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Nobile Collegio della Mercanzia

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One of the most prestigious and renowned art forms in Perugia was the art of wares, whose representatives met at the Nobile Collegio della Mercanzia (Noble Board of Wares).

It was established in 1218, during the peak of Communal independence. The Nobile Collegio was created in order to represent one of the most important professions of the city. Its importance and influence slowly grew until when, in 1279, it was able to appoint the first two out of ten city priors. The other important monitoring offices that the Board managed to obtain included: collecting officials’ oaths, the guarantee to the captain,  the moderation of tax collection.

To this day the Statues of 1323, 1356, and 1599 are still preserved. These Statues regulated a code constituted by a series of professional rules: the ius mercatorum. This document disciplined the requirements for the admission and execution of a given activity, competition, weights and measures, modes and consequences of bankruptcy, certification, subordinated work and trade justice. The name lists of all the members registered to the board is also preserved.

Later, the representative value of the board gradually diminished until it disappeared when statue was modified in 1670, due to changes in the political life of the city and, especially, to the victory of the aristocratic party supported by Braccio di Fortebraccio. From that moment forward the Board would lose any popular and democratic aspect amongst the artisans, making way for the exclusive participation of the aristocracy.

The institution’s function is suppressed under Napoleonic rule, but the Board remained keeping its aristocratic nature until 1938.

The Board met in the Sala delle Udienze (audience room), which was decorated – in the first half of the XV Century – entirely with pine and hickory wood panels, probably whittled by masters of Nothern Europe. There are also inlaid seats embedded in three of the four walls of the room. On the right wall, stand-out the Perugian Griffon, on a rose window, and the refined arches above the two Consuls of Wares seats. Finally we have the bench whittled by Costanzo di Mattiolo in 1462 and a medieval chest sitting at the bottom of the room.

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