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Lucca

Lucca

An independent city of Tuscany that produced many renowned Renaissance artists, scholars, and musicians. The Roman town of Lucca became the capital of a duchy in the sixth century, and then in 1162 an independent commune. Lucca prospered as a center of textile industries, the silk trade, and banking. It enjoyed the privilege of coining its own money and remained independent of Florence, the strongest power of Tuscany, although it also experienced periods of rule by tyrants. A condotierre named Castruccio Castracani took power in Lucca in 1316 and made the city a worthy rival to the military and economic power of Florence (later Niccolo Macchiavelli would commemorate Castracani's rule in his writings on able political leaders). The city was seized by kings of Bavaria and Bohemia, and sold to and from aristocrats of Genoa, Parma, and Verona. In 1628 an oligarchy took power, which managed to keep the city independent until its conquest by Napoléon Bonaparte in the early nineteenth century.

The Cathedral of San Martino served as the center of religious life in Lucca since it was first constructed in the sixth century. The building underwent construction throughout the medieval period. Its interior chapels hold several significant works of Renaissance art, including paintings by Domenico Ghirlandaio and Tintoretto, and a carved sarcophagus by Jacopo della Quercia. The latter artist also created an altarpiece for the Basilica of San Frediano.

Lucca is also known for an impressive set of walls that have survived intact to the present day. The city was surrounded by strong walls since its time as a Roman colony. High towers were also raised throughout the city to serve as defensive strongholds for aristocratic families. In 1544, with Florence menacing Lucca with conquest, the walls were strengthened with a series of bastions, ditches, underground rooms, and rampartsa project that took more than a century.

See Also: Florence

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Lucca

Lucca (lōōk´kä), city (1991 pop. 87,100), capital of Lucca prov., Tuscany, N central Italy, near the Ligurian Sea. It is a commercial and industrial center and an agricultural market (olive oil, wine, and tobacco). Manufactures include textiles (especially silk), paper, and food products. A Ligurian settlement, later a Roman town, Lucca became (6th cent.) the capital of a Lombard duchy and (12th cent.) a free commune, which soon developed into a republic. In spite of ruthless strife between Guelphs and Ghibellines and frequent wars (especially with Pisa and Florence) the city prospered. Its bankers and merchants were noted throughout Europe, as were its velvets and damasks. The arts also flourished after the 12th cent.; Lucchese sculpture reached its zenith in the 15th cent. with Matteo Civitali, whose fine works adorn the cathedral. Numerous churches, showing Pisan influence, were built from the 12th to the 14th cent. Save for short periods of rule by foreign powers and by tyrants (notably, Castruccio Castracani), Lucca remained an independent republic until Napoleon I made it a principality (1805) for his brother-in-law, Felice Baciocchi, and his sister Elisa. In 1817, Lucca became part of the duchy of Parma and in 1847 of the grand duchy of Tuscany; in 1860 it was annexed to the kingdom of Sardinia. The cathedral (11th–15th cent.) and the churches of San Frediano (begun in the 6th cent.) and San Michele (12th cent.) have fine marble facades. The city's ramparts (16th–17th cent.) are also notable.

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