Republic of Lucca

The Republic of Lucca was a historic state of Italy, which lasted from 1160 to 1805 on the central Italian peninsula.

Serenissima Repubblica Lucense (it)
Res publica Lucensis (la)
Coat of arms
Northern Italy in 1796
Common languagesItalian
Roman Catholic
GovernmentOligarchic republic
Consuls of Justice 
Bartolomeo Conami
Nicolao Montecatini
Executive Directory
Francesco Belluomini
 Pisan occupation
 French occupation
4 February 1799
 Austrian occupation
17 July 1799
 French occupation
9 October 1800
23 June 1805
Preceded by
Succeeded by
March of Tuscany
Principality of Lucca and Piombino


Medieval era

Within the Imperial Kingdom of Italy, the city of Lucca had been the residence of the Margraves of Tuscany. A certain autonomy was granted by a 1084 diploma issued by Emperor Henry IV, while on his Italian campaign during the Investiture Controversy with Pope Gregory VII. After the death of Margravine Matilda of Tuscany in 1115, the city began to constitute itself an independent commune, with a charter officially acknowledged by Margrave Welf VI in 1160. For almost 500 years, Lucca remained as an independent republic (though formally it was always part of the Holy Roman Empire).

In 1273 and again in 1277 Lucca was ruled by a Guelph capitano del popolo (captain of the people) named Luchetto Gattilusio. In 1314, internal discord allowed Uguccione della Faggiuola of Pisa to make himself lord of Lucca.

Castruccio Castracani

The Lucchesi expelled him two years later, and handed over the city to another condottiere Castruccio Castracani, under whose rule it became a leading state in central Italy. Lucca rivalled Florence until Castracani's death in 1328.

On 22 and 23 September 1325, in the battle of Altopascio, Castracani defeated Florence's Guelphs. For this, he was nominated by Louis IV the Bavarian to become duke of Lucca. Castracani's tomb is in San Francesco in Lucca. His biography, by Machiavelli, is the author's third famous book on political rule.

Renaissance and onwards

Occupied by the troops of Louis of Bavaria, the city was sold to a rich Genoese, Gherardino Spinola, and then seized by John, King of Bohemia (1296-1346). Then pawned to the Rossi of Parma, and by them it was ceded to Martino della Scala of Verona. Then sold to the Florentines, surrendered to the Pisans (1342–1368), and then nominally liberated by the emperor Charles IV (son of John, King of Bohemia) and governed by his vicar.

In 1408, Lucca hosted the convocation intended to end the schism in the papacy. Throughout the Renaissance, Lucca's boundary with the Grand Duchy of Florence ran along the Lago di Bientina, the largest lake in Tuscany. The two states frequently disputed with one another over fishing and water rights in the lake. The lake was drained and the land reclaimed by the two states cooperatively.

Lucca managed, at first as a democracy, and after 1628 as an oligarchy, to maintain its independence — alongside Venice and Genoa. It painted the word Libertas on its banners, until the French Revolution in 1789.[1] Lucca was the third largest Italian city-state with a republican constitution ("comune") to remain independent over the centuries, as larger Venice and Genoa also did.


Early 19th century

French democracy

The independent course of the Republic changed in February 1799, after the Second Coalition invasion (1799–1800), one of the Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars.

French Jacobins created a centralized republic, the State of Lucca, with a democratic constitution. The constitution granted the government to an Executive Directory, with a bicameral legislature composed of the Council of Juniors and the Council of Seniors. The democracy did not last long.

Habsburg regency

Five months later in July 1799, after the French army retreated, forces of the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy conquered the city and established a Provisional government

French republic restored

In late 1800 the French army returned, reconquering Lucca. A new constitution for the State of Lucca was published in 1801, restoring the office of Consul of Justice as the president of the Executive branch, with a parliament called the Great Council.

Napoleonic principality

In 1805, the governance of Lucca was taken over by Napoleon, who merged the State of Lucca with the Principality of Piombino to become the Principality of Lucca and Piombino (1805–1809). He put his favored sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi in place to rule, his only female sibling to gain political power. Elisa began rule as the Duchess of Lucca and Princess of Piombino, based at Villa Reale di Marlia.

See also


  1. Encyclopædia Britannica 1911.

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