|Synopsis:||In the sunset years of the fifteenth century, Lorenzo de’ Medici, the humanist ruler of the Republic of Florence, is presiding over the most glorious years of Renaissance Italy. A scholar, philosopher, and poet himself, brought up in the tradition of the Greek Academy, he has spent his life determined to make Florence a “new Athens”. Though he keeps close watch over Medici interests, he nevertheless champions both philosophical debate and artistic freedom and offers refuge to painters, sculptors, scholars, heretics, homosexuals and others, whose beliefs or lifestyles are at odds with societal norms elsewhere. With the painter Botticelli as one of his closest friends and the nascent sculptor Michelangelo as his newly adopted son, Lorenzo gives no mere lip service to his beliefs, but acts to make them a reality. |
Yet his progressive views have brought him a great enemy: the fundamentalist monk Girolamo Savonarola. Claiming to have the gift of prophecy, Savonarola begins a crusade against what he views as the decadence of the era and against the man and the place that he deems most emblematic of it all: Lorenzo de’ Medici and his Florence. Preaching damnation to all who disagree with his views, Savonarola tries to take advantage of the city’s vaunted openness to destroy Lorenzo, the very man who has allowed Savonarola freedom of speech. A charismatic preacher, Savonarola soon holds the people in thrall, eventually including even some of the artists and scholars whom Lorenzo has sheltered. A titanic struggle is on, pitting Lorenzo’s humanist principles against Savonarola’s rigid theology—and Savonarola seems to be winning. A parable for our times, "The Lion’s Share" examines the importance of art to the human condition and how the tolerance of intolerance can destroy even the mightiest of societies. Based on a true story.