Home Palazzo ducale The ancient Institutions The Elders' Court

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>>.