Home Palazzo ducale The ancient Institutions The Elders' Council and the General Council

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.