The Elders' Council and the General Council
The Elders' Council was present in the District of Lucca since the 13th century and it was composed of ten members: nine elders and a Gonfaloniere. Executive power was referred to this authority. After the liberation of Lucca in 1370, the title of Imperial vicarials was conferred to the Elders, as a recognition for the supreme authority which they executed on behalf of the Holy Roman Empire's emperor. From that moment the Gonfaloniere acquired the title of Head of State. The Elders were appointed for two months in which they couldn't leave the Palazzo; even if it was for an official exit, seven college members were to remain in it. In the 18th century the Elders wore a long black robe with a red stole and a big wig. The Gonfaloniere distinguished himself with a red robe made of damask and velvet (depending on the season), a red stole and a cap similar to the one cardinals wear. When he left the Palazzo he wore a large red hat surrounded by a golden lace. Under the robe, the Gonfaloniere wore a red coat with big cuffs embroidered in gold.
The general council was the parliament of the Republic of Lucca, the maximum legislative authority, whose origins date back to the start of the 13th century. It was originally composed by two separate assembly, the Major Council of San Michele in Foro made of 500 members and the Consiglio di San Pietro Maggiore made of 250 members. With the 1372 statute, it was reduced to only one authority of 180 elected councillors, presided by the Gonfaloniere and the Elders. The council discussed and voted every aspect of the State life, assigned the public roles, elected the commissions, referred given tasks to a smaller council, called “dei Trentasei”, which was easier to summon. Since the end of the 16th century to the end of the Republic, it gathered in a hall in the north area of the Palazzo. With the 18th century restorations the Council moved in the Gonfaloniere's hearing room, which was then changed to the Guard room of the Throne Quarter by Maria Luisa di Borbone.
The Elders' Court
In the 18th century, Georg Cristoph Martini offered us a detailed description of the family, the Gonfaloniere's court composed by the magistrates and by the servants who permanently lived in the Palazzo. The Podestà, the aristocrats and the other judges, knights and doctors who paraded after the Gonfaloniere didn't live in the Palazzo, but they congregated with the parade in the so-called “gite”, often organized to participate in a solemn religious function.
<<I saw the prince leave for the first time on the Holy Friday. The parade is great. Eight buglers came first, followed by four Lacchè, who carried two red velvet pillows. Then the musicians and the Donzelli came, foreran by sixteen Lacchè wearing French livery. They were named “Targetti” because of the weapons they carried in ancient times. The Donzelli, who are the servants of the chamber and other employees, are named Ministers of the black cloak. They are followed by two attendants, known as “Mazzieri” because they carry two silver maces, on whose knob is carved the Republic emblem, on their shoulders. A noble kid aged three or four, from the Gonfaloniere's family, is accompanied by one of the donzelli. He wears purple just like the Gonfaloniere, with the military mortarboard which Pope Urbano VI donated to the Republic. Three knights carry the big flag of Freedom. The butler, flanked by two Elders, came before the Gonfaloniere. Three Donzelli hold three red damask umbrellas, enhanced with golden fringes, above the Gonfaloniere and the two Elders. Seven of them are obliged to stay in the Palazzo>>. <<Seven nobles are chosen to become Condottieri for a year. They wear a robe like the Elders but without the red stole or band. Then it follows the Podestà, who wears a velvet robe with a big collar on his shoulders. He hold a little silver sceptre; the judges are standing beside him, with the same dresses they wear in the civil causes. The page of the Podestà also wears a big hooded robe, and when the Podestà leave the Palazzo, even on different occasions from this one, he grabs a big sword, called the sword of justice>>. <<Then come the Nobles, leaving in couples. The ones from the previous year are also parading. The doctors have the priority and they put on the same robe as the judges, with those large collars I talked about earlier. That robe is called “Robbone”. The Swiss Guard escort the parade on the two sides, with halberds and open feathered helms>>.
