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Luca Foti, PhD


Luca R. Foti is a Volkswagen Foundation Post-doctoral Fellow at the Institute for Medieval History at Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf. His research interests encompass the social, cultural, and political history of Italian cities in the late middle ages and early Renaissance, with a focus on the Papal territories in central Italy. Luca received his Ph.D. in May 2019 from Washington University in St. Louis. In his current book project, based on his dissertation and entitled “Heretical Communes: The Struggle for Legitimacy in the Fourteenth-Century Papal Territories,” he argues for the centrality of inquisitorial trials for heresy within broader processes of contestation, negotiation, and reproduction of political authority among the cities of central Italy. His book project intervenes in the vast historiography on the formation of territorial states, a core element in the transition from the late middle ages to the Renaissance. Luca is currently working on an article entitled “‘For the Peaceful and Undisturbed State of the City:’ Urban Factions and Political Legitimacy in a Popular Commune,” which looks at practices and discourses of political conflict and pacification among opposing parties in fourteenth-century cities in central Italy.

During his fellowship at the Institute for Medieval History, Luca is organizing a workshop funded by a grant from the Volkswagen Foundation in May 28-29, 2020, entitled “Power and Law in Late Medieval Europe: Negotiating Political Legitimacy in Medieval Cities.” The workshop will host scholars from European and North American institutions who will convene to discuss the role of legal arguments and court cases within processes of negotiation and definition of political authority in the cities of late medieval Europe.


“The Day the Emperor Became Podestà: Negotiating Legitimacy in a Fourteenth-Century Commune.” Viator 49.3 (2018): 155-179.