Gregorio Leti  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Gregorio Leti (1630–1701) was an Italian historian and satirist from Milan, who sometimes published under the pseudonym Abbe Gualdi, L'abbé Gualdi, or Gualdus known for his works about the Roman Catholic Church, especially the papacy. He was born in Milan. All of his publications were listed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

The nephew of the Bishop of Acquapendente in Umbria, Leti was educated in a Jesuit school, but later became a Protestant. He resided in the court of Louis XIV of France and in 1680 (soon after the The Restoration) that of Charles II of England, who commissioned him to write a history of England. Leti had access to the library of the Earl of Anglesey, which numbered over 5,000 volumes, as well as that of Bishop Gilbert Burnet. Leti was elected a member of the Royal Society.

After the publication of a collection of anecdotes which offended Charles II, Il Teatro Britannico, Leti fled England in 1683 for Amsterdam, where he became the city historiographer in 1685. He died in Amsterdam in 1701.

Leti's biography of Pope Sixtus V has been translated into many languages, and contains an anecdote similar to the infamous "pound of flesh" from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. The Catholic Encyclopedia calls Leti "mendacious and inexact" and is also critical of works describes as derivative of Leti's "anti-papal histories." Mosheim et al. call Leti "inaccurate and unfaithful." According to Thomas Trollope, "his inexactitude as an [sic] historian is notorious." Even secular writers have characterized his biography of Sixtus V as "resting on very slight authority." Among his critics, Leti is sometimes referred to as the "Varillas of Italy."

Leti was the father-in-law of the theologian Jean Leclerc.


Further reading

  • Krivatsy, Nati. 1982. Bibliography of the Works of Gregorio Leti. Oak Knoll Books New Castle. 8 vols.

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