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Master Francesco known as “the executioner of Florence” was a famous executioner who worked in Florence during the Renaissance. Although the name “executioner” was generally associated with a feared and often hated figure, Master Francesco was known to be a respected and trusted figure within the city. Mastro Francesco is most famous for having carried out some of the most important executions throughout Florentine history, including some of the death sentences of famous historical figures. One of the most famous executions was that of the preacher and friar Domenico da Pescia in 1498, together with Girolamo Savonarola and his followers. Master Francesco carried out the order to hang Domenico da Pescia together with Savonarola and his fellow friars. This execution is also famous for the fact that Master Francesco offered a final confession to Domenico da Pescia before carrying out the sentence. but the story does not end here, because a few months after having strangled Savonarola and his brothers with their own hands, Savonarola’s followers wanted revenge.

Propitious location occurred five years later on May 29, 1503 when at the Pratello della Giuzzia where the Lungarno della Zecca is now located. In this place Master Francesco is about to carry out the death sentence of a 20 year old flag bearer who, out of envy, killed one of his fellow flag bearers. on this occasion a large crowd of citizens had gathered at the Pratello, but on this occasion the Executioner Francesco missed the first blow of the ax and did not decapitate the young flag bearer, and therefore had to give more blows to decapitate him. The people, horrified by the brutal execution and the torment of the young flag bearer who was very well liked, rebelled and began throwing stones at Francesco the executioner. When Francesco was killed on the lawn of justice, so without sacraments and miserably he ended his life. the citizen did this probably also for revenge because he killed the Savonarola ad his brothers, some revenge against the executioner. After the body massacred by the stone throwing of the citizens of Florence, will be taken by the boys of Florence and dragged through the streets of the city, and abandoned in the square of Santa Croce. And he will not even have the possibility of being buried in a consecrated place, which is in accordance with the customs of the time, which is normal for the executioners, because the executioners were buried in the bell tower of the church of Sant Ambrogio where the ropes for the bells were placed. The figure of Master Francesco demonstrates how, in certain historical contexts, the executioner could be a relatively respected figure and play an important role within the community. Mastro Francesco became a sort of “minister of justice” in Florence during the Renaissance, although his main role was to carry out capital sentences.

If you want to know more about this kind of story of Florence come to take a tour with us. We are organizing free walking tour every week, so please contact us or book a tour with us. We are starting our tours from Santa Maria Novella square.