Savonarola: The Rise and Fall of a Renaissance Prophet

Savonarola: The Rise and Fall of a Renaissance Prophet

by Donald Weinstein
     
 

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Girolamo Savonarola, the fifteenth-century doom-saying friar, embraced the revolution of the Florentine republic and prophesied that it would become the center of a New Age of Christian renewal and world domination. This new biography, the culmination of many decades of study, presents an original interpretation of Savonarola's prophetic career and a highly nuanced

Overview

Girolamo Savonarola, the fifteenth-century doom-saying friar, embraced the revolution of the Florentine republic and prophesied that it would become the center of a New Age of Christian renewal and world domination. This new biography, the culmination of many decades of study, presents an original interpretation of Savonarola's prophetic career and a highly nuanced assessment of his vision and motivations.

Weinstein sorts out the multiple strands that connect Savonarola to his time and place, following him from his youthful rejection of a world he regarded as corrupt, to his engagement with that world to save it from itself, to his shattering confession—an admission that he had invented his prophesies and faked his visions. Was his confession sincere? A forgery circulated by his inquisitors? Or an attempt to escape bone-breaking torture? Weinstein offers a highly innovative analysis of the testimony to provide the first truly satisfying account of Savonarola and his fate as a failed prophet.

Editorial Reviews

Literary Review
…this new biography represents the definitive English-language account of its subject. It offers the kind of exhaustive yet balanced assessment of the controversial friar’s life that can only be produced by an expert writing at the culmination of his academic career.—Jerry Brotton, Literary Review

— Jerry Brotton

The Tablet
Weinstein presents a reasoned and fair view of his subject as friar, preacher, prophet and politician.—Grahame Lock, The Tablet
— Grahame Lock
The Scotsman
Weinstein’s scrupulously researched finely balanced life is both a complex portrait of a fascinating figure and of a uniquely and creative time.” –Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman

— Michael Kerrigan

Los Angeles Book Festival

Won Honorable Mention for the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival in the Biography/Autobiography category

— Biography/Autobiography Honorable Mention

Choice
An excellent narrative study, very well written and judicious. . . . Highly recommended.—P. Grendler, Choice

— P. Grendler

Lapham's Quarterly - Anthony Grafton

“[A] luminous and learned biography . . . subtle, cogent . . . immensely compelling.”—Anthony Grafton, Lapham’s Quarterly

Lorenzo Polizzotto

“A masterpiece of the genre. Donald Weinstein has succeeded in presenting a wholly coherent, finely balanced and deeply moving analysis of Savonarola, the man, the preacher, the reformer and the political leader. Weinstein's understanding and presentation of the complex political, social and religious contexts in which Savonarola operated are outstanding and unmatched by any other biographer.”—Lorenzo Polizzotto, The University of Western Australia

Alison Brown

"Eminently readable, neither hagiographical nor overcritical, the biography, which will surely become the definitive account of this Renaissance prophet, leads us through the drama of Savonarola's life, allowing the man himself to emerge from generously-quoted sermons, letters and chronicles, as well as from the author's own deeply-researched and judicious narrative."—Alison Brown, author of The Return of Lucretius to Renaissance Florence

Kate Lowe

“The genius of Renaissance history lies in its capacity to remain forever contemporary. Donald Weinstein's smooth biography brilliantly reveals Savonarola as a man for our unstable and risk-riven times, dangerously mixing charismatic leadership, governance and fundamentalist religion.”—Kate Lowe, Queen Mary University of London

Gene Brucker

“Since his early research some forty years ago in the history of Renaissance Florence, Donald Weinstein has concentrated on that city’s religious life. His new biography of Girolamo Savonarola is a testimonial to his vast erudition, and to his penetrating insights into that complex world. Weinstein focuses on the Dominican friar’s role as a prophet, and his vision of Florence as the new Jerusalem. This dramatic account of the rise and fall of a major historical figure is an important contribution to the history of Florence during one of its most traumatic phases.”—Gene Brucker, Professor Emeritus, University of California Berkeley

