Prior to Napoleonic rule, the Ivrea carnival was celebrated separately by every quarter, but this resulted in strong rivalry that often led to violent, bloody fighting. In the early 1800s, in the middle of the occupation by Napoleon, civil and military authorities were so concerned about law and order that they set up a sort of “security service” for these events.
In 1808, a man much respected by the townspeople was appointed head of these guards, and thus identified well with the city culture and pride, especially when the carnivals of the various quarters were united in one great city festival.
According to tradition, in this way the General obtained the right to the title and uniform of “General of the Napoleonic Army” and the leave to ask other people to accompany him as Officers of the General Staff, to help him in his duties.
The General takes office on 6th January when he receives the cocked hat and sword from the previous year’s general.
Then on the last Thursday before Lent, in the Handing over of power ceremony, the Mayor passes to him his sash, together with the duty (obviously symbolic) of control of law and order.
He is assisted and helped by a squad of General Staff officers, from whom he appoints the aides-de-camp and the sutlers.