The Tasche were the elections of the Elders and the Gonfaloniere, the highest authorities of the Republic. Due to the short period of the proxies, it was decided to focus the election of the collegies, needed to fulfill the set two-month period, in a single round of voting. The Tasche were hold every two or three years. The electoral unit was made of 64 people: the Elders who were still in charge, the Council “dei Trentasei” and 18 citizens of Lucca, nominated by the Elders themselves. Men younger than 22, apostates, illegitimate sons, doctors in medical science and laws and those who suffered a bankruptcy weren't eligible. The voting system was a bit complex, but it allowed to assemble the collegies, composed of a Gonfaloniere and nine Elders, whose names, transcribed on pieces of scrolls, were inserted in silver balls and guarded in a case (the Tasca) stored in the Trapea. Then, the college that had to take charge, was drawn from it every two months. In the 18th century the voting occurred for three consecutive days and it was preceded by a solemn public ceremony, in wich an historical-political song was played. In the Council lougne, conveniently adorned with drapes, furniture and pictures with the Republic emblems, the highest authorities entered with the Palazzo's family. The song's librettos were shared while the choir sang a symphony. Then the first part of the song was played, followed by a young man's political speech, to finish with the second part of the song. When the audience was gone, the electors went to their rooms, where the long voting procedures started.
The Palatine Musical Choir
It was instituted in 1372 to accompany the Gonfaloniere's parade. The “Musica lucanis comunis”, in the end of the 14th century, was composed by five trumpets, a deep trumpet, two timpanists and four tabors, all salaried monthly with three gold florins. Paolo Guinigi didn't change its structure, made of sharp timbre instruments that were appropriate to play outside. In 1490 six cantors were appointed. They probably were students of the british polyphonist John Hothby, who lived in Lucca for 18 years. The instrumental group, guided by Nicolao Dorati since 1543, acquired a more modern appearance: only one person in charge, five trumpets and from five to nine cantors and instrumentalist. They had to play at the parades, at the Elder's lunch, during the most important religious functions, at the Tasche, for the citizens and every night under the loggias of the Podestà's Palace in Piazza San Michele. The band became a way for exchange of diplomatic courtesies. In 1585 the Elders sent their musicians to the marriage between the Duke Carlo Emanuele of Savoia and Caterina, Filippo II's daughter. In 1607 the Duke of Savoia requested the Choir again. In the XVII century string instrument players were added to the group. In the end of the 18th century, the Choir reached its peak under the guide of Giacomo Puccini senior. In this period he had more than twenty instrumentalists and cantors playing around 600 performances in a year. This institution's longevity justifies the fact that Lucca gave birth to a lot of great musicians like Cristoforo Malvezzi, Gioseffo Guami, Francesco Saverio Gemignani, Luigi Boccherini and others directly involved in the Palazzo's musical activities. The Republic's musical Choir was abolished in 1806 by the Baciocchi family.
Some of the musical pieces, written for commemotative events at Palazzo Ducale are:
- John Hothby (1410c. - 1487) “Diva Panthera”;
- Francesco Guami (Master of the Choir from 1598 to 1602) “Ricercar XIII”;
- Luigi Boccherini (cello player for the Choir from 1764 to 1779) “La confederazione dei Sabini con Roma”, for the first day of Le Tasche in 1765;
- G. Puccini senior (Master of the Choir) “Kirie” and “Messa a quattro voci con violini a beneplacido”, written for the Elders;
The Swiss Guard
After the Straccioni riots in 1532, the General Council decided to found a guard to guarantee the magistrate's safety in the Palazzo. The first Palazzo's guard was composed of the earldome's people, italians from non-adjacent countries, young nobles and gunmen banned from their cities for political or of honour reasons. In 1653 the General Council dissolved the unit because of some bloodsheds and it reformed it with swiss catholic soldiers and officials from the Lucerna canton. The Swiss Guard was composed of seventy units characterized by a blue uniform. It was located in the southern side of the courtyard and it loyally served the Republic up to the 30th of April in 1806, when Elisa Baciocchi declared its abolishment.
The Elders' apartments
The Elders' apartments were located on the Noble floor of the central wing of the Palazzo, alongside the courtyard to the far end, near S. Romano. This part of the building, restored in the XVI century, is occupied by the last four lounges of the Throne Quarter. The apartments were composed of ten rooms, a chapel, a dining room, a central gallery and, after the Ammannati's works, of another gallery opened on the courtyard. The rooms, except for the Gonfaloniere's one, had specific names: S. Pietro, of the Holy Face, S. Paolino, S. Martino, S. Regolo, S. Pantaleone, S. Alessandro and S. Silao. The Chapel overlooked S. Romano square. With the building of the northern wing of the Palazzo, in the first half of the XVIII century, another ten lounges were designated as summer apartments for the Elders. The older rooms continued to be utilized in the winter period, when they were more comfortable.
