Because of its particular location, Lucca has always been able to adapt itself to the various historical cycles, expressing in culture and institutions a peculiar synthesis, undoubtedly affected by the spirit of the age yet deeply rooted in the traditions and character of its people. On certain specific occasions, Lucca became the setting for events of great political and symbolic significance. This book, through the contributions of distinguished local scholars, provides a complete account both of these significant moments and of the extraordinary specific character of Lucca, in its culture and its history. The principal encounters are found in the first part of the volume. At the «summit» of Lucca in 56 B.C., Caesar, Pompey and Crassus met to discuss the power basis of the first Triumvirate. In 1368 and 1369, Lucca became for several months the residence of Charles IV of Bohemia, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire: the city was exhausted, but the financial power of its merchants and bankers allowed it to buy its freedom from the emperor (who ever afterwards carried in his heart a positive impression of Lucca and its values). Another summit meeting between two «world leaders» took place in Lucca in 1541: Charles V met Pope Paul III Farnese, with the idea of isolating the Protestant princes of Germany and of laying the foundations for the great Council of Trent. Having emerged unscathed from the tempest of the Reformation, Lucca was introduced to Enlightenment culture by the first Italian edition of the Encyclopédie, and was thus enabled to face the future with moderation and balance. In 1799 the oligarchic Republic, after many vicissitudes, transformed itself into the «Jacobin Republic on the River Serchio». But the time of Republics was coming to an end: Napoleon Bonaparte, whose remote origins were Tuscan, installed his sister Elisa as sovereign of Lucca. She renewed the structure of the state and initiated a series of public works.
In 1815 the Congress of Vienna assigned Lucca to the Bourbon dukes of Parma, who ruled the city until the end of its independence in 1847.