Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/685

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then interpreted. Plague and sickness called forth many confraternities, such as the great Misericordia dating from 1244, revived at Florence in 1475; San Rocco at Venice (1415); the Good Men of St Martin (1441) due to Archbishop Antoninus; and the Sodality of the Dolorosa yet existing in Rome (1448). Torquemada in 1460 established in the Minerva dowries for girls,—the Annunziata. Florence towards 1500 had seventy-three municipal associations, and at Rome there were many more, dedicated to religious observances, but likewise to charity. Such was the Brotherhood in the Ripetta established in 1499 by Alexander VI, which had its own hospital and took charge of sailors. Again, trade-gilds of every description flourished, native and even foreign; and these were accustomed to act the miracle-plays called divozioni, which had sprung up in Umbria. The great hospitals, of which there were thirty-five in Florence alone, are the special honour of the fifteenth century. In Rome, the Popes Martin, Eugenius, and Sixtus, the latter of whom rebuilt Santo Spirito, showed them constant favour. Most of the old foundations were kept up, many new ones added. Over the whole of Italy, in the period between 1400 and 1524, fresh hospitals, alms-houses, orphanages, schools, and other institutions of a charitable nature, have been reckoned up to the number of three hundred and twenty-four; but this calculation does not exhaust the list.

From these things it is clear that Savonarola (1452-98), as happens to great men, did no more than sum up in his preaching a world of ideas and aspirations with which his audience,—the early contemporaries of Michelangelo,—were already familiar. Converted to the Order of St Dominic by a sermon which he heard from the lips of an Austin hermit at Faenza (1474); filled with a lofty Platonism learned from Aquinas; sickened by the public depravity, and prescient as his poem De Ruina Mundl shows of coming disasters, he nourished himself on the Bible and the Apocalypse; fasted, prayed, wept, and became a visionary. At Florence, to which he was transferred in 1484, he saw the Brethren of San Marco losing themselves in the pedantries of the old school, and the upper classes of society in the frivolities of the new. His rudeness of speech and violence of gesture told against him in the pulpit at first. He was always sighing for "that peace which reigned in the Church when she was poor." Then at San Gemignano there came to the Friar his large prophetic vision, "the Church will be scourged and renewed, and that in our day." He made no allowance for perspective. He came back, took Florence by storm, and ruled it like a king. His mind grew to be a place of dreams. This was not astonishing in the countryman of Dante and Buonarotti. Italians saw their religion painted and sculptured; for them it lay outside books and filled their eyes. But Florence was before all things a city of political scheming. The papacy aimed at temporal dominion; it was capable, so Machiavelli judged, of becoming the first power in the land. The pulpit was at