searching for relics, the ashes of the executed friars were carted away and scattered in the Arno River. Despite the fears of those who had carried out the execution, no violence broke out in the city.


B2tL0Ix.jpg

On 10 May 1508 Savonarola and his two top lieutenants were burned to death in the Piazza del Popolo


Depiction of the burning of Savonarola; in reality the piazza was much more crowded and two of his lieutenants were burned alongside himhttp://i.imgur.com/B2tL0Ix.jpg

Girolamo Savonarola left behind a mixed legacy. On the one hand he had been a tyrant and extremist who actively worked to destroy the cultural treasures of one of Europe’s great cities. He preached for violence against his enemies and was intolerant of any that he deemed to be sinners or political enemies. His reign, along with the preceding Lessi regime, did serious damage to the republic and the faith its citizens had in their political institutions. However, he was also genuinely concerned with the well being of Florence’s most downtrodden citizens and was rightfully critical of the wealth and excesses of the city’s upper classes. While his methods may have been crude and barbaric, there is little doubt he felt a deep connection to the poor and oppressed and sought to lift them from their low stations in life. His religious writings and written recordings of his sermons would allow his legacy to live on. As the Protestant Reformation began to catch hold in parts of Europe in the coming years and decades, Savonarola could be counted among those whose criticisms and challenges to the corruption of the Catholic Church helped break Rome’s stranglehold over Western Christianity. Many early Protestant reformers, most notably Martin Luther himself, read the friar’s writings and praised him as a martyr and forerunner whose ideas on faith and grace anticipated Luther’s own doctrine of justification by faith alone.

tmIR2LX.jpg

Martin Luther, whose Ninety Five Theses sparked the Protestant Reformation, considered Savonarola a martyr and an inspiration

With Savonarola’s death, Girolamo Rospigliosi de’ Medici was named Gonfaloniere of Florence. He took office the next day, on 11 May. He spoke from the balcony of the Palazzo Vecchio and promised a new day for Florence. He swore that no further reprisals would be carried out against the friar’s followers and told the assembled crowd that he prayed for peace and unity among Florence’s citizens.


DZA0cnu.jpg

zggCwN1.jpg

Girolamo Rospigliosi de’ Medici was named Gonfaloniere of Florence after the death of Savonarola

Despite the end of the Savonarola regime, there was still a great deal of work to be done to bring Florence and its provinces back to the way things were before the friar took power. In the years 1505-1508, many provincial governments had gained a high level of autonomy and were, in all but name, now independent. Gonfaloniere de’ Medici sought to bring them back under more centralized control but also wanted to avoid bloodshed.

To help him oversee the process of putting the republic back together again, Gonfaloniere de’ Medici brought two of the men who had been integral in the overthrow of Savonarola into his administration: Ippolito Tonelli and Leonello Ariosto. He made Tonelli his foreign minister and Ariosto his chief military advisor and liaison with the army. He also rewarded Rodolfo Grimaldi for his clandestine work against the Cappucci Neri by making him chief engineer of the republic.

F2uYyTn.jpg

Ippolito Tonelli and Colonel Leonello Ariosto were rewarded for their work against Savonarola with important government posts
5yEtRXv.jpg

Rodolfo Grimaldi was promoted to Deputy Chief Engineer of the Army of Florence

Thankfully for Florence, and unfortunately for many of the provinces, the Savonarola years had seen the provincial economies shrink and poverty spread. In many cases, it was not difficult to bring them back into the fold. In other cases, more delicate negotiations were needed. Foreshadowing later developments, de’ Medici acted more like a monarch than a republican leader. He had already secured the loyalty of Giovanni Bentivoglio of Bologna through a marriage between Bentivoglio’s son Annibale and his daughter Bianca. De’ Medici did the same thing with the House of Farnese, now ruling over Parma, by arranging a wedding between, Ranuccio, the son of Duke Alessandro Farnese, and his second daughter, Alessandra. In Urbino, de’ Medici recognized the claims of the House of Montefeltro as Dukes of Urbino. With the Bentivoglio, Farnese, and Montefeltro families in power in the Romagna, Parma, and Urbino respectively, the Gonfaloniere was able to work with them to bring the other provinces to heel.

