Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/223

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detachment from family strife is the tragedy of Savonarola; he fell because he was believed to be Valori's tool. The Florentines perhaps exaggerated the closeness of his intimacy with the party chiefs. In his sermons on Amos and on Ruth he implored his congregation to leave himself and his friars alone, and not to pester them with legislative proposals, with this or that man's candidature,—questions for magistrates and citizens, and not for friars. He repeated that he was no politician, that he had no finger in their government, nor in their foreign relations. Yet in these very sermons he stated that he was accused of constant interference; and the visits of the party leaders to San Marco seemed to support the accusation. His enemies not unnaturally thought that the midnight meetings of Medicean days on the eve of elections had been but transferred from the palace in the Via Larga to the parlour of San Marco. Parenti describes in detail the passage of ValorTs measures from their initiation in San Marco to their consummation in the Council. The biographer Burlamacchi incidentally gives some slight colour to the charge of close intercourse with Valori, writing that Savonarola would not be interrupted in his prayers even when Valori called. The Friar himself protested to the Pope in 1495 that he could not obey the call to Rome because the new government needed his daily care. The pulpit was performing the functions of the modern press; its importance was heightened by the absence of debate in the assembly. If one party used this medium, the other was sure to follow. The pulpit of San Marco became the organ of the Piagnoni, that of Santa Croce the organ of the grandees.

It is not easy to time precisely the flow and ebb of public opinion towards and away from Savonarola. So early as June, 1497, a private letter written to Venice describes the populace as Medicean, the citizens as inclined towards Milan. From the early spring of 1498 the feeling against him had been strong. His preaching while under excommunication had scandalised earnest disciples; the threats of interdict were doubtless a terror to many more. Florence was not prepared for a breach with the visible head of her Church even at the bidding of her prophet. When the end came, the number of avowed supporters was not large; the pronounced Piagnoni whom the government excluded from the Council numbered sixty at the most. The lower classes had long been turning; with them Savonarola's constitution had found no place; they had lost the amusement and sense of importance which an occasional Parlamento provided. The puritanism which replaced the extravagant splendour of Florentine festivities entailed a diminution both of work and pleasure. Many of the poor were of course dependent on the great houses, most of which were opposed to Savonarola. The East end of Florence, the poorest quarter, had long been a Medicean stronghold; sooner or later it must feel the loss of Medicean charities. The great square of Santa Croce, the playground of the poor, missed the fetes