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- "You should be cleansing your homes. Cleansing your SELVES! There are bonfires to feed! Prayers to be said! Penance to be done!"
- ―Savonarola ordering Florentine citizens to return to their medieval lifestyles.[src]
The Bonfire of the Vanities was a political movement in Florence during the years 1497 and 1498 in which Girolamo Savonarola, an Italian priest of the Dominican Order, preached for Florentine civilians to return to medieval lifestyles.
Ascension to power
- "It's not the city he's enthralled, but its leaders: men possessed of influence and power. They, in turn, oppress the citizens and ensure his will is done."
- ―Niccolò Machiavelli discussing Savonarola's new system of power.[src]
Ezio met with Niccolò Machiavelli on one of the Arno bridges, and Machiavelli confirmed that Savonarola had taken control of Florence with the aid of the Apple of Eden. Eager to reclaim the Apple, Ezio declared that they should work on retrieving it, though Machiavelli rebuked him. Machiavelli then explained that Savonarola's control began to take shape a few weeks prior, when the once reviled man became one that people "worshiped".
However, Machiavelli revealed that this was only part of Savonarola's tyranny, as Savonarola had taken control of city leaders who held influence over Florence's districts. These leaders in turn oppressed the people and ensured Savonarola's will was done.
Assassination of Savonarola's lieutenants
- "If we can silence his lieutenants and stir up discontent, he will be distracted and I will have a chance to strike."
- ―Ezio explaining his plan to assassinate Savonarola's lieutenants.[src]
Ezio and Machiavelli passed into the Oltrarno District of the city and discovered the bodies of a contingent of soldiers bearing the emblem of the Borgia, indicating that Rodrigo Borgia was also aware Savonarola held the Apple.
Learning that the Apple only held sway over the minds of Savonarola's nine lieutenants, with most of the city's populace simply controlled by fear, Ezio elected to assassinate the nine men, whilst La Volpe and Paola helped incite the districts and the people.
- "My own self-doubt let him hold me as he did. I am sorry."
- ―The Painter's final words to Ezio.[src]
The first of Savonarola's lieutenants that Ezio targeted was the Painter, who led a burning of piles of artwork behind the Palazzo Pitti. Unaware of Ezio's presence, the man spoke of how, when he first became a painter, he thought he would become closer to God. However, the Painter went on to say that he found he was only deceived by Satan.
As he told the crowd to burn all their artwork, Ezio abruptly assassinated him with his Hidden Blade. With his last words, the Painter apologized to Ezio and claimed that his actions were not his own. Despite being pursued by guards, Ezio escaped and La Volpe and Paola led the crowd away from the fires.
- "Not all of us required deception to be convinced. I already believe. All I said is true."
- ―The Preacher confessing his belief in Savonarola's cause.[src]
The second lieutenant Ezio hunted was the Preacher, whom he located outside Santo Spirito, surrounded by guards and addressing a crowd in front of the church. The preacher lectured that everyone need repent or they would go to Hell. Ezio was able to close in on the preacher and assassinate him; as the man died, he claimed that he was not deceived by the Apple of Eden, and that his actions were his own.
- Ezio: "You wear a noble's clothes. How is it Savonarola charmed you?"
- Condottiero: "Wealth and power do not ensure contentment. I wanted even more..."
- ―The Condottiero explaining his desire for control.[src]
The third lieutenant was the Condottiero, who guarded and monitored passage across the Ponte Vecchio. He spoke of Savonarola's cause to the people below and said he wanted to lead them into a new future, and that resistance was futile.
However, Ezio was able to navigate past the guards and eventually assassinate the Condottiero. Ezio questioned the dying Condottiero about how Savonarola was able to charm him, and the Condottiero admitted he wanted wealth and power far beyond what he currently possessed.
- "We'll see just how tough the holdouts are when they're forced to go without food. If they want to eat, they'll accept Savonarola as their leader."
- ―The Merchant describing his plan to starve those who oppose Savonarola.[src]
The fourth lieutenant was a Merchant, who Ezio found on a boat in the Arno river. The merchant had his guards load food supplies onto the ship, withholding it from the people in the hope that they would submit to Savonarola.
Ezio was able to sneak aboard the ship and evade the guards before reaching the merchant and assassinating him. With his dying words, the merchant showed regret, but admitted he believed people must be told what to think sometimes.
- "Your orders are simple - keep watch over these fields and ensure no harm comes to the bundles of fieno (hay). It may seem a mundane task, but it's critical nonetheless!"