For many citizens, the rise of the nobility to power was surprisingly welcome. As part of the recognition of their claims, de’ Medici forced the newly empowered families to agree to enforce the rights of the peasantry in the countryside and the artisans and shopkeepers in the cities they ruled over. With their basic rights protected, the average person did not really care whether their overlords were ruling through heredity or through elected posts. Most people did not own property and were therefore denied the vote anyway. The hereditary rulers at least guaranteed a certain level of stability and consistency, which the often chaotic electoral systems did not provide. Within a year of Savonarola’s death, the provinces of the Republic of Florence were back under the control of the capital.

Two controversies that came up in the winter of 1509 and the spring of 1510 would serve to illustrate the level of suspicion and mistrust of religion that developed as a result of Savonarola. The first pitted the Florentine governmental authorities against the Church establishment while the second brought the republic and the Catholic Church together against the threat of any further religious reform movement.

In November of 1509, the Church authorities in Florence sought to re-establish their power over the republic’s masses that they had lost under Savonarola. As an issue on which to take a stand, they selected the teaching of the poet and classical scholar Angelo Ambrogini, then teaching at the University of Florence. The Archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Stefano Canosso, accused Ambrogini of being a heretic and denying the existence of God. The philosopher fervently denied this. He was supported by Gonfaloniere de’ Medici and the Assembly, which voted overwhelmingly in favor of a declaration supporting him and offering him “the protection of all the laws of the republic.” In the face of this strong opposition, the Church was forced to back down.

JEqsugx.jpg

drN9wi9.jpg

The poet and classical scholar Angelo Ambrogini found many allies in the Assembly

Just four months later however, the Church and the republic found themselves on the same side. A parish priest in Arezzo had translated the Bible into Italian and was distributing copies to other priests. The Church, already alarmed by the spread of common language translations of the Bible in Germany and Switzerland were eager to quickly squash any similar movement in Italy, just as they had sought to be rid of Savonarola. The Assembly and Gonfaloniere de’ Medici this time were ready to support the Church. When it came to intra-religious controversies, an unwritten rule had developed among those in power in Florence that it was always better to go with the Church. While they might be willing to defend humanists and philosophers, they were more than happy to hand over a priest who might quickly turn into a new Savonarola. As a result, the priest was quickly arrested and handed over to the Church. The copies of his translated Bible were burned, as was he when he was brought to Rome in June of 1510.

1J4yucB.jpg

The Assembly and the Gonfaloniere joined with the Church on the Bible Translation question

It would take many years for Florence to heal from the wounds inflicted by the struggle between Savonarola and his opponents. Thankfully, the republic was in the hands of capable men who had no interest in seeing further internal bloodshed. Soon, Florence’s energy and attention would turn outward once again. The republic had survived its time of crisis battered but intact. Its enemies had failed to take advantage of a moment of vulnerability and were now about to feel the power of a newly expansionist Republic of Florence.
 

Idhrendur

Keeper of the Converters
104 Badges
Feb 27, 2009
10.427
1.720
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Sengoku
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • March of the Eagles
  • Victoria 2
  • 500k Club
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Darkest Hour
Phew, made it through that rough period. Now to take out some neighbors!
 

Kagemin

Major
84 Badges
Mar 8, 2014
671
566
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Steel Division: Normandy 44
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • BATTLETECH
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Tyranny - Bastards Wound
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Sign Up
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Revelations
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Premium edition
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Deluxe edition
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Season pass
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • March of the Eagles
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
Might have made things a bit messy, but I think it would have been awesome if he Savonarola survived the trial by fire. :eek:
 
  • 1
Reactions:

Nikolai

Basileus Romaion
76 Badges
Jun 17, 2001
20.803
3.185
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Supreme Ruler: Cold War
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Divine Wind
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Magicka
  • March of the Eagles
Might have made things a bit messy, but I think it would have been awesome if he Savonarola survived the trial by fire. :eek:
Heh, yeah. That would have been something.:p
 

JerseyGiants88

Captain
54 Badges
Dec 28, 2013
342
87
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Victoria 2
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
Phew, made it through that rough period. Now to take out some neighbors!

