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Girolamo Savonarola ( 1452 - 1498 )

 
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dai



Joined: 09 Feb 2007
Posts: 2636

PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:23 pm    Post subject: Girolamo Savonarola ( 1452 - 1498 ) Reply with quote

It might seem a little odd to be thinking about Savonarola, but I've been re-reading a book on Machiavelli recently and pondering what the impact of Savonarola had on him. Briefly, the Medici were overthrown after the French invaded and the opportunity arose to restore the Republic of Florence and Savonarola and his companions emerged as the leaders, probably because in the mess left behind the church was the only organised sort of government available. Savonarola set about attacking the Medici and the Papacy and denounced the lush life of the citizens as the cause of the moral degradation that God had punished them for. What followed was a full-on Christian Republic complete with all the sorts of intolerance that we later associate with the Reformation in a strange sort of mixture that has since appealed to both Protestants and Catholics - and Communists ! The whole thing came crashing down in four years and a more secular republican government followed that had Machiavelli in it. When Machiavelli wrote about religion however he did not condemn it but praised it for its beneficial aspects whilst cautioning people as to its defects. Surely Machiavelli's experience under Savonarola coloured his point of view, especially after the Medici seized power again and destroyed the republic that he served : 'The Prince' is a paean to the idea that Florence will be delivered by a saviour, albeit not a christian one but one perhaps even more ruthless than Savonarola.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girolamo_Savonarola

http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/lecture5a.html

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=savonarola&hl=en&safe=active&prmd=b&tbs=tl:1&tbo=u&ei=ndzzTO_UFoGLhQff9PD7Cw&sa=X&oi=timeline_result&ct=title&resnum=11&ved=0CE8Q5wIwCg

The following is from a PDF whose address I cannot extract at the moment

New Light on the Savonarola-Machiavelli Controversy: Philosophy,
Simplicity and Popular Government
Lecture held on 15 October 2008 for the Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University,
at Blackfriars, Oxford
Grahame Lock (The Queen’s College, Oxford and Radboud University Nijmegen)
and Francesco Maiolo (University College Utrecht)


“Machiavelli’s thought can ... be related to Savonarolan tradition, and at this point the notion of
civic virtue takes on added depths of meaning. It ... was the end of man to be a political animal [an
Aristotelian and Thomistic idea]; the polity was the form in which human matter developed its
proper virtue, and it was the function of virtue to impose form on the matter of fortuna. The
republic or polity was in yet another sense a structure of virtue: it was a structure in which every
citizen’s ability to place the common good before his own was the precondition of every other’s, so
that every man’s virtue saved every other’s from that corruption, part of whose time-dimension was
fortuna. The republic was therefore a structure whose organizing principle was something far more
complex and positive than custom.”1
It is indeed true that the republic and republicanism were central to the thought of both Savonarola
and Machiavelli,
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dai



Joined: 09 Feb 2007
Posts: 2636

PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a bowdlerised Book of The Week - Episode 1 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08k1stv - and in Episode 3 the reign of Savanorola is depicted and its likely effect on Machiavelli

" Be Like The Fox " [ Be Like the Fox : Machiavelli's Lifelong Quest for Freedom - Eric Benner ]

A new interpretation on the importance of The Prince in Machiavelli's life and subsequent reputation.

His name has of course become a by-word for political machination, but this new biography by Erica Benner challenges the notions that Machiavelli was simply a satanic cynic.

She suggests that, in context, he emerges as his era's staunchest champion of liberty who refused to compromise his ideals to fit the corrupt times in which he lived. As often as he advocates extreme measures for dealing with the enemy, he actually balances this with respect for the law in sentences such as "victories are never secure without some respect, especially for justice" and "cities have never expanded either in dominion or in riches if they have not been in freedom."

So this book is an attempt to redress the balance.

Read by Toby Jones
Written by Erica Benner
Abridged by Polly Coles

Producer: Clive Brill
A Brill production for BBC Radio 4.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Be-Like-Fox-Machiavellis-Lifelong/1846147077

remarkable true story that reveals Machiavelli’s mind and character
By N. Peterson 26 March 2017

Most biographies of Machiavelli say he wasn’t Machiavellian, he was a nice guy, and he preferred republics to princes, except for a short flirtation with Florence’s Medici when he was desperate for a job. Though I didn’t expect much more from this one, I was pleasantly surprised, over and over.

The book is written in the present tense, which makes the events and characters seem alive and makes it easy to see continuities between their problems and politics today. It also means the author can present a lot of direct quotes from Machiavelli by having him comment on events, or in engage in dialogue with other characters. This makes for a fantastically vivid read. Sometimes it feels more like reading a novel or watching a drama than reading history, even though it’s all based on original sources that Benner knows well. She sets out Machiavelli’s ideas without lecturing readers, which it turns out is very much in true Machiavellian spirit. There’s a chapter on his maxim “take nothing on authority”. In The Prince he says that the best kinds of brains are those that understand for themselves.

By giving us Machiavelli in his own words, the book quietly explodes the stereotype of a pragmatist who didn’t care about justice, or who thought the ends justify the means. One of Benner’s main points is that when Machiavelli seems to flatter princes in The Prince, he’s really being ironic. He was never a supporter of princes but a “lifelong” lover of free republics. Benner doesn’t claim to be saying something new here. It’s a very old way of reading Machiavelli that goes back to Rousseau, who called The Prince the book of republicans. Today we find it hard to understand what Rousseau meant by this. After reading this book, it’s easier to see The Prince as “a masterwork of dissimulation” and its author as a foxy critic of autocrats and self-interested populists.
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