- ―The Farmer's orders to his men.[src]
The fifth lieutenant was a Farmer in Florence's countryside. The Farmer ordered his men to protect the hay and continued to patrol the area with other guards. As he walked, the farmer spoke of how he withheld other farmers' provisions for their livestock, thereby cutting their source of income and Florence's food supply to force them to submit to Savonarola.
Using the hay bundles to his advantage and remaining hidden, Ezio was able to assassinate the farmer. Ezio interrogated him about his actions, and the Farmer admitted he withheld provisions to gain respect from the people, asserting that something taken for granted can be of critical importance.
- Nobleman: "I was a victim! It's not my fault!"
- Ezio: "No. You made a choice."
- Nobleman: "He charmed me. With that... thing..."
- —Ezio talking to the Nobleman before the latter's death.[src]
The sixth lieutenant was a Nobleman, who Ezio located on top of the Mercato Vecchio. Upon seeing Ezio, the Nobleman fled towards Savonarola, shouting that Florence must be cured and claiming that Ezio would not interfere.
Ezio pursued the nobleman over the rooftops and quickly assassinated him. As he died, the Nobleman stated that he was "charmed" by the Apple, though Ezio explained that he killed him regardless, for the people's benefit.
- "I led my flock astray... It's just... I wanted so badly to believe..."
- ―The Priest confessing his failure.[src]
The seventh lieutenant was a Priest praying atop the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. As the priest preached to the people in favor of Savonarola and his cause, Ezio silently climbed the church, dispatching the guards he encountered.
Reaching the top, Ezio stabbed the priest with his Hidden Blade. As he died, the priest admitted he accepted the illusion, wanting to believe in God so desperately.
The Guard Captain
- "Or was it that I tasted power and found myself intoxicated? I wish I had been strong."
- ―The Guard Captain speaking to Ezio[src]
Eventually, Ezio was able to locate the Guard Captain at the Basilica di San Lorenzo. Arriving in the courtyard and noticing no civilians around, the Guard Captain showed himself from the scaffolding above.
Calling out to Ezio, he revealed that he had devised a trap. Ezio was promptly surrounded by dozens of guards and archers; however he was able to fight them off, climb the building, and assassinate the Guard Captain. As he died, the Captain claimed he was disgusted by his actions, and wished he had been stronger.
- Doctor: "You have spilled the blood of a healer."
- Ezio: "No. I have spilled the blood of a tyrant."
- Doctor: "To command such power over the body, between this world and the next. It seems, I grew intoxicated."
- —The Doctor to Ezio prior to the former's death.[src]
The last of Savonarola's lieutenants was the Doctor, who was found in the Ospedale degli Innocenti. He was protected by several guards and offered free medical care to those who swore allegiance to Savonarola.
Infiltrating the courtyard, Ezio avoided the guards' gaze and assassinated the Doctor. Before dying, the Doctor admitted to Ezio that he had been intoxicated by power.
- "We don't need anyone to tell us what to do; not Savonarola, not the Medici. We are free to follow our own path. There are those who will take that freedom from us, and too many of you gladly give it... Choose your own way! Do not follow me, or anyone else."
- ―Ezio's speech to the crowd at the Palazzo della Signoria.[src]
The citizens, rallied by Niccolò Machiavelli, La Volpe and Paola, massed in front of the Palazzo Pitti to confront Savonarola.
Emerging from the Palazzo, Savonarola demanded to know why the mob had gathered and were not "cleansing themselves". Weakened by the loss of his lieutenants, Savonarola attempted to using the Apple's power to subdue the crowd. However, he was stopped as Ezio threw a knife and injured his hand. As soon as the Apple fell from Savonarola's grip, the crowd carried him away.
Picking up the Apple, a Borgia guard attempted to flee with the artifact, but was subdued after a lengthy chase by Ezio. Ezio then headed to the Palazzo della Signoria, where the crowd, now freed from the control of the Apple, were burning Savonarola at the stake.
Making his way through the crowd, Ezio lunged at Savonarola and assassinated the tyrannical monk with his Hidden Blade, sparing him from a slow and painful demise. With Savonarola finally dead, Ezio made a speech to the crowd, telling them that they were free to make their own choices, and directed them to choose their own path.
With Apple in the Assassins' possession and Savonarola's tyranny ended, the people of Florence could fully embrace the Renaissance movement. Following Savonarola's demise, the city politics remained in a state of disarray for several years, before Piero Soderini became Florence's effective ruler in 1502. The House of Medici would be restored in 1512. The Assassins also retrieved the last pages of the Codex, which they would eventually assemble on the Codex Wall to locate the Vault and confront the Templar Grand Master, Rodrigo Borgia.