Might have made things a bit messy, but I think it would have been awesome if he Savonarola survived the trial by fire. :eek:

Heh, yeah. That would have been something.:p

Yeah, I love the 2% chance that he survives and turns your country into a theocracy. While I was definitely hoping I did not get that outcome, it would have made for an interesting turn of the story.

The balance you managed between EU4 gameplay and historical vignettes is quite impressive. Your AAR prompts to read or re-study Italian history. Very well done.

Thank you, I'm glad the Vignettes are keeping some readers interested. They're kind of a break for me where I don't have to go back and re-check dates of stuff that happened or figure out how to time in one in game event to another etc. I can just kind of write whatever the hell I want so long as I keep it vaguely related to the story. I hope it has helped give some depth and I am planning on using a few of the characters that I've introduced in the last couple as we go forward. Speaking of which, I've got another one coming up shortly to conclude the Savonarola story arc and transition forward a bit.

As always, thanks for reading everyone.
 

JerseyGiants88

Captain
54 Badges
Dec 28, 2013
342
87
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Victoria 2
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
Historical Vignette 7: Changing the Situation, 27 January 1508-10 May 1508

27 January 1508


qsfmdVE.jpg

The two figures waited silently in the shadows, their faces covered with black handkerchiefs, only their eyes showing. They could hear footsteps approaching.

"Four," whispered one to the other, holding out four fingers in front of him. They'd tracked the group they were awaiting for several hours. Now, just before dawn, they had a chance to strike. The footsteps grew louder, the two figures clutched their knives.

As soon as they saw the four pass them, the they stepped silently out of the shadows and into the street. Then they moved quickly but quietly behind their targets, just as they'd practiced. They each grabbed the mouth of one of the men on the ends and sank their knives into their backs, through their ribs. The larger figure's knife went in and out smoothly and the man he stabbed dropped quickly and silently. The smaller figure's blade went in but got lodged in his target's ribs. The victim cried out and stumbled forward.

Thinking quickly, the figure let go of his knife rather than try to wrench it free, and struck the next man over with an elbow to the base of his skull before he had time to react. Within a matter of seconds, one man was dead, a second was wheezing and dying on the ground with a knife sticking out of his back, and a third was being deftly restrained by the larger of the shadowy figures. The fourth man, their primary target, was struggling to get up, dazed from the blow to the back of his head. The smaller figure kicked him in the face, causing him to fall to the ground again. Only then did he walk over and wrench his knife free from his first victim's rib cage. The man grunted then fell silent, blood gushing out of the hole in his back. The larger figure observed silently, one hand over his captive's mouth, the other holding a knife to his throat.

The smaller figure walked back over to the dazed man on the ground, pulled back his black hood, and grabbed his hair and lifted him up to his knees. The man cried out in pain, the figure then put the knife to his throat.

He leaned in and said, "this is for what you did to Alessandra de' Medici. I told you I'd have my revenge." With that, he slid his knife across the man's neck, slicing his carotid arteries. The man collapsed quickly, blood spurting from the gash, the figure standing over him looking down.

The larger figure released his captive and looked over at his partner still standing their, watching the blood of his victim flow out onto the paving stones. The larger figure grabbed him and pulled him along. The two walked quickly but deliberately down the road then turned into an alley, their lone surviving target standing in shock behind them. He'd been left alive on purpose, and by the time the sun rose, all of their enemies would know what had occurred that night.

The two figures walked through the winding alleyways silently. They finally reached their destination: a two story stone structure wedged between a warehouse and a tavern. They looked around to ensure they were not being watched then quickly entered. The larger figure shut the door behind them and bolted it. Then they both removed their masks.

"So how was your first kill?" asked Rodolfo Grimaldi to his teenaged comrade.

