Principal Opera Offices
I. Positions reserved for those enrolled in the Wool
Guild, parent institution of the Opera, by provision of the Florence
The highest position at the Opera (cathedral board of works), unpaid.
During the period covered by The Years of the Cupola six
wardens, chosen by lot from qualified members of the Wool Guild,
normally served simultaneously; they took office in overlapping
four-month terms (4 in January of every year, 2 in March, 4 in May, 2
in July, 4 in September, 2 in November). The wardens constituted the
deliberating body of the Opera, authorized to establish its
institutional, planning and economic choices. Resolutions and fund
allocations were dictated by the wardens and could be revoked only with
the approval of the consuls of the Wool Guild. One of the wardens in
office was often drawn to serve as PROVOST (PREPOSTO) and
endowed with executive powers between meetings of the full membership
of the Opera.
The treasurer of the Opera was chosen by lot from the roster of
qualified members of the Wool Guild. The term of service, remunerated,
lasted for six months, starting on 1 January and 1 July of each year.
The treasurer kept the account books of the Opera, collected the
amounts due and effected the payments authorized by the wardens; he was
personally responsible for his accounting and for the funds managed in
FOUR CUPOLA OFFICIALS (QUATTRO UFFICIALI DELLA CUPOLA)
Office instituted in 1419 to assist the normal complement of wardens in
the close supervision of the construction of the cupola; unpaid. The
officials were four in number specially elected by the Wool Guild for
the duration of a year, variously renewable. This was an advisory
organ, not empowered to make resolutions or allocations of funds.
FOUR SACRISTY OFFICIALS (QUATTRO UFFICIALI DELLA SACRESTIA)
An elective, unpaid office of the Wool Guild, created in 1413, but
active on a continuous basis only from 1426, to defend and exercise the
guild's rights in managing religious services in the cathedral. From
1427 the functions of the four cupola officials were also placed under
this office. Note that in the sources these high officials are
frequently, if inaccurately, termed SACRISTANS (SAGRESTANI).
OFFICIALS FOR THE ALTAR AND TOMB OF SAINT ZENOBIUS, THE
ORGANS, THE ORGAN LOFTS AND OTHER WORKS (UFFICIALI SOPRA L'ALTARE E
SEPOLTURA DI SAN ZANOBI, GLI ORGANI, I PERGAMI E ALTRI LAVORI)
An elective, unpaid office of the Wool Guild, of unspecified duration,
instituted in 1432 in order to solicit and directly supervise certain
prestigious projects for the crossing area with a view to the opening
of this sector to religious functions. Its members were three former
wardens, including Matteo di Simone Strozzi, who served until he was
exiled from the city in 1434. The officials were initially authorized
to distribute funds for the projects entrusted to them, but their
management proved inefficacious and the office was suppressed in 1437.
ACCOUNTANTS OF THE WOOL GUILD (RAGIONIERI DELL'ARTE DELLA
Officials elected by the Guild from the pool of enrolled members to
check the accounts of the treasurers of the Opera.
II. Elected positions open to non-members of the Wool
The notary of the Opera was elected by the Wool Guild, normally for
renewable annual terms. This paid appointment involved the composition
and official redaction in Latin of all the acts of the wardens, such as
resolutions and allocations of funds.
Salaried administrative official, elected by the Wool Guild, with a
variable and renewable term of office. The administrator supervised
works in course and inspected supplies to the work site, keeping his
own separate copy of the allocations of funds and other acts, drawn up
in the vernacular.
MASTER BUILDER (CAPOMAESTRO)
The head of the Opera's work site was an elective and salaried
appointment of the Wool Guild. In the period preceding the construction
of the cupola the office traditionally involved an important role of
architectural planning. During The Years of the Cupola,
on the other hand, the office was called MASTER BUILDER OF THE BOARD OF
WORKS (CAPOMAESTRO DELL'OPERA) to distinguish it from that of
the architects responsible for the cupola project, Brunelleschi and
Ghiberti, properly known as SUPERVISORS OF THE CUPOLA (PROVVEDITORI
DELLA CUPOLA). In this period the office, annual and renewable, was
continuously held by Battista d'Antonio, who appears as VICE MASTER
BUILDER OF THE BOARD OF WORKS (VICE CAPOMAESTRO DELL'OPERA)
after leaving the formal office to his son.
SUPERVISORS OF THE CUPOLA (PROVVEDITORI DELLA CUPOLA)
During The Years of the Cupola two supervising
architects were responsible for the project of the cupola and its
realization: they were Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti, who
were elected by the Wool Guild for annual terms renewable until the
completion of work. The amount of the emolument varied.
WAGE CLERK (SCRIVANO DELLE GIORNATE)
Official elected to record the days and hours worked (giornate)
by the builders at the work site of the Opera; renewable and salaried
MESSENGERS AND DEBT COLLECTORS (MESSI ED ESATTORI)
Officials elected by the wardens to run errands and collect revenues
due in the city and countryside. The appointment, renewable, had
varible duration and retribution.
LAWYER OF THE BOARD OF WORKS (AVVOCATO DELL'OPERA)
Special ad hoc official elected directly by the Opera for the purpose
of protecting its legal interests in disputes. The office, typically an
annual appointment, was paid by honorarium.
NOTARY OF TESTAMENTS (NOTAIO DEI TESTAMENTI)
An elective position of the Opera, occasional and at times paid by
commission rather than salary, for the identification and the
collection of dues on last testaments owed to the Opera.
Officials elected by the Opera to keep track of its rights at such
communal offices as forced loans and new gabelles, which were bound to
contribute to the finances of the cathedral. A paid position, normally
of limited duration and occasional in character.
III. Elected officials detached from the central
administration of the Opera
GUARD OF THE FOREST (GUARDIA DELLA SELVA)
An official elected by the Opera to protect its interests in the
Casentino forests ascribed to the cathedral by the Commune. Salaried
and renewable appointment of variable term.
SUPERVISORS OF OUTSIDE WORK SITES (PROVVEDITORI DI
Various and numerous situations gave rise to the election, on the part
of the Opera, of salaried personnel charged with overseeing work sites
outside the cathedral. Among these were the administrators assigned to
superintend the Trassinaia quarries, the preparation of papal
apartments at Santa Maria Novella and fortifications in the Florentine