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The Renaissance was a time of great prosperity in Italy, but some Christians condemned the luxury and vanity of the rich. One such was Girolamo Savonarola (1452-98), who ruled Florence from 1494 to 1498. He inspired the people of Florence to depose the Medici family. Under his influence, the rulers of Florence instituted a stern puritanical regime. He had great bonfires (the 'bonfire of the vanities') built on which people burnt their precious possessions. Personal ornaments, gambling equipment and pictures went up in smoke.

Savonarola's political enemies, including the Medici family, conspired with the Pope, whom he had insulted, to secure his excommunication. He was convicted of heresy and duly executed.

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