Cesare de' Medici just stared back blankly, his face pale and body shaking.

"Well?" Grimaldi persisted.

Cesare responded by bending over and vomiting on the floor.

"Oh goddammit!" shouted Grimaldi jumping back, "you better believe you are going to clean that up!"

Cesare vomited again.

"Nice," said Grimaldi sarcastically, "I told you to eat a light dinner, but you didn't listen. And I told you to turn the blade sideways when you stabbed through the ribs, but you didn't listen. And I told you to keep your fucking mouth shut and you didn't listen, you had to have your little revenge moment."

Cesare threw up a third time.

Grimaldi ignored him and kept going, "this isn't one of your little boyish games Medici. This is serious. You say you want to command soldiers after this; well if that's the case you had better learn to follow orders. The sooner you realize you know nothing, the better. Figure it the fuck out." Grimaldi shook his head in disgust and turned to walk away. "I'm going to sleep," he said over his shoulder, "that floor better be clean when I wake up." He stalked off into the other room.

Cesare stayed where he was, on the ground on all fours looking down into his own vomit. Everything Captain Grimaldi had said was true, he thought to himself. Still, it felt good to know he had gotten revenge for his sister. He'd promised it to her before he left Bologna to return to Florence. He swore to her he'd kill the man who had cut her hair and humiliated her in the streets. The promise was fulfilled.

_______________________________________


18 April 1510


Ippolito Tonelli looked around his living room. His home was filled with loud, pompous men. These men were his allies. Together, they would overthrow their common enemy: the Friar Girolamo Savonarola. Unlike that brute Rodolfo Grimaldi, thought Tonelli, he would do it through negotiation and a vote. He could barely hear himself think over the voices and laughter that echoed through his spacious room. He decided it was time to get this thing started, if only to ensure that it would end in a timely fashion.

He pushed his way through the crowd to the man with whom he had formed an unlikely alliance: Ignazzio Spadolini. Spadolini was the Speaker of the Assembly when the body had been disbanded and also the head of one of the most powerful families in Florence. He was surrounded by a crowd of men listening to him tell some boring story about a business deal. Men who care too much about the making of money tended to bore Tonelli, and he thought it inevitably meant they did not care enough about the finer things in life. Nevertheless, the diplomat in him had recognized that Spadolini, despite his faults, was a capable man and a valuable partner. Tonelli tapped him on the shoulder. Spadolini turned, stopped his story, and gave him an irritated look, as if he had just been interrupted in the midst of a dissertation on Cicero.


Bzwluc1.jpg

Ignazzio Spadolini, Speaker of the Assembly of the Republic of Florence

“I believe we should begin the proceedings,” shouted Tonelli so that he could be heard over the crowd.

Spadolini looked at him for a moment then nodded his head. He turned and jumped up on a large oak table in the center of the room. He stamped his foot loudly several times on it, causing most in the room to turn to look and the noise began to die down. I should go to his home and stomp on his tables, thought Tonelli to himself, annoyed.

“Citizens of Florence, gentlemen of the Assembly,” began Spadolini once the room got quiet, “I bring this extraordinary session of the rump Assembly of the Republic of Florence to order. A loud cheer went up and then the room quieted down again. “We have two orders of business today,” he said loudly looking over the crowd. “The first,” he continued, “is to vote on whether or not to make Friar Girolamo Savonarola walk the trial by fire for his crimes against Florence.” Another loud cheer went up and everyone began talking excitedly.

“Order!” shouted Spadolini. The noise ceased once again. “Now,” he went on after a long pause during which he surveyed the room, “if he survives the trial by fire, we will name him dictator for life, just like Caesar, as he will have proven that he is truly favored by God and, well, we would be fools to not keep a leader who is in the good graces of our Lord.” This triggered sarcastic mutterings from the gathered men in the crowd.

“However,” continued the Speaker, “if he fails to survive the trial by fire, then I guess he’ll just be dead.” Cheering and laughter broke out yet again.

