Commynes, Philippe de: Friar Jerome Savonarola


From: James Harvey Robinson Readings in European History, The Athenaeum Press, Boston , 1906

I HAD ALMOST forgotten to mention that while I was at Florence, on my way to join the king, I went to pay a visit to a certain Dominican, named Friar Jerome, who, by all reports, was a very holy man, and had lived in a reformed convent fifteen years. There went along with me one Jean Francois, a prudent person, and steward of the king’s household. The occasion of my going to visit Friar Jerome was that he had always preached much in our king’s favor, and his words had served to keep the Florentines from turning against us; for never had any preacher enjoyed so much authority in a city.

In spite of what has been said or written to the contrary, he always affirmed that our king would come into Italy, saying that he was sent by God to chastise the tyranny of princes, and that none would be able to oppose him. He foretold likewise that he would be able to oppose him. He foretold likewise that he would come to Pisa and enter it, and that the state of Florence would be dissolved on that day. And so it fell out; for Piero de’ Medici was driven out that very day.

Many other things he presaged long before, they came to pass, as, for instance, the death of Lorenzo de’ Madici; and he openly declared that he knew it by revelation; as likewise he predicted that the Church would be reformed by the sword. This is not yet accomplished; but it must be said that it very nearly occurred, and he still maintains that it will come to pass. Many persons blamed him for pretending to receive divine revelations, but others believed him ; for my part, I think him a good man.

I asked him whether our king would return safe into France, considering the great preparations that the Venetians were making against him, of which he gave a better account than I could, though I had lately come from Venice. He told me he would overcome them all with honor, though he had but a hundred men in his company; for God, who had conducted him thither, would securely guard him on his way back again.

But because he had not applied himself as he ought to the reformation of the Church, and because he had permitted his soldiers to rob and plunder the poor people, -those who had freely opened their gates to him as well as the enemy who had opposed him,- therefore God had pronounced judgment against him, and in a short time he would receive chastisement.

However, he bade me tell the king that if he would have compassion upon the people, and command his soldiers to do them no wrong, and punish them when they did, as it was his office to do, God would then mitigate, if not revoke, his sentence; but that it would not be sufficient for him to plead that he did the people no wrong himself. And he declared that he would meet the king when he came, and tell him so from his own mouth; and so he did, and pressed hard for the restitution of the Florentine towns.

You may also like...