Bell on trial: The struggle for sound after Savonarola

Daniel M. Zolli, Christopher Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In June 1498, the Florentine government publicly punished and exiled the Piagnona, the lone bell of the church of San Marco, for its role in defending Girolamo Savonarola during the April siege that led to the preacher’s execution. Drawing on new evidence, this essay offers the most complete account of this still poorly understood chapter in Renaissance history, examining its complex and conflicting motives. At the same time, the punishment of the Piagnona, and struggle for its return, affords uncommon insight into the culture’s deepest structures of thinking about what bells were, and who had the legal authority to adjudicate their fate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-96
Number of pages43
JournalRenaissance Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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