“Silence!” bellowed Spadolini glaring over the crowd, “which brings us to our second order of business. Should the friar die, then the Assembly will name…” He paused, shaking his head. “You all know how much it pains me to say this,” he said drily, triggering chuckles among some in the crowd who knew what Spadolini was about to say, “but as agreed upon by the leadership of the interested parties, the Assembly will name Girolamo Rospigliosi de’ Medici Gonfaloniere of the Republic of Florence for a term of four years starting immediately upon the expiration of Friar Savonarola.” The room was silent. “Some of you are doubtlessly thrilled by the prospect of Signor de’ Medici becoming Gonfaloniere. Others among you are horrified at the prospect of seeing that...notable family back in power. Personally, I am just happy that he and his cronies didn’t force me to promise to marry off my lovely daughter Valentina to that hooligan son of his Cesare.” This last statement broke the momentary tension between the pro and anti-Medici crowds and triggered widespread laughter.

That is why Spadolini was a valuable addition to their anti-Savonarola coalition, thought Tonelli to himself. He had the tact and skill necessary to navigate choppy political waters. He could let his allies know he wasn’t happy about something but frame it in a way that made it palatable.

Spadolini let the crowd finish their laughter and sidebar conversations. “Now,” he finally said, “let us take a vote: all those in favor of naming Girolamo Rospigliosi de’ Medici Gonfaloniere upon the death of Savonarola for one four year term…” Many hands, including Spadolini’s, went up immediately, followed by a steady trickle from those who were naturally opposed to such a measure but took their cues from their political leader.

“Resolved!” declared the Speaker, “upon the death of Savonarola, Girolamo de’ Medici will become Gonfaloniere.”

Spadolini looked over the crowd again. “All those in favor of condemning Friar Savonarola to the trial by fire for the crimes of heresy and treason against the republic…” In reply almost every hand in the room went up immediately. The matter was settled.

“Very well!” said Spadolini loudly, “Savonarola will walk the trial by fire!” The crowd erupted into loud cheers once again. This time, the Speaker of the Assembly made no effort to stop them.

_______________________________________

10 May 1510

From the balcony of the Palazzo Vecchio, Leonello Ariosto watched the crowd begin to stream out of the Piazza del Popolo. The show was over, the three friars had been burned to ashes. Inside the Palazzo, Girolamo Rospigliosi de’ Medici was swearing an oath before the Assembly.

Ariosto watched as a formation of soldiers from his own Iron Legion stood guard as the ashes from the fire were swept into a cart. They would escort the ashes of the dead friars up until the moment they were dumped into the Arno, ensuring that none of these fanatics could make relics out of them.

He heard somebody walk up next to him and lean on the stone banister. It was Josef Haspinger, the Holy Roman Emperor’s ambassador to Florence. He smiled at Ariosto through his beard and raised a glass of wine toward him.


AIIZ6A0.jpg

Josef Haspinger, the Holy Roman Emperor's Ambassador to the Republic of Florence

“Long live the Gonfaloniere,” said the Austrian laughing, “I was wondering how long it would take for you Florentines to come back to your senses.”

“This whole mess has been an embarrassment for the republic,” replied Ariosto bitterly.

“Well Signor de’ Medici, I’m sure, will make an excellent Gonfaloniere,” said Haspinger, “and I do so hope to see Florence return to its old, decadent ways. So much more fun. This Savonarola was much too severe for my tastes.”

“I’m sure it will,” said Ariosto still stone faced, “Florence is incapable of staying righteous for too long.”

“What is wrong my friend?” asked the ambassador, with a certain sense of concern, “are you not happy?”

“I am happy for what happened, but it seems our new Gonfaloniere wants to make me his new military advisor.”

“And what is wrong with that? Now you can exercise strategy at the highest level.”

“Now I will never get to command the Iron Legion in battle. All the years I spent keeping the regiment trained and ready in Parma were wasted. The next time Florence goes to war I’ll be here, in this decadent city as you call it.”

“Well now that does not sound too bad,” replied Haspinger chuckling, “you’ve been to war before, you did your part on the battlefield. Now you can serve here, where your talents and skills can be better put to use.”

