17th Century


The Palace


Interruption to the Works

The building of the new Palazzo designed by Ammannati was interrupted by shortage of funds. State revenues had been almost completely swallowed up by the construction of the Walls, which were finished only in 1645. War in the Garfagnana and the expenses involved in the conflict in the first twenty years of the century had cost the enormous sum of 200,000 scudos. The only important work that had been carried out was the rebuilding of the Swiss Guards’ Palazzina in 1619 and the organisation of some internal areas by the architect Muzio Oddi from Urbino. The state of the Palazzo’s façade in 1629 is documented in a drawing by Frediano Puccini. The decoration of the Palazzo was enhanced by new paintings by major Lucchese painters who were also active in Rome. In 1611 Paolo Guidotti gave the Republic his large Allegory of the Liberty of Lucca for which he received 100 scudos. A few years later, Pietro Paolini painted theMadonna of the Rosary which used to hang in the General Council Chamber. Finally, in the 1630s, Pietro Testa painted a fresco in the lunette of the San Romano gate of The Liberty of Lucca vanquishes Time, a variation of the theme that Guidotti had chosen.





The City


War in the Garfagnana 1604-1620

The international political picture changed after the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis saw Italy placed in the Spanish sphere of influence. In the first few years of the seventeenth century, life in the city state was disrupted by territorial disputes with Modena over the Garfagnana. With the tacit consent of the Florentines, Modena created numerous provocations and made a number of forays over the borders. Their objective was to gain complete control of the Pass of San Pellegrino in Alpe. On various occasions the two states came to open war with action that almost always resulted in Lucca’s favour. Modena, however, had no intention of giving up its attempts to take Castiglione. In order to prevent the crisis growing, the Count of Fuentes, Spanish governor of Milan, took Lucca’s side, put an end to hostilities and restored the original situation. With the Arbitration of the Senate of Milan in 1618, however, Lucca was obliged to renounce the rights that had been recognised by Charles IV of Luxemburg in 1369 to those areas of the Garfagnana that were already under the rule of Modena.



Politics and the Economy

The oligarchic nature of the Republic was definitively restricted in 1628. Following Venice’s example, the General Council introduced a register of the 224 noble families that could hold the highest public offices, thus clearly contravening the original constitutional ordinances of the Commune and the Republic. This decision impoverished the political system and made it inflexible and, at the same time, led to the city becoming progressively closed to the outside world and to the decline of the entrepreneurial and commercial advances that Lucca had made on the international scene. The great European nations states were adopting protectionist economic policies and merchants from Lucca were forced to find ever more distant and difficult markets. The silk industry could no longer withstand the competition and production dwindled. The Lucchesi withdrew and invested their capital in agriculture and, as a result, the countryside of the Republic became scattered with magnificent country houses. The fertility of the area and the economic structure of small and medium-sized holdings ensured the general wellbeing of the population. Enlightened government encouraged social harmony by regular investment of tax revenues to allay the effects of price increases in food, famine or natural disasters.



The Walls 1545-1645

Lucca embraced certain fine ideals in its foreign and defence policy in order to maintain its independence. These involved staying aloof from the most dangerous international events, avoiding enmity and disagreement with its neighbours, and creating a defence system so powerful that it would discourage anyone from attempting an invasion. Its new city walls, begun a century earlier and having absorbed a large part of the state’s financial resources, were completed in 1645. The new walls consisted of a terreplein about thirty metres wide at the bottom and eighteen at the top, defended by ten bastions and an artillery platform, surrounded by a glacis system and with only three entrance gates. With this deterrent, Lucca was safe from Florence’s expansionist ambitions and would live peacefully until 1799.