Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/188

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congregation. His flights of eloquence were varied by homely dialogues with G-od or angels, with imaginary enemies or timid friends. Above all he knew his Bible by heart, and next only to this Aquinas. From the Bible he always took his start, and to it he ever led his hearers back. This it is which gives the peculiar tone to the religion of the Piagnoni, which carries the reader from the benches of San Marco to the Galloway hillside.

The residuum of old-fashioned simplicity in Florence favoured his desire to simplify not only private, but religious life. The fifteenth century was everywhere marked by magnificence in ecclesiastical externals, in vestments and jewels, in banner, pyx and crucifix, in chapels built or restored by private families, with portraits frescoed and arms embossed upon their walls. Church music had been elaborated; the organist had become a personage, and might aspire to be a knight; weary men repaired to the Cathedral, not to worship, but to be soothed by the music of Orcagna, the greatest executant of his day. Against these jewels and broad phylacteries, against the monuments of family pride, against the substitution of sound for praise, Savonarola repeatedly inveighed. One of his few humorous passages describes the solo-singer with a voice like a calf, while the choir howled round him like little dogs, none understanding what they meant. His readers can still picture the abuses of society at church, the rows of gallants lining the nave, the ladies in their lowest and longest gowns filing between them, lending ear to unseemly jests and doubtful compliments. Savonarola would have none of this; in church or in street processions he kept the sexes separate.

After Lorenzo's death Savonarola's sermons became more outspoken. They were not as yet political, but two constant features might easily assume a political complexion-the one the invectives against the Church, the other the prophecy of immediate doom. The two were in close connexion. Not only the Neapolitan exiles but Alexander VTs enemy, the Cardinal della Rovere, had taken refuge in France; the French invasion therefore was aimed not only at the King of Naples, but also at the Pope, whose simoniacal election and scandalous life added fuel to the fire of Savonarola's diatribe. For Charles VIII Naples should be the stepping-stone to the recovery of Jerusalem. So too Savonarola had fondly dreamed that the reform of the Tuscan Congregation should be the pathway to the possession of the Holy Sepulchre. The objects of the French invader and the Dominican reformer seemed identical, their enemies the same.

Within Florence, too, the threatened invasion might well give a political bearing to Savonarola's utterances. Piero, deserting the traditions of his house, had abandoned the Milanese alliance, the keystone of its policy; he had flouted the friendship of France, the Guelfic ally of centuries; under Orsini influence he had flung himself into the arms of