Ariosto shrugged.

“Well, I’m going to need your help,” persisted Haspinger, “your soon to be colleague, that Signor Tonelli, well he is a bit of a pacifist. I tried convincing him of the need for war from time to time and all he argued was that in each case war is only an error, that all situations could be solved by diplomacy if handled right. Now, as a diplomat myself, I certainly appreciate the amount of importance he places on our work. But having also gone to war, in my younger days of course, I can acknowledge that it is needed from time to time.”

The Florentine officer just looked at him.

“Well I say that to say this,” continued the ambassador, “as you know we have never gotten our revenge for what happened during the so-called War of the League of Verona, when our rightful province of Karnten was stolen from us by the Venetians. They were, of course, aided by your wonderful little republic. Perhaps it is time that you pay us back for helping our enemies all those years ago”

Ariosto’s interest had finally been triggered, “what are you getting at?”

“What I am getting at,” said the Austrian, “is for our two countries to unite in a war against Venice. We will get back Karnten as is our right, and the right of the Holy Roman Emperor, and you...well you all will get to do with them what you wish.”

“Why should we join you to get back your province?” asked Ariosto.

“Because Venice is stronger than Florence,” shot back Haspinger, “and without our help they will destroy you. It is no secret that they are your strongest rival here in Italy. The Emperor’s attention right now is elsewhere, but I think I can have him focus on Italy again.”

“And how will you do that?” asked Ariosto trying to gauge if this was a serious proposal or just the wild talk of an unsupervised ambassador. Worse, he was trying to determine if this was also an attempt by the Emperor to try and re-assert his claims in Italy.

“My family is close with the Habsburgs, I am a trusted confidant,” said the ambassador.

“Then why are you ambassador to Florence, and not Venice or France or Castile or Poland or some such important place?”

Haspinger chuckled, “the wine and the women. I prefer the Italian variety on both counts. Simply the best. And Venice is too mercantile for me, I like the Florentine outlook on life much better. You, my friend, do not seem to possess that outlook. Truth be told once I am done with this conversation I am probably going to go back and get drunk with your colleague Signor Tonelli in there. Aside from his pacifism I believe his attitude is much more suitable to my own than yours is.

"But, I figured I could at least get the thought started in your mind. When the time is right, speak to your Gonfaloniere about it. Our two countries signed an alliance years ago. When we did, which seems like a lifetime ago now though it has really only been seven years, I had the opportunity to meet the brilliant Signor Machiavelli when he visited Vienna. We spoke about how easy it would be to crush the Venetians if only Florence and Austria could work together to do it. The time was not right then, and then you had this little mess with the crazy friars, but now, I think it is time. The Venetians are a threat to both of us.”

Ariosto stared down into the Piazza. The carts had just started lurching toward the river, his soldiers marching along on either side of them. The commander looked at the Austrian, “I’ll have to look over some things, speak with General Ulivelli, and if it makes sense, I will bring it up to the Gonfaloniere.”

“Good my friend, good,” said Haspinger breaking into a big smile, “I knew I could trust an old war dog like you.”

The door to the balcony opened. “What are you two conspiring about our here?” It was Ippolito Tonelli. He walked over to the two men. He nodded his head to Haspinger, “Ambassador.” Then he extended his hand to Ariosto, “I heard we will be working together.” Ariosto looked Tonelli over. “Indeed,” he replied shaking his hand.

“Singor Tonelli!” bellowed Haspinger, “that wine you poured for me was divine. Where is it from?”

“Not far from here actually,” replied the Florentine diplomat, “the grapes are grown on the grounds of a Dominican monastery, I thought it would be appropriate given the occasion.”

The Austrian gave a hearty laugh. “Well why don’t you show me where there is more of it,” he said putting his arm around Tonelli. The two walked back into the building.

Ariosto turned and looked back out over the Piazza del Popolo. He reached back and fidgeted with his sword handle. Venice. The republic might not be ready for war quite yet, but the Austrian was right. If they could crush the Venetians, Florence would be the strongest state in Italy.