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18th Century

 

The Palace
 

 

Juvarra’s Plans

At the beginning of the century, the General Council began to reconsider the idea of completing the building. The building site had been abandoned for too long and new buildings had been erected on the old walls. This had produced significant instability in several places analysed in various expert reports. In 1709 the young architect Filippo Juvarra produced a new general plan that involved combining the parts already built with a more modern and splendid type of architecture. He suggested changing the axis of symmetry to the north-south, with the south entrance having a large semi-circular courtyard that would include the Cortile degli Svizzeri, and also considered completing the whole north part within the Cortile Carrara. Having looked at available financial resources, the government approved only a small part of the works proposed with a less ambitious design. The whole north wing as far as the round chapel was completed between 1722 and 1733 and involved the demolition of the customs building and the old Council Chamber. Juvarra supplied more detailed plans of the parts under construction and was present at the site in 1724 and 1728. Under the direction of Francesco Pini, the work proceeded slowly in the years following and up to the end of the century, with the completion of the internal rooms, the whole of the first floor being occupied by the summer apartments of the Chief Magistrate and the Elders. The Palazzo took on its present external appearance but was left incomplete on the west side.

 

 

 

 

The City
 

 

Conservativeness and Enlightenment

Lucca no longer had anything to fear from external enemies, the political situation in Italy had stabilised and there was no further threat from neighbouring states or indirectly from other events. Reduction in military spending meant that there was money to finance numerous public works. The economy had turned inwards as the traditional sources of wealth, making and selling silk, dried up in favour of agriculture. By 1720 the economic situation was so flourishing that it became possible to extinguish the state debt while the increase in landed property meant that the whole population, including the poorest classes, enjoyed decent living conditions. Restricted access to government office and the introduction of a form of ostracism or exclusion created an inflexible General Council whose conservative policy isolated and repressed the most brilliant minds and which was at pains to prevent the formation of any political groupings. The extinction of many of the families on the register of those entitled to hold office meant there were not enough men to ensure that the government could function properly. Despite these signs of weakness, the governing class began to consider enlightened reforms such as the abolition of private jurisdictions and the alienation of ecclesiastical assets. In a shrewd piece of editorial piracy, Ottaviano Diodati with the help of a numerous group of collaborators published the first Italian edition of Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopédie in 1758. In 1788 a university was established with the assets realised from the dissolution of the Convent of San Frediano.

 

 

The End of the Oligarchic Republic

The international crisis provoked by the French Revolution affected Lucca from 1792 onwards when it was obliged to take part financially in the war against France as a city still loyal to the Emperor. Events in the Italian campaign went in Napoleon’s favour. Lucca resorted to every means and sacrifice to maintain its independence, becoming involved in hectic diplomacy and contributing huge sums of money to the French, but was unable to escape the inevitable. On the 2nd of January 1799, General Serrurier invaded Lucca to circumvent the disembarking of Napoleon’s forces in Livorno and convened the Gonfaloniere and the Elders on the 4th of February. He thanked them, declared them removed from office and installed a new democratic government.