The Archives and the Trapea
The archive of the Republic of Lucca was organized in three different areas, with two of them housed in the Elder's Palace. The first one, the Trapea, was the secret archive of the Republic: important documents, the emperor's certificates, statutes, correspondence with foreign governments and valuable things like codes and jewels were stored there. The Trapea was kept under surveillance by the Major Chancellor and was located in the central area of the Palazzo. The second one was the government's archive, composed of the archives from the individual Republic's judiciaries. From 1369 to the end of the Republic these papers were stored in the chancellor's offices, located in the various areas of the Palazzo, where they lived. The third section was the ancient “Camera librorum” , wich was then renamed “Archivio dei Notai”. Since 1377 it was located in some buildings and a tower in the southern area of Piazza Napoleone. Notarial records and books from the court and the fiscal judiciaries were conserved there. The citizens of Lucca were always jealous about the preservation of the documents that proved the properties of the State, guaranteed the citizen's ones and allowed the mutual control of the conduct between the judiciaries. In 1542 the General Council instituted the so-called “Offizio Sopra le Scritture”. It was composed of three citizens who had to monitor the preservation and the organization of the State's documents. To understand how much the citizens of Lucca were attached to their papers, it's enough to remember how in 1743 the Chancellor Marco Antonio Loriani was sentenced to death because he stole and sold a big amount of documents. In the Napoleonic period the archives were transferred and damaged. Only in 1822, with the purchase of Palazzo Guidiccioni and thanks to Maria Luisa of Borbone's interest, they were stored in a new location, the State Archive, where you can consult them even today.
The Palazzo, since its origin, was provided with a big armory, anciently called “Tersenaia”. This arsenal was always preserved with order and showed with pride to foreign visitors so that they could refer abroad the defensive capabilities of the city. From the 16th century the armory was located on the ground floor of the central area of the Palazzo. In the 18th century, the large amount of weapons from various time periods made the armory a very interesting museum. Thus it was described by Georg Christoph Martini, the Sassone, who stayed in Lucca from 1725 to 1745. In the 1799, after the battle of Trebbia, the armory was completely robbed by the Austrian army. It was impossible to save anything, not even the most important antiques.
“Under the portico (…) three big iron doors lead to the armory, well organized and kept in order. Near the entry there is a space where the soldiers meet the nobles appointed to inspect the armory. The walls are adorned with golden decorations and covered in green velvet. The basement is divided by a transverse wooden wall, and is filled with rifles, bayonets and daggers. The dividing walls leave free access to three corridors under arched doors, at the end of whom the gunpowder is stored. On both sides of the corridors are laid out the muskets on wooden racks; the rounds and the dagger's lining are hung on the vaults. There are whole armours placed on supports, like soldiers were still wearing them. In the upper rooms are stored rifles, bayonets, a large amount of guns, armours, little helmets and other cavalry's armours.
On the back wall there are two ancient swords, of whom the first, the one towards the window, belonged to Niccolò Piccinino, sent from Genova to help the people of Lucca, besieged by the Florentines; the other one belonged to the famous Castruccio Duke of Lucca, who used it in the glorious battle of 1325 against the Florentines. (…) There are enough weapons to arm 24000 men and this for the people of the city only, because the ones from the rural area, who are another 24000, are already armed.”
The Mint of Lucca was one of the most long-lasting in Europe. It was opened by the Lombards in the 7th century and it continued to mint coin for Carlo Magno, the marquesses of Tuscany, the City and the Republic. Initially located in the Santa Maria in Palazzo area, the current Piazza San Giusto, from the 15th to the 17th century it was housed on the ground floor of the tower in the Elders Palace. In 1721 it was moved in a specifically built edifice in Corso Garibaldi. The Mint was governed by two commissioners, yearly elected by the General Council. It was closed with the end of the Republic and from that moment on, the following emissions for the principality of Lucca and Piombino were coined in Florence, while the ones for the dukedom of Lucca were again coined in its territory.
