May 23 in History


Staff member
Jun 3, 2003
May 23 1498

Religious fundamentalist Girolamo Savonarola is executed in Florence, Italy for his many heresies. The Catholic Church had already excommunicated the Dominican friar the year before, but Savonarola continued to preach for radical reforms. Among other things, he held "bonfires of the vanities" for his parishioners' worldly possessions, because they competed with the word of God for attention. Brother Savonarola is hanged along with two accomplices and their bodies burned.

May 23 1618

In what is later called the "Defenestration of Prague," three men representing the soon-to-be Emperor Ferdinand II are thrown from a window in the Hradshin Palace by Protestant noblemen. Luckily for the imperial emissaries, they land on a large pile of trash and survive. But when the Catholic Ferdinand assumes the throne the following year, all hell breaks loose in Europe, starting with Bohemia. Thus begins the horrific religious conflict that comes to be known as the Thirty Years War. It is generally agreed that the war set back the continent a full century.