But in spite of Savonarola's popularity there was a party called the Bigi (greys) who intrigued secretly in favour of the return of the Medici, while the men of wealth, called the Arrabbiati, although they hated the Medici, were even more openly opposed to the actual regime and desired to set up an aristocratic oligarchy.
Italy, Piero de' Medici, encouraged by the league, enlisted a number of mercenaries and marched on Florence, but the citizens, fired by Savonarola's enthusiasm, flew to arms and prepared for an energetic resistance; owing to Piero's incapacity and the exhaustion of his funds the expedition came to nothing.
All this decreased Savonarola's popularity to some extent, but the enemy having been beaten at Leghorn and the league being apparently on the point of breaking up, the Florentines took courage and the friar's party was once more in the ascendant.
Numerous processions were held, Savonarola's sermons against corruption and vice seemed to have temporarily transformed the citizens, and the carnival of 1497 remained famous for the burning of the "vanities" (i.e.
The Piagnoni were out of power, and a signory of Arrabbiati having been elected in 1498, a mob of Savonarola's opponents attacked the convent of St Mark where he resided, and he himself was arrested and imprisoned.
Capponi did his best to reform the city and save the situation, and while adopting Savonarola's tone in internal affairs, he saw the dangers in the foreign situation, realizing that a reconciliation between the pope and the emperor Charles V.
Carducci made preparations for a siege, but a large part of the people were against him, either from Medicean sympathies or fear, although the Frateschi, as the believers in Savonarola's views were called, supported him strongly.
Degli Scelti was summoned, and a constitution similar to that of Savonarola's time was established.
Savonarola's first success as a preacher was gained at St Gemignano (1484-1485), but it was only at Brescia in the following year that his power as an orator was fully revealed.
Savonarola's sole aim was to bring mankind nearer to God.
Savonarola's influence now rapidly increased.
The same year witnessed the fulfilment of Savonarola's second prediction in the death of Innocent VIII.
Assassins were sent to kill him in his cell; but awed, it is said, by Savonarola's words and demeanour they fled dismayed from his presence.
But even at this crisis Savonarola's influence was all-powerful, and a bloodless revolution was effected.
The monarch was cowed, accepted moderate terms, and, yielding to Savonarola's remonstrances, left Florence on the 24th of November.
And, after much debate, as to the constitution of the new republic, Savonarola's influence carried the day in favour of Soderini's proposal of a universal or general government, with a great council on the Venetian plan.
Savonarola's programme of the new government was comprised in the following formula: - (r) fear of God and purification of manners; (2) promotion of the public welfare in preference to private interests; (3) a general amnesty to political offenders; (4) a council on the Venetian model, but with no doge.
The laws and edicts of this period read like paraphrases of Savonarola's sermons, and indeed his counsels were always given as addenda to the religious exhortations in which he denounced the sins of his country and the pollution of the church, and urged Florence to cast off iniquity and become a truly Christian city, a pattern not only to Rome but to the world at large.
Their fervour was too hot to be lasting, and Savonarola's uncompromising spirit roused the hatred of political adversaries as well as of the degraded court of Rome.
Still more wonderful was Savonarola's influence over children, and their response to his appeals is a proof of the magnetic power of his goodness and purity.
Had long regretted the enfranchisement of St Mark's from the rule of the Lombard Dominicans, and now, having seen a transcript of one of Savonarola's denunciations of his crimes, resolved to silence this daring preacher.
All Italy recognized that Savonarola's voice was arousing a storm that might shake even the power of Rome.
But in July Savonarola's friends were again in power and did their best to have his excommunication removed.
But menacing briefs poured in from Rome; the pope had read one of Savonarola's recent sermons on Exodus; the city itself was threatened with interdict, and the Florentine ambassador could barely obtain a short delay.
Aided by the signory, which was playing into the hands of Rome, the Arrabbiati and Compagnacci pressed the matter on, and the way was now clear for Savonarola's destruction.
Have perhaps saved Savonarola's life, Charles of France, had died on the day of the ordeal by fire.
Savonarola's judges were chosen from his bitterest foes.
Though physically unable to resist torture, Savonarola's clearness of mind returned whenever he was at peace in his cell.
No extremity of torture could make him recant or extract a syllable to Savonarola's hurt; he steadfastly repeated his belief in the divinity of the prior's mission.
During their forty days of confinement and torture each one had been told that the others had recanted, and the false report of Savonarola's confession had been shown to the two monks.
Savonarola's party was apparently annihilated by his death, but, when in 1529-1530 Florence was exposed to the horrors predicted by him, the most heroic defenders of his beloved if ungrateful city were Piagnoni who ruled their lives by his precepts and revered his memory as that of a saint.
Savonarola's writings may be classed in three categories: - (I) numerous sermons, collected mainly by Lorenzo Violi, one of his most enthusiastic hearers; (2) an immense number of devotional and moral essays and some theological works, of which Il Trionfo della Croce is the chief; (3) a few short poems and a political treatise on the government of Florence.
Twenty years after Savonarola's death Martin Luther made public his theses against indulgences.