The Tower of the Palazzo
The ancient “Pinelli in San Pietro in Cortina” tower, given its proximity to the Palazzo, during the period of the foreign domination was rented by the city of Lucca to accommodate the Palazzo's prisons, the soldiers guarding the contrada, the captain's kitchen and most importantly the military warnings. After the city's liberation the tower was bought, restored and provided with new bells. It was connected to the Palazzo through an overpass; the cornice was repeatedly remade. A man constantly resided there to sign the hours and to play the bell for the summons of the General Council or to warn the city about a danger. The tower was the cornerstone of the Republic's defensive system. During the night the acoustic and bright warning were more intense. It called the walls' doors with fixed tolls, at regular intervals, to make sure everything was okay. Various telescopes were pointed at the towers on the Republic's borders to promptly receive the warnings. The tower was demolished by the Baciocchi family, together with other buildings, to open Piazza Napoleone.
The Palazzo's Chapel
Castruccio Castracani provided the Palazzo with an internal chapel for religious functions. It was located on the top floor of the eastern wing of the Palazzo, where nowadays the Ammannati's Gallery rise up. The chapel was used even by the Gonfaloniere and the Elders, who couldn't leave the Palazzo in the proxy's first two months. With the 16th century restorations, the chapel was moved in the area near S. Romano, next to the Gonfaloniere and the Elders' apartments. In 1531 it was adorned with inlaid wooden stalls made by the brothers Ambrogio and Nicolao Pucci. It was later enhanced with five canvas, of wich three are still conserved in the Villa Guinigi museum: “La Natività di Cristo” by F. Zuccari, the “Visitazione” by B. Franco and the “Natività della Vergine” by B. Neroni. The daily celebrated mass was often accompanied by the music of the Choir. The chapel was then dismantled by Elisa Baciocchi to make space for the last Throne Quarter's lounge.
In the middle age, the judicial system imposed pecuniary or patrimonial sanctions, corporal punishment, amputations or the death of the convicted. Prisons were almost exclusively used for accused people waiting for their judgement and only rarely the prisoner served its punishment with detention. Because of that, the structures were a lot smaller than the modern ones. In Lucca, the most ancient prisons were obtained from some arcades of the Roman amphitheatre and they were called “del Sasso”. In the fourteenth century the City temporarily rented a tower and an house inside the Augusta to host the prisoners, but then they returned to the amphitheatre's “grottos”. Only in the October of 1539 the General Council saw to transfer the prisons in a building near the church of S. Dalmazio. Nevertheless, the Elders' Palace still had its own prisons, located in the attic of the new space built in the tower by Ammannati at the end of the 16th century. They were used for special prisoners who had to be judged as an exception by the best Republic's judiciaries, the Elders or by the magistrate “de' Segretari”. Even today, on some of the prisons' walls, you can read some writings etched by the prisoners in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The set of rules of the Principality of Lucca and Piombino
The constitution of the principality was issued by Napoleone on the 24th of june in 1806, and it established that the executive authority was attributed to the Prince, who governed through two ministers: the Grand Judge, who added up to itself the roles of Minister of justice, domestic and foreign affairs; and the Finances' Minister, who took care of the cult, the police and the army, the public activities and buildings. The legislative authority was entrusted to the Senate which was composed of six members and in combination with the two ministers and the sovereign was called the Council of the Principality. Despite this partition, the Baciocchi princes executed an almost absolute power towards the State. After the princes getaway in 1814, for a short period of time the Senate assumed a temporary government under the presidency of the archbishop Filippo Sardi.
