The Gonfaloniere was a highly prestigious communal post in medieval and Renaissance Italy, notably in Florence and the Papal States. The name derives from gonfalone, the term used for the banners of such communes.
In Florence the post was known as Gonfaloniere of Justice, being held by one of the nine citizens selected by drawing lots every two months, who formed the government, or Signoria. In the papal states it was known as Gonfaloniere of the Church or Papal Gonfaloniere. Other central and northern Italian communes, from Spoleto to Piemonte, elected or appointed gonfalonieri. The Bentivoglio family of Bologna aspired to this office during the sixteenth century. A century later, however, when Artemisia Gentileschi painted a portrait of Pietro Gentile as a gonfaloniere of Bologna in 1622, with the gonfalone in the background, the office had merely symbolic value.