BORGIAS AND SAVONAROLA 239
of a sacred institution placed in desecrated hands enacted so powerfully as in the conflict between him and Savonarola, the great martyr of the Renaissance.
The sermons of Savonarola burst upon a Florence prostituted by power and prodigality, art and beauty, just as a storm might swoop down upon a fair. One cannot believe that this reddish blond son of Ferrara, whose soft eyes blended with the threatening daring of his face, was minus a trace of German blood. A whole generation prior to the religious catastrophe which was to overwhelm Germany, he sought to find a way between the Scylla of Rome and the Charybdis of anti-Rome. He was shipwrecked upon the rock that was sacred to him. He dwelt in the world of the prophets of the Old Testa- ment; and himself was of their tribe, a prophet to the marrow. In other words, he felt himself driven to proclaim to the whole world, in the presence also of the Roman throne placed above that world, the forgotten and betrayed "things of God." Regardless of what might come, he the mysteriously commissioned priest, gifted with mystical insight into the past and the future of historical development, was ready to meet and endure whatever might be exacted of him in behalf of those divine concerns which filled and stirred his soul.
To this day his enemies hurl at this fanatic (but fanwn means "holy ground") the rebuke that a monk should have meditated in his narrow cell at San Marco over learned parchments or knelt on a prie-dieu in Florence to worship God's councils and ordinances, instead of throwing himself headlong into the business of the great world. He had burned the vanities on the Place of the Seigniories, had inaugu- rated a sombre theocratic rule in Florence after France had overthrown the Medici, and had attacked the Pope for his vices as well as refused to obey him. Only poltroons or the corrupt will deny to a prophet the right to say what he must say. Nothing is more natural than that a religious man should take an interest in political trends which seek to bring about the death of religion* But just these did Savona- rola see in progress before his eyes. To him religion was not a mere magical business; but it was often just that to his contemporaries, even in the chambers of the Vatican. He demanded pure hearts and good deeds men able to stand in the presence of God. He lived and died for the sovereignty of the whole inviolate law of Christ the King.