3 vols., 8vo., contemporary full leather, pp. , 393; 427; 442, with 1 portrait of the author, 1 of the Duke of Osuna and 12 illustrative plates, all copper-engraved. Some cracking to boards, otherwise an excellent, tight, bright copy. An extremely rare first edition of the first biography of Pedro Tellez-Giron, 3rd Duke of Osuna (1574-1624), who was viceroy of Sicily from 1610 to 1616 and of the Kingdom of Naples from 1616 to 1620, during which period both island and Kingdom (the city of Naples and its environs including much of the southern half of Italy) were ruled by the Spanish Hapsburgs. Osuna was one of the most controversial viceroys of Naples of the earlier seventeenth century, his corrupt and unscrupulous ways leading the Spanish crown to enforce a new ruling that future viceroys should not hold office longer than four years. Having displayed a worrying degree of autonomy from Spain, abused his power by overspending and indulging in a notoriously lavish, dissolute lifestyle, and after the resultant growing conflict he had with the local nobility, the Hapsburg court ordered him back to Spain – where, the following year (after the death of Philip III and the decline of the Duke of Lerma), he was arrested and tried on a number of counts including corruption and sexual misconduct. Gregorio Leti (1630-1701), the author of this book, was an Italian historian and satirist from Milan who would convert to Protestantism and publish a number of works attacking the Catholic Church (all of which were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum), and so it is likely that Osuna, a figure of ill-repute in the history of one of the two major centres of the Catholic world, would have been a subject that appealed to him. Text in Italian.
LETI, Gregorio, Vita di Don Pietro Giron Duca D’Ossuna Vicere di Napoli. E di Sicilia, sotto il Regno di Filippo Terzo. Arricchita di figure., Appresso Georgio Gallet, 1699
Biographies & Letters