Elisa Baciocchi's Court
In 1808, the House of Princes of Lucca and Piombino was thus organized: Elisa had two ladies-in-waiting available, Camilla Mansi and lady La Place and a companion, Elonora Bernardini. The Palazzo's ladies were twelve plus four embassy dames and a reader. Raffaello Mansi was a knight of honour. Ascasio Mansi performed the duties of Grand Chamberlain and he was accompanied by other eights of them, four ordinary and four honorary. Bartolomeo Cenami was Grand Squire and he had other five squires with him. The Grand Eleemosynary was the dean Giuseppe de Nobili, assisted by another three of them. The Prince had five aides-de-camp with him. Lorenzo Montecatini was the Grand Master of the ceremonies, and he had four aides who helped him. The Princes' Unit Guard was composed of five Grenadiers and five Hunters who were under the orders of the General Mariotti. There was a governor of the Pages, who had with him three teachers, five masters and four pages. The music responsibility was entrusted to the Master of the Choir Domenico Vincenzo Maria Puccini. Lazzaro Papi was the librarian. The Palazzo of Lucca was managed by a General Intendant, who had an architect, Giovanni Lazzarini, a notary, a doctor, a surgeon and a treasurer as employees. Even the young Elisa Napoleone, Elisa and Felice's daughter, had her own court composed of a governor and a sub-governor. The Secretaryship of the Sovereign's study, an authority used to follow the government's affairs, was almost immediately combined with the State's one and ran by Giovanni Battista Frussard.
The set of rules of the Dukedom of Lucca
Although the Congress of Vienna set forth the constitutional structure of the State of Lucca complying with its traditions, which were also approved in the Napoleonic constitution of 1805, not Maria Luisa di Borbone neither Carlo Lodovico wanted to grant this tool of guarantee for the citizens, actualizing an almost absolute power towards them. The executive, legislative and most of the prerogatives of the judiciary power remained in the hands of the Dukes, who governed the state through five departments: a minister and a Secretary of State for foreign affairs who had authority even about the waters and the streets, two General Directors: one for the interior affairs, the other for the Financials and the Army, and two Presidents: one so-called of “Buon Governo e Poste” and the other for Clemency and Justice. All of these officials set up the Minister and along with the sovereign and other four councillors took the name of State Council.
The Borbone's Court
Maria Luisa di Borbone, duchess of Lucca, kept the title of Queen and, when she arrived in the city, she imposed a Spanish ceremonial and a Court worthy of a big European nation. Carlo Lodovico preserved and enlarged the structure, which was already well-structured and expensive. In 1830 the highest authorities of the court were thus assigned: Vincenzo Massoni was the Major Butler and his job was to run the management of the whole Palazzo. Lorenzo Montecatini was the Grand Chamberlain. The duke benefited of other 69 chamberlains, a Prefect, three Knights and two aides-de-camp. For its public affairs, he had the Royal Intimate Secretaryship of study with three secretaries and five employees. The court's Library was given custody of to the canonical Pietro Pera. The Duke had with himself four doctors, two room assistants, five domestics, two doormen, an hunter and a court poetess, Teresa Bandettini. The Duchess Maria Teresa, Carlo Lodovico's wife, had as Major Domestic Maddalena Buonvisi, as Knight of Honour Giacomo Cittadella, plus 34 ladies-in-waiting, three chaperones, a confessor, three room attendants, six cloakroom attendants, four domestic and an hairdresser at her service. The Hereditary Prince (he was still a teenager) had a governor, a tutor, two languages teachers, two servants and two hunters with himself. The Palazzo was entrusted to a general supervisor, the Major Butler Vincenzo Massoni, who, in addition to ten employees, was assisted by the Royal Architect Lorenzo Nottolini and by the engineer Pelosi. The court chapel was officiated by eight chaplains and a priest. Then there was the Greek-Orthodox chapel, wanted by Carlo Lodovico, with two priests and two cantors. The Musical Choir was composed of almost forty members between cantors and musicians under the guide of Massimo Quilici. The duke also had eight squires and thirty people responsible for the maintenance of the stables available to himself.