Literary Review - Jerry Brotton

“…this new biography represents the definitive English-language account of its subject. It offers the kind of exhaustive yet balanced assessment of the controversial friar’s life that can only be produced by an expert writing at the culmination of his academic career.”—Jerry Brotton, Literary Review

The Tablet - Grahame Lock

“Weinstein presents a reasoned and fair view of his subject as friar, preacher, prophet and politician.”—Grahame Lock, The Tablet

The Scotsman - Michael Kerrigan

“Weinstein’s scrupulously researched finely balanced life is both a complex portrait of a fascinating figure and of a uniquely and creative time.” –Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman

Los Angeles Book Festival - Biography/Autobiography Honorable Mention

Won Honorable Mention for the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival in the Biography/Autobiography category

Choice - P. Grendler

“An excellent narrative study, very well written and judicious. . . . Highly recommended.”—P. Grendler, Choice

Stefano Dall'Aglio

“This impeccable book is the culmination of Donald Weinstein’s lifelong study of the Italian Renaissance and is a must-read for anyone interested in Savonarola. With customary learning, insight and lucid prose, Weinstein provides an exceptionally vivid portrait of one of the most controversial and fascinating figures of early modern Italy.”—Stefano Dall’Aglio, University of Leeds

Three Pipe Problem - Hasan Niyazi

“Commendable . . . eloquently written and universally approachable . . . appealing to both general and specialist readers alike.”—Hasan Niyazi, Three Pipe Problem 

First Things

“Excellent . . . a nuanced and engaging study of a man too often caricatured . . . [a] fine piece of scholarship.”—Ryan Sayre Patrico, First Things

Catholic Historical Review - John M. Najemy

“A moving and magisterial biography . . . a powerful narrative . . . [a] splendid book . . . at once empathetic and discerning.”—John M. Najemy, Catholic Historical Review

Sixteenth Century Journal - Alessio Assonitis

"David Weinstein's elegantly written Savonarola is a perfect culmination—and, at the same time, continuum—to this wave....With remarkable skill, he constructs a historical narrative gracefully punctuated by the more poignant passages from Savonarola's sermons and treatises, a vast territory, which he has charted like few others...[P]resents an impeccable account of Savonarola as a prophet and political leader, and merits a prominent place in the library of every dedicated scholar of Renaissance Italy."—Alessio Assonitis, Sixteenth Century Journal

America - Robert E. Scully

“Insightful . . . a balanced and often intriguing portrait of a gifted but troubled soul.” —Robert E. Scully, S.J., America

New York Times - William Grimes

“A definitive account of Savonarola and his times.”—William Grimes, New York Times

Library Journal
On May 23, 1498, in the Florence of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and the Medici, a paroxysmal apocalyptic drama that had unfolded over the previous eight years came to a fiery conclusion. From the fall of the Medici family to his own eventual martyrdom, Girolamo Savonarola combined a millenarian message of "last days" and a stringent campaign against moral laxity with a populist-styled republicanism. As Weinstein (professor emeritus, Univ. of Arizona; The Captain's Concubine: Love, Honor, and Violence in Renaissance Tuscany) ably shows in his superb account of the meteoric rise of the "Renaissance prophet" and his striking fall, Savonarola was a moral crusader dedicated to transforming Florence into the "New Jerusalem." His criticisms of the medieval church foreshadowed the reformation of Luther and Calvin. VERDICT The sum total of a career's work, Weinstein's account provides readers interested in Renaissance Italy with an elegant synthesis of the great Dominican's life that neither deviates from its subject nor descends into hagiography. Recommended; readers who enjoy this work may also appreciate Miles Unger's recent Machiavelli: A Biography.—Brian Odom, Pelham P.L., AL

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300178487
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
11/22/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Donald Weinstein is professor emeritus, University of Arizona. He is the author of several books on Italian history and is a world authority on Savonarola and the Italian Renaissance. He lives in Sonoita, AZ.

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