February 7 - 1497 - Savonarola's Bonfire of the Vanities

A bonfire of the vanities was just that, a large fire made up of various things considered to be unserious, inappropriate, or sinful. One of the most famous ones was conducted in Florence in 1497 at the instigation of a Dominican friar named Girolamo Savonarola. Savonarola was essentially the ruler of Florence, although actual power was held by politicans allied to Savonarola. Gaining his fame as a preacher and religious prophet, Savonarola saw his status boosted when French King Charles VIII invaded Italy and seemed to fulfill Savonarola's prophecies. The invasion also saw Piero de Medici, effective leader of the city, banished from Florence and made Pope Alexander VI side against Savonarola. On the other hand, Savonarola decided to keep criticizing the church and root out sin and vice in Florence. His 1497 bonfire of the vanites seemed to take everything too far, and his excommunication and political downfall came shortly thereafter.

William Floyd