Girolamo Savonarola was a controversial Dominican friar who became, for short period of time in the late fifteenth-century, a powerful religious and cultural figure within Florentine politics. Born in Ferrara north of Florence, Savanarola became a Domenican friar and ultimately moved to Florence in 1482, where he joined other Domenicans at the Church of San Marco. In He was a fiery preacher and considered himself a prophet and a reformer, railing against church corruption and advocating for the poor. Despite immense initial popularity, his later sermons and political actions angered the Pope and he was ultimately excommunicated and charged with heresy.
On the morning of May 23, 1498, [Savanarola and two other] friars were led out into the main square where, before a tribunal of high clerics and government officials, they were condemned as heretics and schismatics, and sentenced to die forthwith. Stripped of their Dominican garments in ritual degradation, they mounted the scaffold in their thin white shirts. Each on a separate gallows, they were hanged, while a fire was ignited below them to consume their bodies. To prevent devotees from searching for relics, their ashes were carted away and scattered in the Arno.
A plaque in the Piazza della Signoria commemorates the site of Savonarola’s execution. The anonymous painting above is in the Museo di San Marco. Savanarola’s monastic cell, where he lived and studied, are also preserved and is also part of the Museo di San Marco.