Universiteit Leiden

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David Napolitano


Dr.mr. D.P.H. Napolitano
+31 71 527 1646

David Napolitano is attached as a University Lecturer to the Institute for History at Leiden University (2019-present), after having completed a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Cambridge (Faculty of History, 2015-2018). Building upon his broad academic background in law, language and literature studies, and history, his academic interest lies in the study of a multilingual corpus of medieval treatises on city government (mirrors-for-magistrates) across modern geographical, linguistic, and institutional boundaries.

More information about David Napolitano

Fields of interest

Medieval History, Europe (1000-1600)

Description of my research

David Napolitano currently studies a multilingual corpus of medieval treatises on city government (mirrors-for-magistrates) across modern geographical, linguistic, and institutional boundaries. To this end, he has extended his research focus from communal Italy to the cities of the Low Countries and the Rhine Area, covering the three most urbanized areas of Medieval Europe and stretching from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries (1200-1600). In addition, he is undertaking a comparison of this mirrors-for-magistrates corpus to the better-known mirrors-for-princes genre.

David is particularly interested in the promises and expectations of good government embedded in these texts and their role in building trust in medieval city government. More specifically, he focuses on questions of authority and legitimacy (medieval narratives of secular power), the gradual development of a professional profile and a code of conduct for the city magistrates, the active role of the citizenry within this institutional framework, and the design of accountability mechanisms (both before God and man). Having confirmed the existence of a second copy of the Oculus pastoralis (1220s) untapped by its earlier editors (1741, 1966, and 1986) he is also in the process of preparing a new critical edition of this pivotal text, the oldest surviving representative of the podestà literature (Brepols).

Furthermore, he is active as an Editor within the Erasmus' Opera Omnia project (Brill), and, together with Prof. Dr Em. Kenneth Pennington, he is co-editing a volume on the Middle Ages for a new series under the general editorship of Prof. Dr Eugenio Biagini, entitled A Cultural History of Democracy (Bloomsbury Academic).

Finally, he coordinates a Research Group on Literature, Law and Society within the Netherlands Research School for Literature Studies.


For his CV (including a full list of his publications), please consult his webpage.


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Institute for History
  • Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis


No relevant ancillary activities

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