Palazzo Ducale's decors
During the period of the aristocratic Republic, the Palazzo had a pretty plain décor, suited to the functions of a representation office but certainly not able to compete with the ostentation of a princely court. Refined furnitures and tapestries were added during the 17th and 18th centuries, but with the arrival of Elisa Baciocchi, the Palazzo's pieces of furniture were believed to be scarce and out of fashion for a Court. The baroque and rococò styles represented the Ancient Regime. So Elisa called Jean Baptiste Gilles Youf, a carpenter from Paris who worked with ebony, and organized a factory in the ex-cloister of S. Pier Cigoli, from which the new neoclassical pieces of furnitures came out. Fabrics, bronzes, porcelains and other objects were specifically bought in Paris. Other furnishings were created thanks to the still existent local plants, wich were incentivized from the presence of the Court. The Gilles Youf's factory was the centre of irradiation of the new Empire of Lucca style. Maria Luisa di Borbone further enhanced the decors of the monumental apartments with both precious pieces of furniture, some of which were designed by Nottolini in a neoclassical style, and with furnishings, bronzes and new silverwares. The curtains, silk tapestries, carpets and vases were also noteworthy. Under the Borbone, the Palazzo's decor became more various in styles. With the transfer of the Palazzo to the goods of the Italian monarchy in 1860, the mansion was dismantled; all the furnitures were transferred to Florence and used for the new Savoy decor of Palazzo Pitti and other representation offices of the new government.
The Art Gallery
The Palazzo's collection of paintings was composed of various groups of art works collected during the years. The most ancient nucleus dated back to the Republic period and they were composed of paintings from the artists of the Tuscan Mannerism and painters from Lucca from the 17th century. Between 1808 and 1809, with the abolition of a lot of religious authorities, a lot of pieces from various periods of time and of different styles reached the Palazzo. Only a little part of them was used for the gallery. Carlo Lodovico di Borbone formed a new collection hosted in the last two lounges of the Queen's apartment. The collection was composed of about 150 paintings made by local artists and a big part from the Albani collection. Some contemporary works from local painters, commissioned by the dukes, were gathered together in the Squires' lounge. The art gallery was put on sale by the Duke Carlo Lodovico between 1836 and 1844 in London, to balance the debts he accumulated. The duke refused to sell it to the National gallery or to the Duke of Northumberland, who offered almost two millions of francs. The paintings were sold separately at derisive prices. They were then lost and today they are hardly traceable. When he departed from Lucca, Carlo Lodovico brought with himself a large number of paintings from the 15th century, which he collected from the territory of Lucca to adorn the orthodox chapels of Lucca and Marlia. In 1848 Leopoldo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, became sovereign of Lucca and wanted to repair the big dispersion of art works; he transferred a selected choice of paintings from the collection of the Royal Villas in the Palazzo and instantly made them open to the public. In the unitary period this collection, along with the surviving paintings, was moved to the new public art gallery located in the Throne Quarter and opened in 1875. The art gallery was transferred after a century in the actual Palazzo Mansi.
The Palatine Library
Founded by Maria Luisa di Borbone in 1819, the Palazzo Ducale's library became the most important city collection of printings and manuscripts, thanks to the duke Carlo Lodovico and the librarian Pietro Pera (canonical then archbishop of Lucca). With the purchase of entire private libraries and continuous acquires of codes, rare or quality works, in 1841 it had more than 40000 volumes and it was hosted in 16 contiguous rooms located in the mezzanine in the area between the two courtyards of the Palazzo. In 1835 the Palatina library was opened to the public. The big collection, sorted in 500 cases, was brought by the ex-Duke of Lucca with himself when he moved in Parma in 1847. In 1934 only 190 manuscripts were returned to the State Library of Lucca.
The Royal Musical Choir
The ancient Republic Musical Choir, abolished by Elisa Baciocchi,was replaced by a little Choir of Chamber which lasted a few years from 1806 to 1809, when it merged into the Municipal Choir. With the arrival of Maria Luisa di Borbone the musical complex was rebuilt again with a decree in 1818. The Royal Musical Choir had a definite set of rules under the government of Carlo Lodovico di Borbone. The complex, in its final structure, was an orchestra composed of ten cantors and thirty two instrumentalists and it was used for reception at Court and religious musical services, especially in the church of S. Romano and in the Cathedral.
The Palazzo Ducale's little Theatre
In the lounge where the ancient Elders' dining room was located, Elisa Baciocchi built a little theatre accessible from the service gallery in the San Romano wing of the Palazzo. The princess often tested herself in acting. The court's theatre was preserved during the Bourbon period. In 1872 it was demolished to make space for the offices of the Royal Court of Appeal.