Arnolfo di Cambio designed the Palazzo della Signoria (also known as the Palazzo Vecchio) in 1299 for the rulers of Florence, the Signoria.

The Signoria was made up of nine members (or Priori) selected by the city's guilds, two from each district, and a Gonfalonier of Justice. Members were supposed to be chosen by lot, but once the Medici family took power, it was only their friends who were favored.

The Palazzo tower was incorporated into the building from an earlier structure and it contained two small prison cells. In 1476, Giovanni Auditore and his two sons were executed in front of the Palazzo and all three of them had been imprisoned in the tower cells the night before the execution.

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