podesta


po·de·sta

noun \ˌpō-də-ˈstä\

Definition of PODESTA

:  a chief magistrate in a medieval Italian municipality

Origin of PODESTA

Italian podestà, literally, power, from Latin potestat-, potestas, irregular from potis able — more at potent
First Known Use: 1548

podesta

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

(Italian: “power”) In medieval Italian communes, the highest judicial and military magistrate. The office was instituted by Frederick I Barbarossa in an attempt to govern rebellious Lombard cities. From the late 12th century the communes usually elected their own podesta, often a nobleman with legal training. Serving for six months or a year, the podesta summoned councils, led the communal army, and administered civil and criminal jurisdiction.

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