The trials of Savonarola begin. First he is put on trial by the Signoria of Florence for his political interference. Then he is put on trial by the Pope for his religious accusations and claims of prophecy. This being Catholic Italy, part of the trial involves torture – the strappado. Under torture Savonarola confesses to making everything up and being a big old fake.
With Charles out of the picture, Piero de Medici figures it’s time for him to return to Florence. He marched into Tuscany with a force of four hundred lancers, light cavalry, and foot soldiers. Unfortunately, nobody shows up to welcome him and he goes back into exile. But his attempt at a return sets off a series of political assassinations in Florence, supported by Savonarola. Civil tensions increase until a Franciscan friar challenges Savonarola to trial by fire. When this doesn’t work out as planned, the people are furious and Savonarola gets thrown into prison.
Yes, we’re still talking about Savonarola! Deal with it! On this episode, Savonarola refuses the Pope’s summons to go to Rome and to stop preaching. He uses the ol’ Bill Clinton defence. During some of his downtime, one of his colleagues offers to go through a trial by fire to prove how much God loves Savonarola. And when he returns to preaching, Savonarola demands for blood to be spilled by anyone who criticises “his” signoria and decides to build the Hitler Youth to force Florence into being good little Christians. But then the Holy Roman Emperor sets sail for Italy with an armada to kick out the French and Florence yet again needs to choose a side – Savonarola or the Pope?
By early 1495, Savonarola managed to get control of the Great Council of Florence and has his reforms passed. He may not be gonfaloniere, but he is a political force. He soon gets one of his own followers elected gonfaloniere and then has complete control over the city. Then he started arguing to shut down more fun things. Sodomy, dancing, poetry, prostitution, blasphemy – he’s the anti-Lorenzo. Meanwhile King Charles of France and the Pope go to war and Florence is forced to choose between the King, who Savonarola has said is the agent of God, and the Pope. When they choose the King, Savonarola ends up on the Pope’s naughty list – and his future suddenly looks dim.
With the Medici and the French both gone from Florence, Savonarola tries to influence the new Signoria to pass significant reforms – but they ignore him. Then another enemy appears – this time, a religious rival. Feeling like he wasn’t appreciated, Savonarola eventually spat the dummy and said he wanted to leave Florence once and for all. Meanwhile, on November 17, the day Charles VIII and his troops entered Florence, Pico della Mirandola died at the age of thirty-two – only two months after his friend and possibly lover, Poliziano, who died aged only 40. They were poisoned – possibly on the orders of the exiled Piero de Medici.